2021 archive

Healthy environments, polio progress, and colour-change hygiene checker

In this edition: What makes a healthy environment, the final steps to eliminate polio, and a test for proper cleaning.

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News: Life expectancy and a new space mission – We discover that life expectancy in England was dropping even before the pandemic, and celebrate Imperial physicists building an instrument for a new NASA mission.

What is a healthy environment? – We chat to researchers who interviewed underrepresented groups about what they thought made a healthy environment, and what research they would like to see to help these environments thrive.

Read the full report or a shorter public summary.

Polio progress – To mark World Polio Day on 24 October, we find out from Imperial researchers how close the world is to eradicating the disease, and what still needs to be done.

Fresh check – We meet the Imperial-alumni makers of Fresh Check – a colour-change solution that can tell if a surface has been properly cleaned – and find out where they’re taking the company next.

(20 October)

Climate justice, climate change anxiety, and quantum computing

In this edition: We tackle climate change injustice and anxiety, and hear about a new way to build quantum computers.

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News: Imperial at COP26 and previewing the Great Exhibition Road Festival – We hear about Imperial’s priorities for the upcoming COP26 climate change summit, and find out what’s happening at the new hybrid Great Exhibition Road Festival, for which this year’s theme is ‘one world’.

Solving climate injustice – We meet two researchers from Imperial and the Royal College of Art trying to tackle climate injustice – where those who have contributed the least to climate change face the worst impacts – through design and finance.

You can hear more from the experts in a panel discussion at the Great Exhibition Road Festival, in-person and streamed online, on Saturday 9 October.

The climate crisis and mental health – We hear all the ways climate change itself, and worries about the future, can affect mental health, and discuss how people can deal with these issues including building a better future.

A new way to do quantum computing – We meet Physics Professor Terry Rudolph, who co-founded a company called PsiQuantum that is building quantum computers in a new way, and has just received a multi-billion-dollar valuation.

You can also listen to an extended version of this interview.

(22 September)

Wildfires, climate action tipping points, and helping stroke patients

In this edition: Art-science collaborations around wildfire research, joining the climate fight, and an app to aid stroke rehabilitation.

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News: New test for eye disease and investigating bee flight – We learn about a new AI-led test for a debilitating eye disease that can cause blindness, and how warming temperature may affect bumblebees’ flight.

The art and science of wildfires – We hear about a series of workshops that brought together scientists and artists, who found differences but also surprising similarities between their approaches to studying – and sharing – the world of wildfires, both devastating and beneficial.

Tipping points – What motivates people to study and fight climate change? Grantham Institute PhD student Peter Knapp talks to scientists who have joined the Extinction Rebellion movement, and we’ve got a preview of some of his interviews.

You can listen to the full interviews on the Tipping Points podcast.

On track for stroke rehabilitation – We meet the makers of an app to help patients recover the activity of their arms following a stroke, and hear how the platform is already helping people make progress and build confidence.

(18 August)

Long COVID, bioplastic solutions, and first-year physics success

In this edition: Delving into long covid, bioplastics and the future of recycling, and a first-year physics project that became a peer-reviewed paper.

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News: Latest COVID-19 survey results and Imperial at the Olympics – We catch up with the latest REACT results, showing coronavirus infections doubling every six days but antibodies also ramping up, and meet the Imperial students and alumni competing in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

What do we know about long COVID? – We catch up with Dr Danny Altmann, who is investigating long COVID – who gets it, what are the symptoms, how long might it last, and what other health impacts might it cause?

You can also listen to an extended version of this interview.

Bioplastic solutions to plastic pollution – Despite decades of recycling, plastic pollution is still a major problem. We talk to Sarah Kakadellis, who says bioplastics may be a solution, but the distinction between different types needs to be clear to help consumers make the right decisions when disposing of plastics.

First-year project to peer-reviewed paper – We meet two students (and their supervisor) who turned their first-year physics undergraduate project – using real data about molecules coming from Saturn’s moon Enceladus – into a peer-reviewed paper.

(21 July)

Radiation impacts, sickle cell disease and the Four Horsemen

In this edition: We examine the impact of radiation from nuclear accidents, meet a Sickle Cell Warrior, and follow those fighting the Four Horsemen.

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News: Science meets poetry and music – We hear about how Imperial scientists have teamed up with poets to create spoken-word pieces and how a COVID-19 study has been set to music.

Radiation from nuclear accidents – It’s been 35 years since Chernobyl and 10 years since Fukushima – so what issues has the radiation actually caused? Professor Gerry Thomas takes us through the evidence, which shows the effects may be far less severe than scare stories suggest.

Living with sickle cell disease – We meet Sickle Cell Warrior Louisa Thompson, who has teamed up with Imperial academics to raise awareness of living with the disease, including its impact on mental health.

Find out more about the Invisible Warrior project and watch a video featuring Louisa’s story.

You can also listen to an extended version of this interview.

The Four Horsemen for the modern age – Imperial military medical historian Dr Emily Mayhew gives a hopeful history and forward look at those people holding the line against war, pestilence, famine and death, as told in her new book The Four Horsemen.

You can also listen to an extended version of this interview.

(23 June)

COVID behaviours, carbon cuts and sustainability goals

In this edition: How pandemic behaviours have changed, why carbon needs to be rapidly cut, and how Imperial is supporting global sustainability.

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News: Digital chemistry and the impact of climate change on mental health – We celebrate the launch of ‘DigiFAB’ – the Institute for Digital Molecular Design and Fabrication – and get a preview of a new report looking at how climate change affects mental wellbeing.

A year of insights into global COVID behaviours – How have people’s attitudes and behaviours around the pandemic changed over the past year? We dig through data from around the world to find out how people have changed their views on face masks, life satisfaction, vaccines, and trust in governments.

The 50x30 Coalition for climate action – We hear about a new coalition of governments and research institutions, including Imperial, that is calling for a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 – a crucial target for protecting the planet, and especially the vulnerable icy regions.

Supporting the world’s sustainability goals – We report from the launch of the Global Development Hub, a new network bringing together Imperial’s expertise to support the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, including improving global energy, health and equality.

You can watch the full launch on Imperial’s YouTube channel.

(19 May)

Psychedelic research, AI for the ICU and a space communication pioneer

In this edition: We investigate the psychedelic research renaissance, discover an AI designed to spot organ failure, and chat to Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

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News: Island evolution and an ancient asteroid – We hear how animals evolve into dwarfs or giants on islands and how a 430,000-year-old asteroid impact in Antarctica has been identified from the dust it left behind.

Psychedelic research renaissance – We celebrate the second anniversary of the Centre for Psychedelic Research, looking at the successes of testing the therapeutic potential of active compounds in drugs like magic mushrooms and ayahuasca, and look forward to new studies in brain imaging.

AI to predict organ failure – We meet PhD student Sam Turka, who has been developing an AI to help clinicians spot patients most at risk of organ failure in intensive care, with the ultimate aim of creating patient simulations to speed up medical testing and decision-making.

Maggie Aderin-Pocock – We partner with the Suffrage Science podcast to bring you an interview with Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock – physicist, presenter and Imperial alum – about the challenges and successes she’s faced throughout her career.

You can listen to the full interview with Maggie, and more interviews with other inspirational women in science, on the Suffrage Science podcast.

(21 April)

COVID-19 human trials, air pollution monitoring and better plastics

In this edition: Launching human challenge trials for COVID-19, a new air pollution monitoring network for London, and fully biodegradable plastics.

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News: Potential new physics and climate change innovation – Imperial physicists are part of a team that have found hints of a new kind of physics, and a new centre for climate change innovation launches to help accelerate the transition to net zero emissions.

Infecting people with COVID-19 – We hear from the investigators behind the world’s first ‘human challenge’ clinical trial for COVID-19, which will purposefully infect people with the virus behind the disease to see how the infection progresses and how drugs and vaccines could work against it.

Helping London breathe – We meet a researcher behind the new Breathe London network of affordable air pollution monitors, which are being deployed across London to help local communities understand and tackle their pollution issues.

Biodegradable and recyclable plastic – We chat to the CEO of Polymateria about their breakthrough food packaging plastic, which can break down within a year in the environment and can also be recycled into flower pots or pallets.

This is an extract from the IB Green Minds podcast, produced by students on the Business School’s MSc in Climate Change, Management & Finance. You can listen to the full episode on the IB Podcasts website.

(24 March)

Coronavirus on the tube, virus variants and matters of the heart

In this edition: What testing on transport says about coronavirus transmission, how new virus variants are emerging, and chatting to a cardiologist.

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News: Dragonfly flight, making audio more immersive and landing on Mars – We hear how dragonflies perform mid-air backward somersaults to right themselves, why making more immersive audio experiences could improve virtual interactions, and discover what the next Mars rover, landing on the red planet this week, will investigate.

TfL testing for coronavirus – Imperial researchers are working with the London transport network, testing air and surfaces for the coronavirus (and thankfully finding nothing). We learn what this means about transmission of the virus and how it feeds into a larger project into subway environments.

Coronavirus variants – Variants of the coronavirus are emerging worldwide and hitting the headlines. We find out what these variants mean for controlling the pandemic and the potential impact on vaccines.

You can also watch the full event covering the latest knowledge on the pandemic and what questions remain.

Matters of the heart – We chat to a trainee cardiologist about her experience taking part in an Imperial Lates Valentine’s event and her research understanding blood flow through the heart and arteries.

You can also catch up on the full Relationships Lates workshop.

(17 February)

Election misinformation, future of the NHS, and better cancer surgery

In this edition: Spreading US election misinformation, deciding the future of the NHS, and improving breast cancer surgery.

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News: Identifying new coronavirus variants and kombucha-inspired materials – We hear about a new consortium, led by Imperial researchers, tracking changes in new coronavirus variants, and find out how kombucha tea ingredients are being used to make new smart living materials.

US election misinformation – Analysis of the past two US presidential elections shows where misinformation originated from, including traditional and social media, foreign influences, and in the case of the 2020 election, the president himself.

This feature is an excerpt from 'Never Lick the Spoon' – a podcast from Imperial's Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering.

Future of the NHS – The NHS has worked incredibly well as an ‘illness’ service, but what about protecting and promoting good health? Investing in health could benefit us all, argues Dr Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard in his new book with Dame Sally Davies, Whose Health Is It Anyway?

Better breast cancer surgery – Around 20 percent of surgeries to remove breast cancer tumours leave some behind, requiring a second surgery. To reduce this, Imperial researchers are testing fluorescent tracers that identify tumours, coupled with special cameras to guide surgeons.

(27 January)