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Artist/Scientist makes portrait by cultivating bacteria from YOUR armpit… WTF

11 Feb

Artist draws picture of Countdown cougar Carol using her sweaty underarm bacteria. Caution – this is the pits

A scientist took the armpit sweat of celebrities like Carol Vorderman and cultivated bacteria in a petri dish to draw their portraits with.

Microbiologist Zachary Copfer convinced the celebs to get their pits out in the name of scientific education.

Carol, 53, who used to get the nation’s hearts racing with her curves and conundrums is a patron of the Big Bang Fair which aims to get youngsters interested in science and engineering.

Carol said: “The portrait looks brilliant – it’s one of a kind. I hope that by showing young people the unusual ways that science can be applied, they’re inspired to discover more for themselves.”


Rex Carol Vorderman portrait made from her own bacteria
Not to be sniffed at: Carol Vorderman portrait made from her own bacteria

Carol added: “It was great fun taking part in this project, and the portrait looks brilliant – it’s definitely one of a kind. I hope that by showing young people the interesting and unusual ways that science can be applied, they’re inspired to discover more about science and engineering careers for themselves.”

Mr Copfer said: “It’s been great to have been given the chance to get involved with The Big Bang Fair. I’m particularly excited that my work will be a big part of the fair’s central aim to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers – and hope that my work will not only help get young people excited about science but that it will also encourage them to apply the scientific knowledge they gain in fun and unique ways.”

Liz Bonnin.


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Oxygen found on Saturn’s moon

5 Mar

SOME planets revolve close enough to their suns to support human-like life.

Some either once had liquid water, or possibly harbour it under their surfaces.

And now Saturn – or more specifically, one of its moons – has shown that Earth doesn’t have a monopoly on oxygen either.

A new report published in Geophysical Research Letters describes how Cassini – the global initiative satellite that’s been orbiting the ringed planet since 2004 – has detected a thin layer of oxygen around icy moon Dione.

The discovery was made two years ago, but these things have to be verified before they can be published, so here it is – heat, water and oxygen all occurring in the universe somewhere other than Earth.

But before you get too excited about that interplanetary move, there’s a few things to consider.

One is that the layer of oxygen around Dione is too thin to be considered an atmosphere, so for now, scientists are calling it an exosphere.

It’s about the equivalent of oxygen on Earth if you were breathing it 500km up.

And as far as the surface of Dione itself goes, there’s no liquid water, which means you’d be relying on a a kind of intergalactic watercooler top-up service, or, if you’re Bear Grylls, drinking your own wee.

The important thing for Team Cassini is the discovery supports a theory that claims oxygen is present in some form on most of the moons around Saturn and Jupiter.

Add that to the fact that some of those moons do indeed support bodies of liquid water and you have a stronger case for finding life in some form.

Enceledus, for example, is another Saturnian moon which is thought to host a liquid ocean beneath its surface.

The oxygen on Dione is thought to be present on Dione due to highly charged particles from Saturn’s radiation belt splitting its ice water into oxygen and hydrogen.

For the now, what it all means is the European Space Agency folk can push for more money to launch an orbiter to Jupiter’s icy moons and begin drilling for life beneath the surface.

Europa is the most likely candidate, although a co-author of the Dione study, Andrew Coates, offers a tantalising future scenario for Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

With its nitrogen and methane atmosphere, he tells the BBC, “it may be an Earth waiting to happen as the outer Solar System warms up”.