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Welcome to the fourth issue of PrISM! Issue 4 —March/April 2008

How coffee affects the rate of miscarriage in women For may years it has been widely held in medical circles that pregnant women should avoid beverages that containing caffeine, because it may increase their risk of a miscarriage. However a new study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City has cast new light on the risks of caffeine intake during pregnancy. According to their research consuming the amount of caffeine equivalent to one to two cups of coffee does not increase a pregnant woman's chances of miscarriage. However, consuming the amount of caffeine contained in five or more cups of coffee a day does appears to double the risk of miscarriage! Caffeine is just found in coffee, but also in soft drinks (particularly many diet drinks), and chocolate. According to US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIHS) about 200 milligrams of caffeine

are found in one- two cups of brewed coffee or two cups of brewed tea. Researchers analysed blood samples from a large group of women to estimate overall caffeine consumption. What they were measuring in particular was blood levels of paraxanthine, a substance produced when caffeine is broken down by the liver. Caffeine is quickly absorbed in humans and reaches high levels in the blood shortly after consumption, but then falls rapidly. Paraxanthine on the other hand remains in the blood longer and at more consistent levels and investigators believe is a more accurate measure of caffeine consumption.

No impact from E-Day The UK's first Energy Saving Day has ended with no noticeable reduction in the country's electricity usage. E-Day asked people to switch off electrical devices they did not need over a period of 24 hours, with the National Grid monitoring consumption. It found that electricity usage was almost exactly what would have been expected without E-Day. Colder weather than forecast in some regions may have led to higher use of heating, masking any small savings. "I am afraid that E-Day did not achieve the scale of public awareness or participation needed to have a measurable effect," said E-Day's organiser Dr Matt Prescott in a message on his website. The Grid's final figures showed national electricity consumption for the 24 hours (from 1800 Wednesday to 1800 Thursday) was 0.1% above the "business-as-usual" projection. Lofty aims The E-Day concept started life as Planet Relief, an awareness-raising BBC TV programme with a significant comedy element. Dr Prescott then decided to see whether he could mount E-Day as an independent operation, and secured the backing of important partners such as the National Grid and the UK's major energy companies. They are obliged by the government to offer customers ways of improving energy efficiency, and some

used E-Day to contact people interested in loft and wall insulation. The event was launched on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral in central London by Dr Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, who described climate change as a "moral issue". Lessons learned Dr Prescott had hoped E-Day might bring a small but measurable reduction in electricity use, perhaps in the order of 2-3%, equivalent to the output of one or two fossil fuel fired power stations. The idea was to demonstrate that numerous small personal actions could make a dent in greenhouse gas emissions. "The drop in temperature between Wednesday 27 February and Thursday 28 February probably caused this, as a result of more lights and heating being left on than were originally predicted."

Pupils Of the Month These Pupil are the Pupils who have excelled in Science this month, well done to all of you! Year Year Year Year Year

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Emily Rhodes Matthew Beckley Chris Hearne Liam Bromiley Sophia Karim

Please see Mr Downing for a Prize!

Potato Obstacle Race •

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Cut a small coin sized gap in the Why short side of the box. • Plants have cells that are sestive to Put a handful of potting soil in a light. The cells show the plant corner of the shoe box. which way to grow. It must be at the opposite end to • A tiny bit of light came into thte the hole you have made. shoe box. The potato shoot twisted Lay the potato on the soil. unPut the ‘obstacles’ in the box, the til it smaller the box the less obstacles you will need Put the lid on and place the box anywhere that gets lot of sun. Don’t touch the box for 4 weeks. When the 4 weeks are up open the box. What do you see?

Charles Darwin Charles Darwin was the man who came up with the theory of evolution daring to challenge the Church’s teachings that God had created every living animal as it exists now. He was born on 12th February 1809 only 30 miles from here, in Shrewsbury. With a father who was the owner of one of the largest medical practices outside London and a grandfather in physics Darwin was destined to become a great scientist. After a brief delve into the world of medicine he turned to naturalism and geology. But it was another scientist, a botanist, who sent him on the voyage that was to provide us with the foundations of modern biology. Darwin’s friend, John Henslow, recommended him as an unpaid naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle which was to survey the east and west coasts of South America for two years (it actually ended up as five years!). The HMS Beagle left Plymouth on 27th December 1831. On this voyage Charles Darwin came across many events that changed how he, and eventually us, viewed the world. After witnessing an earthquake

the land before his eyes could also have been responsible for raising the mighty Andes. Later, in a letter to his sister, he proposed the theory that the Andes had been made by volcanic eruptions pushing the earth up—he was right. But it was not just the geologic sciences that he revolutionised. His greatest and most remembered discovery was that the fossils he found whilst scouring the coasts of South America contained a remarkable similarity to the living animals on that continent. There was also the biodiversity he noticed on the Galapagos Islands. There was a breed of finch on each island and Darwin noticed that each had a slightly different beak. Darwin formulated the theory that each one had “evolved” from a common ancestor but in different locations resulting in their similarities and differences. It was from this that he developed the “Theory of Evolution”.

Competition Time!!

Find all 10 words to do with this issue to be entered into a prize draw! If you have any articles you would like to submit to next months issue please hand them to Mr. Downing. To access the website: • Visit the temporary website at (will soon be changing to • Login with Username—Brine Leas, and Password—Prism.

Edited by : Articles By: Website by:

Aaron Phillips Alec Wilson Robert Brown Phillippa Brown Danielle Grindley Joe Tomlinson

Prism Magazine Issue 4  
Prism Magazine Issue 4  

Prism the Pretty Interesting Science Magazine produced by Brine Leas School Science Students.