Editorial: Issue 31 – Michaelmas 2014

Giant’s shoulders

BlueSci first went to print ten years ago, when the scientific world was undergoing some important changes. The Human Genome project, which completed its primary goal of sequencing the human genome in 2003, had required vast amounts of time and resources to achieve. As a result, it became clear improvements in technology were required and hence the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) began a funding programme which aimed to reduce the cost of sequencing a human genome to $1000 within ten years. This fuelled a boom in so-called ‘Next-Generation’ sequencing technologies which led to Illumina’s ‘HiSeq X Ten’ machine achieving the goal of low-cost genome sequencing in January 2014. The huge swathes of data being produced from such technology will soon permit population level studies of higher organisms and vastly improve our investigative powers, likely revolutionising health care. Graphene had only just been produced but its strength and efficient thermal and electrical conductance has since generated a $9 million industry. Though commercial applications have yet to be unlocked, its predicted influence in electronics and bioengineering are set to revolutionise how we interact with technology. Finally, physicist Peter Higgs had recently been awarded the ‘Wolf Prize for Physics’ in recognition of his pioneering work on mass generation. In this past decade, scientists have gone on to confirm his theoretical particle, which won him a Nobel Prize last year.

More importantly, the distinction between these three fields has become increasingly blurred as interdisciplinary problems require combined research efforts to solve. For example, prosthetic eyes now consist of encoders and transducers to mimic the natural retinal output of the eye, requiring research input from scientists of every discipline. Throughout these ten years of influential changes, BlueSci has continued to explore and report upon this ever-changing landscape and this issue’s theme reminisces about the great scientists who have gone before us.

We look back to the history of our relationship with colour and how the development of synthetic dyes changed the medical world forever. The entrance of a manmade object to inter-stellar space after a thirty six year journey is truly a feat of human engineering, but we will have to wait another fourteen thousand years for it to leave our solar system. Though the discovery of electricity revolutionised society forever, it is yet to relinquish all of its secrets as we discover its emerging role in controlling biological development. However our predecessors are not without fault; we discuss how the eradicable Measles virus has recently made a frightening resurgence following the MMR vaccine controversy. In our Focus article, we examine the early legislative decisions surrounding the consumption and cultivation of GM crops and ask if they have stifled subsequent research efforts. To celebrate our tenth anniversary, some of the previous contributing members of BlueSci provide an insight into life after leaving the magazine. We detail some of the most important scientific discoveries since 2004 and reflect on those that grabbed public attention in the media and those that achieved the highest scientific accolade – a Nobel Prize.

This magazine would not have continued through these past ten years without the persistence and perseverance of countless individuals. The authors, illustrators, editors and producers of this magazine may change year on year, but the ultimate goal is always to strive for an interesting and engrossing read. I hope that this ten year anniversary issue inspires you to get involved with BlueSci and that you join me in celebrating the tireless effort of those who have gone before me to make this such a wonderful publication.

Greg Mellers
Issue 31 Editor

 

Issue 31: Michaelmas 2014

Editor: Greg Mellers
Managing Editor: Sarah Smith

Second Editors: Sarah Smith, Nathan Smith, Irene Marco-Rius, Alison Mackintosh, Ana Duarte, Ornela De Gasperin Quintero, Robin Lamboll, Daisy Hessenberger, Caitlin McCormack, Camilla D’Angelo, Greg Mellers, Carol O’Brien

Copy Editors: Sarah Smith, Simon Watson, Caitlin McCormack, Robin Lamboll, Zaria Gorvett, Greg Mellers

News Editor: Joanna-Marie Howes
News Team: Madeline Kavanagh, Paula Siemek

Reviews: Nathan Smith, Dhiren Mistry, Jannis Meents
Focus Team: Greg Mellers, Emily Bailes, Nathan Smith, Daisy Hessenberger
Weird and Wonderful: Brandon Bedford, Rachel Harvey, Ellen Rugg

Production Team: Sarah Smith, Simon Watson, Caitlin McCormack, Nathan Smith, Robin Lamboll, Greg Mellers, Sophie Harrington, Arporn Wangwiwatsin
Illustrators: Matt Cotten, Alison Mackintosh, Sue Smith, Emily Pycroft, Daisy Hessenberger, Alex Hahn
Cover Image: Dhiren Mistry

 

References

Features
Our Colourful History – Simon Garfield – Mauve: how one man invented a colour that changed the world
Voyager 1http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html
Bioelectricityhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3243095/
Measleshttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123944/
Nature vs Nurture – Ellis and Boyce – Current Directions in Psychological Science June 2008 vol. 17 no. 3 183-187

Regulars
Lab on a Chip – Chattopadhyay et al. (2014), Single-cell technologies for monitoring immune systems. Nat Imm, 15(2), 128-35
YouTubehttps://www.khanacademy.org/
Alcohol Pricinghttps://www.nice.org.uk/Guidance/Lifestyle-and-wellbeing/Alcohol
FameLabhttp://famelab.org/uk/

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