The Month in Science – September

Impact Science rounds up the science and technology news from September.

Surgeons to Get Test Run on Open-Heart Surgery Using 3D Printing – 2nd September

Heart surgery is regarded as an incredibly risky and difficult procedure. However, thanks to the combined techniques of MRI scanning and 3D printing, surgeons will be able to practise the operation on a personalized 3D printed heart of the patient before commencing on the surgery proper. MRI scanners capture around 200 cross sections of the heart; researchers have found that by selecting approximately 15 crucial sections and allowing the printer to produce the remainder, an extremely detailed and personalized model of the heart can be printed. The procedure, developed by MIT and the Boston Children’s Hospital, will allow surgeons to access a tailored model of a patient’s heart before the surgery. This will improve practice and appease concerned patients undergoing the surgery.

Study Suggests Pushing School Start Time to 10am – 8th September

Getting to 9am lectures may seem painful – but how did you find getting to school for 8.30 back in the day? Research suggests that adolescents have a naturally late–running body clock. Although the results showed the problem was particularly pronounced in 14 to 24 year olds, the majority of people aged up to 55 showed trouble waking up in time for working hours. The problem is deemed so severe that the author of the study suggested pushing school back to 10am and university back to 11am. The advice is being taken up by 100 test schools who will examine their pupils performance after the timetable changes and decide if the scheme could be rolled out across the country.

The Ig Nobel Prize 2015 – 17th September

The Ig Nobel Prize celebrates achievements in research that not only make people laugh but also make people think. The 25th ceremony was celebrated this year on the 17th September and prizes were given out for the 10 categories which are: Chemistry, Physics, Literature, Management, Economics, Medicine, Mathematics, Biology, Diagnostics and Physiology. Prize winners included: researchers who determined the amount of time taken for which mammals empty their bladders and the Bangkok Police for paying extra wages to staff who refused to take bribes. The INP is very unique as it rids of long acceptance speeches, if a winner goes on too long a schoolgirl will run onto the stage and continually shout “Please stop! I’m bored”.

NASA Pushes Manned Mission Take-Off Date Back Two Years – 21st September

NASA came under criticism after it announced the delay of the first manned mission of its Orion programme. The Orion spacecraft is being developed to be the most flexible and far reaching vehicle ever. Manned missions are planned to slowly scale up, beginning with low Earth orbit and eventually take the first humans to Mars. The delay, which has pushed the first manned test flight back from 2021 to 2023, was put down to efforts to reduce the capsule’s weight by restructuring the aircraft. The agency will be hoping for no further delays in the light of recent budget cuts by the US government.

Selfies More Deadly Than Sharks – 22nd September

Statistics from the first half of 2015 have shown that more deaths were caused by taking selfies than by sharks. 15 selfie deaths have been reported compared to just 8 shark related deaths. Selfie-taking deaths included two men posing removing a pin from a hand grenade; a woman posing on a moving train and several falling backwards of bridges and cliffs. Injuries have become so prolific that some governments including Russia and certain US states have issued guides on how to take selfies safely. The number of shark attacks has been steadily growing over the past decade due to the increase in human population and popularity of beach swimming. However, the fatality rate has been falling year on year as medicine improves.

Police Ask People Not to Ring Them After Facebook Crashes – 28th September

Facebook offered its apologies to users, having sent modern life into chaos three times this month. It blamed the trouble on a ‘configuration issue’ although some speculated it could have been caused by hackers who troubled the site in January. The glitch caused Facebook’s share price to drop and #facebookdown to trend on Twitter. Several police departments asked the public not to call them about the problems. Kingston Police tweeted ‘Yes we can confirm Facebook is down, please don’t call us! What a great opportunity to spend time with your family…’.

Joanne Blunt and Luke Norman 

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Science editor for the University of Nottingham student magazine IMPACT

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