WA Scientists To Fight Ebola In Africa

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 4.29.55 pmHey Everyone!

Read here about Professor Tim Ingist a medical microbiologist from The University Of Western Australia (UWA) who is leading WA scientists in a brave attempt to control the spread of Ebola in Africa.

The link to the article maybe found here.

Skynews – WA Scientists to Fight Ebola In Africa 

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How Do You Save A Shark You Know Nothing About?

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Hey Guys!

As you know i recently did an interview regarding the work of Dr. Ryan Kempster and his efforts to promote shark conservation. I recently came across this TedEx video of Simon Berrow who is involved in similar work to Dr. Ryan Kempster in shark conservation. In this discussion Simon Berrow makes viewers aware of the basking shark, which is in fact the second largest fish in the world and also one that is gravely endangered. Simon’s video highlighted the incredibly simple and wonderfully innovative conservation strategies he has pioneered in order to ensure the successfully conservation of this species. His presentation maybe viewed via the following link .

TedEx Dublin – How Do You Save A Shark You Know Nothing About?

Interview Of Dr. Ryan Kempster

Ryan with Bamboo Sharks Credit Paul Ricketts

Hey Everyone!

Please find below a link to a video i created involving a recent opportunity i had to interview Dr. Ryan Dempster who is a Neuroecologist at The University Of Western Australia (UWA). Dr. Ryan Kempster’s  research focuses on the development of proper prevention strategies against shark attacks via an understanding of a sharks sensory biology which is particularly relevant here in Western Australia where a lethal and ineffective culling program is taking place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD9A8J-SXD4&list=UU-sNPlnEE06Ns66SNgWdUxQ

Breaking Bad

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If anyone mentioned the idea of a tv series built around the life of a Chemistry teacher who decides to develop and sell Methyl amphetamine (Meth) and eventually descends into the world of crime and drug dealing most would brush it off as unrealistic and far fetched. However this series, “Breaking Bad” managed to do just that and it is a widely popular series that is considered to be by far one of the most successful of all time. The series depicts the story of Walter White a mild mannered well to do school chemistry  teacher who runs into the realisation that he needs to find a way to allow his family to sustain themselves monetarily upon discovering that he has been diagnosed with cancer.

The series depicts Walt’s dark descent into the nefarious world of developing and dealing drugs through his alter-ego “Heisenberg’ and alongside his accomplice & former student Jesse Pinkman who he developed an unlikely friendship and alliance with. The dramatics of the series such as the crime, gang violence and power struggles aside the series provides deep scientific insight into the world of chemistry where through Walter White the audience may learn the importance of chemical compounds, how they react with one another and other substances, how potent these reaction maybe and what they maybe utilised for.

Overall Breaking Bad proves to be a very interesting science focused series that delves deep into intricacies of chemistry and their uses for humanity.

Autism – What We Know and What We Don’t Know

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https://www.ted.com/talks/wendy_chung_autism_what_we_know_and_what_we_don_t_know_yet

Hey Guys!

Further to my post that addressed the important depiction of Autism in the movie Rain Man here is a TedEx video by Wendy Chung who is a well respected and massively well credentialed geneticist who discuss the ins and outs of autism as a human condition. This talk by Wendy Chung focuses on what we know about autism which she uses to highlight what we don’t know in order to promote the cutting edge research that is taking place regarding autism and why that is important to humanity.

Gravity

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When everyone thinks of space films it usually involves futuristic spacecrafts, light savers, aliens and almost always a threat to humanity.. Gravity however is a film that differentiates from the norm, it focuses of the people in space the astronauts and the risks they take. The film focuses on Dr. Ryan Stone a biomedical engineer and her colleague and fellow astronaut Kowalski and their struggle for survival as they struggle to establish contact with their earth base and survive the aftermath of a chain reaction caused by a Russian Missile strike on a defunct satellite.

The film depicts some interesting scientific concepts such as gravity & anti-gravity, artificial decompression,  the manner space crafts work, the technology behind spacesuits, travelling in space and the lack of sound in space which prevented them from hearing any explosion or being able to anticipate the resulting debris as it orbited around the earth and made impact with their spacecraft.

Overall “Gravity” proves to be an extremely interesting science fiction thriller that is grounded in reality via providing viewers a very realistic impression of the science behind space travel, the life of an astronaut and the risks involved.

Rain Man

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It is not often that savants are found to be displayed in the media, especially movies. However ‘Rain Man” a multiple award winning film that was inspired by Barry Morrow meeting Kim Peek a real life savant. The film details Charlie Babbitt one day discovering that his etranged father had passed away and left the entirety of his enormous wealth to his other son Raymond who is in fact an autistic savant.

The movie displays Charie visiting Raymond in order to take him away, acquire custody of him and persuade him to transfer his inherited wealth to him so that Charlie may settle his debts. Throughout the course of the movie it is displayed how Charlie discovers the amazing mental acuity of his savant brother, the incredible metal recall he has and his beyond human ability to make complex mental calculations while also forming a stronger bond with his brother.

Overall the film displays a very realistic account of the life of one who suffers from a particular spectrum of autism resulting in them being a savant. The movie displays the amazing mental capabilities they acquire such as the ability to recall everything ever read and witnessed by them in detail, the ability to process and perform complex mental tasks in a extremely short space , the almost religious daily routine that is followed which is hardly deviated from and finally such an individuals social handicappment.

Overall this movie serves to provide an excellent insight into the life, the thinking processes and the experiences of an autistic savant and the things they struggle with in day to day life.

References 

Mottron, L.; Dawson, M.; Soulieres, I. (2009). “Enhanced perception in savant syndrome: Patterns, structure and creativity”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 

Treffert, D. A. (2009). “The savant syndrome: An extraordinary condition. A synopsis: Past, present, future”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 

Newschaffer CJ, Croen LA, Daniels J et al. (2007). “The epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders”

Prometheus

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Everyone loves a good space flick, especially when it involves the original ancestors of humanity and a threat to the existence of humanity. Prometheus is a film detailing the attempts of a human space expedition to travel far into the nethers in order to explore the theory that human beings are in fact the evolved evolutionary product of higher beings who were left behind during this races expeditions across the vast expanse of the universe, It is set in the late 21st century and details a human space expedition’s efforts to follow a star map which they believe may lead to answers regarding the origins of humankind.

The movie details the expedition group’s struggles with exploring the inhospitable planet where the ancestors of humankind were located. It further details their activation of a dormant being in hibernation who they believed was the ancestor of humankind only to discover the planet they were currently located on was in fact was a military outpost with the goal of destroying humanity on earth.

The movie details the dangers associated with exploring space such as contact with foreign fluids, materials and in this case unknown devices and creatures which can severely harm individuals and spread epidemics and disease. However it proves to also be detached from reality via displaying humans having developed miraculous technology that has allowed them to travel deep into space in a unreasonable amount of time. The movie also fails to expand on its theory of how humankind may have developed from another inter-galactic humanoid species as opposed to Charles Darwin theory of evolution.

Overall prometheus proves to be an interesting science fiction film that provides some insight into what may be possible in the future with the advent of new technology and life outside of earth. However it also provides far fetched un-backed claims of all life on earth evolving from a singe inter-galactic source which while proving entertaining has very little scientific grounding.

I Am Legend

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Any movie with Will Smith is bound to be a great hit that will generate a massive following especially when it involves him being one of the last people alive post a zombie apocalypse. I am legend details the a post apocalyptic story of Dr. Robert Neville a virologist who finds himself immune to a man made virus that was designed with the hopes of curing cancer. While initially celebrated people soon found that something had horribly gone wrong when people and animals alike began transforming into violent mutants/zombies that avoided the light (due to the UV radiation hurting them) and attacked anything that was alive. The movie details his struggle for survival alongside his trusted Dog and displays his ultimately successful attempts to find a cure via developing an antidote from his own blood.

The movie serves to provide a scientific portrayal of how disease and viral infections both natural and man-made have the potential to wipe out entire species and also serves to show that survivors of such natural causes may be able to further progress their race and assist in its development genetically. This movie overall served to highlight the importance of evolution, natural selection and the grave importance of evolving and deadly epidemics around the world that threaten humanity.