Wow, its Feb already, I’m a little scared with how quick this year seems to be passing already.
Anyway, got two things for you today.
First, The Lancet retracted a paper from 1998 by an author (I refuse to call him a scientist) named Andrew Wakefield today in the light of recent developments. His research suggested a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. The link does not exist and there has even been the suggestion that he fabricated his data. This is a very important issue as Wakefield and Co. kick started the anti-vaccination movement that has now seen childhood vaccination drop substantially. Despite many subsequent studies highlighting the inaccuracy of Wakefield’s work we are now in a position where long dead or controlled disease, such as polio for crying out loud, are re-gaining a foot hold in the community. The retraction, whilst important for the scientific community will probably not halt the movement it created. Shame Wakefield Shame.
On a lighter note I found this today in my RSS reader, Beetle-Inspired Adhesive Lifts Man. What? Turns out some researchers (who haven’t published the work yet but it should appear in PNAS very soon) have found that a group of beetles that can adhere to leaves and in fact support up to 100 times there own weight using only water. The trick appears to work in a somewhat similar way to two glass sheets sticking together when water is placed between them. The water in this case ‘sticks’ to the smooth glass and ‘adheres’ them together. I believe this occurs due to Van de Waals forces but don’t quote me on it :). In any case the beetles use a droplet of water to produce the same effect. These researchers took that idea and scaled it up to produce a plate with 1000’s of tiny hole that produces 1000’s of tiny water droplets. They a small prototype to lift a Lego man…
It’s cool work and may eventually allow us to scale the sides of buildings etc like Spiderman! If only I can acquire the technology to copy all my favourite superheroes powers, I’d be invincible!!!!! <Evil laughter, rolling thunder and cracking lightning in the backgroud>