Thursday, 17 December 2015

Diamond particles discovered in candle flames

Candle flames contain millions of tiny diamond particles, a university professor has discovered.
Dr Wuzong Zhou, of St Andrews University, found about 1.5 million diamond nanoparticles are created in a candle flame every second it burns.
The diamond particles are burned away in the process.
But the chemistry professor said the discovery could lead to research into how diamonds could be created more cheaply.
Dr Zhou used a new sampling technique to remove particles from the centre of the flame, which is believed to have never been done, and found it contained all four known forms of carbon.
He said: "This was a surprise, because each form is usually created under different conditions.
"This will change the way we view a candle flame forever."
The first candle is said to have been invented in China more than 2,000 years ago.
Previous research has shown hydro-carbon molecules at the bottom of the flame are converted into carbon dioxide by the top of the flame.
But, until now, the process in between has remained a mystery, with the discovery of the diamond nanoparticles, as well as fullerenic particles and graphitic and amorphous carbon.
Courtesy of BBC News
See the article here with some other interesting links here!!
The BBC news website is a very useful resource when it comes to explaning certain Scientific and environmental phenomenon. Just scroll down through Science/environment articles and you'll find them!
Happy reading and don't burn yourself trying to get those nano diamonds!


Quin plaer observar i ajudar als alumnes a que gaudeixin fent ciència!

Els treballs  aquest trimestre han estat els següents:

Líquids no Newtonians
Pollets a Oak House
Conills, pollastres, bens, s’assemblen a nosaltres?
Qui ha estat l’assassí?
Hi ha alguna relació entre el coeficient intel·lectual i la capacitat física?

Els alumnes han triat el projecte i l’han desenvolupat per complet. Han après com posar a la pràctica la seva recerca  seguint el mètode científic i finalment han exposat els seu treball.
A continuació teniu els enllaços per poder accedir a algun d’aquest treballs.
Us recomano que hi cliqueu són molt divertits!

Mobile phone collection in January 2016

Dear parents/students

In Spain more than 52,000,000 mobile phone lines exist today, for just over 46 million inhabitants. This impressive number of terminals must be added those older phones that are replaced and that citizens have kept or thrown away, with the recycling rate of less than 5%. If we multiply these numbers to the countries of the "developed world ", the figures are staggering. At the same time, the exploitation of Coltan, a valuable mineral from which the technology of our phones, computers and consoles are made of, is at the center of the conflicts that produce hundreds of thousands of victims and refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Illegal mining uses slavery work also destroying the habitats of many species such as chimpanzees and gorillas in true danger due to poaching and deforestation.

For this reason, if we recycle our old mobile phones, less Coltan will need to be mined and fewer forests will have to be destroyed, therefore we will be able to reduce the rate of deforestation and protect the habitat of many species in danger.

As part of the school’s consistent approach to minimise its environmental impact, it has been decided to support the Jane Goodall Institute in their campaign to recycle mobile phones.

The school will be contributing to this campaign by hosting a collection of used mobile phones that you might not need anymore. Chances are that you have at least one old mobile phone somewhere around the house, so this is the perfect opportunity to finally get rid of it! The collection will begin on January 11th and will last for a week. Students will come to your classes in the morning to collect your old mobiles.

We just need the mobile phone with the battery,

NO charger, NO SIM card!

By participating in this, the school will enter a raffle with the chance to win the adoption of a chimpanzee. If you’d like to learn more about the institute check out their website:

We would truly appreciate your collaboration and please feel free to contact us if you have any doubts!

January 11th to 15th 2016

for more information look at

Bojos per la…../Crazy about……?

Who is bojos/crazy and what are they crazy/bojos about?

The answer is that Adriana C. (does she seem familiar) and Isabel L. (and her too) have both been accepted onto a bojos course. So what is it about?

Isabel L.  has been accepted onto the Bojos per la Natura program. It takes place two Saturdays a month from February to November 2016. There is both fieldwork and visits to laboratories and research centres throughout Catalunya. Some activities include marine biology, paleontology and going to the Delta del Ebro. The activities are directed by researchers working in the ICTA (Institut de Ciencia i Tecnologia Ambientals) which is in the UAB. For more information follow this link:

Adriana C. will be doing the Crazy About Biomedicine program
It's a year-long program directed to students in the first year of baccalaureate and it takes place in the labs at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Barcelona (IRB). The course combines practical and theoretical lessons to cover 12 hot topics in the area of biomedicine, ranging from rational drug design to the study of novel cancer treatments, and allows students to get a taste of what it's like to investigate in an international research institute such as the IRB. 

Well done to the both of them again! These ladies will go far in the world of Science!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The best writing on Maths

Do you want to read some of the best articles written about Maths? 
(I know this isn't Science, but hey, where would we be without the mathematicians?)

Read these highly recommended articles!

and finally....

The Statistical Crisis in Science

Enjoy the read and thanks to our anonymous donor!

Powdered glue goes on dry and sticks when squished

This was an article that appeared recently in New Scientist.

Have you ever gone for the superglue to find that it has hardened. When you're in technology class and you reach for the glue gun and burn yourself. And then there's the problem of trying to get that glue , super or gun, into the really awkward position without getting glue everywhere. Well these researchers in Japan may have just found the solution to all of those problems.

Have a read of the article and look at the video here!

Here we have material scientists who have identified a shortcoming and come up with a solution. This is what I love about Science!

This article was sent to us by a parent of one our students (both who shall remain nameless and mysterious). Thanks and more please!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Vols ser astronauta?

T'has plantejat mai ser astronauta? Saps que fa falta per ser astronauta a la NASA? 

FONT: 5 Myths About Becoming an Astronaut 
És a dir, a banda d'una bona condició física, és necessari una carrera relacionada amb la ciència, la tecnologia, l'enginyeria o les matemàtiques (STEM en anglès). 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Cool Science videos

More on the theme of material on you tube.

If you are looking for coll videos to watch, with high production values and accessible learning, check out these two sources:

The Royal Institution. (find out about them here). have their own you tube channel with videos to suit all age ranges and tastes.
Here's a taster, click the Royal Institution icon to access the channel. Find it here!

Interested in Physics? Try out these videos!

Let us know if you have come across any interesting videos or if you have or plan to make any yourself!


Monday, 16 November 2015

How wolves changed the course of a river and more....

This is a video recommended by Erik S. in Bachillerato. Well worth watching and a great introduction into the workings of food webs and how a change in one part can affect the other parts (and sometimes in a most peculiar way!).

Thanks Erik!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Experiments in Science

Experiments (practicals) make up a vital component of all of the sciences wherever or however you study them. It is through experimentation that scientists are able to determine the cause or effects of the area which they are studying.

Here at Oak House School, the Science department takes experimentation very seriously. We use a three pronged approach in training our students in the art of experimentation.
The first is getting our students used to being in the lab, getting to know the equipment and how to use it accurately and precisely.
Secondly is getting the students to become aware of the variables that can affect the result of an experiment and how they can be controlled, during experimental design, in order to get a repeatable and reproducible result.
Lastly there is the ability to analyze results to extract meaningful conclusions and also determine the trust with which you can give that result through error analysis.

These three aspects are covered in different ways in different year groups. Whether it's in the weekly practicals in 1st and 2nd ESO, the training for the IGCSE practical exam in 3rd ESO, the Science enrichment afternoons for both cycles of ESO where students can pursue their own projects or the extensive practical training they receive in 4th ESO. All of this training prepares the students to then handle the internal assessment for IB and the research components for both the treball de recerca (Bachillerato) and the extended essay (IB).

None of this would be possible without the dedicated efforts of our lab technicians who are always available for the requests of both teaching staff and students in their practical pursuits.
If you want to know more, please feel free to contact us at 

Monday, 9 November 2015

How quickly would your trump spread?

Year 7 students have been working out the conditions in which a trump would spread the fastest, here's some photos:

The consensus was that you would have time to escape on a cold winter day as gases and liquids diffuse more slowly when they are cold. But you would be in trouble on a summer's day as the gas will diffuse (spread) more quickly. Good work Year 7.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

First meeting of the Oak House School Environmental Committee (OHSEC)

On Wednesday the 4th of November at 11am when the students normally have their break, these students (see photo) chose to listen to a brief explanation of what the newly formed OHSEC would be doing and what they could do to help. As teachers, we were all pleased by the number of students who turned up and this is an indication of the students concerns in the environmental issues facing us today.

So the next step is assigning different students to different projects and getting these projects underway. 

The projects include:
Environmental assessment of the school
Bachillerato Roof Garden Plan and pre-planting
Energy consumption (electricity & gas)
Recycling (paper,   plastic & other)
Monitoring waste

The uptake of these projects so far has been impressive!

If you are a student and interested in getting involved, then contact your tutor or your Science teacher or email us with your name and the project you are interested in.

A big thank you to all of the students for coming to the meeting and the teachers who passed on the information and whipped up enthusiasm!

Let’s see if we can reduce Oak House School’s ecological footprint!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Pensamiento computacional. ¿Por qué programar?

Nadie se cuestiona por qué aprendemos a leer o escribir, ¿verdad? Parece obvio, entre muchas otras cosas, para poder comunicarnos y expresar nuestras ideas. En cambio, aún nos parece muy lejano el entender el lenguaje de las máquinas, aquellos aparatos que ya envuelven nuestras vidas de alguna o otra manera. Entender cómo están programadas nos ayuda a comprender cuál es su principio de funcionamiento, qué pueden llegar a hacer y qué límites tienen.

El pensamiento computacional (PC) es una competencia básica para los empleos del futuro, donde la programación impregnará muchos ámbitos, desde la robótica a la economía pasando por la biotecnología, cirugía, etc... El PC nos permite generar un modelo del entorno físico mediante un programa informático para crear sistemas automáticos de control mejorando así nuestra vida cotidiana. También nos proporciona habilidades a la hora de abordar la resolución de cualquier tipo de problemas ya que nos entrena en la disgregación del mismo en partes sencillas facilitando así su resolución. Así mismo, pone a prueba otras competencias matemáticas, como son el uso de la lógica, el trabajo con variables o el uso de matrices para el almacenado y posterior utilización de la información.

En definitiva, os invitamos a un viaje por un campo que sin duda no os dejará indiferentes.

Os dejo este enlace muy interesante acerca de la programación computacional. !Espero que os guste!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Ciència per passar l'estona

M'estic llegint el llibre Professors Povey's Perplexing Problems, un llibre amb un bon recull de problemes de física i alguns de matemàtiques. Els problemes estan solucionats i comentats, cadascun té un nivell de dificultat i va acompanyat d'un sistema de puntuació i una pàgina web amb més material.

Aquest és un d'aquells llibre que és llegeixen a estones, i entre estona i estona, penses. I un cop llegeixes la solució, en alguns casos et presenta un punt de vista diferent del que ja saps.

Hi ha altres llibres com aquest, Martin Gardner en té uns quants, i el llibre de Ciència Recreativa, un recull inicial de José Estalella, també és molt recomanable.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Bottoms up on this wastewater transformed into drinking water! Would you drink it?

This is a tweet from the National Geographic Channel about reusing waste water for drinking water. Would you want to drink this? Then again do you know what you drink normally anyway.

This was supplied by a parent of the school (who shall remain nameless unless she wishes to reveal her identity) who had read the post on the formation of the environmental committee here in Oak House.

More please!!

Enjoy this video

Friday, 23 October 2015

Oak House School Environmental Committee

Oak House School Environmental Committee

We have 7.3 billion people currently living on our planet and that is due to increase to 9 billion by 2050. To feed and entertain this number, non-renewable resources are running out and renewable ones are being used unsustainably. Carbon emissions continue to rise, leading to greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change.

We must do something to slow and stop these changes that we are making to our planet otherwise we and our children will pay the price.

So what can we do? Well it can start with this:

We are currently looking for students and teachers who wish to form an Environmental Committee.

The roles of this environmental committee will be many, including:
·         Environmental assessment of the school and its environs.
·         Development of an environmental action plan.
·         Involvement in projects deriving from this action plan.
·         Transmitting the findings and the work of the committee to the students and wider public.

Who should join this committee?
If you are someone who is interested by the environment and what we are doing to it.
If you are concerned about the nature of consumerism and its negative effects.
If you like the applications of Science.
If you are planning to study IGCSE Environmental Management or IB Environmental Systems.
If you are thinking about a career in the area of environmental sciences.

What should you do?
Contact your tutor.
Contact your Science teacher.

When by?
We need to know who is interested by Friday October 30th
First meeting: Wednesday October 4th @ 11am!

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors: we borrow it from our children.”

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Happy birthday Alfred Nobel

This Wednesday, the 21st of October, in 1833, Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm, Sweden.
Alfred Nobel was a pacifist at heart but an inventor by nature. He held 355 patents in the fields of electrochemistry, optics, biology and physiology. His first patent was an English patent, filed in 1857, was for a gas meter. title was given to him due to Nobel inventing, and making most of his vast fortune off of, dynamite and
Ironically, his most famous invention was dynamite! He also discovered several other types of explosives, such as “ballistite”, which was the precursor to quite a lot of military grade explosive devices. These discoveries were to make him extremely wealthy. Unfortunately for Alfred, it also resulted in him being known as “ The Merchant of Death”.
Nobel came up with the idea of using his money for the Nobel Prizes after his brother, Ludvig, died in 1888 and a French newspaper mistakenly thought it had been Alfred Nobel himself who had died.  The newspaper published the obituary under the title: “The Merchant of Death is Dead”, going on to state: “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
When Nobel read this, he began thinking of how to improve his public image after his death and decided on leaving his enormous fortune to fund a set of prizes named after himself. 
He established the Nobel Prizes in his will. The prizes, which were first awarded in 1901, have become highly distinguished awards. 
There were 5 categories of prize – physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace (economics was added in 1969). Contenders must be nominated and they cannot nominate themselves. The prize consists of a medal, a diploma and a sum of money. They are awarded every 5 years and there are approximately 250 nominations for each prize! 

Which one of our laboratories is named after a Nobel Prize winner? Do you know the names and achievements of these other Nobel Prize winners?

If you could be nominated for a Nobel Prize, what would it be for? 

Monday, 19 October 2015

We create our reality

"Scientific studies show that the decision making areas of the human brain aren't fully developed until the age of 25". "So then we have an excuse for this". "Factory installed".

You are in class staring at the whiteboard. How is it that you see it? It's light reflecting from its surface and falling into your eye. You know this because if you switch the light off, you stop seeing the whiteboard. Now, light is apparently made of little particles called "photons". These photons enter your retina and generate electrical impulses inside your brain, this electrical signal somehow creates the image you are experiencing of the whiteboard.

So, if you followed this, you might realize that what you see, is actually CREATED in your brain from the information that the photons give it. Your brain is creating the whiteness of the whiteboard, the shape, the blue ink of the notes that the teacher writes, even the meaning of the words written!

This fascinating talk takes us through the consequences of this amazing fact, if the brain creates our reality, then it becomes hugely important to take care of the brain. A top level neuroscientists tells us why we should seek challenges but avoid stress, why teenagers are bad desicion makers and what we can do to nurture our brain. This is done in the first half (25min).

The rest of the talk focuses on the act of meditation and what neourlogy can tell us about its benefits for the brain.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Why is the ground so white and bright?

With the addition of the new Bachillerato/IB building has come a new colour scheme for the walkways outside the laboratories and going down to the main gate. They say it is in keeping with the colour scheme of the new building, but is there a more environmental reason at play?

Students have said that the surface is too bright and they find it difficult to see. Students and teachers using these walkways have to squint on very sunny days making us all look a little more stressed than we would normally look.

So how is this surface having an environmental impact?

The fact that the surface is reflecting the light (hence very bright) it means that not as much light is being absorbed and converted to heat. The surface is therefore cooler meaning the air above is also cooler. This reflected light should hopefully head off into space and not affect the planet again. The previous surface was red in colour and used to absorb a lot of sunlight energy converting it to heat. This heat would be radiated as infra-red (IR) radiation that would heat the air making it warmer outside the labs. More importantly, this heat would also be trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and increase greenhouse effect and global warming which is a very serious problem we are currently facing. So is Oak House reducing global warming by painting its walkways a very light colour?

A test of the difference in the temperature of the surfaces is to check the light surface and red steps outside the labs. Come and feel the difference yourself to see!

First in Combined Science in Spain 2014

Adriana C. was awarded her certificate for achieving first place in the IGCSE Combined Science exam in Spain for June 2014. This is the third consecutive year that students have managed to achieve this accolade. Let’s see how this year’s group does.

Well done to Adriana! Another achievement to add to the long list!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Nobel de Física 2015

 Aquest mes s'ha donat a conèixer el premi Nobel de Física, i aquest any el comparteixen responsables de dos experiments relacionats amb els neutrins: Takaaki Kajita i Arthur B. McDonaldinvestigadors al Super-Kamiokande i al SNOLAB, respectivament. 

Aquests físics s'afegeixen a una llarga tradició de donar premis Nobels de física a físics experimentals. Per algun motiu, els teòrics no són tan populars, i hi ha casos en que el Nobel el rep, no qui ha fet la teoria, si no qui l'ha confirmada. 

Aquests dos experiments investiguen els neutrins que arriben a la Terra de l'espai, però degut a la natura poc interactiva dels neutrins, ho fan sota terra. 

Els neutrins, tot i ser les partícules més abundants a l'Univers, possiblement siguin de les més desconegudes, si no tenim en compte la matèria fosca, de la que l'únic que sabem és el que no pot ser: res que conneguem.

Els neutrins són una de les partícules fonamentals del Model Standard, i fonamentals per la història de  l'Univers. 

Per si algú està interessat en saber més, a Symmetry Magazine hi ha un bon resum (i als articles que hi enllaça).  

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Adriana C. and Joves i Ciència

Adriana C. is one of our students in IB1. Last May she was accepted to participate in the Joves i Ciència program along with Isabel Lammers (see last week’s newsletter). In July she went on a two week residential course and here is her account of what happened….

Joves i Ciència was a truly amazing and unique experience, probably one of the best in my life! I participated in the biomedicine project, and our objective was to modify an active agent found in lavender in order to get a possible drug for Alzheimer’s. The project was divided into two main parts: the first focused on the investigation and isolation of BACE-1, a protein involved in Alzheimer’s, and, once we had its three-dimensional structure, we passed on to the second part. This part was dedicated to the design of the drug and the study of its interaction with BACE-1, using computational biology in order to do so. Both parts were combined with theory lessons in order to understand what we were doing.

Although most of the time there was dedicated to science, we had plenty of time to socialise, play instruments and enjoy the beautiful surroundings! We did a whole day outing and had activities every evening. These included a star observation, a scientific comedy show and an orientation race where we all ended up being covered in mud! The people there were amazing and I made great friends.

When it comes to applying for Joves i Ciència, the first step is sending a written application, which includes a motivation letter saying why you chose the project and an answer to a question related to the project. Then, if you are accepted onto the second phase, you attend an interview. I personally didn’t prepare for it, but you can if that makes you feel more confident. Just keep in mind that they’re not interested in seeing how much you know, but how you can think out answers to questions you don’t know, so just show them all of your thinking! It’s true that it’s a competitive program to get into, but no one felt confident of getting in when they applied and it’s certainly worth giving it a try!

Adriana C. IB1

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Joves i Ciència

Isabel Lammers (see previous post) had also been selected for the prestigious and select program “JOVES I CIÈNCIA” which runs over three years. Her first installment occurred at the start of July over two weeks and this is Isabel telling us what happened and what she did in order to be selected:

The Experience:

Going to Joves i Ciencia has been one of the most incredible experiences in my life. I chose the project on DNA, evolution and biodiversity. This first year we got to work in a laboratory in the Pyrennees using modern techniques like PCR and agarose gel electrophoresis. We also had lessons taught by some brilliant researchers from the CRG (Centre de Regulació Genòmica). We learned how to track genetic diseases, extract and sequence DNA, check for genetically modified food and lots more including how to use cool lab equipment. But it wasn’t all work; we had lots of fun too! We played games at night, went on an excursion, made great friends, explored species of the Pyrenees, watched an exciting film and even had a hilarious scientific comedy show organised for us.

The Selection:

Since there is a long selection process and a low acceptance rate, I never thought I stood much of a chance of getting in. The first part is written and I had to write about my interests, the reason I wanted to go and answer a long question. Later on I got told I had passed onto the second selection process where in an interview lasting half an hour I had to talk about myself, answer some questions and carry out a simple experiment. I thought it went terribly but after an agonizingly long time I was told I’d been accepted. So I highly recommend anyone interested in science to give it a go!

Well done to Isabel and we look forward to seeing how she develops within this program!

If you are a student or parent and are interested in pursuing any of these programs, please feel free to contact the Science Department at or or leave a comment below.

Cosmo Caixa Explainers

Maybe of our students pursue extracurricular activities that extend their school studies and one such student is Isabel Lammers.

Isabel had recently applied and been accepted for the youth program “EXPLAINERS” run by Cosmo Caixa, the Science Museum here in Barcelona.

Explainers are, and I quote:  “students, chosen for their enthusiasm, knowledge and diversity, who will explain exhibits on the museum floor and answer questions from visitors”.

The program recognizes a dual purpose in having secondary students work with the public:
  • ·         to serve the museum by providing an enthusiastic face to visitors and staff;
  • ·         to provide a first professional experience to participants who might not otherwise consider a career in the sciences or museum related fields.

 As part of this program, Isabel will have classes, in  a Business school, in public relations, (a very useful skill to have). She will also be getting a tour of the labs in the IQS (Institut Quimic de Sarria) which is a fantastically equipped third level educational institution.

Isabel is very lucky to get an opportunity like this. Watch this space to see how she got on!

A contented Isabel skiving off from her IB1 Chemistry class.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Welcome back!!

Welcome back to the third year of Oak House Science department blog!

What will be different you ask?

More articles written by students about articles they have read and things they are doing that relate to Science and the environment both inside and outside the school.

Our students in ESO (educación secundaria obligatoria: obligational secondary education as a rough translation) take one afternoon a week to take part in an enrichment program. Various activities are arranged including running, debate and of course a Science club. In these clubs, students have the chance to work on topics that interest them and experiment in a more relaxed environment. At the end of each term, these groups will present their findings to their peers and to you via this blog. Keep your eye out for this in November.

The Environment is of concern to many people in the world. We plan to run a number of initiatives both in primary and secondary that will be reported here in this blog.

Also we plan to show you more of what we do as teachers to help our students to achieve success in the areas of Science.

Finally we ask you, whoever you may be, student, teacher, parent or just generally interested Science enthusiast to send your articles to us for possible publication. 

Thank you for supporting us and let us know what you think via the comments section.

What message would you send?

SETI: the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has been operating for the last sixty years Scientists have been using radio telescopes and searching  space for any form of intelligible radio communication that could be coming from an alien species on a far distant exo-planet. Finding money and telescope time to do this have not been easy. Lately SETI have received a massive investment from a Russian billionaire and are now embarking on a program called “Breakthrough Initiatives”. With this will come more hours to search the heavens and more of the sky to track. Also now that the existence and position of a large number of exo-planets are known, telescopes can now be focused on these points with the hope of a signal.

One new aspect that was being considered, but which will for the moment be rejected, is the sending of our own signal into space which may well be detected by an alien race. But what could we say?

What message could you send that would represent the human race and the fragile planet we live upon? Would you send an accurate picture of the interhuman tensions and total destruction of the planet or a more soft focused view? Should we reveal information about our vulnerabilities to a possibly hostile alien race? Or should we bother as it would take so long to get there and so long for a return signal that humans will no longer exist?

What would you do? Send a message? And if so, what would you say?

To find out more go to here!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


Plutó era el darrer dels antics planetes que faltava per tenir una visita directa d'una sonda espacial. Finalment la sonda New Horizons el 14 de Juliol ha fet una passada entre Plutó i una de les seves llunes Caront i ara ja fa camí cap al cinturó de Kuiper. Els propers dies les imatges que disposem d'aquest sistema - de moment a més de Plutó i Caront hi ha quatre llunes més - s'afegiran a totes les que ja tenim de les altres missions a la resta de planetes.

Plutó és un dels planetes nans, i era un dels objectes del sistema solar menys conegut. Com han repetit vàries vegades els membres de l'equip de la missió, en un dia es passarà de tenir només una pàgina d'informació sobre Plutó a poder escriure un llibre de text.

No és el primer planeta nan que visitem, la sonda Dawn ha visitat aquest any Ceres, un planeta nan del cinturó d'asteroides. 

La imatge del sistema solar s'ha anat fent cada cop més complexa, i cada planeta té la seva imatge més coneguda, de moment sembla que Plutó, que deu el seu nom al déu de l'inframón, té un gran cor, i és força fotogènic.

La investigació dels sistemes planetaris viu un gran moment: a més de les informacions directes que tenim degut a les missions que estan orbitant planetes, les visites a planetes nans i les sondes que estan sobre cometes o planetes, tenim la informació d'altres sistemes estel·lars en formació o de planetes que fan voltes a altres estrelles. En qualsevol cas, els propers dies descobrirem un nou món.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

What is happening in the Science world?

Science students in primary and secondary education may think that science is something that has happened already and everything has been discovered or worked out. But this is so far from the truth...!
Listen to any Science podcast read the news in paper or online and you will see there are many things happening on many fronts.

Who would like to train for a one-way trip to Mars?

How would you deflect an asteroid on a collision course for Earth?

How can we feed 7 billion plus people on the planet and not use up all its resources and cause mass extinction?

These are some of the many issues that today's scientists are tackling and you too could be a part of it!

Watch this space for more news!

Science rocks!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The troubles with transplants

For many years the limit of transplants of blood stem cells is that they can be used as donors only brothers and sisters, the only family members who may have a profile with high rates of immunogenetic compatibility. It is, however, a possibility that only occurs in 25% of cases. In addition, the percentage is expected to drop further, unfortunately, due to the decline of births in our country. To address this problem, over the years, we have created centers of collection and storage of cord blood and Registers of volunteers who collect more than 20 million bone marrow donors. Nevertheless, there is still a 30-40% of people who remain without a compatible donor.

To use the father or mother for transplantation is an important solution to this problem. The technique developed by the Child Jesus can resolve the fact that part of the parents (usually in fact the parents are immunologically compatible with the children only 50%).

In detail, the method requires that donors undergo a drug treatment that stimulates the bone marrow to "liberate" the bloodstream hematopoietic stem cells so they can be collected from the veins of your arms with a simple drawing. This technique avoids collect cells directly from the bone marrow donor to save a much more invasive procedure.

Subsequently the blood is filtered through a machine that exploits the magnetic properties of the white blood cells from the blood to remove a particular type of white blood cells known as T lymphocytes alpha-beta positive. These are responsible for a complication, known as "graft versus host disease," in which the transplanted cells attack the recipient's tissues. In the compound you get - and this is the main difference compared to normal bone marrow transplants - in addition to hematopoietic stem cells, are also natural killer cells and "gamma-delta T cells positive". "In this way - explained during the presentation of Professor Franco Locatelli - at the time of the transplant, the patient, in addition to receiving treatment for the disease that affects, is also protected from infections that can occur within four months operation, thanks to the white blood cells in the blood of the donor. We can therefore say that we managed to transplant with a donor to 50% with the same results as those completed with subjects totally compatible. "
As for the fields of application, the technique developed by the Child Jesus can be a solution for blood cancers and other diseases, including: severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), the Fanconi anemia, the Thalassemia major and severe aplastic anemia. The results obtained in the testing phase, in fact, show that the ability to care for children with these diseases are the 90%.

"Another source of pride for their achievements - said Professor Giuseppe Profiti, president of the Child Jesus (see interview below) - it is that this method also has the advantage of being easily replicable. This means being able to significantly expand the pool of people who will have access to treatment options that this new technology offers. "