Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 15th May 2010

Synthetic Biology

A light programmable biofilm (c) Endy @ wikipedia

We explore synthetic biology in this Naked Scientists Show, finding out how to learn from, and improve on, the structures and systems we find in nature. We'll meet the team of students who designed a biological sensor to win the international genetically engineered machine competition, or iGEM, and find out how to build bespoke proteins. In Kitchen Science, we feed an egg to some enzymes to find out how biological washing powder works. Plus, what the brain does when it sees a familiar face, genetically modified crops boost resistant bug numbers, how to create hair cells, essential for hearing, in the lab and how Tibetans living the high life have different genes to their lowland neighbours!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:18 - Brain scans to recognise facial recognition

    This week a group of researchers from California have been able to spot the moment at which your brain recognises a face. They’ve done this using the brain scanning technology known as fMRI – or functional magnetic resonance imaging...

  • 04:03 - GM boosts bug populations

    Scientists have found that cultivating pest-resistant GM crop strains can paradoxically create a whole new breed of bugs...

  • 11:53 - Ten genes help Tibetans thrive over 10,000 feet

    Researchers have discovered why Tibetans who have a taste for the high life are much better able to tolerate low oxygen conditions that you find at higher altitude and that’s compared with the lowland living counterparts. But it turns out that they carry at least ten unique gen...

  • 18:09 - What is Synthetic Biology?

    What do we mean when we talk about Synthetic Biology? What does it involve? Dr Jim Haseloff from Cambridge University explains...

  • 33:00 - Improving Enzymes

    One of the main aims that scientists have for synthetic biology is to be able to take what nature has already made and make it even better for doing certain jobs, and Dr. Ross Anderson at Bristol University is trying to do just that...

  • 39:13 - Dissolving eggs - the power of enzymes

    Dissolve some eggs and find out the difference between Biological and non-Biological washing powders, and that not all washing powders are the same.

  • 49:47 - Can plant mutations be transmitted to people?

    If I eat a malformed apple, what are the chances that whatever caused the malformation might adapt to affect me in some adverse way? Could there ever be a cross over from plant to human of diseases, etc?

  • 50:14 - Why should GM seeds be sterile?

    I am one of those totally torn by the issue of GM crops. I understand the argument (I think) but the leap forward from annual selection and breeding of crops is over shadowed by the unnecessary control by the developers whereby they retain control of the seeds. How can that benef...



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