Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sun, 11th Jul 2010

Lasers in Medicine

The role of lasers in biomedicine goes under the spotlight this week as we explore the workings of photodynamic cancer therapy, find out how laser tweezers can be used to force-feed bugs to white blood cells and hear how a new technique uses laser-powered DNA nanoswitches to spot specific genes.  Also, why the proton just got smaller, prompting a reevaluation of some trusted laws of physics, how antidepressants in seawater can make shrimps swim towards danger and a novel mechanism for natural selection - beneficial bacteria!  Plus, in Kitchen Science, what the patterns produced by laser light shining through a substance can reveal about its structure.

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:30 - The Shrinking Proton

    New research published in the journal Nature suggests that the proton might be as much as 4% smaller than we previously thought, and this discovery might prompt a revaluation of some trusted laws of physics...

  • 04:19 - Anti-depressants could mess up marine food webs

    Anti-depressants that end up in sewage effluent could have a major impact on marine wildlife, causing shrimp to swim towards instead of away from light...

  • 07:45 - Growing new brain cells

    Researchers in America have identified a chemical that encourages the growth of new neurons – and protects against neurodegeneration...

  • 09:39 - Nature’s firework displays help females spot males

    Why do fireflies flash in time? Their rhythmic, bioluminescent displays are extraordinary phenomena, sometimes lighting up entire forests with bright pulses of light. But why it happens is one of nature’s great mysteries – there are lots of ideas, but until now no one has experi...

  • 13:57 - Naturally Selected Infections - Symbiotic Bacteria and Evolution

    In the wild, a gene that produces an organism’s chances of surviving increases their odds of reproducing. It’s usually passed down to the next generation and so, that gene will become more common in the population. But what if instead of a gene giving an advantage, it’s actual...

  • 21:08 - Therapies with Lasers

    We explore photodynamic therapy and photochemical internalisation - cancer treatments involving lasers...

  • 26:36 - Using lasers to pinpoint DNA molecules

    A new technique is being developed that uses lasers to look at individual molecules. This could be used for faster sequencing of DNA and also in the development of what are called DNA nano switches, which can accurately identify certain sequences that you're looking for. Meera...

  • 32:41 - Laser tweezers picking up bacteria

    A few weeks ago on the Naked Scientists, we heard how a highly focused laser beam can be used as if it were a pair of tweezers – it forms an “optical trap” that allows us to manipulate very, very tiny objects. Now this technology has allowed researchers to try some very novel t...

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