The 3D Printing Craze- Anyone for a 3D printed foetus?

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Happy Friday Everyone,

The weekend is here but before we all get into the swing of things I wanted to share with you a debate I have been having with myself, in my own head, as you do, so please indulge me :-). You may or may not have come across technology’s newest advancement in printers, the 3D printer. These printers literally mean you can design something and print a 3D model either in miniature or to scale (if the design fits within the parameters of the printers settings of-course, some things do not change!). All sorts of things are being printed, tea-cups, mini-architectural designs, spoons, key rings and well you get the idea right?

Or, if you live in Japan, you can get a 3D printed foetus. Yep, that’s right, a 3D foetus. A Japanese clinic is offering parents-to-be the chance to hold their baby months before the child leaves the womb. The technology offered by Fasotec and Hiroo Ladies Clinic in Tokyo, Japan, creates a 3D model of the mother’s fetus and womb using a “Bio-Texture” process and MRI scans. The service is interestingly named “Shape of an Angel” and can be yours for a mere £764 or about $1,276 not including the cost of the MRI.  You get a small, plastic, anatomically accurate (if low on resolution) model of your son or daughter, encased, if you wish, in a see-through reproduction of the mothers midriff.

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For the above price, the company will squeeze you or your partner into a MRI machine – a noisy, uncomfortable-for-the-patient piece of medical equipment capable of generating a 3D picture of the body’s interior – for an hour or so. I know you are thinking, that doesn’t sound nice but according to the Fasotec representative Tomohiro Kinoshita, the Japanese women loved it.

“We actually got three expectant mothers to try this out. They said it felt great to see how their babies looked before birth, and to be able to actually hold the inside of their own body,”  He goes on to say “They also enjoyed looking at the model after giving birth, thinking, ‘This is how my baby looked inside me’ and recalling how it felt to be pregnant.”

I am making light of it here but the technology is actually quite amazing. The service is in truth something of a PR stunt designed to promote Fasotec’s “bio-texture modelling” business, for which it has high hopes of making big money by connecting medical imaging technology to 3D printing. Fasotec also sees roles for the technology in plastic and reconstructive surgery, and in dentistry. My younger brother is an orthopaedic surgeon (aka the bone gods) and he thinks this will be the way medical students will learn to become surgeons in the future. Click on the video below to see for yourself. Pretty impressive stuff.

Although I have much respect for the technology and its promise of medical advancement, I just do not know how I feel about having a 3D print out of my foetus, when did a picture of your baby become a thing of the past? and why does this not excite me? Do they charge extra for twins, I wonder? the debate goes on….3D printed shoes however, I’ll take that.

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I love this song and all the shoes in this video, it has been the background song to my internal dialogues this week. Click play and enjoy while you ponder on the possibility of allowing a 3D print out foetus in your life.

Have a great weekend

Eyman

Science In Art- Antony Gormley and his Model

Hello All,

Firstly, I wanted to say thank you for all the messages off support :-). It means so very much to know that people are enjoying being a part of this experiment (and it’s not failing). I am sorry for the lack of lustre in posts recently and I know I owe you more than this quick post. I’m putting things into place to help up the speed and consistency of my posts for next year. I’m excited.

As it is still hot in the press, I thought I would follow suit and make sure that my fellow geeks knew about the new Antony Gormley exhibition at the White Cube, Bermonsdey London.

Antony Gormley has over the past 30 years explored his art through the human form using sculpture.  His art aims to investigate and explore the body as a place of memory and transformation. “I am interested in the body”, he says, “because it is the place where emotions are most directly registered. When you feel frightened, when you feel excited, happy or depressed somehow the body registers it.”

You may know him as the artist who designed The Angel Of The North.

Or you may remember him from his fourth plinth project ‘One and Other’, where 2400 people from across the UK got to stand on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square for an hour at a time. Below is a short video with the man himself explaining that project.

His latest piece is called Model and is created from large sheets of Corten steel. It is a gallery-engulfing, pared down body, laid out on the ground. It is also a building, a series of conjoined stacked boxes. As “investigators” we can walk through it, entering by the bottom of what is described as its left foot (there is no right foot) all the way up-to the head or brain which is a vastness of light and dark shadows.

Gormley regards this piece as the culmination of decades of work, some kind of summary of all that he has been trying to say and do about the relationship between sculpture, architecture and the human form.

Interestingly, it does remind me of Miroslaw Balka’s giant ship’s container in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern which I recently visited and is also immersive, enveloping, walk-through experiences. Make your way over to the White Cube if you are in London and see what you think of the experience for yourself.

That’s all for now, short and sweet but I hope you enjoyed the read.
Eyman

Sandy Vs Climate Change

New-York City, 2012. Photo by my favourite photographer Yosra El-essawy

Hey Geeks,

Recently, a storm by the name of Sandy wreaked havoc with devastating winds, record flooding, heavy snowfall and mass blackouts. Sandy wiped out homes along the New Jersey shore, submerged parts of New York City, and dumped snow as far south as the Carolinas. At least 50 people were reported killed in the United States, on top of 69 in the Caribbean (Jamaica and Haiti worst affected), while millions of people were left without power (numbers are still rising day by day). My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

Sandy, New-York, 2012.

I wrote this post a week ago but decided to wait before posting in-order to allow us all more time to come to terms with the impact off this event. I have been astonished at the lack of climate change debate following this hurricane. I guess I always thought “they will get it when the effects of climate change and/or global warming hit a major western city”. I quote myself here. What’s more concerning is that fact that some scientists say that the key to Sandy’s impact may be an extremely rare clash of weather systems, rather than the warmer temperatures that scientists have identified in other hurricanes and storms.

“It’s a hybrid storm, which combines some features of tropical hurricanes with some features of winter storms, that operate on quite different mechanisms,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of Atmospheric Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Although Emanuel said that there is a clear link between climate change and general trends toward more intense tropical hurricanes, in the case of Sandy more long-term study is required to determine whether climate change played a major role. I mean, MORE long-term study? how much longer do we need to study this for? are we waiting on three more Sandy’s or 10? when does it become a fact that is taken just as seriously as “the war on terror”?

Sandy, Haiti, 2012.

Most scientists agree that climate change “likely” aggravated the “unique” circumstances that produced Sandy. They go so far as to “include” global warming  as “contributing” by causing ocean temperatures and sea levels to rise.

“Sea level rise makes storm surges worse and will continue to do so in the future,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the oceans at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany. He is also quoted saying that a record thaw of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in September also might have helped build up high pressure in the North Atlantic that drove Sandy westward.

“I would be very cautious,” he said. “But there is reason to suspect that there could be a connection between the record sea ice loss this summer and the path of this storm.”

The question is why does he have to be cautious? Records show world sea levels have risen by 20 centimetres (8 inches) in the past 100 years, a trend blamed on melting ice and expanding water in the oceans caused by rising temperatures.

Importantly, scientists also note that world temperatures in September this year parallel those in 2005, the year hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, as the warmest in modern records, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Is this not evidence enough off the impacts of global warming?

Sandy, Jamaica, 2012.

The climate change debate has been going on long enough. Yes, we know that the climate was more benign 15 million years ago than it is now. And, yes, very little ice was at the poles with higher sea levels. It was like this 15 million years ago due to the high atmospheric C02 levels at approximately 400 parts per million (ppm) and warmer temperatures. It was those conditions that allowed plants to grow, reducing CO2 levels to 280ppm to just before the industrial revolution and allowed us humans to spread all over the earth. However, post the industrial revolution, seven billion humans burning fossil fuels has increased the C02 levels to 380ppm today. If we don’t take responsibility for this, it is predicted to increase to 600ppm or more in the next century. Ultimately creating atmospheric conditions not seen for more than 50 million years.

Take a moment and really sit with the information above. Hopefully, common sense will tell you that this kind of rapid change to our climate would all but destroy our homes, food production capabilities, populations dynamics and ultimately lead to the collapse of civilisation as we know it. It’s either we re-adapt to storms/hurricanes/drought/famine or begin to think about taking action to drastically reduce C02 levels and/or adapt our way of living to these new weather conditions. Seriously.

This is already happening.

FACT– Warmer temperatures mean that the atmosphere can hold more moisture, bringing more rain in many areas. A U.N. report this year predicted that a higher proportion of the world’s rain would fall in downpours during the 21st century, making floods more likely.

FACT– The latest research suggests that a warming climate will lead to more extreme weather events such as flooding rains and drought. Michael Rawlins,Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts ,Amherst.

FACT– Recent research indicates that greenhouse gases have raised the chances of some events, such as the Texas heatwave of 2011 or a European heatwave in 2003 that killed approximately 70,000 people.

FACT– If all the words above don’t convince you, have a look at the video below shot by Malin Fezehai called Vanishing Nation about the Island nations in the South Pacific.

Vanishing Nation from Malin Fezehai on Vimeo.

As individuals we CAN do something, we can make sure we vote for the right political parties, the ones that have a clear agenda for reducing C02 levels and/or tackling climate change. For example, this article in the Guardian journals an interesting perspective. We can work at reducing our own carbon footprint bit by bit by switching to more energy efficient systems. Every little bit counts, especially those of us in countries that are producing the most C02 as the truth of the matter is It is more our responsibility.

I have purposely not inserted any links within this post to any specific research. There are thousands of articles on-line detailing research both for and against the climate change theory. This is my personal opinion. Let me know what you think? Do you agree or disagree, it always makes for an interesting debate.
Click play whilst you think it over, please think it over.

Thank you for reading and please the knowledge.

Eyman

Felix Finally Jumps

Hello Geeks,

Most of you have probably already seen/heard about this and if you haven’t…actually, I can not think of any reason why you haven’t. I mean a MAN jumped from a stratospheric balloon to make a  FREE FALL to earth from 120,000 FEET at SUPERSONIC SPEED, FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF SOUND before PARACHUTING to the ground. C’MON SON. C’MON. And to top it off, he has one of the coolest names going, FELIX BAUMGARTNER. C’MON.

Ok, now that I’ve officially and un-ashamdely geeked out :-), I would also like to high-light the science behind this Red Bull Stratos mission/collaboration and the valuable medical and scientific research data now available for future pioneers/researchers. The data produced during the test runs has proven to be invaluable to the future development off aerospace engineering, aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation, balloon fabrication and technology to name but a few. So if you are one of those people who is wondering what all the fuss is about, I hope the above puts you at ease. Remember without so called “crazy” efforts like this, by people who take risks to find out something new, we probably would not be able to get to the other side of the earth in a plane for our holidays let alone space.

All the above is brilliant but what is also amazing is that we got to WATCH IT ALL LIVE.
Can you just imagine the young kid who wants to be a astronaut and his/her excitement? Not only did we get to watch it live, FELIX TWEETED WHILE IN SPACE! I mean, C’MON SON.

I also want to say that Red Bull did a fantastic job with the website, not only was it informative and easy to use but it also made the science easy to understand. Click on the link and learn more about this event than just the hype.

Furthermore, the fact that Joe Kittinger, the man who made history before Felix was a member of Felix’s team and the voice of “reason” during his jump, ultimately helping him beat his own record was inspiring. Remember, Joe did it when no-one knew if you could even survive such a jump. He ascended to 102,800 feet in a high-altitude balloon and jumped to Earth, setting four world records in 1960.

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Play the video below to learn more about Joe Kittinger, he deserves it.

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If you have not already seen the advert before the jump you must. I love it.

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And finally, here is Felix’s Jump. Click play and watch history being made.

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I personally think Felix could give James Bond a run for his money so I deemed this song appropriate (perfect timing Adele). Click play and listen while you read some of the tweets from yesterday that made me laugh out loud below:

“OMG They are going to let him jump with the faceplate not working! Please space Aliens let this man land okay, with his face in tact.”

“She’s 16 and performing on X-Factor, what an inspiration” … A MAN JUST JUMPED FROM THE EDGE OF F****G SPACE!!!!”

“Is everyone ignoring my phone calls because a man decided to spend his day jumping from space?”

“Well impressed with crazy Felix. Remembering daring myself to jump last three stairs instead of 2 as a kid. He must have felt amazing”

“Felix Baumgartner jumped from 24 miles above earth today. I’ve taken three separate naps”

“Felix Baumgartner tweeted from space then broke the sound barrier. I’m tweeting this from bed. I give up. You win this time, Baumgartner”

haaa haaa haaa, you win indeed Felix, you win. Congratulations.

Until next time, stay blessed all.

Eyman

Fasting makes you younger

Hello Geeks,

As it is Ramadan again, I thought it would be a good idea to re-post this blog post to help keep us fasting people motivated lol. It is the third day in and this year I can honestly say I am struggling. Summer Ramadan’s are not the one, the day is so long and come 9.20pm I am not the most pleasant person to be around but at least I know I will look younger. Please re-blog, re-tweet and like the post.

Ramadan Kareem everyone, Love, Light and blessings to all.

Eyman

Hey All,

Hope you have all been well. Some of you may know that it is the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic calender. This special month means that from sunrise to sunset, people of the Muslim faith abstain from eating and drinking (yes, not even water!!!). Ramadan is my favorite month, but I have to admit, this year it has been tough as the days are super long and I am definitely feeling it.

A friend of mine sent me this link to the third horizon episode called Eat, Fast and Live Longer presented by Michael Mosley.  I wanted to write a post on the scientific health benefits of fasting towards the beginning of the month but it is so much and can get very complicated. This episode is the perfect introduction into the world of health metabolics and you can see Mr Mosley take him-self through all the different types of fasts and the huge mental and physical health benefits he personally gained from actually doing the fasts. Clink on this link and watch it on bbc iplayer before it’s gone.

In-case you do not have the time to watch the whole episode. I am going to do my best to summarise the power of fasting here.

Mosley goes through different phases of food restrictions before delving into fasting. Calorie restriction, eating well but not much, is one of the few things that has been shown to extend life expectancy, at least in animals. We’ve known since the 1930s that mice put on a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet live far longer. This is also true in monkeys, the mammal of choice for testing a theory before human trials.

The world record for extending life expectancy in a mammal is held by a new type of mouse which can expect to live an extra 40%, equivalent to a human living to 120 or even longer. 120 years of life, i’m not sure I want to live to 120 but some of you may 🙂

Why I hear you ask does this mouse have such a healthy and long life? the answer is it has been genetically engineered so its body produces very low levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1, high levels of which seem to lead to accelerated ageing and age-related diseases, while low levels are protective. Tah Dah!

A similar, but natural, genetic mutation has been found in humans with Laron syndrome, a rare condition that affects fewer than 350 people worldwide. The very low levels of IGF-1 their bodies produce means they are short, but this also seems to protect them against heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes, all age-related diseases.

The IGF-1 hormone (insulin-like growth factor) is one of the drivers which keep our bodies in go-go mode, with cells driven to reproduce. This is fine when you are growing, but not so good later in life, it makes us get old :-/.

How does all this relate to fasting? I’m getting there, evidence suggests that IGF-1 levels can be lowered by what you eat. The reason seems to be that when our bodies no longer have access to food they switch from “growth mode” to “repair mode”. As levels of the IGF-1 hormone drop, a number of repair genes appear to get switched on according to ongoing research by Professor Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.

Mosley had a go fasting for 3 days and saw his levels of IGF-1 drop by over half, dramatically reducing his chances of age associated diseases and diabetes, to 1 in a billion! His face on hearing this information is priceless. Finding three continuous days of fasting difficult he researches fasting diets further and goes for the Alternate Day fasting (ADF). This diet involving eating what you want one day, then a very restricted diet (fewer than 600 calories) the next, and most surprisingly, it does not seem to matter that much what you eat on non-fast days says Dr Krista Varady of the University of Illinois at Chicago who carried a range of clinical trials.

Mosley decided, he couldn’t manage ADF, it was just too impractical. Fair enough, he was being honest with himself. Instead he did an easier version, the so-called 5:2 diet. As the name implies you eat normally 5 days a week, then two days a week you eat 500 calories if you are a woman, or 600 calories, if you are a man. It worked for him but it is important to note that there are no firm rules because so far there have been few proper human trials.

The final conclusion, fasting can be good for you both physically, mentally and spiritually. Why not try it? If you want to read some of the hard-core science click on this link.

Hope you enjoyed the read, now I’m going to enjoy my fasting experience just that little bit more knowing that it’s giving my aging processes a run for it’s money. I’m working on being forever young again like Ghost. Click on the video below for Napolean Dynamites reinterpretation of Forever Young.

Until next time, happy fasting.

Eyman

Geek Out: Reggie Watts

Hey Geeks,

Hope you are all well and have been enjoying the Olympics so far. The energy is amazing in and out of the events arenas, on sofas, in parks and just about anywhere and everywhere in London Town.

I came across this video a week ago and I geeked out and now I’m sharing it with you all. Reggie Watts is thoroughly entertaining to watch and has an amazing career. Click on this Wiki Link to find out more about him. Check out his music composition for Louis CK’s show, Louie. The dude has many skills. He is an utter geek.

I love the way he uses scientific words in this piece to make you listen and laugh all at the same time. He really does disorient you in the most entertaining way. Hope you enjoy it too.

Share it, Re-blog, Tweet and all that good stuff.

Thank you for reading.

Eyman

War of the worlds- Death of a Tumor

Hello Everyone 🙂

It has been a while. I miss you. Good news is that it is all systems go again. This post is short and sweet but it feels like it is just right.

Without going into too much detail, I have been busy looking after my father who has/had cancer. I say had because he is now doing well following a life saving operation to remove the tumor (with god’s grace and blessings). I also say has because cancer is one of those diseases that comes back and Drs. are still working hard to understand why and how to beat it once and for all.

I wanted to share with you this amazing illustration, aptly named Death of a Tumor courtesy of E. Paul and Q. Paul, Echo Medical Media, and R. Gamble.

Green, T-shaped drug molecules fight “scary-looking, tentacled” breast cancer cells. The drug—called TRA-8—locks into the cancer cells’ “death receptors,” so that the cells eventually die. He used photos of real breast cancer cells showing how scientists are working on drugs to kill off only the cancer, leaving healthy cells alone.

Paul describes his inspiration for the illustration as;

“The image was created to evoke a feeling of War of the Worlds, with the fight against breast cancer being waged by novel weapons like TRA-8.”

That’s all for now but I will be back soon.

Eyman

Made With Molecules- Art, Science and Dope Jewelry

Hello Geeks,

Anyone that knows me, knows I am a huge fan off jewelry, especially Silver. So you can imagine how hard I geeked out when I came across this jewelry designer who uses molecules as inspiration in a artistic and creative way. I LOVE THESE DESIGNS.

You must check out Made With Molecules, click here to get onto the site for the full collection, but here a few of my favorites.

This one makes you happy 🙂 and I love the way they explain the significance of the molecule.

You cannot tell me these earrings are not cool. No you cannot. I am a geneticist.

For the chocolate lovers. I know a few.

Gentleman, do not worry, they have something for you too. These are the greatest cufflinks I have ever seen. I would most definitely swoon if you approached me wearing these #just saying. lol.

Share the goodness geeks. Thank you.

Ex

Fortune Babies

Hello Geeks,

It has been a minute since I last posted, please accept my apologies and thank you for sending messages asking for more. Your support is much appreciated. 🙂

Interestingly enough, this is the second time I have had to put things on hold due to a number of unforeseen circumstances and again the first thing I see being blasted all over standard newspapers and science blogs is a genetics story. Yaaaay. But only because it is so much easier for me to talk about my own specialty than anything else. I’m not biased at all LOL.

At the beginning of this month, Kitzman, J. O. et al. (2012) published work in the journal Science Translational Medicine that heralds a future in which a child’s genetic blueprint can be safely scanned for traits and defects long before birth by reconstructing the genome of a fetus using a blood sample from its mother and a saliva sample from its father. Before we all start screaming designer babies horrors, read the science and take a moment to take it all in. Then make your judgement.

Here comes the hardcore science bit:

I know some of you are thinking we know this is being done already right? Actually, originally, prenatal testing was conducted only to detect life-threatening disorders. Then, conditions such as Down’s Syndrome were added.  Recently, British parents were given the go-ahead to test for cancer genes such as BRCA (this is important to note, as the cancer does not present itself until much later on in life). Furthermore, most prenatal diagnosis is done from a sample of either placental tissue or amniotic fluid, both of which must be obtained using invasive methods that can trigger miscarriage. Therefore, the fact that this much information can be obtained from a simple blood test and saliva is major in more ways than one.

So how is this possible? When a woman is pregnant, her blood contains fragments of DNA both from her genome and from that of her unborn child. Generally, around 13% of the DNA in her blood plasma — called ‘cell-free’ DNA — comes from the fetus. One of the biggest challenges facing scientist is telling the difference between fetal and maternal DNA (which is why invasive methods are required).

Step one: Jay Shendure, a geneticist at the University of Washington in Seattle, and his colleagues isolated 5 nanograms of cell-free DNA from a maternal blood sample taken at 18.5 weeks of gestation. They performed ‘deep sequencing’ on the DNA, which involved sampling fragments approximately 78 times. The researchers then went on to construct the mother’s genome by sequencing the DNA in her blood cells computationally using ratios to predict haplotypes and variants. Where the ratios diverged from what was known to be maternal (from a previous sample, before pregnancy), the reading was thought to be from the fetus genetic material. That sounds more complicated than it is.

Step two:  Working out the fathers or paternal contribution. Here the researchers simply sequenced the father’s genome using DNA from his saliva (blood could also have been used but in this case was not available). Variants of his that didn’t turn up in the maternal blood were presumed not to have been inherited by the fetus; those that did were presumed to come from the fetus.

The third and most important step was to test the accuracy of the “constructed” genome. The researchers sequenced the child’s genome from cells collected from its cord blood after birth. Amazingly, they found out that they were able to predict inherited mutations using the parental samples reporting 98% accuracy. Furthermore,  understanding that fetal screening needs to be done sooner to give parents time to respond, they then tested the technique on a second family with a 8.2 week-old fetus and obtained 95% accuracy (that’s half the amount of time as previous run). Job done.

As you can imagine the ethical bunnies are already jumping, and not without reason. Where do you draw the line when it comes to terminating a fetus due to a “known” disorder. Some scientist wonder how long it will be before traits such as albinism are considered defects that need to be screened out. So what does all this mean for the average person walking the streets?

Dennis Lo, a geneticist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who was the first to discover fetal DNA in maternal blood, argues that a better approach would be to target specific parts of the genome known to be involved in important genetic diseases. Sequencing everything, he says, will create serious ethical dilemmas. A important and valid point.

Hope you enjoyed the read and let me know what you think. Would you screen your unborn babies for genetic diseases in-order to terminate or to give yourself the opportunity to prepare yourself for the pressure having conceived a baby which needs special care? Financial strains? etc In the words of Dela Soul, The stakes are high.

Until next time. Have a great weekend.

Ex

Meet Lukeki

 It’s Follow Friday Geeks,

Hope you all had a great week. Last month I had the pleasure of being a member of the “leading Ladies” Panel and leading a workshop for Inspirational You titled “The Power and Influence of Science”. It was a pleasure to be apart of such a beautiful movement. If you are in London and you missed it, I have been invited to speak again at the next one. Click here for details. After my workshop, I was approached by a charming and inspiring young lady who asked me to be her mentor. I was honored, but above all, I believe that she will also teach me much. I’m enjoying the opportunity to learn and grow from her also.

I asked her to write a short paragraph about her-self so that I could introduce her to you all. She will be writing some posts for the blog as off next week and I can’t wait to read about what she finds interesting within the world of geekdom. Please share the post, and the blog and like the page. If we cannot support our younger generations then what is the point of it all. Really. Click play for some background music and Meet my new intern Lukeki :-). Lets Shake it out.

Lukeki 

A recent graduate in Biochemistry and Genetics MSci from the University of Nottingham, science and health have always been subjects that I found interesting. I love to learn and I have always had a fascination with understanding how things work, both in technology and the human body. Outside of science, I’m an avid reader when I have the time, I love to travel and experience different cities, countries and cultures. I am excited about sharing some of my interests with you. 

Unitl next-time. Peace and Love.

Eyman