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Biology-related podcasts as part of the KYTOS Enrichment Programme. Visit: www.kytosbiology.org.uk for full details Visit: www.youtube.com/mriexplains for Science video tutorials 'KYTOS Biology' podcasts and the 'mr i explains' YouTube channel are proudly sponsored by Curriculum Press - producers of global education resources for over 25 years. Visit https://curriculum-press.co.uk/ for details.
 
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show series
 
Forensics labs are frequently asked to examine documents to determine if they have been altered or forged. An altered document is an original, valid document that has been changed in some way. For example, one common type of altered document is a cheque in which the numbers have been changed to increase the amount drawn. A forged document is one th…
 
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the term given to a group of diseases which affect the lungs. These include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. They are inflammatory diseases and will obstruct air flow to and from the lungs. There is no cure for COPD as it causes permanent lung damage. Treatment can slow down the progression of the c…
 
Obesity is rising dramatically across the world. Since 1975 it is estimated that the number of obese people has almost tripled. One of the chronic diseases that is linked to obesity is type 2 diabetes. The dramatic rise in individuals suffering from this disease is causing a global medical emergency. In a world where our knowledge of the importance…
 
By not being exposed to agents that stimulate our immune system in infancy, we are at greater risk of developing inflammatory responses and autoimmune diseases in later life. Some scientists vigorously reject the hypothesis, arguing that the term hygiene hypothesis was potentially dangerous. This is because it might lead people to believe that they…
 
Sepsis is a condition which results from an uncontrolled and disorganised reaction of the body to an infection. If it is caught at an early stage, a combination of treatments can help to cure it. However, sepsis has the power to kill if left either undiagnosed or untreated. (With thanks to our sponsor 'Curriculum Press' for providing content for th…
 
How did people in the past treat illness, injury and disease? What medicines or 'magic' did they use? In this first of a series of short podcasts, I explore the concept of natural illness vs the supernatural in prehistoric times, the healers and priests of Ancient Egypt and their meticulous medical records on papyri, and how the Ancient Greeks move…
 
English teacher Felicia Isaacs joins KYTOS once again, to discuss the Biology behind one of her favourite poems, 'Death of a Naturalist', by renowned Irish poet Seamus Heaney. In this seminal piece of work, small tadpoles undergo metamorphosis into frogs, and this inevitable change causes a young Seamus to question his love for nature, and the dest…
 
Hormones are chemical messengers that have a specific physiological effect in the body. Research suggests that hormones also have considerable influence on behaviour and emotion in both human and non-human animals. This supports the notion that behaviour and emotion have physiological origins. It is not appropriate, however, to say that hormones ca…
 
In the hope that it might provide a solution to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, a new treatment is currently receiving a lot of attention. Based on a naturally occurring phenomenon this potential solution lies with a group of viruses called bacteriophages. When most people think of viruses, they usually imagine the ones that infect hu…
 
There is evidence that, when the solar system was young, conditions on Mars and Venus may have been suitable for life. The surface of Mars has clearly been altered by water in the past and it may still exist deep underground. Venus is the nearest planet to Earth and is almost identical to Earth in both size and geological composition. Recent resear…
 
Coral reefs are widely regarded as some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They provide habitat for approximately 25% of all marine species but surprisingly account for a microscopic 0.1% of the world’s ocean surface. Coral reefs are continually under threat from both natural and anthropogenic (human) factors. In this podcast, I will exp…
 
In this podcast, I discuss the characteristics of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), also known as Multiple Personality Disorder and review the evidence presented in Thigpen and Cleckley’s’ (1954) case study of a person with three distinctly different personalities. It is called a dissociative disorder because there is a division , or dissociati…
 
The prostate gland grows in men at puberty and secretes the fluid that carries the sperm. It remains a constant size until about the age of forty, then it begins to grow again. About 50% of men aged 60 have some enlargement of the prostate gland and this rises to 90% at the age of 80. This enlargement may be benign – effectively harmless. However, …
 
The biology behind Shelley's Frankenstein in an unquestionably fascinating subject. Since the bicentenary of the novel, Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, the field of Medicine has progressed beyond recognition. Yet the overwhelming message that comes across to the reader, and indeed the world, is that we can never allow our egos to presume tha…
 
Many biologists consider the microbes in our bodies to be, effectively, another body organ. The bacteria in our intestines help to release nutrients from the food we ingest, manufacture crucial vitamins, protect against infection by out-competing other, harmful bacteria and interact genetically with the immune system reducing inflammation, to name …
 
Actions taken at the outset of an investigation at a fire and arson scene can play a pivotal role in the resolution of a case. Careful, thorough investigation is key to ensuring that potential physical evidence is not tainted or destroyed, or potential witnesses overlooked. Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary detective Sherlock Holmes is quoted as saying…
 
Forensic entomology involves the application of insect and other arthropod biology in legal investigations. Imagine a scenario whereby a dead body has been discovered in a wood - one way of estimating how long it has been there is to identify the insects that have colonised it. The first insects to colonise an above-ground body are true flies (orde…
 
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to alter its structure and function in response to new learning or changes in the environment. Therefore, when it is said that the human brain is ‘plastic’, it means malleable and able to change. This may seem impossible, but our brains are constantly changing from the moment we are born. Each time we learn or…
 
Whooping cough, also called ‘the cough of 100 days’, is an acute and highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is transmitted via droplets in the air from coughing and sneezing. The main symptoms are severe bouts of coughing, often followed by vomiting. Before the introduction of a who…
 
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that can be explained by cognitive psychology and theories of memory. Evidence from fMRI scans show that the brain functions differently in a person with dyslexia, resulting in strengths and limitations. It affects the ability to develop effective reading skills due to difficulties with working memory, processing ski…
 
I've been teaching for well over a decade now, and in that time, I’ve supported countless medics, vets, dentists, biomed students, biological sciences undergraduates and a whole host of other applicants with their personal statements for university. Some have been truly fantastic, and undoubtedly would have helped them in securing offers from their…
 
The situational factors that influence any type of social interaction (e.g. the physical environment, the presence of other people) can be applied to sport in very specific ways. This podcast will consider some of the theories and studies that can be applied when considering the topic of sport within social contexts. (With thanks to our sponsor 'Cu…
 
It is crucial that animals with a cardiovascular system can slow (and ultimately prevent) blood loss from injury or damage to body tissues. In addition, the skin (and accompanying secretions from sebaceous glands) is a highly effective barrier to pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. The repair of skin is vital to the prevention of contrac…
 
As we begin to unlock the secrets held in our DNA, we could all live healthier, for a lot longer - but how much longer is the key question…how far can we push the boundaries? How do we defy the natural phenomenon of ageing...but more importantly, what implications would it have? In this podcast, I’d like to explore the current scientific and medica…
 
Rewilding offers a possible solution to reverse our rapidly deteriorating rural landscape. The natural world is often seen as a resource merely to exploit and the hunting of wild animals in the UK was only banned in 2004. The reintroduction of key species would have positive ecological consequences; a reduction in the number of invasive species, a …
 
Around 273 million sharks are killed each year globally. They’re feared as the archetypal killing machine, and there’s profit to be made from shark-derived products; but they may be more economically and environmentally valuable alive than dead. This podcast will evaluate the psychological, economical, gastronomical, medical, ethical and ecological…
 
Worldwide, the number of potential pathogens is very large, while the resources for disease research and development is limited. To ensure efforts under the World Health Organisation’s blueprint are focused and productive, a list of diseases and pathogens are prioritized for research in public health emergency contexts – what is fascinating, is tha…
 
We are all born with the neural architecture and ability to develop empathy and compassion, but to remain a good person, we must have a series of positive experiences throughout our lives. The Pygmalion effect may certainly account for why people choose to do bad things, but perhaps we should consider other psychological forces; cognitive dissonanc…
 
The perceived role of God in illness and recovery is a primary influence upon the health care beliefs and behaviours of people. Only by understanding an individual's religious beliefs can medical practitioners effectively meet their health care needs, a concept which I examine in this extended podcast. (With thanks to Akpenpuun Joyce Rumun for cond…
 
In May 2017, the Brazilian government declared an end to the public health emergency posed by the Zika Virus. Now, a new disease is threatening Brazil. An outbreak of yellow fever in rural parts of the country is spreading towards urban areas, creating a risk to neighbouring countries in the Americas. Yellow fever is a haemorrhagic disease, spread …
 
Since capital punishment was reinstated by the US Supreme Court in 1976, 932 people have been put to death via lethal injection, 154 by electrocution, 11 by means of the gas chamber, 3 have been hung and 2 have been killed by firing squad. These 5 methods of execution are the most commonly used in the US today; what I want to do in this podcast is …
 
We might perceive attraction as a free choice, but scientists have provided a number of different explanations about how attraction happens. Physiological theories can be divided into evolutionary explanations, which are based on primitive instincts to mate and be looked after, and biological explanations, which examine the role of hormones and neu…
 
Microscopic plankton are essential components of aquatic food chains and food webs. They are amongst the most abundant organisms on the planet, yet many people underestimate the environmental impact of plankton destruction. In this podcast, I aim to shed some light on the key roles that phytoplankton and zooplankton play in ecosystems, and in doing…
 
Meningitis is an acute inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. As there are numerous causes of meningitis, there is no one vaccination to offer protection because, for example, the HiB bacterium will have different surface molecules to the MenB bacterium so won’t stimulate an immune response. In…
 
One theory of addiction (and one that has popular appeal outside of psychology) is that of the addictive personality. This theory states that some people have a personality type that predisposes them towards addictive behaviour. This personality is caused by differences in the biological make up of individuals. It has been argued that people with t…
 
In order to understand forgetting, we must have an understanding of memory. According to the Oxford English Dictionary memory is “the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information.” Forgetting therefore is our inability to retrieve information from our memory. Some argue that when emotions impact on memory, then forgetting is an unwill…
 
The view that we are born with a certain level of fixed intelligence is outdated. The environment plays a role in the way children are nurtured and it contributes to their development of intelligence. Children develop on their existing intelligence through numerous factors in their environment namely the positive relationship with their primary car…
 
Many would argue that until we can develop ways of empirically demonstrating how alleged telepathic communication occurs, research into telepathy will always rely on disputable methods, almost entirely reliant on controversial ways of judging probability and significance. It is perhaps for this reason that mainstream science regards the field of pa…
 
An adult organism is not a static being but continues to change and develop, until the developmental processes are brought to an end by death. The word ‘ageing’ describes the developmental changes that lead, over time, to the deterioration of the mature organism. Ageing is a complex process which involves interactions between a number of biochemica…
 
The concept of androgyny, it has been suggested, offers a means of transcending the duality of gender differences imposed by culture. Once gender polarities are reduced, traditional sex and gender differences can be broken down. In this podcast, I explore the concepts of sex, gender and androgyny, and aim to provide psychological evidence to suppor…
 
Schizophrenia is a severe mental health disorder characterised by psychosis and the inability to recognise reality. Positive symptoms of the disorder are those which happen in addition to everyday experiences, including hallucinations and delusions, whereas negative symptoms are those that take away from such experiences, such as avolition and spee…
 
For a long time, biologists believed that our DNA resided only in the nucleus, the large organelle acting as the control centre in our cells. It wasn't until 1963, when scientists Margrit and Sylvan Nass at Stockholm University discovered DNA fibres in mitochondria using electron microscopy. Our mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) accounts for a small portio…
 
In December 2019, the city of Wuhan in Hubei province China, became the centre of a suspected outbreak of pneumonia. At first, no-one was able to establish a cause. Health authorities immediately investigated the nature of the disease and ways to control its spread. In January 2020, Chinese scientists isolated a new coronavirus from the patients in…
 
A human liver is estimated to carry out over 500 different functions, including metabolism, detoxification and the synthesis of key proteins and other biological molecules. If the liver is damaged, it can regrow parts given its' regenerative capabilities, however, if the damage is too extensive, the cells will not regenerate and this can have a maj…
 
Statins are designed to lower cholesterol levels in those deemed at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In this podcast, I'll discuss how statins work and the biological importance of 'good' cholesterol in our bloodstream. Moreover, I'll explain why the use of these so-called 'miracle drugs' has proven controversial, with some clinicians cit…
 
The human body is made up of about 30–40 trillion cells. Each cell is specialised to carry out a particular job. Cells work together to form co-ordinated units called tissues, organised into organs. This complicated organisation of cells that makes up a human being all originated from a single fertilised cell – the zygote. Embryology is the study o…
 
Scientists use the concept of homology to identify evolutionary relationships among organisms. Homologies are characters shared between different species that were also present in their common ancestor. Homologies can be structural, biochemical, developmental, physiological or behavioural. In this podcast, I focus on homologous structures and, in p…
 
Zika virus was first identified in 1947, having originated in rhesus monkeys in the Zika forest in Uganda. In this podcast, I examine how the virus spread, the effects of its outbreak, and assess the evidence implicating Zika as a cause of microcephaly. I'll also describe the measures used to attempt to control transmission of the disease. (With th…
 
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