Researching the invertebrate that lives in puddles: bdelloid rotifer – 105science

Professor Alan Tunnacliffe of the Cambridge University Department of Chemical Engineering tells why the bdelloid rotifer has fascinated top biologists. This microscopically tiny invertebrate lives in rain puddles. The creature can survive without water for millions of years, and by now really ought to be extinct. Our guest scientist tells why it isn’t and how it manages its DNA.  To learn more: More links for this weeks guest scientist

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ZOMBIE CELLS: Bryan Kaehr and colleagues at the Sandia National Laboratories have found way to capture the shape of living cells using silica. They pour silicic acid onto cells in a dish, and heat them to 400 degrees Celsius to evaporate the organic material and set the silica. And this leaves a  replica of the living mammalian cell with all of its nuances of shape. They coat the replica with gold, visualise it using a scanning electron microscope to see amazing architectural detail including curves of their DNA. Scientists hope their process might also be useful for fuel cells; sensor technology and growing nanotechnology. Related links:

ORGANIC NUTRITION: It’s commonly assumed that organically grown produce can be more nutritious than the other stuff. A study from researchers at the Federal University of Ceara in Brazil claims that organically grown tomatoes have more vitamin C, in other words, they’re more nutritious. This echoes results published in 2011 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, which showed higher concentrations of vitamin C and phenols in organic crops compared with conventionally grown crops. Related links:

WHAT’S ON  Clear your diaries, the Cambridge Science Festival will run from the 11th to the 24th of March. To peruse the schedule of events and make a booking, go to their website: We have pulled some events you might see:

o  Professor Alistair McGrath will discuss the relationship between Christianity and science, focusing especially on debates raised by atheists such as Richard Dawkins. Monday 11th March at 7:45 PM
o  Join a panel of experts who consider the costs of conservation. They discuss how we put a price on existence of species and ecosystems on Monday 11th March at 8 PM
o  The new Cambridge Science Centre provides hands-on science and interactive exhibits, workshops and demos and is now open 7 days aweek. Visit their new venue on Jesus Lane from Tuesday 12th March
o  The Polar Museum presents a panel discussion by leading experts on research in Antarctica.on Tuesday 12th March at 6 PM
o  Learn how astronomers can study planets by analysing meteorites with a microscope. “Astronomy by microscope” is on Tuesday at 6 PM
o  Discover extremes of the universe and wonder what it’s like on other planets. If you like loud bangs and a mess, reserve your Friday
15th March at 7 PM
o  Wonder if we can and should live forever? The issues of immortality will be discussed by biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, biochemist Guy Brown, and philosopher Stephen Cave on Friday 15th March at 7 PM
o  Discover your body composition and use infrared technology to compare your body’s distribution of fat, tissue and water to that of athletes. That’s on Saturday 16th March

Details at the website


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