Thursday, 23 August 2012


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New record for DNA digital storage

A 5.27-megabit e-book containing 53,426 words, 11 jpeg images and one Javascript program has been encoded in DNA and then read using next-generation DNA sequencing.

A team of Harvard and John Hopkins genetic researchers used 55,000 pieces of single-stranded DNA to store the e-book. Although 5.27-megabites may not seem sizeable, it smashed the previous record for digital information storage in DNA, which stood at 7,920 bits.

The modern world is a society of digital information hoarders that will one day run out of space for its countable volumes of photos, videos, blogs and emails. Genetic storage offers a theoretical solution due to its information density and stability. In comparison to CDs and DVDs, DNA can store around 100 billion times more information, which in addition to its durability makes it an incredibly feasible data store.

One of the researchers involved in this, Sriram Kosuri, stated that costs of DNA processing is declining, giving way for further development and availability of this technology.  Get ready to replace your hard-drives! 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dinosaur in Melbourne

Last week in Melbourne, shoppers were caught off their guard by the presence of a roaming Utahraptor dinosaur.

Despite being led by a woman with a lead, the dinosaur certainly seemed to be taking her for a walk, sniffing at shop entrances, shoppers and cameramen alike. The dinosaur’s trip to the high street was in promotion of the live show, Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular, which starts its new European tour in September this year.

The show is a live adaptation of the six-part BBC TV series, which started its first global tour in January 2007. Living up to the documentary’s BAFTA winning reputation, the show uses life-size animatronic puppets, computer imagery and the expertise of mechanics and artists to bring the dinosaurs to life.

After touring in the UK for two months in 2009, the show returns this December, touring arenas around the country till May 2013. I certainly do not want to miss the opportunity to see the greatest show on Earth! So how about you? Will you be seeing it?

Further information can be found on the official website:

Monday, 20 August 2012

Salt Wins Art Competition

The Swansea Univeristy Research Forum holds an annual competition celebrating art and photography in research. 

The competition invites anyone from the university to submit a piece of art that was self-produced or a source of inspiration. A professional judging panel had to choose a winner from over 100 entries eventually selecting a grain of salt to be the winner. 

Hollie Rosier submitted an electron microscope image of a salt grain from a laboratory that studies salt formation on jet turbines.  

Some of the other entries included, “Search for a Mutation”, “Blue Flow”, “Drowned Skull” and “Magnet Mania”. Check them out on this link: 

Fire in the hole!

Geology researchers from the University at Buffalo have recently conducted an experiment mimicking volcanic eruptions.

Measuring 12 feet by 12 feet, a test-bed was filled with gravel, limestone and asphalt and post-holes surrounding the bed were filled with explosives. Greg Valentine, the geology professor working on this project stated that the eruption was “exactly what we wanted” which blew the test-beds contents 50 feet into the air. PhD volcanologist Jacopo Taddeucci, from Rome, Italy, using high-speed cameras, recorded the experiment.

The project aims to provide an insight into what occurs during and after an eruption. Obviously these experiments are not accurate to naturally occurring eruptions, but researchers can control the strength of the blast making the test-bed an accurate barometer.

Results from this experiment need to be analysed by Valentine with hopes of a journal publication in the future.

A video of the experimental blast is available from the following link:

Jon Richardson on OCD

This summer, Channel 4 aired a programme surrounding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, hosted by the comedian Jon Richardson, who insists he is a perfectionist rather than a sufferer of the anxiety disorder. 

“Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder” was also shown on Channel 4, telling the story of Richard Wallace, a chronic hoarder from Surrey. The public was first introduced to Richard’s story in late 2011 with the follow-up being aired late July this year. 

OCD is no laughing matter and having obsessive tendencies is far from being a chronic sufferer. Public campaigns, charity work and programmes such as those aired on Channel 4 raise awareness and shed light on how sufferers deal with this debilitating disease. 

OCD-UK organizes OCD Awareness Week every year with a series of events hosted around the UK. This year OCD Awareness Week runs from 8th October – 14th October, so if you want to get involved, do get in touch with OCD-UK. 

If you wish to talk to anyone about issues surrounding OCD, if you’re sufferer or if you think you suffer from OCD contact a local GP or talk to OCD-UK. 

You can find the Channel 4 programmes listed on 4oD for any of you that missed it first time round.