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Prometheus and I: building new body parts from stem cells

Ruth Howells21 November 2011

Stem cells and their use in transplant surgery is the focus of a great deal of hope, and a great deal of hype. Professor Martin Birchall (UCL Ear Institute) has been involved in some very high profile patient operations over the last few years, which have pushed the boundaries of stem cell medicine and modern surgical methods, attracting a huge amount of publicity in the process.


At a Lunch Hour Lecture on 15 November, a large audience came to hear Martin talk about the work he has been involved in, the advances that have been made in regenerative medicine and the current challenges.

At the heart of Martin’s lecture is the Greek myth of Prometheus and man’s age-old desire to emulate the gods and create man. He shows illustrations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and an alchemist creating a homunculus (a little human – something he likens himself to).

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Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2011: Sun, Sky and Speech

zcqsd6012 July 2011

How are aeroplanes affected by ‘space weather’? Why are the Northern Lights interesting other than for pretty photos? How far does surrounding noise impair your ability to hear speech?

Three different groups of UCL scientists looked into precisely these questions at this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition last week. Along with more than 20 stands, the exhibition hosted a number of events throughout the week looking at various topics in more depth, in the form of panel discussions or Café Scientifique debates.

I have just completed a UCL Natural Sciences MSci degree, majoring in Astrophysics, so had a natural inclination towards the astrophysics stands during my visit, and was particularly excited by the Solar Flares and Northern Lights Café Scientifique last Saturday.

Solar Flare

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