Thursday, 29 November 2012

SYNAPSE issue 3 coming soon

Issue 3 of Synapse will be released online this week and the print magazine will be distributed over the next two weeks.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Graphene: The Future of Computers?

Hannah Bruce Macdonald

Graphene is a one atom thick sheet of pure carbon, with a hexagonal pattern much like graphite. Its structure causes graphene to allow very rapid movement of electrons across the sheet, and it is this property that has caused graphene to be flagged for use in ultra-fast computers. However, the nature of transistors require them to be semi-conductors like Silicon, allowing the circuit to be turned on and off by a band gap in the material. A band gap is a difference in energy between the energy of the electrons and the energy required to conduct, with the band gap being bridged only when the correct amount of external energy is applied. Graphene does not have a band gap and therefore does not semi-conduct. 

Computer chip with over 1 billion transistors
A band gap has been introduced into Graphene before, allowing the application of Graphene to transistors. This has been done using techniques such as adding an insulating layer to the Graphene, reducing its conductivity, or through carving the Graphene into ribbons, where the altered structure allows the current to be turned off more easily. Both these previous techniques have been successful, but are limited in their scope as they only work in transistors above a certain size, as the edges of the ribbons become roughly cut at small sizes, allowing the band gap to disappear.

New research carried out at the Georgia Institute of Technology has found that graphene sheets designed with a rippling surface could be used for transistors. The troughs in the rippled surface mimic the ribbon, but as it is made of one continuous sheet, the issue of the edges of the ribbons has been bypassed. The parallel trenches are 18nm deep and have a band gap of 0.5 electron volts. This development has opened up the opportunity for graphene to replace silicon in transistors in the future, but there is still plenty of research to be done into the band gap, to produce the ideal sized graphene ripple. This potential shift from silicon to graphene transistors could push Moore’s Law to its limits, as the law states that processor speeds and the number of transistors on a computer chip would double every two years.

Will rippling the surface of graphene make them the ultimate transistor?

Monday, 26 November 2012

Celibacy Can Lead to Thievery

Erik Müürsepp

Bdelloid Rotifer. Photo by Michael Sribak and Irina Arkhipova

Animals appear to be pretty keen on sex as a form of reproduction. It makes perfect sense, having offspring in this manner introduces genetic variability to the younger generations which allows them to survive in a changing environment. Any species in the animal kingdom reproducing asexually is expected to eventually become extinct. The bdelloids, tiny freshwater inhabitants, are defying this rule, as they have gone for the past 80 million year without intercourse of any kind. All bdelloids are female and they lay eggs that require no fertilisation by sperm. They also have the curious property of being able to withstand staggeringly high levels of radiation and survive for years when the water that they call home suddenly evaporates.

This bizarre asexual and resilient lifestyle prompted an investigation into the genes this creature expresses. The findings, published this month in PLoS Genetics, only add to the uniqueness of this critter. It turns out that 10% of the bdelloids’ active genes come from other organisms like bacteria, fungi and algae. They appear to have acquired these genes from more than 500 different species making them by far the most adept thieves in the animal kingdom.

It is likely that this foreign genetic material originates from the bdelloids’ everyday food. They are known to eat any organic debris smaller than their head, and the DNA in these particles seems to somehow end up in their own genomes. The alien genes make a huge contribution to the bdelloids’ biochemical repertoire, making up 40% of all the enzymes they possess. This lets them break down toxins in the environment akin to certain bacteria and produce antioxidants that are never found in animals. Thus it would appear that the bdelloids have foregone sex and focused on eating and thieving instead; so far it seems to be working out for them.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Synapse science news #8

Too busy to keep track of all the science news during the week? Don’t fear Synapse is here. Check out this week's news.

Curiosity makes historic discovery - Nasa's Curiosity team says it is poised to make a 'historic' announcement in the near future. This is a massive teaser as very little information has been given and NASA are usually reserved when it comes to making major claims. Read more.

Dog’s nose reverses his paralysis - Scientists have helped a dog regain the use of its legs by injecting olfactory ensheathing cells taken from the lining of its noses into the its spine. This research may help those seeking a cure for paralysis. More information.

Support for science - Vince Cable has been standing in Science’s corner this week. He plans to challenge plans for cuts in spending on engineering and science being considered by George Osborne. Read more.

The island that wasn't - An island in the South Pacific called ‘Sandy Island’ has been proven not to exist! Find out more.

Louisa Cockbill and Tom Stubbs

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Trillion Tropospheric Insects

Tom Stubbs

If you look up at the sky what do you see? Clouds, birds, planes, the sun, what about insects? We are all familiar with butterflies fluttering by during a warm summer’s day. But did you know that updrafts of air can carry them to over 3,000 feet, higher than the world’s tallest building? Up there, the butterflies are joined by flies which travel to heights of around 5,000 feet and even higher than this you find aphids, midges and wasps. Amazingly, beetles are known from heights above 6,000 feet, such as the common ladybird. In the search for mates, Male Gypsy moths can even get to 10,000 feet. If we continue our vertical journey further, to say 13,000 feet, we reach heights exceeding many mountains. Surely nothing can get as high as this? Wrong! Have you ever been sat outside and seen a spider that appears to be floating through the air? These spiders are actually attached to a single silk thread that is carrying like a helium balloon! Using this technique, spiders have been found at 13,000 feet. The highest living insect ever recorded was, believe it or not, an individual termite at 19,000 feet.

So we now know that up above us there are hidden highways of life. Insects use these to search for new habitats, food and mates. Have you ever considered how many individual insects there may be flying above us right now? Scientists believe that if you take a 0.6 square mile column of air going from the surface to the edge of space in a spring or summer month there will be 3 billion individuals within it. So that’s 3 billion insects within a column of just 0.6 by 0.6 miles. Now imagine if you extended this to cover the entire surface of Earth! This makes the scientific estimates of around 10 quintillion (1018) individual insects alive right now seem quite reasonable.

Check out this awesome video for more information.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Your Brain by the Numbers

Dwayne Godwin is a neuroscientist at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Jorge Cham draws the comic strip Piled Higher and Deeper at

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Synapse science news #7

Too busy to keep track of all the science news during the week? Don’t fear Synapse is here. Check out this week's news.

3D printing for the future - 3D printing, which can rapidly create complex products through either printing 3D "layers" or by removing material, has started to arrive in homes. With the first model being very expensive and time consuming, the possibility of being able to print out basic parts for the home without leaving your armchair is only just becoming reality - from a wider scope though, the new technology of additive layer manufacturing (ALM), on which some 3D printers operate, offers a revolution in how millions of items are manufactured. Read more

Rogue planet - Astronomers have discovered a "rogue planet" wandering around the cosmos without a star to orbit, around 100 light-years away. Find out more.

Goodbye coffee? - If climate change isn't enough of a serious issue, then the news that coffee is now under threat from this problem should worry all of us who depend on this substance to survive early morning lectures. Rising temperatures are meaning many of the world's traditional areas for Arabica bean growing may become unsuitable by 2080. Fortunately I only drink tea! Read more.

Antibiotic resistance fears - Experts believe resistance to antibiotics is one of the greatest threats to modern health. Reports suggest resistant to strains of  E. coli and gonorrhoea are increasing because antibiotics arebeing used unnecessarily for mild infections. Find out more

Total eclipse - Sunny Australia was momentarily in the shade earlier this week following a total eclipse. Read more.

Run out of batteries - The end for pesky batteries may not be too far off as scientists create an electronic transmitter from electromagnetic fields naturally generated in the ear. Whilst the available voltage is currently tiny, there is hope that further research can start to examine cell energy extraction- though health risks for humans will obviously have to be examined. More information here.

Beta Blockers don’t work - Beta Blockers have been a standard part of treat for patient’s suffering with heart problems such as angina since the first was launched in 1964. However two papers released within days of each other have both shown damning evidence that beta blockers did not prolong the lives of patients. This evidence has come as a shock to a lot of cardiologists and this may shape the drugs with give patients in the future. Find out more.

Hovering moon base - There are rumors that NASA plans to build a hovering moon base that will be held in place by gravity. Read more.

Oliver Ford, Felix Kennedy and Tom Stubbs

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Freestyle Rap: Where in the Brain is Creativity?

Jonathan Smith

Creativity, according to blogger and The Oatmeal comics creator Matthew Inman, is like a river that has input constantly flowing in and out of it. Rather than being a finite ‘container’ of ideas, it is a dynamic entity that changes throughout your waking day. 

Despite being a trait that is central to many professions, such as writing, art, and music, creativity is not well understood in cognitive neuroscience. Where do ideas come from? How is inspiration encoded in neuronal networks? One recent study in Nature (summarized here) set out to investigate aspects of these questions by performing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on freestyle rappers. The fMRI imaging used in this study detected blood flow (increased blood flow corresponds with increased brain activity) to regions in the brains of twelve male freestyle artists in two scenarios. In the first scenario, they performed memorized predetermined lyrics to a backing track as a non-creative control and in the second, they performed freestyle rap and the differences in brain region activity were measured. 

An interesting finding of the study was that the cortex at the front of the brain (prefrontal cortex) showed different changes according to which region it was. Prefrontal cortex close to the line separating the two hemispheres of the brain (medial) was activated whereas prefrontal cortex further from the middle of the brain (dorsolateral) was largely deactivated. One explanation for this might be that the imposing executive functions of the dorsolateral cortex are reduced, allowing the flow of ideas from other parts of the cortex. It is a bit like stern parents going away for the weekend and leaving their wild child in charge of the house.

A similar pattern was seen in another study investigating the brain patterns of jazz musicians. Would this pattern of activity happen in other creative processes such as painting a picture? This is not known, but it would be pretty interesting to find out.

Other findings from this study suggested that a large amount of the creative processes are in fact below the conscious level as activity could increase long before lyrics were being generated. This seems to agree with the experiences of improvisational performers who often cannot pinpoint an exact source of their ideas. So in conclusion, if you are searching for an innovative idea for your next project or essay, just stay away from your parents for a while and let the inspiration flow! 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The AI Lab: A Look At iPhone Siri's Future

Alfred Omachar

Ever thought how great it would be if you could use voice control on your iPhone without having to lay your hands on it?

Well, the future looks very promising for Siri as speech recognition software company Nuance is working on building a mobile device that would allow its users to speak to it without ever touching it, even while it’s on sleep mode. Nuance Communications, which made the virtual assistant app called Dragon Go! and is widely believed to be the voice provider for Apple's Siri, believes that you would soon be able to talk to your smartphone while it lies idle. It is also expected that smartphones will have the ability to listen to an on-going stream of noise and differentiate its users voice from background chatter. The company is currently working with several chip designers on such a persistent low-power way in which devices could listen to voice commands from user. Vlad Sejnoha, Nuance's CTO, expects this to be achieved in just a few years.

However, it was noted that there are a couple of challenges that would have to be dealt with before these capabilities become available. Issues such as accidental triggering of the voice assistant and privacy/security if you always have software that is consistently listening in the background. Foolproof voice identification would also be needed to avoid the smartphone from releasing personal information to whoever asks it. But the biggest challenge of course would be to convince users to be comfortable with a device that is always paying attention. 

Looking at how Apple has approached technology over the past few years, we could expect anything to happen to Siri. Either way, no matter how enthusiastic you are about the voice technology, it seems that it is moving closer and closer to the world of sci-fi. One in which many techies have always dreamt of. Could we also see Siri moving into Mac? Or could we soon be able to say, “Siri, book me on the next flight to London”? Where do you see things going from here?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Curious activity and interplanetary jet lag

Hannah Bruce Macdonald

Curiosity, NASA’s Mars rover, has become the first instrument to carry out X-ray diffraction on another planet. Curiosity has paused on its journey to ‘Rocknest’ to perform its first test on the soils, while simultaneously removing any contaminants from Earth which it might have taken with it on its journey to space.

This comes after the team’s relief of shifting to normal working days for their study of Mars, after spending the first 90 days of the mission following a Martian time frame with 24 hour 39 minute days. Now those working on the project have recovered from interplanetary jet lag, they have set Curiosity to start shifting the sand to isolate the particles smaller than 150 micrometres and analyzing it.

The results of x-ray diffraction have shown significant amounts of feldspar, olivine and pyroxene. The sands themselves have been formed from sandstorms, meteorite collisions, or by the chemical breakdown of rocks through the action of water or oxygen. This soil sample is comparable to basaltic soil found in Hawaii, a volcanic island. These deposits have come from the Gale crater, which the scientists predict was an area that has passed from a wet environment to a dry one. The minerals are consistent with this, indicating limited interaction with water.

This research is all carried out with the notion that Mars could have supported microbial life, which makes the comparison to sands found on Earth and the suggestion of water interaction such an exciting one.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Synapse Movember Quiz

It's MOVEMBERMovember is the month when men can free their upper lip of unnecessary shearing and their follicles can run free to do what they do best!

This calls for a novelty science quiz. Below is a selection of exceptional scientists who were also blessed with incredibly sculpted facial hair. How many of them can you name? Do you know why they are famous? Go on, give it a go! The results will be published on Saturday 17th, along with more information about these incredible individuals.


(a) Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). Credited with identifying the 'germ theory of disease' and a founder of microbiology.

(b) Albert Einstein (1879-1955). Probably the most influential scientist of the 20th Century, he developed the theory of general relativity.

(c) Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch (1843-1910). Famous for isolating Mycobacterium tuberculosis and considered one of the founders of microbiology.

(d) Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937). The father of Nuclear physics, he developed the half-life concept and won the Nobel prize in 1908.

(e) Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853-1936). Henry Wellcome was a pharmaceutical entrepreneur, famous for his charitable activity and financial support for science. I would say he wins in this Movember competition!

(f) Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (1858-1947). The father of Quantum mechanics. He won a Nobel Prize in 1918.

(g) Nikola Tesla (1856-1943). One of the most famous engineers and inventors in history. He designed the modern alternating current (AC) electrical supply system.

(h) Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922). Alexander Bell was an eminent scientist, inventor and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone.

(i) Alfred Binet (1857-1911). A French psychologist who invented the world's first intelligence test, the IQ test.

(j) Orville Wright (1871-1948). Orville Wright, along with his brother Wilbur, were engineers and inventors, responsible for the first ever manned powered flight.

Synapse science news #6

Too busy to keep track of all the science news during the week? Don’t fear Synapse is here. Check out this week's news.

Super-human workforce - Human advancement technologies, including brain stimulators, exoskeletons and eye implants could be routine in workplaces of the future as competition for jobs increases. Read more.

Rare whale seen for first time - The World’s rarest whale has been seen for the first time. The Spade-toothed beaked whale was discovered in 1872, based only on bone fragments. In 2010 a mother and her calf were found dead stranded on Opape Beach at the northern tip of New Zealand. DNA results published this week confirmed that these animals were Spade-toothed beaked whales. Full story.

Earth-like neighbour discovered - Three new large planets have been identified orbiting the nearby star HD 40307. They all exist in the habitable zone where liquid water can exist. The discovery team used the change in the frequency of light from the star it orbited to calculate the mass and distance from the star of the planet. Read more.

Ash plague takes hold - Ash dieback, a disease that threatens the UK's ash trees, cannot be eradicated and the government is opting for containment. Diseased young trees will be removed and destroyed. Scientists hope to identify resistant individual trees and identify a genetic marker. Find out more.

Felix Kennedy and Tom Stubbs

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Variety in Vision

Molly Hawes

As you read this article, your eyes flit over the page, jumping every three hundred milliseconds or so. Furthermore, if you turn your head slightly, reflexes force you to maintain your previous eye direction for at least twenty milliseconds. This avoids the inevitable blurring associated with shorter glances due to the brain’s inability to register differences in light intensity over shorter time spans. Most vertebrates and crustaceans share our two dimensional binocular visual set up.

Now try to imagine if you can (and, of course, you can’t) being able to see only a single strip of light, corresponding to just three single receptors wide, yet hundreds of receptors long. The essentially one-dimensional strip spans just ninety degrees, less than half the field of view of a human.  This is how the heteropod sea snail Oxygyrus differentiates partner from prey in the underwater world it inhabits. Should it decide the hapless object is prey, it will (in the delightful words of Professor Michael Land) “have a go with its snuffling tube”. 

Perhaps yet a more bizarre form of vision is that of the Odontodactylus or Mantis Shrimp. This species has, for four hundred million years, been quietly evolving a singularly unique visual mechanism. In each of its two circular eyes it has six colour detecting lines of receptors, positioned like the strings over the hole in a guitar. These can detect eight visible colours and four from the ultraviolet spectrum, as well as both planar and circular polarised light. The colour strip is overlain by a perpendicularly orientated row of three pseudopupils through which light can enter to allow movement detection and, potentially although not confirmed, triangulation. A question not yet answered by biologists is whether the twelve colours the Mantis Shrimp can see are processed using a ratio based system (like we use with red, green and blue) or a different type of ‘software’ altogether. Certainly any system capable of processing this number of colours must be highly complex and computationally demanding. 

Perhaps the most unlikely visual system is that of the Copilia quadrata. The blind males of this species have the vestigial cuticular lens, but in the females we see two eyes each containing five or seven rods. These fixed receptors, not including any form of retina, relay information through a single nerve in the totally transparent body to the animals’ brain.  eye continually scans and area just three degrees high and wide and so essentially sees a single, “zero-dimensional” dot. Discovered by Sigmund Exner in 1891, it is the only animal to create a two-dimensional image from an array of point images from a single lens. To complicate matters the animal also has another pair of simple eyes (more like our own) positioned at the front of the body.
Photomicrograph of Copilia quadrata showing the lenses

These animals and others (like the Saltians scenicus and the Labidocera) have developed highly specialised solutions to having primitive eyes. These niche solutions have evolved independently and remind us that a variety of hardware (some quite unlike our own) can provide a functional solution to the challenge of vision, and can provide organisms with the power of sight. 

This article is based on Professor Mike Land’s Richard Gregory Memorial Lecture, ‘Scanning Eyes’, from the 22nd October 2012.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Meet Dr Leonard P. Annectens

Tom Stubbs

The University of Bristol has many wonderful staff members, from the traditional to the unconventional. However, I bet most of you have never met a member of staff like this before. Dr Leonard P. Annectens is based in the Earth Sciences department. His responsibilities include educating research students and generally keeping an eye on things. Additionally, Dr Leonard P. Annectens has an extensive publication list, including the following high impact paper:  Hone. D.W.E, and Annectens, L.P. 2008. Macrorevolutionary trends in the Lungfish: Dope's rule. Journal of Revolutionary Biology, 245, 587-595.

Smell something fishy yet? OK  well if not, here are a few more of Dr Leonard P. Annectens’s responsibilities. His primary activity is hiding behind a rock and on occasions he entertains visitors. But, most importantly, he is always a "living fossil". Got it yet? Yes, Dr Leonard P. Annectens is in fact the Earth Science department’s very own lungfish. Known by most simply as Leonard, this West African Lungfish (Protopterus annectens) was originally brought into the department for research purposes. Having made such a great impression the powers that be granted him a special academic position researching human behaviour from an aquatic environment and elucidating the evolutionary relationship of dipnoans and tetrapods.In its natural environment Protopterus annectens inhabits temporary floodplains that are completely dry for part of the year. It is omnivorous, feeding on shellfish, amphibians and plants.

Dr Leonard P. Annectens’s staff page.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Methane Hydrates: A hidden source of global warming?

Hannah Bruce Macdonald

While it may seem there are already enough sources of greenhouse gases, a study has shown that large sources of methane may be released from their storage at the bottom of the sea. Off the East coast of North America large deposits of methane hydrate, a solid form of frozen methane trapped in ocean sediments, have been found. This methane hydrate is formed at the top few hundred metres of the ocean floor where the pressure is high and the temperature is low, far enough away from the Earth’s warm interior.

Changes in temperature and shifts in position of the Gulf Stream over recent years have allowed these methane reserves to ‘melt’ releasing 2.5 billion tonnes of methane. This gas is unlikely to move through the ocean to the surface, but will probably remain dissolved in the seawater where it will be converted by microbes. If this methane were to be released into the atmosphere, it would be unlikely to have much effect on global temperatures, but the main concern is for deep-ocean landslides. The breakdown of these methane hydrate reserves are capable of causing landslides in the seabed, which in turn have the knock-on effect of releasing even more methane, which could impact on global warming, while also having the potential to cause tsunamis.

Studies have been carried out using indirect measurements of sea-floor temperatures, from which the break-down of the methane hydrates has been inferred. On top of this little is known about the extent of methane hydrate present, or about the rate or mechanism at which this gas is released. Due to this, research is limited on methane hydrates potential as an energy source, or the effect it could have on global warming.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Synapse science news #5

Too busy to keep track of all the science news during the week? Don’t fear Synapse is here. Check out this week's news.

Superstorm Sandy - Hurricane devastates Eastern USA leaving over 90 people dead, some 4.6 million homes and businesses without power and a clean-up bill of $50billion. Read more.

Bananas to replace potatoes as staple food following global warming? - Researchers from the CGIAR agricultural partnership claim that climate change could lead to crops from the banana family becoming a critical food source in some developing countries. Find out more

Curious soil - Curiosity rover finds soil similar to Hawaii's on Mars. The soil is made of weathered "basaltic" materials of volcanic origin. Read more

Nuclear Britain? - New generation of nuclear power plants set for the UK after Japan's Hitachi signed a £700m deal giving it rights to build new generators. Full story

Red pill or Blue pill? - Scientists believe we are close to solving the 'Matrix' theory? Believe it or not the question of whether we live in a real world or a simulated one has plagued philosophers for centuries. Read more.

Climate change forgotten? - Despite pressure from the scientific community and advocacy groups, climate change never made it into the U.S. presidential debates, until just a few days ago. Find out more.

Not so special? - Research suggests our Solar System is not quite as special as once believed. Find out more.

Diabetes linked to flu - Research suggests the flu virus may trigger diabetes. However, this discovery may give us a way to prevent some forms of the disease. Find out more.

Tom Stubbs and Felicity Russell

Saturday, 3 November 2012

The AI Lab: Watson, IBM's Supercomputer Genius, Could Be Your New Doctor!

Alfred Omachar

Watson, widely remembered for making headlines last year as the first ever cognitive system to win the TV quiz show Jeopardy!, is now training to get a new job as a doctor. As recently announced by IBM, Watson is now going to be an advisor and an assistant to all kinds of professional decision-makers, starting with healthcare, then moving on to other areas such as finance. The company together with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), plans to use the system for cancer research and treatment. Using clinical knowledge based on genomic and molecular data from MSKCC, Watson will help oncologists diagnose and treat individual cancer patients. Generally computers should also be able to help, but the limitations of current systems, for instance, in dealing with natural language, have prevented real advances. 

So what is it that actually makes Watson different from other intelligent systems?

A combination of three modern computing techniques makes Watson's smart learning software unique:

1. Natural language processing – to help in comprehending unstructured data

2. Hypothesis generation and evaluation – providing a list of responses based on relevant evidence

3. Evidence-based learning – improving its performance based on its outcomes so as to make it smarter with each interaction.

These capabilities enabled it to perform well on the Jeopardy! show which mainly depends on the ability to find out double meanings of words, puns, rhymes and hints as well as the ability to process large amounts of information to make complex logical connections. Check out the video below for more information.

It's more than Just Game Shows
Despite the fact that Watson addressed its first task of winning on Jeopardy!, IBM wants it to be more than just a professional game show contestant. But how exactly would Watson help out in healthcare?

  • First, the doctor poses a question to the system, providing it with symptoms of an illness. Watson then mines personal data from the patient and his/her medical records.
  •  It combines this information with findings from medical research and then examines all data sources to form hypotheses and tests them.
  • Watson then lists potential diagnoses along with a level of confidence for each of these diagnosis thus helping the doctor making a more informed decision.

A Promising Technology for Cancer Treatment?
Without any doubt, good doctors are notable for their ability to detect patterns and apply relevant medical knowledge to their patients. However, no physician can keep up with the amount of medical information available, which in fact is doubling every year and is all unstructured. Watson has the ability to mine a wide array of clinical data and medical cases that is accessible electronically, uncover patterns from these data and offer evidence to treatment decisions more firmly. IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering (MSKCC) do hope that their collaborative effort to adapt Watson into cancer research and treatment will produce notable results. Not only is Watson expected to improve the cancer diagnosis process, but it is also likely that in the future it will become part of a doctor's common tools such as a stethoscope or a blood pressure monitor.

Curious about Watson's Intelligence? Take a look at Watson as it competes against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, two of Jeopardy!'s most successful contestants.

Your journey

Did you know that by just sitting at your computer all day in your room you will travel ~40,075km?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Synapse radio launch

Synapse radio show launches today on Burst. Tune in every Thursday at 4pm for science news and views, interviews with lecturers, quizzes, questions and answers and pure science joy!