Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sun, 6th Mar 2011

Aspirin's Anniversary

Aspirin advert (c) Public Domain

From anti-ague to anti-Alzheimer's agent: over the 112 years since it was first trademarked, Aspirin has evolved from popular painkiller to powerful preventative against heart attacks, strokes and even cancer. In this week's show we trace its history from the extraction of aspirin-like chemicals from willow bark to the creation of the drug itself. Plus, in the news, how the chemistry of life could have come to Earth in a meteorite and why we need to be careful with stem cells: a new study finds they have an above-average mutation rate. Also, a new technique to etch graphene sheets with single-atom precision, an insight into how our drugs are made and how painkillers hit pain where it hurts...

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:52 - Key component of life's building blocks could have come from space

    The origins of life on earth are a hotly debated topic among scientists. One theory suggests that meteorites brought some of the chemical building blocks for amino acids – the molecules that make up proteins. Now tests on a meteorite provide more evidence that they might have ki...

  • 05:36 - Stem cell mutants

    Stem cells made by reprogramming a patients own cells have the potential to revolutionise personalised medicine. But are they safe?

  • 09:15 - Etching Graphene

    With a breakthrough that could hasten the arrival of a new generation of even more powerful microprocessors, scientists have discovered how to etch single sheets of graphene...

  • 15:56 - Foetal immunity protects females

    The female genital tract uses a foetal gene to protect itself from infection during adulthood, new research has found...

  • 24:53 - The History of Aspirin

    On the 6th March 1899, the Beyer pharmaceutical company officially registered Aspirin as a trademark, following their chemist Felix Hoffman’s successful synthesis of a stable form of acetylsalicylic acid – the chemical name for aspirin - in 1897...

  • 30:55 - Is hot water heavier than cold water?

    Is hot water heavier than cold water? I was wondering this while watching ice float in my drink.

  • 31:43 - Aspirin as Preventative Medicine

    Aspirin was touted originally as treatment for pain; but, 100 years on, we now know it’s much more powerful than that. Peter Rothwell is Oxford University’s Professor of Clinical Neurology and he’s with us to discuss what else aspirin can do...

  • 40:58 - Naked Engineering - Making Drugs

    We’ve heard how drugs like aspirin can be used, but how are they actually made? For this week’s Naked Engineering, Meera and Dave have been to take a look at GlaxoSmithKline’s tablet manufacturing site in Ware, Hertfordshire...

  • 51:48 - How do pain medications target pain?

    Dear Naked Scientists, I was wondering how Pain relief drugs target pain, and why we don't just go numb in random parts of the body? I hope you can help me in this, Yours, Andrew McCluskey

  • Graphene Lithography - Atomic Precision Etching

    Researchers at Rice university have developed a new way to etch structures into stacked piles of graphene, the marvellous material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms. This could allow manufacturers to make computer chips from graphene in much the same way they current...

  • Is Aspirin a hangover cure?

    If I wake up with a raging hangover-induced headache, is aspirin a miracle cure, or will it make things worse? I've heard it both ways. Thanks!



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