Tag: BBC

Imperial in the news: How to put a human on Mars

Last weekend (27 and 28 July 2013) the BBC broadcast a 30-minute programme called How to put a human on Mars, exploring some of the key aspects of how a mission to Mars might look.

Is there life on Mars? A manned-mission could find out

Dr Simon Foster (Physics) was one of five researchers at Imperial who took part. He showed how ice could be used to produce fuel for the return journey and how parachutes would be deployed to slow down and stabilise the landing craft before the astronauts could step foot on the red planet.

To demonstrate this he threw a camera off of the Queen’s Tower, attached to bin bags by string, and talked about his experience in the Imperial Podcast.

Imperial in the news: obese children

Rising obesity levels in children have led to an increase in hospital admissions for obesity-related conditions

Last month’s biggest story involving research at Imperial looked at the increase in children admitted to hospital with obesity-related conditions.

During the period studied there was a four-fold increase in admissions for children experiencing obesity-related conditions, from 872 in 2000 to 3806 in 2009.  Teenage girls with pregnancies complicated by obesity accounted for hospital admissions in 2009.

Surveys suggest that around 30 per cent of children aged 2-15 are overweight and up to 20 per cent are obese.

“The burden of obesity is usually thought to have its serious consequences in adulthood, but we now see it manifesting earlier, in childhood,” said Dr Sonia Saxena, from the School of Public Health at Imperial, who led the study.

Imperial in the news: surgery shock

Last week it was widely reported, following a study at Imperial, that elective surgery towards the end of the week had an increased risk of death for the patients.

Surgery towards the end of the week resulted in an increase in mortality rates

Operations on Fridays were 44 per cent more likely to result in death than those on Monday, reported the study that appeared in the British Medical Journal. However, the overall risk remained low; the average risk of death within 30 days of surgery was 0.67 per cent – just over 27,000 out of four million operation data recorded.

Imperial in the news: dinosaur killers

Asteroid or comet – what caused the impact that killed the dinosaurs?

For generations, the debate has raged as to what exactly caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Following a series of varying suggestions, the latest research proposes that the widely-held belief that an asteroid collided with the earth to cause a catastrophic chain of events is wrong. Sort of.

Researchers in the USA announced earlier this month that rather than an asteroid, the impact of the Chicxulub crater in Mexico was caused by a comet. The difference between the two interstellar objects is that comets are made of ice, rock and dust whereas asteroids are made predominantly of metals.

Imperial in the news: a cure for HIV?

Professor Jonathan Weber responded to the possibility of a cure for HIV

Yesterday, doctors at Johns Hopkins University in Mississippi announced that they had all-but cured a baby of HIV.

The child, who inherited the disease from her mother, was given anti-viral drugs as soon as she was diagnosed. After a few months the child had come off the intense regimen of medication and later she was shown that despite no longer taking the drugs, the virus could no longer be detected in her body.

Does this pave the way for a cure? Professor Jonathan Weber, Dr Hermione Lyall and Dr Sarah Fidler (all Medicine) contributed to a discussion on the BBC’s Newsnight programme yesterday.

Imperial in the news: asthma research

Hospital admissions for children fell 12.3 per cent in the first year of smoke-free legislation in England

This week has seen the publication of two important studies about asthma – one relating to the fall in the number of children being admitted to hospital with asthma since smoke-free legislation was introduced in England in 2007, and one on occupations where workers are likely to develop the disease.

The study about the reduction in hospital admissions for children was led by Dr Christopher Millet [School of Public Health] who was interviewed by the BBC. The story gained a lot of coverage, including the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Huffington Post, Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, and the Independent featured an editorial.

Imperial in the news: music and medicine

There are many similarities between performance in the operating theatre and on stage

An innovative collaboration between Professor Roger Kneebone [Surgery & Cancer] and Professor Aaron Williamson, of the Royal College of Music, explores the similarities between surgeons and musicians in performance.

Surgeons and musicians are both required to perform perfectly under pressure. Both go through routines in advance of their performance, which also closely match their mental preparations.

Professors Kneebone and Williamson discuss the parallels between the groups, including instruments, techniques and the theatres in which they perform, and the stress and tensions that they might be experiencing.

This documentary on BBC Radio 3 features the thoughts of junior surgeons and young cellists about how they get ready and focussed for their work, as well as what they consider during their performance and the distractions that they need to manage.

Imperial in the news: childhood obesity calculator

Obesity likelihood can now be calculated from birth

Stories around child health consistently capture the attention of the public and press alike. A new study published in PLOS ONE that estimates the chances of children becoming obese has been picked up by a number of national and international media organisations.

The research, led by Professor Philippe Froguel and Professor Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin [both School of Public Health], has generated a formula whereby parents can predict the likelihood of their child becoming obese.

Outlets including the BBC, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Metro here in the UK led with the story prominently featuring on their health pages this morning, while international news agency Reuters and leading Canadian newspaper the Toronto Star also placed a special importance on the item.

Imperial in the news: invisibility

Sir John Pendry models Chris Phillips’s invisibility jacket, while Chris walks behind him

Following Professor Sir John Pendry’s [Physics] presentation at the 2012 Schrödinger Lecture last week, a number of stories around his work and that of his peers and colleagues have appeared on the BBC and Huffington Post websites. They also report the successful demonstration of cloaking by one of Sir John’s co-authors on the original 2006 paper on the use of metamaterials to create invisible space.

Professor Chris Phillips [Physics], who gave a demonstration at the reception following the lecture, is interviewed about the methods behind making things invisible, while Sir John’s work on metamaterials is the subject of two articles featuring a brief snapshot of the advances in theoretical understanding and practical delivery of bending light to create optical illusions.

Imperial in the news: visible virus test

The new test has been designed by Professor Molly Stevens

A new test designed at Imperial could pave the way for improvements in early-diagnosis of diseases such as cancer or viruses including HIV, which could in turn save lives.

The BBC reported that the test that can detect infection or disease molecules at ultra-low concentrations. The research was published in Nature Nanotechnology by Professor Molly Stevens [Materials]. Like litmus paper, the colour of the test liquid changes to signal whether the disease is present. At only a fraction of the cost of the tests currently used, this new technique could dramatically improve early diagnosis of diseases, such as HIV, in countries where resources for healthcare are stretched and conventional methods are unaffordable.