Jo Nettleship answered on 25 Jun 2014:
My best science topic is looking at protein structures and working out how the protein works. I’m putting in a link to the protein data bank and a protein I worked on called PBP3. This is bound to an antibiotic and with this we figured out more information about how superbugs are antibiotic resistant.
I think this is really interesting and hopefully we can go on to design better antibiotics.
Tobias Warnecke answered on 25 Jun 2014:
something that I find really cool – although I don’t work on it myself – is animal intelligence. For example, a professor at my old uni worked on a species of crow that live in New Caledonia in the Pacific. They have an amazing ability to make their own tools and use them to solve problems, such as how to get to food.
Here is a video where you can see one of the crows trying to get a little basket out of a tube with a piece of wire. Amazingly, the crow figures out that a straight piece of wire won’t do the job and bends it into a hook!
Loren Macdonald answered on 25 Jun 2014:
Although it’s not something I work on, I’m really interested in stem cells- because they’re really cool. They can become any cell in your body if stimulated in the right way, and I think that is amazing.
I recently heard about a group that could take cells from your body, turn them into stem cells and then potentially use them to replace damaged cells in your body. I would love to look at something like that in the future maybe.
If you want to learn more about them, here’s a website:
Sam Lear answered on 25 Jun 2014:
I find the chemistry that living things do interesting. Apart from making proteins (which they are very good at) living things also produce a huge variety of other chemicals, such as things that make plants coloured or smell a certain way, or toxic ones that organisms such as bacteria make to fend of competitors in their environment.
We’ve been talking a lot in this zone about how proteins are synthesized in living things, and how the molecules that do this can be described as ‘machinery’ because they are so efficient and can make such a broad range of products. From what we know about how other natural products (besides proteins) are made, this is often the case also – that plants and bacteria for example can do amazing chemistry using molecular ‘production lines’ to produce a staggering variety of products.
You might have noticed on the news that scientists are talking about ‘antibiotic resistance’ – that we need to look for new antibiotics to replace the old ones that are becoming more and more ineffective. Organisms such as plants and bacteria are one source of such a variety of chemicals that scientists can use to get ‘ideas’ in order to make better antibiotics and other drugs.
It seems that by continuing to be inspired by nature (and also to protect what existing species/natural habitats we have left) we can learn a great deal about how living things work and how to make better medicines for the future.