About Me

From August 23 to September 1, I will be travelling to Israel as part of an 8 person delegation representing Australia at the Asian Science Camp. During the six day camp, around 200 talented young people will join Nobel Laureates and world class researchers to share their science experience through plenary sessions, round table discussions and student master classes. There will also be social and cultural events to enjoy.

I currently study Mechanical Engineering and Business at University and want to share my love of maths and science with all of Australia. This blog is about connecting Australia with the camp, by providing a medium through which students can comment and ask questions about the camp and the speakers. With any luck, I'll be able to ask your questions and get some answers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 6: Proteins, Cancer, Electrons and Brains

We were given a slight reprieve from early starts this morning, but swiftly got caught up in the swing of things again. The morning began with a follow up discussion with Howard Cedar which caught me up (mostly) on his talk from yesterday. It was really exciting to hear about how research has shown how cancer cells can be chemcially suppressed in a way similar to how the human body suppresses some chromosomes in order to maintain stability. Professor Cedar is a very intelligent man with an engaging and thought provoking subject. It is truly awe-inspiring to see this work which will hopefully, in the future, serve to generate treatment options for cancer patients.

COOL FACT: I am a statistic! The HPV Vaccine that was given to Australian High School girls is still recording results to measure its success as an anti-cancer vaccine. As such, whether I get cervical cancer or not will be part of the results for HPV vaccine.

Our next lecture was related to the talk by Professor Cedar. "The Molecular Basis for Chromosomal Instability in Early Stages of Cancer Development" by Batsheva Kerem outlined how cancer cells are cells that have had their chromosomes broken and then reorganised. Usually these cells automatically die before becoming a problem, but when the chromosomes that set up and organise this process are the ones that are damaged, this process cannot happen. That is what causes cancer. Again the HPV vaccine was mentioned as an example of where we have discovered a way to prevent damage to the chromosomes. As we look to the future, we are searching for a way to use the chromosome damage to our advantage, as we can switch off certain pathways that are supporting the life of cancer cells, but that normal cells do not require.

Our third lecture today was presented by Ady Stern, entitled "From Quantum Mechanics to Nano-Electronics." I was very excited to see this lecture after so many biology lectures and it did not disappoint. Whilst reviewing the principles behind quantum mechanics, it quickly became apparent that as electronics become smaller and smaller, the ability of an electron to become a wave and go through multiple areas simultaneously means that logic gates within computers as we know them will become impossible to use. This lecture was an excellent lead in to the lecture I will (hopefully) be attending on Thursday about Quantum Computing.

After our return to the hotel, we enjoyed two more lectures on the brain. The first was an exciting talk about how the brain is now starting to be able to interact with computers. The thing that captured my imagination the most was the final video which showed a disabled man using his brain to control a robotic arm. Whilst this research is being conducted to see if we can train the brain as a way of treating mental disorders such as schizophrenia, there is obviously potential in using these electrodes as part of prosthetics that respond to thought patterns and electrical impulses. Like I said, very exciting!

Our second brain lecture was on perception and how the brain develops in response to different stimuli. It was extremely interesting, particularly when we discussed neurogenesis. Their findings showed that pregnant mothers grew more neurones in their brain and as a result, responded to certain sounds and smells differently to others.

Finally, we engaged in an interactive workshop which encouraged us to think outside the box. We were given a variety of puzzles and mind-games which challenged us to think laterally in order to find a solution. It was a fun, team-based event that I really enjoyed!

Tomorrow we are going on a tour of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, hopefully a bit of touristy action. SO there will be no live tweets. I look forward to seeing you here again tomorrow!

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