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september 2011 issue 2

science and technology news and views magazine



SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham


Editorial Biodiversity

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The Galapagos Islands: A Threatened Paradise


Biodiversity in Plants: Why should we care?


Relationships of Organisms in the Coral Reef


All We're Asking is to Give Plants a Chance


Death of the Coral Reefs


Better Lives Since Sequencing of the Human Genome?


Physics and Mathematics


The Moon, the Tides and the Slowing of the Earth's Rotation 16 The Shape of Nature


CERN Series: Part 1


The BP Crisis: When are we going to stop?


Cyber Terrorism 22 David Gregory Interview Are We On the edge of a Mobile Phone Crunch? Wind Power –‘Energy for the Future’ in the UK?


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The New Mac AirBook




Industry Insight 29 The Study of a Postgraduate


Postgraduate Courses at UoB


Crossword 33 Top Tips for Witing a CV



SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

Editorial Greetings readers! We present to you our most recent issue of SATNAV slim that coincides with the arrival of the new academic year! In addition to welcoming back our previous readers, this time of year enables us to extend our hands to a new influx of potential readers – the new freshers of 2011. So as well as welcoming you to our magazine we would also like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the University itself – you are going to love it! For those of you who haven’t come across SATNAV before, whether that is because you are new to the Uni or just the magazine we are the student run, official science magazine for the University (and we are awesome!). The new academic year brings with it the resurrection of all that is student life – of course this will mean different things for each of us, but for many

it will probably consist of an overwhelming sense of trying to cram in as many things as possible in to each 24 hour period. So students, when you are next sitting at your desk cramming for an exam in to the early hours of the morning, trying to fit a gym session in before lectures or alternatively deciding between doing a shift at work or going to Fab, you may be forgiven for wishing you were a Phreatichthys andruzzii. This cavefish that has just been discovered living in the deep caves under the Somali desert has been isolated in complete darkness for almost two million years, evolving without a day-night cycle. The result of this is their circadian rhythm has evolved in response to this lack of light and consequently their body clock has shifted from the typical 24 hours to 47 hours – meaning each of their ‘days’ is almost twice as long as ours! If only evolution would be so kind to us…

Issue 2 - September 2011

Please read on and enjoy this issue where we continue our quest for protection of the plant, evaluate the growth of the mobile phone and give you an insight in to particle acceleration! Our writers have done a wonderful job again – so a huge thank you for that! We would also like to thank the SATNAV team for the production of this magazine. Check us out at for the full edition and search SATNAV on facebook where we can keep you updated with all that is going on! You will also find us around campus in the next couple of weeks recruiting new writers/designers for the SATNAV team, we are all very friendly and always welcome new members so come and say hello :). Enjoy! Jade and Andy

Become a member and write for the next issue of SATNAV Magazine

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SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

The Galapagos Islands: A Threatened Paradise When you read the word Galapagos, what images come to mind? Maybe the colourful iguanas, the lazy giant tortoises or the cheerful Blue-Footed Boobies? Perhaps something more historical, thinking back to 1835, when the volcanic islands welcomed the Beagle to their sandy shores, and young fellow named Charles Darwin left his first footprints in an island whose uniqueness would catalyse one of the most celebrated and controversial theories of all scientific history. It does not come as a shock that this incomparable archipelago was named Planet Earth’s first World Heritage site in 1978. However, Darwin was not the only one to recognise the Galapagos’ beauty; others have also seen it and, by taking advantage of its exotic resources or simply showcasing them to the rest of the world, have caused UNESCO to add an alarming extra to its label, World

Heritage in Danger. Looking back, one cannot help but wonder why such singularity is concentrated in these islands, and why it is disappearing so rapidly. Furthermore, in a world in desperate need of TLC for its natural resources, one of the biggest questions is whether the conservation of the Galapagos Islands and its fragile inhabitants are worth the fight.

New faces in a Crowded House: Endemism in the Islands 5 million years ago, an oceanic tectonic plate named Nazca moved over a geological ‘hot spot’. Geological hot spots are sites of enormous volcanic activity within the Earth’s surface and Nazca’s encounter with this lead to the formation of a cluster of volcanic islands, all roughly with the same age.

As these geological structures had risen from the seas, they were completely isolated from life on Earth. The virgin soils started to become colonised as animals and seeds reached the islands. One such example is the Giant Galapagos Tortoise, which is among the longest-lived of all vertebrates. These land-dwelling reptiles probably colonised the archipelago as they were sailing from South America, possibly through the Humboldt Current which travels from Peru down to the Equatorial regions, where the Galapagos are located. Having set foot on the islands, in order to cope with the changing habitat, these adventurous individuals would have to undergo a speciation mechanism, called evolutionary radiation, from which one endemic species will develop into several endemic species. This evolutionary process is common in oceanic islands, and other examples can be found in this

Laura Nunes


SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham archipelago. The birds, famously named Darwin’s Finches, are a classic example of such a mechanism. Less wellknown but equally impressive, is the case of the Galapagos snails, which are the proud detainers the title of more endemic species per island. Evidence shows that the land snails have adapted to different habitats and that distinct shell phenotypes have risen due to moisture levels and microhabitats. Additionally, competition for resources between and within land snail species could have driven ecological and morphological differentiation. One of the key characteristics of this archipelago is the lack of continental predators or human settlements. In fact, only 4 of the 15 main islands are populated. As a result, the animals evolved without an instinct for fear and flight. That is one of the reasons why sea lions, blue-footed boobies, iguanas and albatrosses can be observed from a very close distance. In order to keep these animals undisturbed, the tourists are given a set of rules that must be obeyed, such as not getting too close to the animals as it might frighten them and never leave the trails so as not to crush any buried eggs or nests. A lack of predators have caused some animals to lose some abilities, like the case of the Galapagos Cormorant, also known as the

Flightless Cormorant. This unique bird is the only member of the Phalacrocoracidae genus to have lost the ability to fly and, consequently, its wings are small and undeveloped. Moreover, its inability to fly restricts the species distribution to a 9 km coastline in the island of Fernandina, where food supplies are abundant. The location of the islands are highly affected by the ‘El Niño’ phenomenon, where the convergence of two contrasting oceanic currents combines fauna and flora from two contrasting environments, hence giving rise to unique marine species. These include the only marine iguana that inhabits the planet and a small endemic species of Penguin. In a world already crowded with so many species, the appearance of the Galapagos Archipelago has certainly brought some new faces to our planet. However, as special as they can be, these new tenants are experiencing major threats to their homes which can cause the whole ecosystem to perish forever.

How are the islands getting hurt? The islands’ exuberant beauty and uniqueness have caught the attention of major businesses,

mainly tourism, commercial exploitation and the introduction of alien species. In order to make these islands inhabitable, numerous species had to be introduced, such as cattle. The introduced goats are major herbivores of endemic plant species, competing with giant tortoises and iguanas. Additionally, they can be responsible for habitat erosion and reduction of ground cover which present a challenge for tortoises and their nests. Subsequently, projects have been devised in order to control the population numbers of this alien species. Other invasive species could have reached the islands accidentally, such as most alien invertebrates. Even though Galapagos is considered to have the lowest proportion of introduced insect species in the world, the intensification of traffic between the islands and the rest of the world can have a large impact on the archipelago. Two disease vectors have been documented in the islands: the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus, known for bird malaria and West Nile Virus, and the Simulium black fly, which could be a potential vector of bird diseases. Furthermore, introduced fire ants have been known to threaten the unique populations of Galapagos land snails.

Laura Nunes 5

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

Commercial exploitation is one of the major causes of biodiversity loss in the archipelago. Having been exhaustively hunted in the 17th century as a source of fresh meat for whalers, 11 species of giant tortoises currently are struggling to survive in the archipelago, most of them containing only a few individuals now. Similarly, tourism has been a two-sided situation. As a great promoter of the archipelago’s exclusive biodiversity, it has also been one of the biggest driving forces behind the dwindling amount of marine biodiversity among the islands. Oil and dumping from ships pollute the waters and motivate the introduction of more foreign species into the islands. For the sake of reducing the risk of alien species, tourists are carefully monitored; having the sole of their shoes washed before and after leaving the boat, so that nothing is transferred from one island to the next, as well as not being allowed to take any ‘natural souvenirs’ with them Still, despite all of these factors, natural causes can also be blamed for threatening this natural museum. Extensive studies have been conducted to assess the genetic conditions of many endemic species, with most of them showing low genetic variability. This mirrors many radiative groups in other oceanic islands and it exhibits the recent split between the mainland species and the individuals that arrived at these islands, as they carried a small representation of the genetic variation present in the mainland populations. Also the mechanism of population bottlenecks could also influence the reduction in genetic diversity. Bottlenecks are caused by severe reductions in population numbers, thus populations which have suffered strong natural and induced pressures, such as tortoises by volcanic activity, are vulnerable to a considerable loss of genetic variability. Once genetic information is lost, it can no longer be recuperated and thus the survival of a species can be seriously compromised. Giant


tortoises are the best example of this troubling situation, as the few exemplary individuals, such as the famous Lonesome George, are not enough to rescue the species from extinction.

and from that perspective the Galapagos Islands demand special attention. The loss of biodiversity will also have a tremendous impact economically as local populations rely primarily on tourism, fisher

Why should we bother?

ies and agriculture, all of which are dependent on the islands’ finite and threatened natural resources.

Possibly the biggest question that surrounds conservation is ‘what to we gain from it?’ In cases where a simple “it’s the right thing to do” is not enough, other reasons are called for. There are many ways to quantify biodiversity, such as scientific importance and commercial purposes. The Galapagos fit in these categories and then some. Scientifically, the Galapagos have something that most places on Earth lack: its recent origins. Being such a recent geological phenomenon, these islands provide crucial information on the history of our planet, how species can adapt and evolve, thus being a window for microevolution, speciation and unique prehistoric patterns. Such scientific insight can only be explored if it is preserved

The conservation of these islands has been recognised by many entities, which aim to raise awareness of not only this biodiversity hot spot, but also all the others hot spots that punctuate our planet. Our home faces a period of rapid extinctions that are unfortunately far from our control. However, some places can still be rescued – places such as the Galapagos Islands, which accommodate so many breath-taking landscapes and courageous organisms that have fought through numerous adversities in order to make these volcanic islands their home. Laura Nunes

Laura Nunes

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

Biodiversity in Plants: Why Should I Care? Conservation: ask the average person what this word means to them, and they might think of images of cute tigers, or a lonely polar bear balanced precariously on an ice floe. Indeed these are species at risk of extinction, but behind these charismatic icons, a greater and more pernicious danger lies: the staggering rate of loss of plant biodiversity.

Current rates of plant extinction have been estimated at 100-1000 times the natural background extinction rate. Plants are vitally important. They provide food, medicines, ornaments, habitats, raw materials, fuel, carbon sinks and myriads of other amenities to humans and other life forms. They produce oxygen through photosynthesis: 20% of the world’s oxygen is estimated to come from the Amazon rainforest alone. Rice is a staple food for over half the world’s population, and grains of all kinds are now the basis of the global human diet, feeding over six billion people. Many medicines, including aspirin, morphine, digitalis, quinine and the anti-cancer drugs vincristine and taxol all originated from plants, and it is estimated that 25-50% of medicines approved

for use in the USA contain either plant-derived active ingredients, or synthetic or modified versions of compounds originally identified in plants. When reminded of the huge importance of plants as a natural resource, it is worrying that current rates of plant extinction have been estimated at 100-1000 times the natural background extinction rate. The Sampled Red List Index, a report published by Kew and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in September this year, described one out of every five known species of plant as threatened by extinction. The crisis deepens when you consider that these figures are for known species. – which we shall never be aware of. A 25 acre plot of tropical rainforest can contain nearly 700 species of tree – equivalent to the total tree diversity in North America – and yet this area of

tropical rainforest is being lost approximately every 17 seconds. Plants are essentially the bottom of a house of cards: remove them and everything else collapses. For a top predator such as a tiger or bear to go extinct would be a shame, to be sure. But it would not be as catastrophic for biodiversity and the ecosystem as a whole as the extinction of the 20% of plants that are currently threatened would be. Plants are relied upon by so many other species, from bacteria and fungi to herbivores large and small, and, ultimately, humans. So will we be seeing adverts to ‘sponsor a Lady’s Slipper Orchid’ or ‘donate just £2 a month to the Society for the Protection of Vietnamese Conifers’? It seems unlikely, but action must be taken, and soon. Stephanie Smith Biosciences MSci

Laura Nunes 7

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

Relationship of Organisms in the Coral Reefs I’m sure most of you have seen by now the movie Finding Nemo. The film’s popularity has promoted profound interest in coral reef investigation and thousands of people have brought marine aquariums into their homes. The journey of Marlin and Dory navigates them through obstacles and establishes a basis of trust between two different marine species, but does this happen in real life? Are there any true inter-species friendships among reef dwelling organisms? Unfortunately, there is no such relationship between Marlin, Amphiprion percula, and Dory, Paracanthurus hepatus. Dory is a surgeonfish: an animal that occurs

in large schools in the wild that migrate from reef to reef removing macroalgae from dead coral skeletons. They are vegetarian fish but quite aggressive. Surgeonfish carry a scalpel like device at both sides of their caudal peduncle (the area between the tail fin and the body), that can be erected for defence and offence. They regularly defend their eating grounds against damselfish, triggerfish, butterflyfish and angelfish. Marlin is of course an anemonefish and does have a friend: the anemone that clownfish live in, which offers a sanctuary of defence. Any would-be predators that try to make a meal of a clownfish will be



lured into a barrage of stinging tentacles and will quickly learn the error of pursuing them. To thank the anemone for its protection the clownfish will reward it with regular cleaning and often they will drop morsels of food or droppings onto the anemone’s central disk. Yummy huh? The relationship between clownfish and their host anemones is a commensal relationship as although both animals benefit from being together, neither animal is strictly reliant on the other. Anemones are also used in much the same way by invertebrates. The anemone crab, Neopetrolisthes ohshimai, and the anemone shrimp, Thor amboinensis, are both animals that live commensally with anemones. Although if an amenonefish is present or decides to move in they will be quickly bullied into vacation. An interesting example of fish and shrimp friendship is the arrangement that exists amongst Watchman gobies, Crytocentrus sp., and Pistol shrimps, Alpheus sp. Watchman gobies are bottom dwelling fish that perch on coral debris using a suction cup evolved from their pectoral fins. They dig holes under the sand using their mouths and are quick to retreat into their tunnels when faced with danger. Pistol shrimp too are particularly nervous animals that like to dig holes under rock and quickly back-pedal into these dens as a means of safety. Pistol shrimps are allowed to be nervous though as

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they have incredibly poor eyesight. When a pistol shrimp and a Watchman goby meet they will not attack each other as they have a strange inherited understanding between them: the pistol shrimp will use his large claws to burrow under rocks and build a tunnel while the goby perches nearby and keeps watch. When the tunnel is finished, both animals will sleep in the burrow. During the day when the shrimp needs to forage for food, the goby will hover above it while the shrimp “contacts” the goby’s tail with its large antennae. If the goby sees danger it will flick its tail several times and the shrimp will flee into the tunnel. Perfect buddies! There are many parasitic organisms in the oceans that like to feed on animals externally. Luckily there are also animals that like to eat these parasites and the affected animals know where to go when they need help. Just as we head to the doctor’s for help so marine animals head to their local “cleaning station”. Cleaning stations are areas of the reef where large groups of cleaner shrimp, Lysmata Amboinensis, and wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, congregate. The understanding of

the animals that visit cleaning stations is fascinating to behold. Fish, turtles and even moray eels will wait their turn before they hover next to a cleaner and tilt back in an odd fashion exposing the area to be cleaned. Cleaner fish and shrimps will even move into the large mouths of predatory fish to clean their teeth without being eaten.

animals with their highly evolved dorsal fin suction cup. The Remora benefits by having a large escort for protection and a large taxi for transport, it also has a large factory for food as it eats droppings from the host. The Sessile invertebrates, such as host is thought corals, also need help from other to benefit from the species of the reef. The “Acropora relationship as the crab”, Xanthiid sp., is a tiny Remora eats parasites and commensal crab that lives bacteria. amongst the branches of stagSo there are friendships (kind horn corals, Acroporidae sp. The of…) in the ocean, particularly animal will clear through detritus around coral reefs. It is of great that settles on the coral and keep interest that a lot of these the polyps clear for projection, so relationships are not necessarily that symbiotic zooxanthellae can between different species but photosynthesise and feed the completely different organisms coral. The crab will also defend the altogether. These mutualistic coral against predatory organisms relationships are widespread and such as flatworms and have evolved over the course of nudibranches. many generations. A level of trust has been established between Large marine animals such as these animals- much the same as whales, turtles, rays and sharks with fictional Marlin and Dory but are often accompanied on their I guess it wouldn’t have made a journeys by “suckerfish”, Remora good film if Marlin hadn’t left the brachyptera. These are fish that anemone, right? lack a swim bladder and so lazily move around by Alan Mahon sticking to

Cleaner fish and shrimps will even move into the large mouths of predatory fish to clean their teeth without being eaten.

mattk1979/flickr 9

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

All we are asking is to give plants a chance..... At the Eden Project in Cornwall, there is a display which shows what would happen if plants no longer existed. In a typical domestic scene, clothes, food and furniture all disappear. Whilst striking me as being slightly strange, as without plants to produce our food we would probably be more concerned about our imminent starvation than the lack of wooden furniture, a valid point is made. We rely on plants from the moment we wake up in the morning until we go to bed at night, at which point we’re probably still lying on cotton sheets in a wooden bed. As well as being the backbone of biodiversity, supporting innumerable other species, the plant kingdom has huge diversity of its own. The study of plants is going to play a major part in developing new ways of feeding the world’s population. New technology allowing the breeding of plants to ensure better resistance to pests and disease is being developed, and the genetic engineering of plants, while controversial, represents a leap forward in agriculture. So bearing in mind that plant biology is a fast moving and important area of the biosciences, why has the University of Birmingham dropped its third year Plant Biology module? A confession: I wasn’t always so enthusiastic about plants. I scraped through my first year module and felt a little silly about choosing it in second year,


however that’s when it really got interesting. I enjoyed the lectures, finally understood the experiments, and felt that maybe this was something I wanted to be involved in. A drastic improvement in my module result sealed the deal and I chose not only to take the Plant Biology module, but to write my dissertation on Genetically Modified Crops. Imagine my surprise then when August rolled around and I received my module information for Human Evolution.

in any form.” I know that the plant science I did at school consisted mainly of covering photosynthesis at least twice a year and repeatedly chopping up onions to inspect their root hair cells through a microscope, the most exciting part of which was playing with the knives.

However what can be done about this plant-apathy? Dr Coates believes that part of the problem is that students don’t realise everything that plants have to I’m as interested in evolution as offer: the next biologist, but I was “In the last 10 years, because of hoping more for Arabidopsis new technologies like genome rather than Australopithecus. sequencing, it’s possible to do I emailed the school office to molecular plant science, when check that it wasn’t a mistake, it just wasn’t before, and maybe and was told that no, the module we’ve been a bit slow in our wasn’t running. Less than 8 people teaching to try and bring this had signed up and the School across to people from an early of Biosciences had exercised its stage.” right to withdraw courses with so few people. So why are plants so Certainly in schools this is the unpopular? And is this case, and perhaps even in first botany-phobia restricted to year Biological Sciences. If people Birmingham, or is it a widespread want to study molecular biology trend? Dr Juliet Coates, the they have plenty of options, and lecturer who would have been in don’t seem to realise that plants charge of the plant sciences can offer them interesting insight module thinks so, and what’s into this subject area, and that more, she has a good idea as to lectures won’t just involve the reasons for it: “looking at pretty flowers”, as one biochemist put it. “I suspect that some of the fundamental problems start Timetabling too might be an before you even come to issue. When asked, many people university; I think there’s a remark that they like plant problem with the way plant biology, but that it’s just not a biology is taught and perceived priority. Even human biologists by students at school, and I think have said that although they don’t a lot of people come to uni not think plant science is needed on expecting to enjoy plant science their course, they do enjoy botany

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lectures. They don’t want to ‘waste time’ on plants while they could be studying eukaryotic gene expression or proteomics, which are also very useful and relevant subjects. However, as Dr Coates points out, what could be more relevant than plant biology? “The big things that we’re worried about at the moment are sustainable agriculture and food security, and we’re going to have to address these issues with new crop plants, new sources of nutrition and ways of using land more effectively. The other big thing we’re worried about is with fossil fuels running out, where are biofuels going to come from? It’s going to be plants and algae, and so we are going to need to train a generation of researchers who are well versed in plant science.” So how do we make sure that this year is just a blip? Juliet Coates goes into schools to try and engage students in plant biology and is working on trying to change the third year module to make it more attractive to students. However, the bottom line is that without more students signing up for the module it won’t be run next year either.

What could be more relevant than plant biology? In the end, as with many things, this issue comes down to money. Modules with small numbers aren’t economically viable, especially not in the current climate. This isn’t a policy I agree with. In my opinion there is no excuse for there not being any final year students graduating from the University this year with no third year level knowledge of plants, especially when this is such a vital time for plant biology. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the situation, and I’m too busy trying to graduate to blockade the Vice Chancellor’s office with plants to try and change his mind. So if you’re a first or second year

biologist, make sure you give plants a chance this year because they’ve got it all. It sounds ridiculous, but if you like cellular biology, they have cells. They also have complicated biochemistry and gene regulation as well as, of course, photosynthesis. They’re what’s going to save us from a food crisis and are one of the fastest moving research areas in biology today. We can only stop University of Birmingham from becoming a plant-free zone by getting involved and showing that it’s worth funding the course. Alison Leonard 11

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

Death of the Coral Reefs Coral reefs span a large proportion of our oceans. Most people are familiar with the intense spectrum of colour that greets us while scuba diving in the red sea or in the Great Barrier Reef; the wonder of which has been subject of great media coverage over the last couple of decades. But these reefs exist all over the world, along the equator wherever the ocean floor is relatively shallow, approximately 10 metres deep. Corals are Cnidarians, simple animals that have existed for 490 million years. They take in zooplankton through their polyps for nutrition and many corals have a symbiotic relationship with a type of algae called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae make sugars through photosynthesis which feed the corals and the corals’ waste; phosphates and nitrates, feed the zooxanthellae.

of offence. Soft corals, such as Sarcophyton sp., use chemical warfare and shed a layer of cells to prevent growth or sting the victim. Other corals, for example Favia sp., have stinging sweeper tentacles that sweep an area around them every night to make sure no other corals can grow near them. It is this system of coral growth and coral fighting that ultimately builds coral reefs. As corals are killed, their skeletons remain. These skeletons are then colonised by macroalgaes, coral fragments and coral eggs which then grow into new colonies.

Coral reefs are areas of immense ecological diversity. The large branching and plating structures of hard corals provide security for small reef fish such as Anthias and Damselfish. Invertebrates such as Hermit Crabs can take advantage of the detritus that accumulates whilst shrimp, such as the cleaner Corals grow by building a calcium shrimp, can set up cleaning carbonate skeleton; some polyps stations for the countless fish then migrate onto the new species that frequent the areas. skeleton while leaving some Eels and Turkeyfish use the tissue behind which will grow into dead-coral caves as suitable a new polyp. Corals reproduce ambush sites. both sexually and asexually- Acroporidae reproduce On a smaller scale, Polychaete sexually. They expel both sperm worms burrow through the and eggs into the water which calcium carbonate remains then fertilise and grow into new of dead corals and feed on colonies wherever they settle. microorganisms such as copepods Almost all corals can reproduce and amphipods. Filter-feeders asexually through fragmentation. such as feather duster worms When a particularly clumsy turtle and bristle stars peek their or diver bumps into a coral, appendages out of crevices to a piece will fall off and settle feed and macroalgaes, such as somewhere. Providing the coral Caulerpa and Rhodophyta, anchor gets enough nutrients delivered wherever they can to grow under through the tide and enough light the radiant sun until they are to satisfy its symbiotic algae, it eaten by large fish species such as will grow into another, genetically Surgeonfish or Turtles. identical colony where it lies. All of this remarkable diversity is When a coral grows too close to a in some way dependent on the neighbour colony they will fight. formation of reefs by the growth Corals have a number of methods and death of corals. It is a sad


fact that just as mankind is slowly destroying our biodiversity on land, so too are we devastating it in the oceans. The problem is, until recently, corals have not needed to evolve mechanisms to deal with varying water chemistry. Corals are simple animals and require simple parameters to survive. Any deviation from those requirements results in coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is the evacuation of the symbiotic zooxanthellae that most corals need to survive. This ultimately results in the coral starving to death. Corals exist only around the equator in relatively shallow waters that are around 25ÂşC, the salinity of the water is 35ppt and the pH is 8.2, the water must also be clear of detritus for maximum light penetration. Industrialisation has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to the largest concentration ever recorded. The ability for the plants and algae of the world to metabolise these levels has been surpassed. This has led to increased acidification of seawater. The increases at the moment are small enough for corals to cope but scientists have predicted that in less than 40 years the levels of CO2 in the oceans will have dropped the pH to around 7.9. This will cause worldwide coral bleaching and the extinction of thousands of species of Cnidarian. The acidification of seawater has another effect in reef formation: at lower pH values, corals find it more difficult to fix calcium carbonate which means that even small levels of acidification have detrimental effects on the growth of stony corals.

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Climate change has dangerous effects too. As the polar ice caps are melting due to the greenhouse effect, the salinity of seawater is decreasing. Experiments from scientists and aquarists over the last few decades have concluded that some of the more delicate corals such as Acroporidae cannot tolerate long term changes in salinity. Photosynthetic corals (corals with symbiotic algae in their tissues) need to be near to the water surface where the light penetration is strong. As the sea levels rise and the corals become deeper, the light spectrum utilised by these corals is filtered out by the large body of water above them. This problem is happening right now in the Indian Ocean, in particular the Maldives.

then blocks out the light required by photosynthetic corals and prevents polyp extension in all corals.

Coral reefs are most beautiful when they are undisturbed. Left to themselves they are self-sustaining biological sanctuaries for millions of organisms.

Mankind is taking steps to recover this damage done to coral reefs worldwide. The asexual reproduction of corals via fragmentation has made it easy to grow corals from coral debris. If as little as one polyp survives, The single, most destructive threat a coral can, in most cases, be facing the oceans today has had regenerated. Scientists such as a huge impact on coral reefs: the Austin Bowden-Kerby from the barbaric act of bottom trawling. Fiji Coral Gardens Initiative have This practice of catching fish by had enormous success cultivating dragging a huge net along the colonies from fragments by ocean floor completely tears apart fixing them to a cage a few the reef and hundreds of years of metres below sea level allowing reef growth. The damage done for maximum light exposure by bottom trawling is so obvious and providing optimal growth that scars across the seabed are conditions. Once these fragments visible from space! This method have grown to fist-sized colonies of fishing, if left to continue, will they are placed into cracks and physically remove coral reefs as an crevices in the reef to flourish as eraser removes print. Secondary they once did. damage exists too from bottom trawling in that huge amounts Over the last decade several of sediment are kicked up from retired warships and freighters the net, blanketing neighbouring have been purposely sunk reefs in sand. This raft of detritus in order to create new reefs.

These ships are stripped of all salvageable materials before being sunk so that only the carcass meets the ocean floor. This method in particular has scientists excited as it has been witnessed across the pacific that sunken planes, tanks and ships from World War II have been colonised by corals, anemones, hydrozoans, gorgonians and coralline algaes in as little as a decade. Reef fish soon move in and in relatively little time an ecosystem every bit as diverse as a coral reef can be quickly manufactured. The world beneath the tide is a colourful, wondrous place full of life. Coral reefs are most beautiful when they are undisturbed. Left to themselves they are selfsustaining biological sanctuaries for millions of organisms. It is unfortunate indeed that mankind’s place in the world invades all ecological niches. If we continue to impact the oceans in the manner that we are it won’t be long before they are gone forever. Alan Mahon

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Better lives since sequencing of the Human genome? DNA is the single most important molecule in all living organisms; it is the instruction manual and machine driving us to grow and develop from the moment of fertilisation, instructing processes in our bodies throughout our lives, until death. Being that DNA is such a fundamental molecule of life, many scientists have worked to discover more about it; from Watson and Crick discovering the structure of DNA to the most recent biological landmark; the completion of the Human Genome Project.

human DNA) and to identify all the genes (sections of DNA that encode proteins). From here, they had to store this information in databases for analysis. The project cost U.S taxpayers $2.7 billion, so a question we all might be asking is, how has the project benefitted us?

One of the main areas concentrated on is gene therapy (insertion of healthy DNA into cells and tissues to treat disease). In 1999, 18 year old Jesse Gelsinger, as a sufferer of ornithine transcarboxylase The Human Genome Project deficiency (a hereditary disease unveiled a whole new pathway of causing ammonia to accumulate biology enabling us to better our in the blood) volunteered for lives today and in the future. Two gene therapy. Gelsinger had gone examples include; DNA matching through periods of hospitalisation for Identification of suspects in his early years and relied on a at crime scenes and producing heap of pills to control his disease bioengineered drought-resistance to the point where he appeared crops in order to yield more for us healthy and was medically eligible to eat. for the gene therapy trial. He received the treatment and 4 days The Human Genome Project was later after multiple organ failures completed in 2003 and lasted he was dead. It isn’t completely 13 years. The aim of the projects clear why he died but it is known was to sequence (identify all that a substantial immune the bases - the structural units response was triggered causing of DNA) the human genome (all his organs to fail.



So in some cases knowledge of genes provides false hope for treatment of genetic diseases but in reality the picture is bleak and applying gene therapy to real cases away from the regulated confines of the laboratory proves a lot harder. Like every treatment in medicine, gene therapy will take a long time to be infallible but the knowledge is there and the more we know the better treatments will be so incidences like the Gelsinger case don’t ever happen again.

The Human Genome Project There has been some success; in 2002 18 month old boy Rhys Evans successfully underwent gene therapy treatment for a potentially fatal bone marrow disease. Rhys went from being on a ventilator intensive care, to a healthy happy young boy at home with his parents within a year of the treatment. He has to take antibiotics but even this will not be indefinite. His parents describe his progress as “ ...nothing short of a miracle.” Rhys was the first British recipient of this treatment and has made a more of an impact on medical history in Britain that he can possibly be aware of. There is hope for the future that with funding more people with Rhys’ disease can be treated in this

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way. This proves that there is the possibility that gene therapy can succeed in improving the quality of lives. With the ability to sequence the human genome at continually decreasing cost, scientists are looking into creating personal genomes to clinically assess individuals for hereditary diseases. This would ultimately enable a patient to go to their GP, have their genome sequenced and with genetic counselling could discuss the likelihood of developing certain diseases in the future. They would also be able to ascertain their drug response which would help provide the correct drugs and dosage based on how their genes will cause them respond. However, to date there are problems interpreting the data with regard to the how high the probability of developing a certain disease has to be and when or if this would become a cause for concern.

medical genetics, statistics and bioinformatics were on the scene using DNA techniques to identify the victims from remains as small as tissue fragments. This method lead to identification of one quarter of those missing, so proved to be of great importance in cataloguing the victims of the attack. Has knowledge of the human genomic sequence proved to better lives? Well, there have being successes and there have been failures and in many cases great improvements need to be made to make use of genome full-proof. Genome sequencing has unlocked a doorway into a whole new type of medical treatment and with future developments in research one day who knows? There is the possibility we could use gene therapy to treat cancer and tailor medicines to our exact genomes through every day medicine. Future advances in this technology could provide uses that one could only imagine.

There is debate over ethical issues such as revealing a high risk for a disease to a patient for which there is no treatment, as this could worry the patient unnecessarily. Some data will provide less of a personal importance but a Claudia Palmer familial importance. For example, some information may mean that the patient themselves will not acquire a disease but there is high risk of the disease passing to further generations as we often hear about in hereditary breast cancer. Another example where knowledge of the human genome has been of great use is after the 9/11 world trade centre attack. Just days after, a panel of professionals in forensics,

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The Moon, the Tides, and the Slowing of the Earth’s Rotation We are all familiar with the idea that the tides are caused by the Moon, and the interaction between the earth and its satellite deserves some thought. We are inclined to regard the tides as coming and going throughout the day, but a more justified point of view is that in fact it is us that visit the tide. The gravitational attraction of the Moon, and to a lesser extent the Sun, pulls on all parts of the Earth, but not with the same strength. Material on the side of the Earth facing the Moon has more force exerted upon it than material on the opposite side. This is because the gravitational force between two objects is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them, as Newton famously elucidated after an apocryphal encounter with an apple. Of course, the liquid water of the Earth’s oceans is more prone to moving under this exertion than the rigid, solid material of the Earth. The net effect is the creation of two “bulges” of water on the Earth, one facing the Moon, the other facing away from the Moon on the opposite side of the Earth.


The water on the side facing the Moon is attracted more strongly than the centre of mass of the solid, rocky Earth, which in turn is attracted more strongly than the water on the opposite side. There are also two smaller “bulges”, produced in exactly the same way, but by the Sun. Now, to some celestial observer, the tides, these “bulges” in the Earth’s oceans, maintain the same position with respect to the position of the Moon, while the Earth, as it rotates on its axis, moves through them. This is the origin of the “coming and going” of the tide.

This means that as the Earth slows down, the Moon moves further away from the Earth, its distance increasing by about 4 centimetres a year.

momentum of the Moon. This means that as the Earth slows down, the Moon moves further away from the Earth, its distance increasing by about 4 centimetres a year. The process is self-correcting, because if the Moon is further away from the Earth, its gravitational pull on However, this is not the end of the the Earth’s oceans is smaller, story; we have so far left out of our producing smaller tides and a description the effects of friction. smaller drag force on the Earth. So the rate at which the Earth slows As the Earth turns through the down and the Moon moves away tidal “bulges”, the water exerts a from the Earth decreases with drag on the Earth which acts to slow it down. This frictional effect time. causes a continual slowing of the Earth’s spin. The days are, very Matthew Robson slowly, getting longer by about 0.002 seconds every century. As the Earth slows down, it loses angular momentum, and angular momentum must be conserved, so where does it go? The answer is that the spin angular momentum of the Earth is transferred to the orbital angular

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The Shape of Nature The father of Fractal Geometry, Benoît Mandelbrot died last term on October 14 at the age of 85. He founded a study of shapes which is time and again found reflected in nature; fractals played a key role in the inception of the much publicised Chaos Theory. Throughout his early life Mandelbrot naturally visualised and solved problems using shapes. However in academia this proved illmatched to the traditional views of European Mathematical society. Of particular notoriety were a group called Bourbaki who had a reputation for very strong rigour. So strong was the air of conviction that Mandelbrot decided to end work in America. He took on a research position at IBM in 1958, allowing him the freedom he needed. It is here that he went on to develop his grand theory of Fractals, a term he coined in 1975. A fractal is in essence a rough or fragmented shape that is `selfsimilar’. That is to say it can be split up into parts which themselves look much like the whole shape. So a fractal will appear the same no matter how much it is magnified. Shapes with these properties had been previously studied but only the simplest ones had been

visualised since many demand tedious calculations. Fortunately, as a researcher at IBM Mandelbrot had access to early computers which were perfectly suited to such tough problems. He found he could generate phenomenally beautiful images from very simple formulae. The key ingredient was a touch of recursion; repeatedly using the results of a procedure as its own input. One particularly simple equation lead him to discover the shape which was named after him. A shape so awe-inspiring it is held as evidence of Mathematical Realism. It is so incredibly intricate it must have been discovered, no man could have possibly invented it. The Mandelbrot set is an extremely complex fractal whose formula is

z = z2 + c. The resulting z is

recursively pushed through the equation ad infinitum. Now some values of c will cause the numbers to spiral off uncontrollably. The ones which don’t are plotted to reveal astounding results. The traditional Euclidean geometry which we are taught at school concerning the world of circles and

triangles is poorly equipped to describe naturally occurring shapes. In the opening of his seminal piece The Fractal

Geometry of Nature Mandelbrot argues ‘mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth”. Fractals on the other hand do well to model the real world.

Many objects have a clear fractal nature. In biology trees, lungs, coral and cauliflower all have branches that resemble the whole, providing insight into how they grow. Huge river mouths appear vascular and yet fractal, the way water quickly Fractal models finds the coast reflects are used in fields as the efficiency of the diverse as: predicting the circulatory system. course of earthquakes Physical features like mountains and and the behaviour of clouds are less obvious the AIDS virus. examples but fractal models are routinely used in special effects to render them. Besides providing answers in Mathematics and Science, fractal models are used in fields as diverse as: predicting the course of epidemics; forest fires; earthquakes and weather systems; the behaviour of the AIDS virus; human crowd behaviour and the stock market; detecting cancer and compressing data. The visual appeal of fractals is also apparent in our appreciation of art and architecture. Examples include religious iconography, the Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, the Sagrada Familia and the Eiffel Tower. Benjamin Holmes 17

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CERN Series:Part I

Motivation for the LHC and the Standard Model The Large Hadron Collider is the most ambitious particle accelerator ever created. However, the basic principle of accelerating particles to learn about advanced physics is not new. The LHC builds on several decades of success in particle physics, both at CERN and elsewhere, Julian Evans explains some of the physics they hope to understand from this. So why do scientists want to accelerate particles anyway? When this was first achieved in the early 1930s, the eventual goal was to induce nuclear fission (splitting the atom) by firing an energetic particle into a large atomic nucleus. However, during some of these early experiments, new particles such as the muon were discovered. This prompted advances in particle acceleration and detection, to reach higher energies and to see what other particles could be found. By colliding two fast-moving particles together, the energy available to create new particles is even higher. The 1950s and 1960s saw the observation of a whole

raft of new particles. Initially it was supposed that they had no substructure and that there could be an infinite number of these, but theoretical physicists concluded that all matter is made from a total of 12 quarks and leptons, and that antimatter (particles which have the same properties as matter but with opposite electric charge) is made of 12 antimatter equivalents. All interactions between particles occur due to four different forces, which have carrier particles called bosons. However, not all of these had been discovered at the time. The theory based on these particles has become known as the Standard Model, and it still



describes most of particle physics as we know it today. Quarks form the bulk of what we see. There are six types (or

All matter is made from a total of 12 quarks and leptons, and that antimatter (particles which have the same properties as matter but with opposite electric charge) is made of 12 antimatter equivalents. “flavours�): down, up, strange, charm, bottom and top. The lightest, most stable are the down and up quarks, which form the protons and neutrons which make up the nuclei of atoms. The strange and charm quarks are less stable, and particles made from these, such as the kaon and lambda, were first discovered around 1947. The unusual choices of name represent the strange quark being quite unexpected, and the charm quark being a very welcome find due to it making the theory symmetric. The bottom quark was not discovered until 1977 and the top quark not

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until 1995, both at Fermilab in This was another major success Illinois, USA. They have much for the Standard Model. It is still greater mass and cannot exist not complete, for more than a trillionth of a however. second before decaying, The one The one particularly the top quark. theorised par ticle The Standard Model had predicted their existence yet to be discovered is before they were the Higgs boson, which discovered, to fit the gives mass to the others, mathematics. Quarks and is needed to justify are only ever found in nature in groups of three the ver y existence of (baryons), or in a quarkmass. antiquark pair (mesons), theorised which are collectively called particle yet hadrons. For instance, a proton is to be discovered made of two “up” quarks and one is the Higgs boson, which gives “down” quark, and a neutron from mass to the others, and is needed two downs and an up. Most other to justify the very existence combinations are far less stable. of mass. If the Higgs is not The other family of particles discovered (and if it exists, the are the leptons: the electron, LHC will almost certainly find muon, tau particle and three it), a new theory will have to be neutrinos. They differ from quarks developed, which may predict yet in that they are found alone. The more particles. Any future particle muon and tau are similar to the accelerators would have to be electron in that they have the tailored to search for these. same charge, but are heavier and Other insights should be gained unstable, hence them not being from the LHC, such as proof of the detected often – the tau was existence (or non-existence) of only discovered in 1975. Each supersymmetric particles, which of the neutrinos represents one were first suggested in the 1960s, of the other leptons. They have an extremely low mass and do not interact with much – their presence can only be inferred from the laws of physics. Every lepton also has an antimatter counterpart. The four forces of nature are gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear interactions. Each is carried by a particle, except for gravity. Electromagnetism is carried by the photon, a “packet” of light. The strong interaction is carried by gluons, which act on the so-called colour charge of quarks. The weak interaction is carried by the W and Z bosons, which were discovered in the late 1970s at CERN, shortly after they had been theorised.

although no attempts were made to combine it with the Standard Model until around 1981. These would help greatly to explain some more of particle physics’s current mysteries. For example, one might reasonably expect that due to the symmetrical nature of much of physics, that there might be equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the universe – however significantly more matter has been observed. Much of the mass in the universe is dark matter, the composition of which is still unknown, and it is thought that this may be supersymmetric. There is no direct evidence for the existence of supersymmetry yet though, and there are many other theories which attempt to explain the nature of the universe. All we can do for now is wait for the right collision. Julian Evans

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The BP Crisis : When are we going to stop? In the aftermath of another devastating oil spill, Andrew Wright invites readers to discuss the world’s environmental crisis and if it can be addressed before it’s too late. After BP set about trying to fix what is now another painful chapter in our planet’s growing list of man-made disasters, the old question of energy sources and usagesate is arising once more, and some are beginning to wonder how much longer we can keep using oil and fossil fuels to sate our world’s ever growing demand for power.

Of course situations like these are rare, and BP will indeed work hard to increase the safety of oil drilling and transportation; however instances like these can be so deadly and so harmful to our environment that when they do happen (and in cases like the Deepwater Horizon it was only a matter of time, see http://gizmodo. com/5551175/bp-knew-ofdeepwater-horizon-safetyDisaster Strikes. risks-almost-a-year-ago), the The most recent environmental consequences are usually disaster, the Deepwater Horizon catastrophic. Oil Spill, occurred this summer, The planet is running out of on April 20th 2010 when an fuel reserves, and energy offshore drilling unit - the companies continue to Deepwater Horizon - exploded use every last drop of non40 miles off the coast of Louisiana and sunk, causing the renewable fuel to save rig to leak thousands of gallons themselves in the short term. This serves not only to make the of oil, rapidly becoming the cost of living more expensive largest environmental disaster each year, but also continues in US History. to harm our planet, whilst other The leak lasted for 88 days, energy sources such as nuclear with estimates of about and solar power may not be 35,000 - 60,000 barrels of progressing quickly enough to oils flowing into the Gulf each serve as a replacement when day, eventually covering the time does come to fully approximately 2500 square miles of ocean, not including the utilise them. large amount of dissolved oil lingering far below the surface. Although BP are rightly taking responsibility in a cleanup project estimated to cost them about $20 billion, it highlights how dangerous oil and other similar non-renewable substances can be even when not polluting the air.


What options do we have? Continuing to use NonRenewable Sources: At the current rate of usage, fossil fuels have predicted to last approximately another 250-350 years maximum (not taking into account industrial expansion

from growing countries such as China). This will mean that all the problems associated with global warming and air pollution are only going to get worse, and could put our planet at serious risk. Pollution is not the sole problem when thinking of fossil fuels, the excavation and drilling to obtain these fossil fuels is destroying dwindling animal habitats, and destroying earth’s precious ecosystems. Some people believe that the earth’s ecosystem will adapt to this change; but for many, it is a huge risk to take - and it is not one humanity has ever needed to take before. For everything on the planet, the continuing use of non-renewable fuel provides a bleak prospect for the future, as companies dig deeper into our planet to hunt down the last remaining deposits of oil, gas and coal. Nuclear Energy: The main problem with nuclear energy at the current time is cost. Expensive to build and to run, the power stations tend to split opinion to whether the nuclear industry should be allowed to grow or to be stopped altogether. Nuclear energy is a very efficient form of gathering energy, and technology has certainly improved since the 1990’s to ensure the safe use and security of radioactive substances.

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But like oil, accidents at nuclear power plants can be so devastating that it causes many people to be very wary of using nuclear power. However Nuclear power is much less destructive than using nonrenewable sources, and at the current time other cleaner sources cannot compete with the power output of nuclear energy. Couple this with the amount of land usage it would take to establish enough wind and solar farms to compete with nuclear energy, nuclear seems like a sensible option that will most likely be a major source of our energy in the near future.

but may still require energy plants to create the hydrogen to be used for fuel, unless cleaner ways of harnessing hydrogen are found.

Renewable Energy: Clearly the most favourable option, but as of yet we are struggling to efficiently harness many clean forms of energy which are viable for the future. Wind farms are the best option when we consider renewable energy, turbines can be installed offshore, and farmers can lease tiny amounts of land to install a turbine on their property. It is free and the cost of setup can be recuperated in about 9 months. However, because of the amount of land that wind turbines use, large scale wind farms may not be feasible, and at the current time fossil fuel plants are still used to backup wind energy due to the intermittent nature of harnessing it.

Who is to blame for this?

Choices are still yet to be made regarding new forms of energy and this writer thinks that we may be leaving our decisions too late. In such an important phase in mankind’s history, we should be planning well ahead to try and avoid any problems in obtaining energy in the future - problems which could include the denial of fuel to large countries which could result in political tension and even war.

It is easy to make an example out of BP for such carelessness when dealing with such a damaging substance, but we are surely all to blame for this. We ourselves waste huge amounts of energy each day. Governments across the globe have only recently started to really focus towards making our

planet cleaner, a decision which should have been taken about 20 years ago when the first clear signs of trouble emerged. With fuel poorly taxed and emissions poorly regulated, companies such as BP are put under immense pressure to drill in more dangerous places, and with the obvious risks attached, maybe we should not be so surprised to hear that the Gulf Oil Spill is our fault too. We demand cheap oil, and are aghast when petrol rises by a few pence. Many of us have no qualms when driving to work when a bus or a bike is better. We all know how to be more environmentally friendly, but maybe we’re not trying hard enough. In one way or another, we are all intrinsically linked to that oil spill, and hopefully this terrible accident will serve as a message to some that we all need to shoulder the blame for the spill and what we are doing to our planet. Andrew Wright

Solar energy is another popular choice, but converting the power to useful energy in houses is very inefficient with the current technology, however new technologies are being used to increase the efficiency and over the next century we may start to see solar power as one of our main sources of energy. Hydrogen fuel cells will be a direct step in trying to replace the use of oil for fuel,

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1 1 1

Although cyber attacks could potentially wreak havoc on this country, those in the know suggest that most of our enemies do not possess the core skills required to hack such sophisticated systems. With the global eye firmly on the information security sector, we can be sure that both British and Global security agencies will have many teams of cyber do-gooders watching our backs, protecting us from the dastardly misdoings of the dark side.




New targets could also now include certain industrial control systems, which have also been identified as under threat. Attackers in the know could change vital settings on an untold number of industrial systems across the UK. They could potentially change anything from food distribution routes, by feeding the drivers with false information, to reducing the safety of any vulnerable machine, by disabling safety features and safe-guards. A more cunning terrorist could exploit vulnerabilities in the financial sectors and skim off undetectable amounts of money, with the aim of funding other devious exploits. At the moment, fears that fully fledged cyber war will break out between sovereign states such as the US, UK, Russia and China are being downplayed. However, all of these nations now see the

The risks posed by the cyber savvy harbingers of doom are not taken lightly, with the formation of the US Cyber Command in June 2010 with the UK soon to follow with a similar system; global governments are taking the situation very seriously. Both the UK and India have confirmed



plans to set up online tracking systems designed to sniff out criminal and dangerous behaviour on the Internet.

Cyber terrorism on the other hand is perceived to be a much greater threat, with attacks such as those experienced by Twitter in December 2009, where visitors to the site were redirected to a If a fully fledged cyber attack were website claiming to belong to the to be implemented against this “Iranian Cyber Army�, becoming country, we could expect all the more common. But this is not the following systems to be potential extent of what malevolent hackers targets: Financial markets, could potentially do. It has been James Churm Communication networks identified that many computer (including those used by the applications running vital national emergency services), Smart power services and financial computer grids, Nuclear power stations, systems are open to attack by Social networking sites, Traffic competent hackers. systems, Water and sewerage systems



Internet as a useful extension of the conventional battleground; using it to infiltrate security systems to gain information about other nations activities. For example, the Sophos report suggests that such techniques were used to target suspected nuclear sites in both Korea and Syria.


Over the past few months ever increasing hype has been surrounding the emergence of a new type of battlefield; one that does not exist in the tangible world. The threat of cyber warfare and cyber terrorism has been the subject of intense debate and media interest, gaining significant presence in The National Security Strategy outlined by HM Government in October of last year and in the Security Threat Report published by Sophos (an internet security company) in January 2010.




Internet as a useful extention of the conventional battleground


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Exploring the science of subjects across the campus

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About ISSUE 3


The topic will be ‘Science in’ and it will explore the various and sometimes unexpected ways that Science is present in other subjects! From arts and literature, to food and emotions. Start writing and stay tuned for more SATNAV updates.

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If you've got any aspect of science that you want us to know about, write and share it with us! Plus: reviews on the latest gadgets, a bounty of scientific articles, science fiction, more careers information, and puzzles!

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SATNAV TEAM Chief Editors: Jade Ogle & Andrew Wright Life sciences Editor: Ryan Hamnett Review editor: Scott Davies Maths & Technology editor: Benjamin Holmes Copy editor: Laura Bowyer Secretary: Laura Nunes Co-Layout Editors: James Churm & Laura Nunes Publicity Officer & Treasurer: Pavithra Ganesan

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David Gregory Interview

BBC WM Mailbox – 27th Oct 2010 When news reaches us of medical breakthrough, natural disasters or recent scientific discoveries, I am sure that for most of us the picture that springs to mind is of a typical scientist in a white coat sitting in a lab with a mixture of chemicals and a whole lot of test tubes in front of them! But, do any of us really stop to think about the reporter who is providing us with this wealth of information? How informed they must be about the world around them and how much we wouldn’t know if they ceased to source us with this information? Science and the media really do go hand in hand, but in a less obvious way than the actual science and the results it produces. So, when given the opportunity to go along to the BBC studios in Birmingham and interview David Gregory, the SATNAV teamed jumped at the chance to go and find out more information about life as a science reporter for the BBC.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? I was always really interested in science and did a PhD in physics. It was on charge transfers of 3-5 semiconductors, at the electron level and was very industryorientated.

So what made you decide to become a science correspondent?

How important do you think a PhD is these days? Well there are really good journalists on my team without any science qualifications at all! But they make up for it with their interest and enthusiasm for the stories. I think PhD’s can be really good fun – you get to carry out real research on a topic and you become an expert on something, even if it is just one small piece of a bigger picture. There are times I just get stuck in the corridors or on a job talking science to fellow physicians and its great. A PhD is not for everyone, but I would advise to stay in education and become as qualified as you can!

How long have you been involved in science media? I’ve worked within the field for 15 years and the last 10 years of that has been for the BBC.

What is life like as a BBC journalist? The hours can be really long sometimes. You could be just packing up for the day and a story comes in - the story has to be covered so you have to go! It can take over your life a bit, but it is exciting going in to a situation that has just occurred and you are there to get all the information on it to inform the public. Aside from that, there is a lot of researching but just as much drinking coffee!

I really enjoyed doing my PhD and I didn’t leave the research What's your favourite thing sector because I didn’t like it. I am quite a people’s person and enjoy about your job? communicating to people, so this The excitement of occasionally seemed like an ideal mix of the covering a story that has never two! been reported on before!


What is the most exciting thing you have covered whilst working here? A big story was the foot and mouth fiasco, as a reporter we would experience the whole picture. We would turn up to report and find piles of animals burning, which was quite horrific. For the big stories we tend to get in on the action and they can sometimes be physically really hard work, for example, we lost a car in the last big flood that we covered.

Do you think the relationship between science and the public has changed recently? Yes, I think the development of the media has provided the public with more tools to learn for themselves. Science has ‘leaked out of the ivory tower’ and become more accessible to the everyday man.

Any predictions on where the future of science will lead? Well science is really just starting to go abroad, as it does, technology will undoubtedly be

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham transformed. Japan is a good example; science there is recent, big and fun. The first time I used live technology was over in Japan and it was just great.

Do you think the public can misunderstand science because of the media and build up misconceptions around certain areas? As a reporter I feel I have an onus to take my job seriously, I got into the field to communicate science to the public and there is an educational role in that. There are certain risks and statistics that the public tend to misconceive, such as protestors pulling down phone masts because there was a suggestion that mobile phones are linked to cancer when in fact there was no scientific evidence. I would say that everything is not as bad as it seems, when you get down to the science of stuff you realise how bad everything could be. Perhaps we should do a show focussed on busting science myths!

Any advice for prospective scientific reporters? You need to be clear about what you want to do. There are different branches with different roles. Journalism is telling stories about what’s happening and you need to be able to write well. To be on the radio you need to be able to get your points across concisely and there are technical skills you need on top of science to do well in that area. There are also courses you can do really focussed in science media, for example Imperial College London do a masters in Science Communication. Finally, don’t rush into a job, ensure you are qualified enough before you enter. And of course you could always try some shameless flirting – unfortunately it didn’t work for me!

Are we on the edge of a mobile phone crunch? We all have at least once experienced a break-down in our mobile network, especially in big crowds during sporting events or gigs. People living in big cities like London and New York face this problem increasingly more often. And it threatens to get worse. When the 3G network was rolled out a decade ago, cellphone congestion seemed almost unreasonable. Then Apple launched the iPhone and have sold 50 million devices since. Think of the mobile network as a motorway that is built for the BlackBerry of Mercedes and the iPhone of BMW. Hence it wasn’t especially crowded 10 years ago. But every now and again traffic jams began occurring. The computing company Cisco predicted that if the growth in smartphone popularity continues in this vein, mobile traffic will double every year for the next four years. Thus the occasional congestions will get worse. ‘Something has to be done!’ scream the terrified social networkers. Luckily, there are a few magical ways to widen the motorway. In a recent article, News Scientist explains that additional lanes could be added to the overcrowded road if the military, TV broadcasters and

satellite communications give up a few pairs of 5MHz chunks of spectrum to the mobile operators. But that might take a lot of bureaucratic work, and yet not get close enough to the fill the quickly increasing demand. In the US they have found their answer – tax iPhone owners more or cap their internet allowance - are the days of unlimited If the growth browsing over? in smartphone Fortunately, increasing the fees is popularity continues in this vein, mobile traffic not always the only way. will double every year for

the next four years.

Cheap mobile phone transmitters, similar to wireless routers, could be plugged into broadband connections already installed in almost every home and office. By shifting the traffic onto the internet, they would bypass smartphone transmitters even when users are out. It would even make mobile communications more energy efficient! But the operators need to sort out the expected technical struggles as soon as possible, because the demand for unlimited internet won’t fade away that easily. Now that we’ve tried it, could we ever live without it? Teodora Barzakova

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Wind Power –‘Energy for the Future’ in the UK? Time has started to transform the world, with depleting fossil fuel reserves (coal, oil and natural gas) and an ever-increasing focus on renewable energy, it is no wonder that terms like ‘sustainability’, ‘zero emissions’ and ‘low carbon footprint’ have become buzz words in today’s world.

200,000 homes. Not surprisingly, the UK Government has hailed it as the ‘Energy for the Future’.

However, a lot of energy experts have criticised the Government’s over-dependence on offshore wind farms, stating that such projects are expensive and through investing in them the In a developed economy like the Government is starving other UK the situation is no different. In renewable options. This opens this country, the most extensively up another debate on what the used form of energy source has future holds for renewable energy been the wind and it has been in the UK, especially at a time estimated that by 2020 about when in places like Birmingham, 20% of the UK’s electricity will you have a growing market for be generated exclusively from other clean sources of energy, like wind power. Considering that at hydrogen fuel cells. You have the present, only 2.5% of electricity first hydrogen powered vehicle, produce in the UK comes from the first hydrogen powered house wind power as per statistics and the first hydrogen refueling released by the Department of station, as a result of the extensive Energy, the figure of 20% is simply work done by the Fuel Cells Group staggering. Is that figure a bit too of the Chemical Engineering exaggerated to be true or is it an Department at the University Of achievable goal? For now, one can Birmingham. only imagine, but time will tell. Hence, in the last couple of years, The UK has the largest number the energy market has found of wind farms in the world. The itself in an increasingly interesting heavy reliance on wind farms, predicament, especially with an especially on offshore wind increased focus on solar power in farms could be down to the fact other parts of the world like the that the UK is an island nation. Middle East, Northern Africa and Recently, the UK Government California which receive between has justified its interest in wind 2000KW/m2/year and 2400KW/ power by investing a massive m2/year of incident sunshine. £800 million on what is now the Every form of energy has certain largest wind farm in the world, pros and cons of its own .The off the coast of Kent. It has more pros of wind power are pretty self than 100 turbines and when in full explanatory. The large amount of production (250 Megawatts) can electricity that can be produced supply electricity to more than from running the wind farm, the

Laura Nunes


very life span of the wind farm (normally 20-25 years) and the perfectly clean energy source which is wind. These sum up the benefits of using this energy in general and they also explain as to why the UK Government is so supportive of it. Wind power has certain clear cut disadvantages of its own. One of the major drawbacks of wind power has been storage and it becomes quite relevant on less windy days. Till date, there has been no existing technology to deal with this problem. From the consumer’s perspective, it is disadvantageous because the energy is highly subsidized, resulting in higher electricity bills and thus faster emptying of the wallet. In terms of the environment, there are issues like noise pollution and bird accidents. Some people say that since the offshore wind farms are well out into the sea, the noise pollution issue becomes quite a minor one but a lot more significant with onshore wind farms. So, what do you think - is wind power ‘Energy for the Future’? Vinayak Ashok

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

The new MacBook Air arrives…but is it 6 years after its Sony equivalent?


The time has come when a new eagerly anticipated Apple product hits the shelves. The USA was the first to see the new and improved version of the ultimate lightweight Mac. But is the MacBook Air unique? It’s true the technology behind the Air has been around for a while, and players such as HP and Sony have already experimented in the ultra lightweight laptop market. Back in 2004 the VAIO X505 was released with very similar attributes as the 2010 Air. Weighing at just over 800g the VAIO is almost 300g lighter than the MacBook Pro. Its specs were very good too considering that it’s over 6 years old, and the VAIO

boasted an Intel Extreme Graphics Processor and operating Windows XP Professional. So why was the VAIO not a big hit? Put simply, it may have been the price. It was nothing short of $3000 (£1900) in 2004 compared to a mere $999 (£636) for the Apple in 2010. Although the price of laptops has been steadily decreasing over the years, back in 2004 the VAIO made the mistake of being far too out of reach for the majority of people. Early critics are arguing the new MacBook Air is simply a “much faster iPad” or equally a “much slower MacBook Pro”. I disagree however; the appeal of the Air is not its speed, but its stylish,

lightweight design. For the price, it is not technologically outstanding, nor is it going to bankrupt Microsoft. However, more and more people are converting to Apple’s more user friendly layout and the Air gives customers another option to consider when the style of a laptop is as important as the technology within it. Apple have not created a new era in lightweight laptops, they’ve created something cool and quirky at a time when it seems that anything Apple touches turns to gold. Greg Povey

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Credit Suisse is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate in its employment decisions on the basis of any protected category. Š 2011 CREDIT SUISSE GROUP AG and/or its affiliates, subsidiaries and branches. All rights reserved.

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Industry Insight A Technology Analyst's Profile My internship experiences were essential in landing my graduate offer. After carrying out hours of research on first year internship opportunities, I managed to secure a seven-week summer scheme with a retail bank. I also wanted to experience investment banking so I did a ten-week summer internship in operations at Credit Suisse. I was offered a chance to interview for a graduate technology role and eventually accepted a full-time offer from the office of IT strategy. I eventually decided on technology as I wanted to see as much of the bank as possible. I also have quite a short attention span, so moving to a division which leads constant change and encourages mobility suited me. I was lucky in that my internship referral allowed me to skip most of the graduate application process. Through my internships, I had the chance to learn the basics of how banks work in a steady and controlled environment

Training I took part in a two-week training period when I joined the bank, which covered an introduction to financial markets and various inter-personal skills. The courses were interactive, but most of all they gave me the chance to build great relationships with the rest of my graduate intake. After the initial two weeks, training has been very much mixed in with my day job.

My Job My department offers internal project management and strategy consulting expertise to major projects and initiatives which are ongoing across the organisation. As part of this group, I’ve held various roles in both a project management and a strategy consulting capacity – ranging from test management in private banking to a consulting analyst in prime services. Having the ability to quickly understand new concepts, products, services and processes across the business is important. You have to learn to address colleagues in unfamiliar business areas in a way they understand, with the level of knowledge that they expect. The most successful people in my role are great communicators, who can get their point across accurately and concisely.

Building credibility Working in a project management and consulting role means that I’m lucky enough to work with senior management regularly. I also work closely with internal experts from the investment bank, private bank and asset management divisions, as well as teams in London, New York and Zurich. As a young member of the organisation and liaising with senior staff means that you really have to work hard to establish a reputation. Building credibility can be tough in my role, but I have an

experienced team to help give me the right level of exposure to the relevant people. Working hours depend heavily on the project I am assigned to and the deadlines on the horizon. While I’ve had a couple of late nights over the past year, my typical working hours are 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. I try to have something arranged most evenings – meeting friends, playing for my sevena-side football team or just going for a drink. The impact of the recession The downturn has presented a new and fascinating set of challenges for the industry. All the major banks have begun to ask tough questions about how they do business, and whether they are tackling these new challenges in the right way. Based in strategy consulting means that I have a fantastic opportunity to get to grips with and understand these challenges. The post-downturn environment means you gain exposure to all kinds of new ideas and innovations and, as a result, I believe there has never been a more exciting time to enter the industry. Tom Technology analyst Credit Suisse 29

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

The Study of a Post Graduate Enrolling on a postgraduate course is no easy decision. Many commitments must be made. In these tough economic times, it can be a daunting conclusion to come to. After all you are making a financial, timely and even stressful commitment to

I would be running for the hills as soon as I threw my Mortar Board up in the air. Well yes, that was my plan at start of my University career, but as you near the start of your final year, you have to make a tough decision - job or continued study? Twenty-Five grand a year

in science, engineering and technology-based roles a Masters can do wonders.

A Masters shows an employer that you have participated in more than just learning the subject material, but also have applied it and made a real impact on the field of related research. My Masters project is the study of Large Scale Structures in the universe. Put simply – the study of the design of our universe on the biggest of scales. My research is actually contributing to a better understanding of dark matter – a form of mass that is undetectable visually and one of the few areas of physics where we have all most no understanding. I have been given rare access to the largest computer simulation of the cosmos to aid my study. It’s an invigorating thought that by the end of my project my work could be ‘Oxford style’ or maybe even upping your ‘game’ and achieving does sound tempting. So why turn ‘Harvard style’ referenced by many something that only a fraction a blind eye and begin to consider in the Astrophysics community. of people begin their post-study an even larger folder of mounting A Masters is a great platform to careers with. And that is the loan receipts and enrol on a pursue greater knowledge and benefit of a Masters – you stand Masters like I did? Well for me the understanding and for me is both out. Not just by the 3 letters that reason is to do with a lot of people enjoyable and motivating. I’ve will follow after your name but by picking to straight away pursue gained a great deal of personal the skills and unique experience that twenty-five grand. satisfaction from sharing ideas with which you will gain on your others on a similar wavelength respective post-graduate course. An increasingly large population especially with lecturers and of young people have a degree staff. You are most certainly more You might have thought of some sort. In some respects directly involved with these staff that after doing a degree in the value of a degree has on problems associated with their Physics and Astrophysics and diminished and as a result being own research interests and given experiencing three years of just a Bachelor can hinder you similar responsibilities as those library fines, harassment from when looking for those top that once taught you. Moreover candidates bidding for your vote graduate jobs. Of course these you will be working in a similar in the guild elections, spending challenges can be met with a well- environment as most related jobs hours in labs convinced you have rounded university experience. and this will prepare you for the done the impossible - ‘created’ Participating in voluntary work, transition from study to work. energy from nothing and hours societies and part-time work It’s not just the contribution to spent constantly trying to solve just to name a few, will aid your selected subject’s continued a physics problem only to end your grovelling for that top 100 progression that gets admiration up with the destruction of the graduate scheme. But for those from prospective employers but universe by ‘dividing by zero’, that specialised jobs specifically the transferable skills you have


SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

gained while doing it. Project management, critical thinking, time management, teamwork, presentation and communication skills, are just a select few of those infamous ‘buzz’ words employers are after but also coincide with the abilities you will be able to prove you have as a Masters graduate. At this point in the year, during the ‘apply for grad-jobs’ season I’ve accumulated enough Graduate Jobs brochures to help insulate my cold Selly Oak student house, but on a side note, its pronounced to see while looking in these brochures, that some careers demand a masters qualification for entry - especially in the realm of research and development. In my case it has also opened the doors to a career in engineering. I’ve been turned away by many engineering companies with the unholy opening sentence: “I’m a physics graduate looking for a job in engineering”. But bring up the M-word at ‘Gates of St. Isambard Kingdom Brunel’ and you’ll be escorted to a ‘silver-lined’ application form. For me it has really improved my accessibility to not only jobs specific to my degree but also those other branches a Bachelor degree wouldn’t allow you to access. For most people that other M-word will be the most important factor in deciding on post-graduate study – Money. With the economic down-turn and University tuition fees on the verge of a mass up-turn,

continuing to fork-out on an expensive dose of studying can put a lot of people off. However, look deeper into the problem and you may see a surprise conclusion in this debate. Recession usually and has (over the last year especially) seen a drop in graduate job allocations. That means fiercer

competition. Some people, especially over the last few years, have taken on post-graduate study as a counter-measure in order to beat the recession. It is tempting to assume staying in education is your best choice based on that knowledge, but I believe it’s best to enter a postgraduate study such as a Masters degree with the intention of sharpening that competitive edge. Delaying the entry into the jobs market by 1 or 2 years may immunise you from this grim financial reality but the real advantage of a Masters is a more attractive CV for companies to ogle over in the worst and best of economic times. And continue to ogle, these companies will, even after they have given you a job. A postgraduate qualification may increase your long-term earnings, although it may not necessarily make you eligible for a higher starting salary.

pick-up on the skills you gain through your Master’s project or thesis. You demonstrate to employers that you have now begun to apply your hours of constant study in the library and you have been responsible for your own research and come up with your own innovative concepts. You will gain a deeper understanding of your subject compared to your rival - ‘the Bachelor’, and will most probably have published work to prove your true commitment to a subject. Expensive it may be when factoring ever-growing tuition fees and living costs but in the long term, employers will reward your decision to pursue a greater challenge during that ‘spare time’ you had off when you weren’t filling your living room up with traffic- cones you found on Bristol Road after a night out. As a warning, post-graduate education should only be undertaken by those that can commit to ‘raising the bar’, really challenge their understanding of their chosen subject and are committed to self-improvement. For many, post-graduate study is a steppingstone to a new career area or a means of continuing academia towards a PhD, for me, it is about gaining that competitive edge in the jobs market. Something that we all seek and inevitably, all need to find. Andreas Cola

At the end of the day we are all looking for a decent job. Postgraduate study is not everyone’s best route to that finishing line. But from my experience it has a dramatic impact on your employability. Employers will 31

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

Postgraduate Courses at the University of Birmingham School of Biosciences MSc in Analytical Genomics MSc in Biological Recording: Collection and Management MSc in Molecular Biotechnology MSc/Diploma in Ornithology MSc in Toxicology MRes in Molecular Mechanistic Toxicology MRes in Conservation and Utilisation of Plant Genetic Resources MRes in Molecular and Cellular Biology School of Physics and Astronomy MSc Taught 1 year course in Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors MSc Taught 1 year course in Medical and Radiation Physics PhD/MPhil in Astrophysics and Space Research PhD/MPhil in Cold Atoms PhD/MPhil in Condensed Matter PhD/MPhil in Nanoscale Physics PhD/MPhil in Nuclear Physics PhD/MPhil in Particle Physics PhD/MPhil in Solar and Stellar Physics PhD/MPhil in Theoretical Physics School of Chemical Engineering PhD with integrated study in hydrogen, fuel cells and their applications PhD/MPhil Bioprocessing PhD/MPhil Energy Engineering PhD/MPhil Food Processing PhD/MPhil Speciality Chemical Products PhD with Integrated Study in Chemical Engineering MRes in Chemical Engineering Science MRes in Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their Applications MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Chemical Engineering MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Biochemical Engineering MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Food Safety, Hygiene and Management MSc Air Pollution Management and Control Engineering Doctorate in Formulation Engineering School of Mechanical Engineering Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma/Masters in Engineering Management Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma/Masters in Operations Management Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma/Masters in Project Management


 School of Civil Engineering PhD/MPhil in Railways and Resilience and Sustainability MSc/Diploma/Certificate in Construction Management MSc/Diploma/Certificate in Geotechnical Engineering MSc/Diploma/Certificate in Geotechnical Engineering and Management MSc/Diploma/Certificate in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration MSc/Diploma/Certificate in Road Management and Engineering MSc/Diploma/Certificate in Water Resources Technology and Management School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering MSc in Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering MSc in Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering with Industrial Studies MSc in Communication Engineering MSc in Communications Engineering with Industrial Studies MSc in Satellite and Mobile Communications MSc in Satellite and Mobile Communications with Industrial Studies MSc in Communications Networks MSc in Communications Networks with Industrial Studies MSc in Embedded Systems MSc in Embedded Systems with Industrial Studies MSc in Electromagnetic Sensor Networks MSc in Electromagnetic Sensor Networks with Industrial Studies MSc in Radio Frequency Engineering MSc in Radio Frequency Engineering with Industrial Studies  MSc in Digital Entrepreneurship MRes in Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD and MPhil research degrees also available School of Metallurgy and Materials PhD with Integrated Studies in Structural Metallic Systems for Gas Turbine Applications PhD in Metallurgy and Materials MRes in the Science and Engineering of Materials MRes in Biomaterials MRes in Materials and Sustainable Energy Technology MPhil in Metallurgy and Materials School of Chemistry PhD/MPhil in Chemistry

SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

Know your Biology? ACROSS 1 An organism that lives on or in the body of

another from which it obtains its nutrients (8) 5 The largest organ in the human body (4) 7 Pores found in the epidermis of leaves involved in gas exchange between the plant and the atmosphere (7) 12 Physiological state in which metabolism decreases, heart and respiratory systems slow down and body temperature is maintained at a low level (11) 17 The entry of several sperms in to the egg during fertilisation (10) 18 Short DNA molecules produced by discontinuous replication, complimentary to the DNA strand (16) 20 The stage of cell division during which the nuclear membrane breaks down, the spindle forms and chromosomes attach to the spindles at the equator of the cell (20)


2 A biological community and the physical

environment associated with it (9) 3 A chromosomal alteration in which the organism possesses more than two complete chromosome sets (10) 4 A molecule that binds specifically to another molecule, usually a larger one (6) 6 Dead organic matter (8) 8 Regulation of body temperature by either physiological or behavioural mechanisms (16) 9 Protein occurring in hair, feathers and nails (7) 10 The uptake of extracellular material via invaginations of the plasma membrane (11) 11 A heart valve located between each atrium and ventricle (16) 13 The diploid product of the fusion of haploid gametes during fertilisation (6) 14 To produce a structural change in a protein or nucleic acid that results in the reduction or loss of its biological properties (8) 15 The process in the ovary that results in the production of female gametes (9) 16 The most abundant type of white blood cell that engulfs bacteria (10) 19 A tissue that transports water and dissolved mineral nutrients in vascular plants from the roots to the rest of the plant (5)

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Crossword Answers

16/7/10 11:18:43

This Issues Solutions: Across 1 Denature 5 Ecosystem 7 Neutrophil 12 Detritus 17 Thermoregulation18 Zygote 20 Polyploidy Down 2 Polyspermy 3 Keratin 4 Metaphase 6 Ligand 8 Endocytosis 9 Stomata 10 Okazaki Fragments 11 Oogenesis 13 Atrioventricular 14 Hibernation 15 Skin 16 Parasite 19 Xylem This Slim Issues Solutions: Across 3 Chromatagraphy 6 Bromine 8 Coke 10 Isomers 14 Chlorophyll 16 Entropy Down 1 Polymerisation 2 Aromatics 4 Hydrophobic 5 Hydrogen 7 Boltzmann 9 Harber 12 Emulsion 13 Plumbum 14 Caffine 15 Helium


SATNAV Magazine at the University of Birmingham

Top Tips for CV Writing Top IT graduate Employer, FDM Group, receives over 20,000 CV applications a year for its award-winning Academy Programme. Your CV needs to make you stand out from the crowd and immediately capture the attention of the reader. Recruiters receive literally hundreds of résumés a day and spend only about 10 seconds “skimming” through each one. To combat this you should customise the CV that you send out and tailor it to the “hot buttons” that will grab the employer’s attention.

CV include: Contact Details, Easy to Follow Personal Summary, Education, Personal Summar y Employment History, Interests and A resume has to catch the reader Activities, Additional Information from the first few seconds. An and Referees/References Available effective summary section will on Request. help the recruiter identify if the job seeker is a viable candidate L o n g C Vs for the position quicker. This A graduate CV should never summary section can be be more that two pages. Long customised to the position you resumes are laborious to read and are applying. For candidates of a imply the candidate is unable to technical nature, it is imperative be concise about the skills they that a Technical Summary is also have on offer. Recruiters want compiled. Make sure that these details to be short, succinct and to technical skills are clearly laid out the point. and current.

Here are 10 top tips to help you do this:

Wo r d y P a r a g r a p h s


Most CVs are viewed in Word and are normally only printed after short listing so make sure your CV looks good on the screen. The reader’s eye needs to be drawn to your profile and key achievements. Try not to make your CV too cluttered as the CV must be easily readable.

Font Choice

Keep your font simple. Try not to use italics or extremely difficult to read fonts like Edwardian Script. Font size is just as important as style. 8-point fonts are too small to read. Recruiters recommend either using 10 point Arial with bold 12-point headings, or Times Roman 12 point.


Your CV needs to have a clear structure. You want to make it easy for the employer to read – not a challenge! Standard content elements of a graduate

No recruiter has the time to read long paragraphs, which look like a narrative out of ‘War and Peace’. Make sure you quickly get to the “meat” of what you are trying to communicate about yourself. Your resume should be easy for the reader to “scan” your text for your skills and accomplishments. Consider using the following formatting techniques:
 • Use blunt, paraphrased bulletpoints
 • Use appropriate amounts of “white space” to help guide your reader

Current Contact Details This bit is pretty simple. The employer simply needs to know who you are and how to get in touch with you. Make sure these are on the first page at the top of your CV and the information you give is still up-to-date. Is that email address still live? Have you included your current telephone number?

Spelling Errors, Typos, and Poor Grammar Your CV is your opportunity to make a first impression. Any careless errors you make reflect on you directly as a candidate. Make sure you double check (or even triple check!) your CV before you send it out. A top tip is to get someone else to read it for you as sometimes others notice mistakes you may have overlooked.

Be truthful

Although you obviously want to present yourself well, don’t go too far and embellish the truth. It can easily backfire on you. Be Honest. If you got a 2:2 in your degree but claim you gained a first, don’t be surprised if you’re then asked to prove it on receiving a job offer.

Knowing your CV

Make sure you read through your CV before interview. You will most likely be questioned on the content so it is imperative you know exactly what you have written about. FDM group 35

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SATNAV Full Issue 2  

The second installment of the University of Birmingham's Science Magazine

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