LEARNING ABOUT FLU WITH MULTIPLE FUNNY RESOURCES

As every winter, the flu lords it over. Therefore, it’s very important to know what is the flu and how it works.
So, here there are some funny resources to learn about flu and its spread:

1) FLU VIDEOS
Flu Attack! How A Virus Invades Your Body (video animation):

Flu in the United States (data visualization):

2) FLU MONITORING WEBSITES
Sickweather
http://www.sickweather.com

Google Flu Trends
http://www.google.org/flutrends/intl/en_gb

3) FLU GAMES AND QUIZZES
The Flu I.Q. – an interactive quiz to test your flu knowledge:
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluiq.htm

Killer Flu Game – a game about seasonal and pandemic flu:
http://clinicalvirology.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1731&Itemid=722

The Great Flu – select a virus and start the game:
http://www.thegreatflu.com

Dr. Sneeze-n-Blow (Facebook App) – the flu virus can be tricky to eradicate:
http://www.viralflugame.com

Flu Epidemic – there’s a new flu in town:
http://www.centreofthecell.org/interactives/flu/index.php

Flu-Ville! – learn about how to prevent the spread of flu:
http://www.fuelthebrain.com/Game/fluVille

Advertisements

RITA LEVI-MONTALCINI: MEMORIES ABOUT THE ITALIAN NOBEL PRIZE SCIENTIST

As italian citizen and science lover, I have the pleasure of remembering my great compatriot (and fellow citizen) Nobel Prize scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini, recently passed away on age 103.

Rita Levi-Montalcini, born on April 22nd 1909 to a Jewish family in Turin (Italy), received her M.D. from the Institute of Human Anatomy of the University of  Turin, studying the nervous system.

In 1938, because of the proclamation of racial laws, she was forced to continue her research on the mechanisms of differentiation of the nervous system, first in Belgium and then in Florence (Italy).
To be able to continue the research started in Turin, in 1947 she moved to Washington University (Missouri, USA).
Then, Rita Levi-Montalcini went to Brazil at the University of Rio de Janeiro, when, in 1952, she achieved the identification of the growth factor of neuronal cells (Nerve Growth Factor, also known as the acronym NGF).

young Rita Levi Montalcini

young Rita Levi Montalcini

The following year, with the young biochemist Stanley Cohen, again in Missouri, using the in vitro system she designed, Rita performed the first biochemical characterization of the growth factor.

For this excellent discovery Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1986Here it is the Rita Levi-Montalcini’s original speech at the Nobel Banquet, in December 10, 1986.

Rita Levi Montalcini

Rita Levi Montalcini

Settled permanently in Italy, in 1969 she assumed the direction of the Institute of Cell Biology at the CNR in Rome, and, from 1993 to 1998, she was the director of the Institute of the Italian Encyclopedia.
Moreover, Rita Levi-Montalcini was a member of the most prestigious scientific academies, such as the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Accademia Pontificia, the Accademia delle Scienze, the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and the Royal Society.
She also was the President of the Rita Levi-Montalcini Foundation, which provides scholarships and educational support for African women.
In 2001 she was appointed Senator for life of the Italian Republic.

One year after, in Rome, Rita Levi-Montalcini inaugurated as President the European Brain Research Institute (EBRI), one of her main projects, aimed at attracting foreign scientists to Italy, as well as offering Italian neuroscientists, working abroad, an opportunity to return home.

As last memories, two pleasant suggestions: the video “Interview with Rita Levi-Montalcini” by Adam Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Nobelprize.org, shot in Rome on November 26th 2008 and the official Rita Levi-Montalcini’s biography In praise of imperfection – My Life and Work; New York; Sloan Foundation Science Series -Basic Books, 1988.

POPULAR SCIENCE IN VIDEO ANIMATION – A WILD-GOOSE CHASE? NOT FOR DARA O BRIAIN’S SCIENCE CLUB BY BBC

The art of Science Popularization has always been a challenge both for the communicators (in popularizing) and the audience (in understanding).

Here is an appreciable example of Popular Science in video animation, thanks to the Dara O Briain’s Science Club, broadcasted by BBC station.

In particular, I suggest you to watch the three following animation videos of the series “The story of…”:

THE STORY OF INHERITANCE

THE STORY OF PHYSICS

THE STORY OF THE BRAIN

CONDOMS WITH SILVER NANOPARTICLES: THE NEW CHALLENGE AGAINST HIV AND HERPES VIRUS SEXUAL TRANSMISSION

The medical microbiologist Xiaojian Yao and his team of the University of Manitoba have discovered a potential new way in the challenge against HIV and the Herpes virus: silver nanoparticles.

Silver Nanoparticles

Silver Nanoparticles

When the Canadian researchers tried to coat condoms in microscopic particles of silver (long since known as disinfectant agent) they found that, putting the silver-coated condoms into contact with HIV and Herpes (both sexual transmissible viruses), they were completely inactivated.

condoms

condoms

Then, according to these results, these silver nanoparticles could be bonding to the viruses or altering “key proteins” on the surface of the virus, avoiding them from attaching to their host.

In the bargain, there is a not entirely negligible advantage: the silver nanoparticles do not cause inflammation, as it currently happens using condoms that have the anti-microbial substance called Nonoxynol-9.

For anyone who wants to delve into this new technology, here is a technical but simply video about the lab synthesis of silver nanoparticles.

THE RUBIK’S CUBE MATH AND TUTORIAL – MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MOVES TO SOLVE CUBES WITH N SQUARES

The Rubik’s Cube is a 3D mechanical puzzle invented by the Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik in 1974.

Rubik's Cube

Rubik’s Cube

Its original and simpler version (3×3) – that presents 9 squares on each of the 6 faces, with 54 squares totally – can assume up to 43.252.003.274.489.856.000 positions!

Nonetheless, every position of 3×3 Rubik’s Cube can be solved in 20 moves or less (named “God’s Number”), whereas the maximum number of moves required to solve a Rubik’s cube with N squares per row is proportional to N2/log N.

These two results were found respectively by the cuber Tomas Rokicki and his colleagues in 2010 and by the Erik Demaine‘s (Professor of Computer science and engineering at MIT) research team in 2011.

Finally, I suggest you to watch this tutorial video which explains how to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute.

SCIENCE DISCIPLINES ON THE WEB – A CLOUD ANALYSIS OF THE GOOGLE RESULTS OF ESSENTIAL SCIENCE INDICATORS SUBJECT AREAS

Have you ever wondered what is the most discussed science discipline on the Web? As far as I am concerned, yes, I have.

So, firstly, I looked for both a popular and influential classification of science disciplines.
Therefore, I considered the Essential Science Indicators Subject Areas classification and I loosely adapted it for quering on line, resulting in the following 26 clusters:

1) Agricultural Sciences
2) Biology
3) Biochemistry
4) Chemistry
5) Clinical Medicine
6) Computer Science
7) Economics
8) Engineering
9) Ecology
10) Geosciences
11) Immunology
12) Materials Science
13) Mathematics
14) Microbiology
15) Molecular Biology
16) Genetics
17) Neuroscience
18) Pharmacology
19) Physics
20) Plant Science
21) Animal Science
22) Psychiatry
23) Psychology
24) Social Sciences
25) Space science
26) Toxicology

Then, I made the analysis of the presence on Google search engine of those terms, and these are the results:

science disciplines cloud

science disciplines cloud

As you can see in the above cloud, “Engineering” is the most used word, followed at a distance by “Economics”, “Chemistry”, “Physics” and the other ones, until “Animal Science”, the loss employed term.

ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE: THE NEW SOLUTION IS TO DISARM BACTERIA, INSTEAD OF KILLING THEM

The next generation of antibiotics is going to allow the cure of an antibiotic-resistant infection by a new principle: disarming instead of killing the bacteria that cause it.

Brad Spellberg and his colleagues at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles report their findings in the last October 2 issue of mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

The study describes the discovery of a new class of antibiotics which has no ability to kill the bacteria responsible for antibiotic-resistant infections, but that can still protect, by completely preventing the bug from turning on host inflammation. One of these pathogens is Acinetobacter baumannii (A. baumannii), that usually strikes hospital patients and immune-compromised individuals through open wounds, breathing tubes or catheters.

Acinetobacter baumannii

Acinetobacter baumannii

According to this research, in laboratory mice it was possible to mitigate the potentially lethal effects of the bacterium by blocking one of its toxic products.

The researchers found that the strains of A.baumannii that caused the rapidly lethal infections shed lipopolysaccharide (also called endotoxin) while growing. So, thanks to a small molecule called LpxC-1, they managed to block the synthesis of the endotoxin and, consequently, prevented infected mice from getting sick.

Then, LpxC-1 is able to shut down the manufacture of the endotoxin and to stop the body from mounting the inflammatory immune response to it, that is the actual cause of death in seriously ill patients.

Doubtless, the antibiotic resistance is a living matter, since the antibiotic resistant infections are one of the most frequently cause of death.

Resistance the film - videos

Resistance the film – videos

In the matter of this, I suggest you to follow the film project “Resistance the film” on facebook.com/resistancethefilm and to watch its popular videos.