Getting on Your Nerves: Intro to the Nervous System
Exploring the NASA Twin Study
INGENIUM Autumn 2019
Neuroscience behind Déjà Vu
A neurological analysis of intriguing theories surrounding the mysterious phenomenon.
HABITABLE PLANET FOUND?
Water found in the atmosphere of K2-18b
Trinity School Science Magazine
Contents News Snippets...................................................................................................................................4 A compilation of brief updates on the various happenings in the scientific world. Genetically Enhanced Humans: Why you’ll (probably) never be faster than Usain Bolt..............7 Exploring the science behind jaw-dropping mutations that give humans seemingly superhuman abilities, focusing on 3 conditions. Also, crushing any desire to be a gold-medallist sprinter. Getting on your Nerves: Introduction to the Nervous System......................................................10 An in depth look into the nervous system which is essential to understanding countless other biological mechanisms. How do Touchscreens work?..........................................................................................................13 What is really going on behind that wondrous screen? It’s Not Me: The Unholy Reek of Gym Stink.................................................................................15 Uncovering why sports clothes smell so bad. Past Life or Brain Error? The Mystery of Déjà Vu........................................................................17 There are many different theories behind this sensation, but which one is right? Death by Blood? Water? Oxygen?..................................................................................................19 How vital substances that support life, can end it just as fast, in certain quantities. A Year in Spaceflight: Exploring the NASA Twin Study................................................................23 An introspective analysis of the genomic effects of a year in space, using the results of the revolutionary NASA Twin Study. Ingenium Crossword...................................................................................................................26 A challenging puzzle testing you on your ability to retain knowledge from reading (or scanning articles to find answers). Acknowledgements.........................................................................................................................27
Editorâ€™s Note For many people, science in school remains to be seen as nothing more than a mandatory subject that you have to grind through to achieve that 8 or 9. It remains to be a subject that many believe requires nothing more than memorising some facts, symbols and laws. A subject that students confine to the walls of the classroom, held down by the chains of the GCSE and A-Level specification. But there is so much more. Few, if any, of us can claim to understand the intricacies of the genomic effects of space or oxidative stress. Nevertheless, this edition of Ingenium provides a handful of articles to enrich your minds and help you understand the true wonder of science in all its splendour. Ingenium aims to help you appreciate the value of science. It is not a study limited to the syllabi of GCSE and A-Level, but an instrument to discover, create and innovate. It is important to develop this eagerness to understand scientific concepts. Simply memorising an abundance of facts will not guarantee you success, rather a strong will, passion and understanding of ideas will propel your scientific endeavours as you surpass the boundaries of school science. The articles compiled in this edition should give you an insight into the marvels of the world and beyond, and how science is and always will be present throughout our lives, no matter which path we take. I hope you enjoy this issue of Ingenium as much as I did creating it. Yash Shetty
If you would like to be involved in the editing or designing of future issues, please contact me at 3579@ trinity.croydon.sch.uk. Article submissions for the next issue of the magazine are also welcome.
First Back Hole Picture Revealed The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team, of 200 astronomers, announced to the world that it had succeeded in its mission to capture the very first image of a black hole. The Event Horizon Telescope is a large array of telescopes consisting of a global-network of radio telescopes and they zoomed in on the supermassive galactic monster in Messier 87 (M87), a giant galaxy 53 million light-years from Earth. “We’ve been studying black holes so long, sometimes it’s easy to forget that none of us have actually seen one,” France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, said in the Washington, D.C., news conference. Seeing one “is a Herculean task,” she said. Even though few doubt the existence of black holes, actually seeing one was an
This is a black hole.
immense challenge as they are notoriously difficult to see because they are so colossal, so their gravity is so extreme that even light cannot escape its boundary at the edge of a black hole, known as the event horizon. The EHT team is keen to sharpen and obtain clearer images as they could aid the team in testing the predictions of the Albert Einstein’s theories regarding general relativity, gravity and the physics on how
black holes feast on the matter in their vicinity. The diameter of the behemoth stands at a staggering 38 billion kilometres, which, even by supermassive black hole standards, is a colossal monster. The EHT team are now training their sights on Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole swirling at the centre of our galaxy and has the weight of about 4 million suns, although, M87’s giant is 1000 times as big as Sagittarius A*. It is, however, harder to find it due to the abundance of gas and dust in the Milky Way’s disk, preventing a clear image of Sagittarius A*. Improving pictures will require the team to add more telescopes and they also plan to utilise light of a higher frequency to observe black holes in the opening of a new era in astrophysics.
Credits: (Graphic) C. Bickel/Science; (images) Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration et al., Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 875, 3, 2019
Water Detected on Potentially Habitable Exoplanet A new planet has just entered the race for the most habitable planet. A study conducted by Professor Björn Benneke of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal reports the presence of water vapour and maybe liquid water clouds in the atmosphere of a transiting planet dubbed K218 b. This means that the planet must have just the right temperature and pressure. The planet orbits in the habitable part of its star, the sweet spot where it may be sufficiently warm a world and allow water to cool and flow on its surface. This is a gigantic leap in the search
for alien life and habitable alternative planets. According to Angelos Tsiarias, an astronomer at University College London who detected water vapour on K2-18 b through the Hubble Space telescope said that it was “the best candidate for habitability”. The planet does differ from earth significantly, however, as it is about 2.5 times the Earth’s radius and eight times its mass. The world nestles around 110 light-years away, orbiting a red dwarf star. There is much more information to uncover before declaring that the planet is habitable, and research must continue to find the volume of water and other key characteristics. This artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. K2-18b is now the only super-Earth exoplanet known to host both water and temperatures that could support life. UCL researchers used archive data from 2016 and 2017 captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and developed open-source algorithms to analyze the starlight filtered through K2-18b’s atmosphere. The results revealed the molecular signature of water vapor, also indicating the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere. Credits: ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser
Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) Harvests Water from Desert Air Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, reported that he and his team have created a solar-powered device that essentially harvests water from thin air. It is known as a metal-organic framework (MOF), a porous crystalline material that imitates a sponge by sucking water vapour out from the air and releasing it as liquid water. MOF is made up by a network of organic molecules and metal atoms that mix and match to create openings for molecular guests, and the pores are tailored in such a way that water molecules can attach itself to the metal-organic framework. To extract
the water, the mixture is placed in a water-tight tank with heat lamps, so water molecules come out of the framework and accumulate on the sides to be collected as per H2O. This provides a revolutionary solution to the parts the world suffering from water stress as it can produce 1.3 litres of water per kilogram of MOF per day powered by energy from the sun. According to the World Health Organisation, this is more than you need to survive for a day. The device is constantly undergoing improvements and Yaghi’s company, Water Harvesting, promise to produce 22,500 litres per day by next year.
Chinese Scientists attempt to treat HIV with CRISPR According to a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine, Chinese scientists have attempted to treat a patient with HIV, using CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene-editing technology. Although this new method of treatment did not cure the patient’s HIV, this experimental therapy seemed to be safe and caused no genetic alterations at all – something which has been a cause for concern when it comes to gene therapies. Experts all over the globe have lauded the work as a vital step forward in utilising the phenomenon that is CRISPR to accurately and safely edit DNA.
Dr Amesh Adalija, an infectious disease specialist at the John Hopkins Centre for Health Security, stated “They did a very innovative experiment on a patient, and it was safe” and that “It should be viewed as a success.” The scientists tried to use CRISPR to eliminate the CCR5 gene, which holds the instructions for the production of a protein that sits on top of certain immune cells. The patient, however, had leukaemia, so needed a bone marrow transplant. This provided an opportunity for the scientists to edit the DNA in the bone marrow stem cells from a donor before
transplanting the cells into the patient. HIV essentially uses the protein as a gateway into cells, but this does affect those people with a genetic mutation (as discussed on Page 7) in the CCR5 gene which renders them immune to the virus. The reason as to why the therapy may not have worked is that the gene-editing process was not particularly efficient, so the researchers were unable to delete the CCR5 gene in all the donor cells.
Other problems include the conclusion of some studies that the genetic modification may be harmful but the scientist’s issuers that they are only modifying the CCR5 gene in blood stem cells and so the CCR5 gene other tissues remain unaffected.
Photo Credit: C. GoldsmithContent Providers: CDC/ C. Goldsmith, P. Feorino, E. L. Palmer, W. R. McManus
There is potential to improve the experiment, for example, by starting with pluripotent stem cells which have the potential to form any type of cell in the body. These cells would be edited with CRISPR to deactivate CCR5 and subsequently try and ensure the pluripotent stem cells to become blood stem cells used for bone marrow transplants. It should be noted though this method was only applicable because the patient required a bone marrow transplant and could not have been applied to the average HIV patient.
Genetically-Enhanced Humans: Why youâ€™ll (probably) never be faster than Usain Bolt
Who hasnâ€™t dreamed of
having superpowers in their life? There is or at least was some part of you that wished you were bitten by a radioactive spider or chosen to be injected with some sort of super serum and obtain an epic origin story. While the notion of enhanced human beings may seem ridiculous, there are, in fact, somewhat-super powered people who walk among us as a result of mutations to their DNA. Since the DNA controls almost everything about you, from cell communication to your physical features, small alterations to its structure can lead to large, impactful consequences. This includes changes in speed and strength. Take muscles for example; there is an abundance of molecules that affect the growth of muscle tissue, including and most notably skeletal muscles which are under the voluntary control of the somatic nervous system and is responsible for your movement and how muscular you look or lack thereof. One of these molecules is a protein known as myostatin. This protein is constructed by the instructions in a gene known as MSTN. Normally, myostatin binds to specific receptors on skeletal muscle cells, which activates signalling pathways that limit how much
skeletal muscle cells grow and divide; essentially preventing most people from naturally building muscle without exercise. Research has discovered that a mutation in the MSTN gene has profound effects on muscle growth. This changes the instructions of the production of myostatin proteins to such an extent that the gene stops making myostatin molecules or at least myostatin molecules that work. The absence of myostatin molecules causes muscle cells to grow bigger and divide much more than in the average human being so there is a colossal enhancement in muscle mass and sometimes even strength. This condition is known as myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy.
What is particularly astounding, is that this condition does not seem to cause any health problems. Hence, scientists are attempting to utilise myostatin-related therapies to treat people who have muscle weakness or whose muscle cells die rapidly in conditions such as muscular dystrophy. The second genetic mutation (well, in this case, lack thereof ) concerns a great enhancement of bursts of speed and power. There is a protein in skeletal muscles called alpha-actinin 3, which is encoded by the ACTN3 gene and is thought to be related to fast-twitch muscle fibres. These fibres are usually full of proteins that catalyse the breakdown of glycogen into glucose and other compounds used to produce energy. These muscle cells have
The Belgian Blue has the mutation in the MSTN making it look extremely muscular.
quick contraction times and are what give us bursts of force. Alpha-actinin 3 is thought to have many other functions such as making and stabilising fast-twitch fibres. You may be wondering since everyone has this gene why can’t all of us sprint like Usain Bolt? This is because the majority of us have a mutation that causes a loss of function in the ACTN3 gene, so we do not have working alpha-actinin-3 proteins. However, researchers have found that many worldclass athletes have at least one functional copy of the ACTN3 gene. This includes all-time greats such as Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. In fact, this may provide the answer as to why Jamaicans are so good at sprinting.
grown in bauxite-rich soil. If that promotes the development of fast-twitch muscle fibres in growing foetuses that could really benefit Jamaicans in terms of speed.
This desirable variant of the gene for a sprinter is known as 577RR. While only 70% of US international-standard athletes have the desirable variant, 75% of Jamaicans have it whether they are athletes or not. That gives Jamaica the edge. The ACTN3 gene has the greatest impact on development during the first three months of pregnancy when the number of fast-twitch muscle fibres is determined. Scientists suspect that aluminium in the mother’s diet promotes the gene’s activity. We already know that aluminium in the environment or diet can alter a gene’s production of certain proteins. Jamaica’s food crops will contain especially high amounts of aluminium when
LRP5 is part of what’s known as the WNT pathway; a signalling pathway that affects lots of important cell processes including cell development. Some people have a gain-offunction mutation in LRP5, meaning that the altered gene
Finally, there is a genetic condition that enhances the strength of our bones in a similar fashion to Wolverine’s skeleton - minus the adamantium (fictional metal by which Wolverine’s skeleton is made up of ). There is a gene known as LRP5 which contains the instructions for making low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5. Since it is a receptor-related protein, it is found in an abundance of cell membranes, so it is involved with chemical signalling between cells.
causes its protein to have a whole new function. This mutation activates certain signalling pathways on your bone cells so that they grow denser and bulkier – conditions generally called osteosclerosis and hyperostosis. Some people with these conditions do not have any health problems and having extra-dense bones may mean that they do not worry about breaking their or arm or fracturing their skull as much as the rest of us do. In other cases, however, this mutation can lead to excessive hyperostosis, which consists of sever forms of bone growth. Thus, arises the possibility of your skull exerting pressure on your brain, or your bones pinching on your nerves. Nevertheless, researches wish to study LRP5 to develop their knowledge of how genetics contribute to bone growth, such as understanding what causes and can treat osteoporosis. References 1.
5. Credit: Richard Giles [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
LIVESTRONG.COM. (2019). Rapid Muscle Growth Disorder | Livestrong. com. [online] Available at: https://www. livestrong.com/article/386159-rapidmuscle-growth-disorder/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Zehr, E. (2019). The Man of Steel, Myostatin, and Super Strength. [online] Scientific American Blog Network. Available at: https://blogs. scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/ the-man-of-steel-myostatin-and-superstrength/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Schuelke, M., Wagner, K., Stolz, L., Hübner, C., Riebel, T., Kömen, W., Braun, T., Tobin, J. and Lee, S. (2004). Myostatin Mutation Associated with Gross Muscle Hypertrophy in a Child. New England Journal of Medicine, 350(26), pp.26822688. Reference, G. (2019). MSTN gene. [online] Genetics Home Reference. Available at: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/ MSTN [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Wagner, K. and Cohen, J. (2019). Myostatin-Related Muscle Hypertrophy. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/
NBK1498/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Yamada, A., Verlengia, R. and Bueno Junior, C. (2012). Myostatin: genetic variants, therapy and gene doping. Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, [online] 48(3), pp.369377. Available at: http://www. scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_ arttext&pid=S1984-82502012000300003 [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. GARTON, F. and NORTH, K. (2016). The Effect of Heterozygosity for the ACTN3 Null Allele on Human Muscle Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, [online] 48(3), pp.509520. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pubmed/26429734 [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Brooks, M. (2019). Why are Jamaicans so good at sprinting? | Michael Brooks. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/ commentisfree/2014/jul/21/jamaicanssprinting-athletics-commonwealth-games [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. YouTube. (2019). 3 Genes That Give People Superpowers. [online] Available at: https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaNHUTIbqdo&list=LLEDQGUxAqUkFnSuVM-
Genetically-Enhanced Humans 10.
rmWMuA&index=33 [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Lucia, A., Olivan, J., Gomez-Gallego, F., Santiago, C., Montil, M. and Foster, C. (2007). Citius and longius (faster and longer) with no -actinin-3 in skeletal muscles?. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(9), pp.616-617. Reference, G. (2019). LRP5 gene. [online] Genetics Home Reference. Available at: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/LRP5 [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Boyden, L., Mao, J., Belsky, J., Mitzner, L., Farhi, A., Mitnick, M., Wu, D., Insogna, K. and Lifton, R. (2002). High Bone Density Due to a Mutation in LDL-Receptor– Related Protein 5. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(20), pp.1513-1521.
Credit: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil [CC BY 3.0 br (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/3.0/br/deed.en)]
BruceBlaus [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Getting on your Nerves: Introduction to the Nervous System
The Nervous System
A human brain contains
roughly 100 billion neurons, weighing about 1.5 kg. 100,000,000,000 neurons all working together to form what is the most important system in the human body: the nervous system. From the exam season nerves to the fight-or-flight response, the nervous system is what has enabled humans and animals (except sponges) alike to do anything and everything over the last 800 million years. But how exactly does the nervous system work? Every single living organism must be able to respond to environmental stimuli. A fly escapes a flyswatter. The antennae of a centipede detect food and moves towards it. For these responses to take place, the animals must have sensory receptors and effectors to detect stimuli and react to it. These sensory receptors and effectors are, of course, linked by the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of nerve cells (neurons) and supporting cells (glial cells). There are three main types of neurones that you must know about. The first type is the sensory neuron which transmits electrical impulses from sensory receptors to the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consist of both the brain and spinal cord and the sensory neurons within the
Credit: Blausen.com staff (2014). "Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014". WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/3.0)]
CNS are connected to receptors to alert the body of any changes or dangers in the environment. The receptors are what aid you with vision, hearing, smell, touch, and taste and hence, can detect changes in things like light and sound. Motor neurons (or efferent neurons) carry impulses from the CNS to effectors, which refer to muscles and glands. Finally, there is the interneuron which is also called the association neuron. These are scattered across the brain and spinal cord to act as a connection to other neutrons. Together, sensory and motor neurons make up the peripheral nervous system (PNS) in vertebrates. Motor neurons that stimulate skeletal muscles to contract make up the somatic nervous system; those that conduct impulses to smooth
muscles, cardiac muscles and glands form the autonomic nervous system. Within the autonomic nervous system itself, are two divisions: the parasympathetic division and sympathetic division. Both these divisions complement each other as they have opposite functions. The parasympathetic division conserves energy, slows down heart rate, and relaxes certain muscles while the sympathetic division primarily stimulates our flight-or-fight response and is active in homeostasis. Despite their varied appearances, the majority of neurons have the same architecture. The cell body is an enlarged region containing the nucleus. There are usually one or more cytoplasmic extensions from the cell body, known as
Ingenium dendrites. Motor neurons and interneurons possess a profusion of highly branched dendrites, enables those cells to receive information from many different sources simultaneously. Some neurons have additional extensions from the dendrites themselves known as dendritic spines that increase the surface area available to receive stimuli. The surface area of the cell body integrates the information arriving at its dendrites. The conduction of impulses travels away from the cell body along an axon which can extend to around 3 meters.
The Nervous System serve a variety of functions, from removing wastes from neurons to supplying them with nutrients.
um. They enable ions to move in and out of the neuron to control the conduction of electrical impulses.
There are two key types of neuroglia that you must know: oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells. Both these cells produce a substance called myelin, albeit in different systems: Schwann cells produce it the PNS while oligodendrocytes make it in the CNS. These cells wrap around every axon multiple times to create a myelin sheath. This is essentially an insulating covering made of layers of compact membrane to enhance the transmission of electrical
Both the brain and spinal cord are linked to receptors and muscles through huge axons so while you may think that the nervous system merely resides in the brain, it, reaches out to your entire body. The spinal cord, in particular, plays a key role in the body as it is the centre of the bodyâ€™s functions. Its major functions include controlling reflexes and walking, but it is also what allows electrical currents to travel all over the body to allow
impulses. If damaged, the transmissions are slowed down, resulting in severe neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis.
different parts to communicate with the brain.
The structure of a typical neuron There are additional supporting cells, known as glial cells or neuroglia, which provide both functional and structural support to neurons, although they do not conduct electrical impulses. These supporting cells are a tenth the size yet decuple in quantity, and they
There are also small gaps, known as the Nodes of Ranvier, which interrupt the myelin sheath at intervals of 1 to 2
We have only skimmed the surface behind the organisation of the nervous system and there are entire fields dedicated to its study. The nervous system is what enables us to feel joy, to live, to play and it is perhaps
The Nervous System
the most fascinating system to study. There is a lot left to be uncovered and with all its intricacy and complexity, it is sure to intrigue many people. References 1.
Raven, P.H., Johnson, G.B., Singer, S.R., Losos, J.B, Mason. 2013, Biology, 10th end, McGraw Hill Society for Neurosciences, 2018, Brain Facts, 8th end, The Society For Neuroscience British Neuroscience Association European Dana Alliance for the Brain, 2003, Neuroscience: Science of the Brain, The British Neuroscience Association Courses.lumenlearning.com. (2019).
lumenlearning.com/boundless-ap/ chapter/introduction-to-the-nervoussystem/ [Accessed 21 Jul. 2019]. Pocock, G. and Richards, C. (2006).
Introduction to the Nervous System | Boundless Anatomy and Physiology. [online] Available at: https://courses.
Human Physiology: The Basis of Medicine. 3rd ed. Oxford Univeristy
Press, p.63. Brodal, Per (2004). The Central Nervous System: Structure and Function (3 ed.). Oxford University Press US. pp. 369–396. Sally Robertson, B. (2019). Myelin Function. [online] News-Medical.net. Available at: https://www.news-medical. net/health/Myelin-Function.aspx [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. William C. Shiel Jr., F. (2019). Definition of Glial cell. [online] MedicineNet. Available at: https://www.medicinenet. com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11382 [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Fry, C (2007). “Cell physiology I”. Surgery (Oxford). 25: 425–429
Diagram showing the divisions of the nervous system.
Credit: The original uploader was Fuzzform at English Wikipedia. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]
How do Touchscreens work?
How do Touchscreens Work? Touchscreens are found
everywhere. It is difficult to imagine a time where people got through the day without checking their phone every 10 minutes. They are present from planes to homes and we are becoming increasingly reliant on the presence of touchscreen technology. A few weeks ago, I witnessed the fiercest toddler I had ever encountered, on a plane, when he blew up in a fit of rage because he could not understand why it was so hard to use the miniature plane tv’s. He would not settle down till his mother handed him her phone to play with. This got me thinking, that for most of us, we do not know what happens behind the screens any more than a toddler. Even though most of us spend around 4-7 hrs a day in front of screens. There are two common types of touchscreens which we encounter: capacitive and resistive. You may have encountered resistive touchscreens in aeroplanes, supermarkets or ATM’s. They can be difficult to use and sometimes feels more like a push-really-hard screen instead. Nevertheless, resistive touchscreens are one of the most commonly used technologies in today’s world. They are made up of two separate layers: the top layer is made from a flexible,
transparent material, such as polyethene – a common plastic used in the manufacturing of common products such as soda bottles. The bottom layer is manufactured from materials with a hard and rigid texture, similar to glass. For the screen to function efficiently, both layers are thinly coated with some sort of metal compound that can conduct electricity, such as indium tin oxide. This is commonly used mainly due to its transparency. Between
resistive touchscreens are pretty affordable and durable. This makes resistive touchscreen useful for credit card readers in shops which have to process the touch data of signatures. They can, however, be a little frustrating to use if you don’t push hard enough and struggle to understand multiple-touches simultaneously, rendering them useless for two-finger zoom or more complex tasks. This is why, most smartphones rely on
Mercury13 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
An artistic display of how resistive touchscreens work. Can you label the numbers? these layers are tiny, insulating capacitive touchscreens, where dots called spacers which your finger plays a key role in separate the screens, so there are the electronics. no false signals. There are a variety of capacitive When the screen is switched touchscreens and differ on, a small voltage is applied according to different devices. across it horizontally and One version is a sheet of glass vertically. Pushing down on the containing a grid of hair-thin screen connects the two layers lines of a conductive metal so the voltage is changed, and like indium tin oxide. The grid a small processor connected lines going in one direction to the screen can calculate are known as the driving lines, exactly where you pressed using whose function is to provide a X and Y coordinates. These constant electric current. The
Ingenium lines in the other direction are sensing lines which detect this electric current. There is a specific electrostatic field at each point where these lines cross, and this field is recorded as neutral the processor in your phone, computer or laptop. This, however, changes once a conductive object makes contact with the screen, like your finger. Humans have a natural ability to store electric charge and conduct electricity, which is known as capacitance. Hence, when your finger makes contact with the screen, the charge in the screen is drawn around that point and distorting the electrostatic field although the electricity does not actually flow through your finger. The electrostatic field senses your electric charge and changes accordingly by redistributing itself. The high sensitivity of capacitive touchscreen enables them to differentiate between a tap and a slide and so can act accordingly. References 1.
YouTube. (2019). How Do Touchscreens Work?. [online] Available at: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=wKuqNuzM1oM [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Brewster, S., Collins, J., Collins, J., Linthicum, D., Jennett, M., Thiele, M. and Reese, B. (2019). The coating that makes iPhones touch sensitive is running out â€“ Gigaom. [online] Gigaom.com. Available at: https://gigaom.com/2013/07/10/themetal-coating-that-makes-iphones-touchsensitive-is-running-out/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. YouTube. (2019). How Do Touchscreens Work?. [online] Available at: https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFvh7qM6LdA&t=418s [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. 4)Psychology Today. (2019). Nomophobia: A Rising Trend in Students. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday. com/gb/blog/artificial-maturity/201409/ nomophobia-rising-trend-in-students [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. The Independent. (2019). Computer
How do Touchscreens work?
screens keeping children from playing outside, claims study. [online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/ children-screens-play-outside-computerphone-time-healthy-games-a8603411. html [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Explain that Stuff. (2019). How do touchscreens work? | Types of touchscreens compared. [online] Available at: https:// www.explainthatstuff.com/touchscreens.
html [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. McCann, A. and McCann, A. (2019). Okay, but how do touch screens actually work? | Scienceline. [online] Scienceline. Available at: https://scienceline. org/2012/01/okay-but-how-do-touchscreens-actually-work/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019].
The electrostatic field around the point of contact between finger and screen is distorted. The field senses your capacitance and processes where you have touched the screen Credit: Mercury13 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-sa/3.0)]
(Right): A side-on view of capcitive touchscreem
Mercury13 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
The Unholy Reek of Gym Clothes
It’s Not Me: The Unholy Reek of Gym Clothes Do you ever wonder why our clothes stink after a rigorous workout in the gym? Or why those bibs that we receive when splitting into teams for hockey makes us wrinkle our noses? To answer this, we must understand the science behind sweat and its effect on certain materials.
There are two types of sweat: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine sweat is in abundance and is usually watery, salty and absent Credit: http://www.kogonuso.com/2018/08/difference-between-apocrine-and-eccrine.html
of stench. On the other hand, there is the rancid apocrine sweat. This type of sweat is the one responsible for the awful odour of your gym or sports clothes. It is an oily fluid consisting of proteins, lipids and steroids that is initially odourless for the involvement of microbes. It is secreted in specific locations in the body such as the groin and armpits. However, your skin’s microbiome feeds on the fatty compounds in apocrine sweat and leftovers of this consumption causes the stink, also known as B.O. (Body odour).
These leftovers cling to fibres in your clothes while eccrine sweat transports the leftover compounds around your body and eventually your clothes. The material by which the clothes are made of, however, also have an impact on the stench emitted. Now, the two main kinds of athletic apparel comprise of cotton and polyester and we can see how they play a role in the dreaded stench. Cotton is hydrophilic (water-loving), which means it soaks up a lot of the sweat secreted during a workout and hence, feels slightly heavier. The heat combined with the moisture provides ideal conditions for the microbes to thrive in, thus leading to an intolerable smell. The properties of cotton allow it to retain water to such a great extent, that the microbes continue to thrive and grow even after you have taken it off.
Similarly, polyester can create just as bad a stench as it is hydrophobic (water-fearing). This means that when it soaks up a lot of water, the same water evaporates. Although this enables you to feel nice can dry, the oleophilic (oil-loving) nature of polyester means a lot of the oily apocrine sweat and microbial leftovers attach to your clothes on its way out of your clothes. From this, a new foul stench emerges. When a large number of these odorous compounds accumulate on your clothes, they end up combing which makes the smell even worse. Since the smelly compounds cling onto polyester so tightly, it is difficult to efficiently clean sweaty clothes. A study concluded “that the household low-temperature laundering process created a bacterial mixing in the laundered clothing textiles” instead
Ingenium of actually removing them. That’s possibly why many of the school’s bibs stink when wearing these “washed” clothes. Purchasing specialist laundry detergent may prove to be effective in removing odorous compounds from your clothes because many of these detergents have enzymes which consume these compounds and also have certain polymers which prevent the compounds from attaching to the clothes again. Those of you looking for cheaper options should look at drying clothes outside under the sun since the ultraviolet light eliminates microbes
The Unholy Reek of Gym Clothes and breaks down the odious compound from the fibres. Bleach also kills bacteria but will alter the colour of your clothes. You can even soak them in vinegar or vodka as they too kill bacteria although it is probably highly inconvenient to do every day, especially since you have to ensure that you vigorously wash the clothes afterwards. The more we can uncover about the chemistry and biology behind the gym stench, the easier it will be for scientists to develop effective detergents and maybe one day we can walk into a changing room without
wrinkling our nose. References 1.
Callewaert, C., Van Nevel, S., Kerckhof, F., Granitsiotis, M. and Boon, N. (2015). Bacterial Exchange in Household Washing Machines. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6. Healthline. (2019). What Is Sweat Made of, and Why Does It Happen? 17 Facts. [online] Available at: https://www. healthline.com/health/sweat-what-is-it#1 [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. LIVESTRONG.COM. (2019). Real Talk: Why Does Sweat Smell So Bad After Certain Workouts? | Livestrong. com. [online] Available at: https://www. livestrong.com/article/443465-whydo-i-smell-so-bad-when-i-work-out/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Popsci.com. (2019). Consent Form | Popular Science. [online] Available at: https://www.popsci.com/smelly-gymclothes [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Science | AAAS. (2019). Why your gym clothes stink. [online] Available at: https:// www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/09/ why-your-gym-clothes-stink [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019].
Polyester is a hydrophobic and oleophilic substance, so oily apocrine sweat attach to your clothes to produce a horrid stench. Credit: Bearas [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
The Mystery of Déjà Vu
Past Life or Brain Error? The Mystery of Déjà Vu Have you been in a situation
where you abruptly feel like you have experienced the same situation before? If so, you have experienced the perplexing phenomenon that is déjà vu. It is one of the biggest neurological oddities in humans and part of the reason why it is so difficult to study is because it occurs unannounced in a random variety of peel all over the globe. Around 60 to 70 per cent of the world experience déjà vu and has no witnesses nor physical symptoms except for when the guy grins and exclaims “Whoa, déjà vu!”. There is, however, more importance to uncovering the secret behind the phenomenon than simply out of curiosity. The science behind it may shed light on some of them until now, undiscovered features of the human brain. Déjà vu first came into the scientific spotlight when French scientist Emile Boirac coined the term in 1876. This subsequently led to an entire array of psychologists, psychiatrist and neuroscientists to be fascinated and intrigued by the mysterious phenomenon. Some say the feeling arises when the situation is similar to an event from your previous life. Sigmund Freud believed that the feeling arose from an unconscious, repressed desire or fantasy (of course
he did) while according to Scientific American, Herman Sno, a renowned psychiatrist, deduced that déjà vu occurs when one’s current situation spuriously matches a fuzzy image of a past event. It’s rather like convincing yourself that you recognize the person in a blurry security camera picture.” There are four major schools of thought regarding why déjà vu happens. The first is as simple as it gets because it simply says that the event has happened, you forgot that it had happened, and you are being reminded. The next proposes that déjà vu is experienced when there is a brief processing error in the brain because two elements are working simultaneously, and something is missed or gets out of step. The third is known as the disruption theory where neurological impulses are interrupted or ‘malfunction’. This is why it is believed that epileptic people experience déjà vu as part of their seizures because there is a delay or repetition in the transmission of information. Therefore, we would process the same information twice, believing the event to have happened already. Finally, there is the ‘attentional’ explanation. When you are carefully observing your surrounding but briefly lose focus, once you re-focus it feels strangely familiar.
The ‘disruption’ theory is particularly fascinating as it provides an insight into the neurological link to déjà vu. Epileptic déjà vu is linked to the medial temporal lobe epilepsy, which affects the hippocampus – a seat of memory in the brain. This supports the idea that a neural misfiring results in déjà vu from the interactions between the amygdala, hippocampus and rhinal cortex. In 2016 however, an acclaimed theory on déjà vu emerged from the studies conducted by scientist at the University of St. Andrews’ where they induced déjà vu into nonepileptic participants. They conducted the study by reading out a sequence of words that were all connected by one word, but this word was not given to the participants. For example, in one trial they read out the words pillow, bed, dream and night. The one-word connection between them was sleep. When they were later questioned whether they heard a word starting with the letter ‘s’, they reported that they thought they heard sleep even though they hadn’t, resulting in déjà vu. Through the utilisation of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the team noticed that it surprisingly was not the hippocampus that was activated but the frontal
regions. This suggests that our frontal lobes may have been checking our memory input and alerting us when something does not quite fit with other memories of things that did happen. This ‘alarm’ may be the experience of déjà vu. The usefulness of these studies could even surpass the attempt to just understand what déjà vu is and why it happens. There is potential to utilise the research to aid patients with memory deficiencies like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s as they may benefit from being able to rely on feelings of familiarity to recollect memories and information. There is still, however, no absolute theory on déjà vu, which carries around 40 theories regarding what it is and what causes it. It is possible that we may not find the truth in the immediate future and all the proposed theories may be completely wrong. However, knowing the great heights we
The Mystery of Déjà Vu
have reached through scientific development, we cannot assume that it will remain a mystery forever. References 1. 2.
Cleary, A. and Claxton, A. (2018). Déjà Vu: An Illusion of Prediction. Psychological Science, 29(4), pp.635-644. Hamzelou, J. (2019). Mystery of déjà vu explained – it’s how we check our memories. [online] New Scientist. Available at: https://www.newscientist.com/ article/2101089-mystery-of-déjà-vu-explained-its-how-we-check-our-memories/ [Accessed 7 Sep. 2019]. IFLScience. (2019). Scientists May Have Finally Explained Déjà Vu. [online] Available at: https://www.iflscience.com/ brain/scientists-finally-explained-déjà-vu/ [Accessed 6 Sep. 2019]. Lampinen, J. (2019). What exactly is déjà vu?. [online] Scientific American. Available at: https://www.
scientificamerican.com/article/what-exactly-is-dj-vu/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. museum, S. (2019). What causes déjà vu?. [online] Whoami.sciencemuseum.org.uk. Available at: http://whoami.sciencemuseum.org.uk/whoami/findoutmore/ yourbrain/whyisyourmemorysoimportant/whatisdéjàvu/whatcausesdéjàvu [Accessed 9 Sep. 2019]. Obringer, L. (2019). How Déjà Vu Works. [online] HowStuffWorks. Available at: https://science.howstuffworks.com/ science-vs-myth/déjà-vu.htm [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. Psycnet.apa.org. (2019). PsycNET. [online] Available at: https://psycnet.apa. org/record/2003-00782-006 [Accessed 9 Sep. 2019]. Starr, M. (2019). Scientists Have Recreated Déjà Vu in The Lab, And It’s Less Spooky Than You’d Think. [online] ScienceAlert. Available at: https://www.sciencealert. com/déjà-vu-premonition-just-a-feeling-memory-familiarity-anne-cleary [Accessed 20 Jul. 2019].
Death by Blood? Water? Oxygen?
Death by Blood? Water? Oxygen? Perhaps the most important
reason as to why your body functions efficiently is its ability to keep a healthy balance of vital substances. This refers to its ability to maintain the right concentration of substances like water, salts, mineral ions and oxygen. It is common knowledge that scarcity or drop in any of these substances is incredibly hazardous to your health and life and why it is so dangerous but there is something called too much. There is no point in forcing your body to drink an abundance of water a day to stay hydrated as it may end up doing more harm than good. Even slight increases in the concentration of these vital substances can prove fatal. Take water, for example. It is obvious and has probably been drilled into you by parents, teachers and coaches about how important it is to keep drinking water, especially since the 60% of the average adult male body is made up of water. It undergoes a huge variety of functions but one itâ€™s most important is combing ions from dissolved minerals like sodium and potassium. These are also known as electrolytes (A substance that is electrically conductive after dissociating into ions when in solution). Our cells utilise electrolytes to create positive and negative charges so they can control our
Credit: JosĂŠ Manuel SuĂĄrez [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/Water_drop_001.jpg
internal electrical system, which powers movement, cognition (think back to the electrical impulses in the nervous system), and pretty much everything else. When you are lacking the amount of water needed in the body, there is substantially a lower concentration of electrolytes so vital organs such as the brain and heart struggle to function without the power of electrolytes. Drinking too much, however, can prove just as fatal. There are have been a multitude of incidents where drinking too much water has resulted in death from hikers to fraternity hazing ceremonies. The condition is known as hyponatraemia which means the concentration of sodium it too low because our blood is far too diluted. This is highly dangerous as ions like sodium
help regulate the amount of water in and around your cells, so all that extra water uncontrollably seeks higher concentration of electrolytes (especially sodium) within your cells, causing them to swell significantly like water balloons. There are two main problems here: there is a great lack of electrical power due to the low concentration of electrolytes. As lots of water enters our cells, it pushes against the cell membrane as more water enters until the membrane bursts because, unlike plant cells, we do not have cell walls for strength, shape and support. Our neurons, for example, are tightly packed against our brain and so, do not have a lot of space to swell. Excess water leads to high pressure on the brain from the waterfilled cells which is known as cerebral oedema. This results in
Ingenium seizure, brain damage and even death. While is great to keep well-hydrated, do be careful of the amount you are drinking. Antioxidants are written on food labels all over the world, but few people know what they are and why we need them. In a nutshell, antioxidants are compounds that delay or inhibit certain types of cell damage by oxidation. The threats that antioxidants help neutralise are called free radicals. While this may sound like a 90’s garage band, they are potentially dangerous molecules with an unpaired electron. The unpaired electron leads to the instability of the free radical, so it desperately tries to find another electron to ‘pair up’ with. Once it does find one from one of your cells it rips it away. Therefore, that cell has now been oxidised (loses an electron). This electron heist causes oxidative stress which damages your cells and DNA. However, the antioxidants in our bodies and those that we get from food, neutralise free radicals by donating an electron. Antioxidants are naturally provided in sufficient amounts from fruits and vegetable and some notable ones include beta-carotene lutein and vitamins A, C and E. Taking antioxidant supplements, on the other hand, may have different results. When ingesting antioxidants through natural foods we have a good variety of antioxidants which help each other. Free radicals are
Death by Blood? Water? Oxygen? neutralised when an antioxidant donates an electron but then the antioxidants themselves become briefly unstable until another antioxidant around it donate an electron to it, and that one has another electron donated to it and this continues in a cycle. This works best when we have different types of antioxidants but when you take in a large dose of vitamin A molecules only, problems arise.
everything from distributing nutrients to fighting off infections (well, not everything but a lot of things). As some you may know, there are four major components of the blood: erythrocytes (red blood cells), which transport oxygen around the body; leukocytes (white blood cells), which fight off infections; platelets, which aid in healing wounds. All of these components float
A diagram demonstrating the interaction between antioxidants amd free radicals: antioxidants donate an electron to stabilise free radicals. Credit: Lobo, V., Patil, A., Phatak, A., & Chandra, N [CC BY-SA 4.(https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-sa/4.0)] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Antioxidants_Free_radicals_Lobo_et_al.%2C.png
This is because you will not have other types of antioxidants in equal amounts at least, that can destabilise the Vitamin A molecules. Hence, there will be a greater number of unstable molecules in our bodies which is the exact opposite of what we wanted initially. But what about maintaining the right balance of things you don’t take in or probably even think about, like your blood? Blood is a highly versatile tissue in the body as it does
in the plasma which consists of hormones, waste products, water, sugar, fat protein, sodium etc. The majority of imbalances in the blood are caused by medical conditions like HIV and AIDS which result in a low blood cell count. There is also a condition known as polycythaemia where the blood is too thick due to an increase in the concentration of red blood cells, thereby making them more susceptible to heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. How about oxygen? To be
Ingenium honest, by now, you should not be surprised that oxygen can be harmful in certain quantities. In general, however, oxygen is great since it keeps us alive. You may have often heard that you can go3 weeks without food, 3 days without water and 3 minutes without air. Oxygen makes up 21% per cent of the Earthâ€™s atmosphere and when inhaled, the O2 is used by cells in cellular respiration to produce energy. While you would die incredibly quickly without oxygen, you can die even faster from oxygentoxicity. This occurs when too much oxygen enters the body at once, usually occurring in a hospital setting like when someone is being resuscitated. This brings us back to our old foe: oxidative stress. Free radicals, as you know, fly around trying to oxidise anything and everything they can get an electron from, but
Death by Blood? Water? Oxygen?
(Above): The effects of varied water concentrations in red blood cells. The effects of are shown from low concetration (hypertonic) to high concentration (hypotonic). nothing oxidises like oxygen. happens because we are used to Oxygen has two vacancies in functioning in a 21% oxygen its valence cell so requires two atmosphere. Scientists have electrons to become stable explored this with a 100% and follow the octet rule. oxygen atmosphere. For Oxygen, essentially, creates free example researchers in Texas radicals around your body by found that oxygen-deprived splitting into one atom from baby mice that were treated its diatomic state so they can with a hundred percent oxygen obtain electrons from various experienced brain damage and cells in your body. Although exhibited symptoms similar we have antioxidants that to cerebral palsy since all that neutralise them, this only oxygen created a wave of free
Ingenium radicals that caused enormous oxidative stress doing special damage to the cells that make myelin - the fatty insulation that covers nerve cells. The researchers, however, were able to treat some of the harmful effects by giving the mice antioxidants only in the proper amounts. So, the take-home message here is that your body maintains a specific balance for good reason. You live in a complex world with special precious amounts of what you need to survive and you are set up to take in only what you need and use only what you take so when it comes to water or oxygen, antioxidants or your blood cells you can end up having too much of a good thing.
Death by Blood? Water? Oxygen? References 1.
Anon, (2019). [online] Available at: http:// www.sci-news.com/space/nasas-twinsstudy-07087.html [Accessed 12 Sep. 2019]. Ballantyne, C. (2019). Strange but True: Drinking Too Much Water Can Kill. [online] Scientific American. Available at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-muchwater-can-kill/ [Accessed 11 Sep. 2019]. Coila, B. (n.d.). The Effects of Too Many Antioxidants | Livestrong.com. [online] LIVESTRONG.COM. Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/480352-the-effects-of-too-much-antioxidants/ [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019]. Lobo, V., Patil, A., Phatak, A. and Chandra, N. (2010). Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 4(8), p.118. Mail Online. (2019). The hiker who died from drinking TOO MUCH water. [online] Available at: https://www.dailymail. co.uk/health/article-3260684/The-hikerdied-drinking-water-Excess-fluid-lackfood-caused-brain-fatally-swell.html [Accessed 11 Sep. 2019]. Martin, D. and Grocott, M. (2019). Oxygen Therapy in Critical Illness. [online] Medscape. Available at: https://www. medscape.com/viewarticle/778505_3 [Accessed 9 Sep. 2019]. Mayo Clinic. (2019). High red blood cell count Causes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/ high-red-blood-cell-count/basics/causes/ sym-20050858 [Accessed 22 Jul. 2019]. Mustain, P. (2015). Antioxidant Sup-
plements: Too Much of a Kinda Good Thing. [online] Scientific American Blog Network. Available at: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/food-matters/antioxidant-supplements-too-much-of-a-kindagood-thing/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019]. NCCIH. (2019). Antioxidants: In Depth. [online] Available at: https://nccih.nih. gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm [Accessed 4 Sep. 2019]. nhs.uk. (2019). Polycythaemia. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/ conditions/polycythaemia/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019]. ScienceDaily. (2010). Powerful free radical causes lung damage from oxygen therapy. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101005104335.htm [Accessed 5 Sep. 2019]. Stern, C. The Oxygen Dilemma: Can Too Much O2 Kill? [online] Scientific American. Available at: https://www. scientificamerican.com/article/the-oxygen-dilemma/ [Accessed 9 Sep. 2019] ThoughtCo. (2019). Can You Drink Too Much Water?. [online] Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/can-youdrink-too-much-water-601968 [Accessed 11 Sep. 2019]. YouTube. (2019). Can I Die From Too Much Water? Blood? Oxygen?. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=uql9B93h1Xc&t=289s [Accessed 7 Jul. 2019]. YouTube. (2019). Why Do We Need Oxygen To Survive?. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM_ CgtFORzw [Accessed 14 Sep. 2019].
Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A which not only improves eyeight but also provides you with a sufficient quantity of antioxidants.
A Year In Spaceflight
A Year in Spaceflight: Exploring the NASA Twin Study Einstein’s famous twin
paradox essentially demonstrates that the effect of special relativity results in the ageing of one twin to progress at a slower rate when engaging in a high-speed rocket through space whereas his Earthbound twin endures the same, dreaded wear and tear we all go through in the journey of life. The truth of space travel, however, is disparate from the genius’ theory in that space, in reality, exhibits a greater range of perilous threats which present major health risks for the astronaut. Last week, the results of the NASA Twin Study came in, which investigates the manifold biological
consequences of enduring a year-long mission on-board the International Space Station (ISS) and comparing it to his identical twin on Earth. In summary, the challenges faced included noise, hypoxia (oxygen deficiency in tissues and/or organs), isolation, and a disrupted circadian rhythm (24-hour internal clock in the brain). Additionally, the exposure to ionising radiation (radiation that carries enough energy to detach electrons from atoms or molecules) and weightlessness (microgravity) are major factors compromising the astronaut’s health. Ionising radiation stands as an omnipresent threat to human life due to its detrimental
nature to vital biomolecules in the body, especially the genetic information stored within our DNA. Ionising radiation derives from radioactive material within Earth as well as solar flares and cosmic rays outside the Solar System. Cosmic ionising radiation consists of high-energy charged particles which are deflected and stopped by Earth’s magnetic field and its atmosphere. This effectively protects us from excessive ionising radiation exposure. As we leave Earth, however, the ionising radiation exposure increases even more so as we travel further away. Additionally, we can easily envisage weightlessness having
The brothers Mark (left) and Scott Kelly(right) were an integral part of the yearlong study.
Ingenium detrimental effects as most, if not all, physiological processes would have adapted to function based on the surface gravity of Earth and, therefore the change in gravity would prove fatal. Intensive research on the effects of microgravity and ionising radiation exposure on humans is warranted due to the largely unknown risks imposed by them which in turn limit endeavours to visit Mars. Even though it orbits the Earth relatively closely (around 400 km from the Earthâ€™s surface) to it, the ISS represents an ideal testbed due to the sensation of weightlessness in it. The NASA study followed the astronaut before, during and after a yearlong residency at the ISS â€“ the time approximately required for a journey to Mars and back. It is important to bear in mind that, although the findings of the study may present some sort of biological response or change of the astronautâ€™s body and, in particular, genetic composition, it may differ for other people. The availability of a genetic control (the Earth-bound twin) minimises false-positive results. The comprehensive biological analysis coupled with physiological and cognitive tests over the year provides an unprecedented source of information. Biological samples were extensively monitored by state-of-the-art techniques that identify changes in gene or protein expression. The findings of the study unveiled a multitude of
A Year In Spaceflight behavioural, physiological, and molecular changes induced by the space environment, which were categorised in low-risk, mid-level risk, and high-risk groups. The low-risk group included changes to the gastrointestinal microbiome (the microorganisms in a particular environment) and body mass, whereas the mid-level risk classification involved alterations in collagen regulation, and intravascular fluid management (control of the mixture of blood, solutes, globulins etc.). The high-risk category included genomic instability with a risk of developing cancer. The structural abnormalities in the chromosomes of the travelling twin are fairly typical of
chromosomes) unexpectedly arose before declining post flight while telomeres (repetitive sequences that protect chromosome ends) were predominantly lengthened during the flight. The expression of DNA repair genes remained up-regulated (increase in the quantity of a cellular component) which reflects the presence of persistent chromosomal damage. Other effects possibly related to microgravity. For example, a headward fluid shift is an effect, which is increased pressure in the brain, which may push on the back of the eye, causing it to change shape. Pronounced changes in vascular physiology were also caused as a result of
Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from Bethesda, MD, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
ionising radiation exposure and the reversal of chromosomal fragments were probably caused by space-specific charged particles and arose at a rate that was consistent with the encountered radiation dose. Concomitant effects include chromosome translocation (unusual rearrangement of
microgravity with distended (swollen) arteries and veins in the upper body. The travelling twin exhibited increased carotid artery (major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck, and face) distension and thickening of the carotid wall, potentially representing early alterations
A Year In Spaceflight References 1.
associated with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. He also displayed abnormalities in the retinal vasculature, with choroid (pigmented vascular layer of the eyeball between the retina and the sclera) thickening and increased folding which potentially damages vision. Fortunately, evaluation of the travelling twin’s cognitive abilities showed that there were no adverse effects during space travel but revealed significant diminutions post flight. Impacts on brain physiology have been reported to be caused by both microgravity and ionising radiation exposure in the past. The observed effects of the NASA Twin Study are arguably broader and more pronounced than might have been expected, particularly for ionising radiation-specific effects such as genomic instability, constant up-regulated DNA expression, and cognitive function decline. The microgravity-specific
changes focused mainly on the neuro-ocular system along with severe vascular physiology changes and combined with ionising radiationspecific effects, the chance of obtaining a cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease or cancer is greatly increased which demonstrate that travel to Mars would display immense danger to humans. However, the NASA study undoubtedly represents more than one small step for mankind in this endeavour.
Anon, (2019). [online] Available at: http:// www.sci-news.com/space/nasas-twinsstudy-07087.html [Accessed 11 Sep. 2019]. Anon, (2019). [online] Available at: http:// www.sci-news.com/space/nasas-twinsstudy-07087.html [Accessed 12 Sep. 2019]. Arbeille, P., Provost, R. and Zuj, K. (2016). Carotid and Femoral Artery IntimaMedia Thickness During 6 Months of Spaceflight. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, 87(5), pp.449-453. Garrett-Bakelman, F., Darshi, M., Green, S., Gur, R., Lin, L., Macias, B., McKenna, M., Meydan, C., Mishra, T., Nasrini, J., Piening, B., Rizzardi, L., Sharma, K., Siamwala, J., Taylor, L., Vitaterna, M., Afkarian, M., Afshinnekoo, E., Ahadi, S., Ambati, A., Arya, M., Bezdan, D., Callahan, C., Chen, S., Choi, A., Chlipala, G., Contrepois, K., Covington, M., Crucian, B., Vivo, I., Dinges, D., Ebert, D., Feinberg, J., Gandara, J., George, K., Goutsias, J., Grills, G., Hargens, A., Heer, M., Hillary, R., Hoofnagle, A., Hook, V., Jenkinson, G., Jiang, P., Keshavarzian, A., Laurie, S., Lee-McMullen, B., Lumpkins, S., MacKay, M., Maienschein-Cline, M., Melnick, A., Moore, T., Nakahira, K., Patel, H., Pietrzyk, R., Rao, V., Saito, R., Salins, D., Schilling, J., Sears, D., Sheridan, C., Stenger, M., Tryggvadottir, R., Urban, A., Vaisar, T., Espen, B., Zhang, J., Ziegler, M., Zwart, S., Charles, J., Kundrot, C., Scott, G., Bailey, S., Basner, M., Feinberg, A., Lee, S., Mason, C., Mignot, E., Rana, B., Smith, S., Snyder, M. and Turek, F. (2019). The NASA Twins Study: A multidimensional analysis of a year-long human spaceflight. [online] Science.sciencemag.org. Available at: https://science.sciencemag.org/ content/364/6436/eaau8650 [Accessed 12 Sep. 2019]. Lee, J., Koppelmans, V., Riascos, R., Hasan, K., Pasternak, O., Mulavara, A., Bloomberg, J. and Seidler, R. (2019). Spaceflight-Associated Brain White Matter Microstructural Changes and Intracranial Fluid Redistribution. JAMA Neurology, 76(4), p.412. Limoli, C., Jandial, R., Hoshide, R. and Waters, J. (2018). Space–brain: The negative effects of space exposure on the central nervous system. Surgical Neurology International, 9(1), p.9. Löbrich, M., Jeggo, P. (2019) Hazards of Human Spaceflight Science, 364(6436), pp. 127-128
Acknowledgements I would like to express my immense gratitude to many staff members of Trinity who have aided in the creation of this magazine. I would like to thank Mr Tucker for his support and expert advice on the magazine since its early drafts. He has continuously stood behind me throughout the long process and has seen the development of the magazine from the time where it was just a Word document. I am especially grateful to Mr Friend for his guidance regarding the design and printing of this magazine. He has enabled me to bring this magazine to life and helped me understand the various intricacies of publishing and typesetting software. Many thanks to Mr Moralee, Mr Salmanpour, Ms Bala, Mr Flanagan and Dr Robinson for taking the time to provide invaluable input on the articles in this issue of Ingenium. Without everyoneâ€™s aid, I could not have cosntructed this magazine and I must thank my friends and classmates for providing sufficient entertainment in the many evenings spent in the Art department as well as their insightful contributions to improving the various aspects of Ingenium.
Front Cover Image Credit: Martin420 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)] Back Cover Image Credit: MasterBlek [CC BY-NC-SA 3.0]