Mending Muscle

Velodrome at the national cycling centre
Photo credit: Ashley Ambrose

With the buzz of the Rio 2016 Olympics still in the air and the hype for the Paralympics building, plenty of us have been inspired to get off the sofa and try something new. For me that meant a trip to the National Cycling Centre here in Manchester for my first taste of track cycling. There’s nothing like hurtling around a velodrome at high speed on a bike with no brakes to get your pulse racing! I’d definitely recommend giving it a go if you enjoy a sweaty adrenaline kick. But as I’m sure many amateur athletes are finding, following in the footsteps of Olympic greats comes with physical payback.

Between the hard work pedaling and  my unflinching grip on the bike’s handlebars,  I was pretty sore the day after my velodrome adventure. My first reaction was to reach for the ibuprofen, but that may not be as helpful as I hoped. Why? We’re back to the usual culprit: the immune system.

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Headline Science: Viruses ‘more dangerous in the morning’

Which headline is more likely to grab your attention?

‘Viruses ‘more dangerous in the morning”

or

‘Sleep cycle time of infection affects the growth of viruses in mice and cells’

sunrise

Even as a scientist I’m more likely to follow a link from the first line. Snappy headlines do an important job, they capture our interest, but they don’t always give us the full story. This is the start of a regular post looking at the science behind an some of the eye catching headlines. To be clear, I’m not criticising the science reporting in these pieces.  The original article for this week’s headline explains the study it is based on and possible consequences clearly and reasonably. Catchy headlines have their place drawing our attention to interesting research. This is just a chance to take a deeper look at the science surrounding the words of the headline, and a fun check on whether you should be rushing to change your day to day habits. So on to this week’s headline…

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Breathing together

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the amazing Blue Dot festival at Jodrell Bank. It was an inspiring meeting of art and scientific ideas, with talks, music and activities. For me it wasn’t all play, I was there as a volunteer for the British Society for Immunology (BSI), hoping to get the festival crowds engaged in some citizen science.

The Lovell Radio telescope at Jodrell Bank surrounded by festival fun
Lovell Radio telescope surrounded by  science festival fun

Citizen science means involving members of the public in collecting data and carrying out research. Working together on such a large scale to solve a problem can have fantastic results. Our problem: why are more and more people suffering from seasonal allergies like hay fever?

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