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RSPG – Algae! The answer to our food, pharmaceutical and energy needs?

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Our world is constantly searching for new energy sources and new mass food supplies due to the constant high demand and so a decrease in their supplies and the answer could be…algae! Algae have the potential to help solve some of these problems. In order to achieve this, however they must be produced at an accelerated rate, and we’re hoping to find out how. We will do this by finding the optimum growth conditions required by the algae and understanding some of their vital growth requirements. This includes the need for a symbiotic relationship with bacteria which may supply Vitamin B12 to the algae. Our experiments will measure the algal growth in different conditions so we can find if algae needs symbiotic conditions to grow fastest.

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RSPG – What can essential oils teach us about antibiotic resistance?

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Essential oils have been known to inhibit bacterial growth so more and more companies are using them in their products as an alternative to ‘harsh chemicals’. We wanted to understand if, with increased usage, bacteria could become resistant to essential oils in a similar way to bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics.  This was a useful way to understand the threat of antibiotic resistance. Would bacteria evolve resistance, or adapt? These two possibilities may seem identical however if a bacterial cell were to evolve resistance it will forever have that resistance but if a bacterial cell adapts to the exposure of the essential oils, if you were to remove the bacterium from that environment the resistance would be reduced until it was non-existent. So what we are testing is if they adapt or evolve. We are doing this by putting a strain of E. coli in an environment where it can still grow but at a reduced rate because of the essential oils in its environment which may lead to the E. coli evolving or adapting.

Health

Sleeping? There's a nap for that

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The question of how long you should be sleeping for drifts in and out of the public eye with few groundbreaking announcements coming through. This raises the question of just how important sleep really is; if we’ve come this far with little care for this aspect of our lives, it can’t be that important can […]

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RSPG – How does stretching help us do sports?

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Over the past few years, long held beliefs regarding the value of pre-event stretching have been questioned, and increased attention has centred on the performance of higher-intensity movements during the warm-up period. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the acute effects of two different warm-up protocols on selected fitness measures in Brompton Academy students. Specifically, we compared the effects of two different warm up techniques using either static or dynamic stretching on the standing jump test, the agility t-test and a 20 meter sprint. We found that dynamic stretching was more effective, particularly for exercise involving power and strength.

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RSPG – The Enigma of Cosmic Rays

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The purpose of this project is to find out more about how cosmic rays are affected by the Earth’s atmosphere, if cosmic rays are related to lightning strikes and where they originate from. To test our hypotheses on the behaviour of cosmic rays, we constructed and tested a detector at our school, to be used for collecting data on cosmic rays. This information will be analysed and used by scientists all over the world to aid their research. In years to come, future students will be able to use the scintillator to test other hypotheses and contribute to the scientific community. This article will describe our current progress on constructing the detector.

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RSPG – A Raspberry Pi Weather Balloon – FINISHED CW

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The aim of this project is to collect environmental data and take photographs from the upper atmosphere as an exercise in engineering and programming. The intention is to fly a helium-filled weather balloon up to a height of 37,000 metres, suspending a capsule of sensors powered by a Raspberry Pi microprocessor. Flight path will be determined using GPS data taken at regular intervals, with a pressure meter to help determine altitude. Temperature will also be taken at the same intervals via another module. Finally, a camera module will be attached to take a time lapse of the ascent. All of the data will be saved to an SD card. A radio module will broadcast the GPS signal so it is possible to find it once it has completed its ascent and fallen back to the ground. The capsule will consist of a high density closed cell foam box to protect the Raspberry Pi and sensors from damage during the fall.

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CCTV, multiple webcams and a Raspberry Pi

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Multiple webcams were streamed live via the use of a Raspberry Pi, a credit card sized computer. Four webcams attached to the Pi was not possible which may be due to the Pi having an insufficient number of CPUs, however, three webcams was possible and were streamed live via the local network. The latter has applications in research where one needs to view different parts of an experiment at the same time, including different parts of a laser beam in order to check for alignment.

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What is Capgras' syndrome and what is its causation?

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Once called “one of the rarest and most colourful syndromes in neurology” (Hirstein and Ramachandran), Capgras’ syndrome (or delusion) occurs when the patient believes that someone close – a friend or family member for example – is an impostor. Originally perceived to be an abnormality based on the psychodynamic model (especially due to its association with schizophrenia) research has revealed its neuroanatomical basis. Through literature search, I shall be discussing the theory proposed on its causation and explaining the science behind the delusional misidentification syndrome.

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Should people who smoke receive free treatment from the National Health Service in the UK?

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 From time to time there have been debates in the press and in politics about the efficient use of money, and the allocation of funding, within the NHS in the UK. Smoking is often seen as a self-inflicted problem and thus some argue that smoking-related illness might not deserve to be treated free of charge by the NHS. In this article, I outline the problems associated with smoking and some of its scientific basis; I also discuss some of the arguments made for and against charging smokers for certain treatments. I describe some of the reasons why people start smoking and I conclude by making the case for improved smoking prevention and cessation resources as a preferable option to charging for treatment.

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RSPG: Do sports drinks really work?

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Our investigation’s aim was to determine whether a sports drink containing glucose would improve athletes’ performance. We took five male students between the ages of 12 15 and, with their consent as well as their parents, conducted a test on them over the course of three weeks. We asked them to take one of three different drinks – Lucozade Sport, orange squash and water – then perform an 800m run. Participants were provided with a different drink each week before they performed the test, which happened a total of three times. The experiment showed that Lucozade Sport increased their performance the most, though our study was quite limited.

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When Half of Your World is Forgotten – Hemispatial Neglect

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 With our population continuing to live for longer, doctors are beginning to learn about new conditions that affect our ageing population. Hemispatial neglect is a condition that causes patients to ‘ignore’ half of their space after a trauma to the brain which withdraws the ability to respond to sensory stimuli on the affected side. This article will discuss the causes of and treatments for hemispatial neglect, including the disabling effects on the individual.

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Making Perfume From Bacteria: Kent iGEM 2014

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Every year hundreds of kit plates containing DNA parts are shipped to Universities and other scientific institutions across the globe as part of the iGEM competition. Teams of undergraduates must utilise these kits to create their own project, which they must present at the annual iGEM jamboree which this year, was held in Boston. It is the world’s largest undergraduate synthetic biology competition with 245 teams competing last year in 2013. This year a group of undergraduates from the University of Kent will be going to Boston to present their summer project on fragrance producing bacteria in the hope of obtaining a gold medal. But what does the iGEM competition hope to achieve? And more importantly, what is the Kent iGEM project all about and why is it significant?

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The Extracellular Matrix

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The Extracellular Matrix (ECM) is the fluid, containing tissue and extracellular molecules, that surrounds cells in inter-cellular spaces. Once thought merely to serve the purpose of supporting tissues and acting as scaffolding in the human body, the ECM has recently made a promising appearance in regenerative medicine. It is important to note that there are many types of ECM, and the ECM is contained in most living organisms. This fundamental substance is secreted by specialised cells in the body called fibroblasts, and certain types of ECM are secreted by particular fibroblasts, e.g. chondroblasts secrete cartilage ECM and osteoblasts secrete bone ECM.

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The Risks and Benefits of Sunlight

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 Sunlight, composed of radiation in the form of electromagnetic energy at mixed wavelength is essential to the continued survival of living creatures on Earth, whether it be autotrophs using energy from sunlight to synthesize food via photosynthesis or heterotrophs using light to obtain food indirectly. The main source of Vitamin D that is so beneficial for humans is through sunlight and it helps keep the body especially the bone and neurological functions in good condition. While there are widely accepted benefits, it is equally imperative to be wary of the risk that comes with persistent sun exposure. Carcinomas of the skin contribute to 1.6% of all world-wide cancers and ultraviolet light that forms part of the spectrum of sunlight has been implicated as a carcinogen.

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Is Nuclear Fusion a Viable Source of Energy for the Future?

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In this article, I have discussed the merits and the problems of nuclear fusion. I have tried to answer my question of viability by discussing whether or not fusion is possible, and if it will ever be economically viable to do so. To do this, I have explored the current level of the science behind fusion, and where it could be progressing over the next fifty years or so. I also compared fusion to other sources of fuel, to see if it was the best option and so go into depth about the pros and cons of the different fuel sources. I concluded that fusion was needed as a replacement for fossil fuels, and that it would be the preferred method due to its safety, minimal damage to the environment, its longevity of resources, and its ability to create copious amounts of energy. I decided that fusion, whilst not at the moment, would become economically viable within the next forty to fifty years, and so answered my question, as I concluded that fusion is a viable source of energy for the future.

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Bioactive glass in bone tissue engineering

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This short article discusses the relatively new bioactive glasses which have been extensively experimented with in the field of regenerative medicine and have shown promising results. We will look at how this is a more viable alternative to already existing options in bone tissue regeneration, and also briefly at the mechanisms of how these materials actually work in the human body.