Archive for the ‘September 2015’ Category

How Life Works

In September 2015 on September 17, 2015 at 12:28 pm


Sarah: If you studied biochemistry at university, chances are you used ‘The Biochem Bible’ by authors William and Daphne Elliott. Often it was referred to quite simply as “Elliott and Elliott’.

Elliott and Elliott were quite a team, both as authors, scientists and life partners. Here is the brief precis of their achievements, as summarised by CSIRO Publishing:

William (Bill) Elliott was a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences and Head of Biochemistry at The University of Adelaide for 23 years. In 1982 his department was awarded the Australian Government’s first Centre of Excellence, for research devoted to gene technology. In 2001, he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society and science in molecular biosciences. At The University of Adelaide, his legacy and achievements are celebrated annually by the W.H. Elliott lecture and a research fellowship in his name.

Daphne Elliott is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at Flinders University. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal in 1994 for her contribution to the education of women in Science and Mathematics and served as Federal President of the Australian Federation of University Women. In 2002, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the promotion of women’s education and as an advocate for improving the status and human rights of women.

Bill passed away in 2012. Never one to be idle, he spent his final months and days preparing the first complete draft of a new book aimed not at the science student, but at the general public.

Thanks to the commitment of Daphne — along with her daughter, granddaughter and other family members — that work is now published. I am so very delighted to have worked with the Elliotts to craft some of the figures and tables for this book.

How Life Works: The Inside Word From a Biochemist is available via CSIRO Publishing.

In Bill’s own words:

“This book aims at explaining the fundamentals of life to readers who have no scientific training.”

“It will possibly enable non-scientific decision-makers and the general members of the public to better understand some of the important biological and medical issues that face society.”

I’d say there’s a market for that, wouldn’t you?

[image thanks to Ben Grey]


Top 10 tips to surviving meals with children – from a nutritionist

In September 2015 on September 14, 2015 at 2:37 pm


Sarah: This blog is all about finding and applying science in every day life.

There is no better proponent of this philosophy than Adelaide nutritionist Dr Jane Bowen, who has developed her own approach to healthy eating and meal-management in her busy family of 5, including 3 young children.

After chatting with Jane last week, I’ve stolen her best ideas and compacted them into a list.

Here are Jane’s top tips to surviving meals with children, and setting your kids on the right track towards nutritious eating for life.

  1. Be a good role model
  2. Think about food behaviours
  3. Eat dinner early
  4. Have strategies up your sleeve
  5. Plan ahead
  6. Don’t insist on an empty plate
  7. Avoid making dessert a permanent fixture
  8. Let your children make some food decisions
  9. Make eating about nutrition not fullness
  10. Talk about food and health

More detail on each item is available in the full version of my article.

[image thanks to David D]

The ingredients of life

In September 2015 on September 2, 2015 at 2:38 pm


Sarah: There’s a cemetery near my house.

The kids and I walk past it often. We’re prone to wandering amongst the gravestones as well, sometimes to pick dandelions and other times trying to find a geocache that someone has sneakily tucked away somewhere very secret.

My little one is aged 6. He asked me recently:

“Where the people are whose headstones are shown above the ground?”

I said they were buried underneath.

Large pause.

“But what happens to their bodies, they’re in the dirt!”

I paused too.

Eventually I came up with something.

“People’s bodies are made from the same ingredients that make dirt.

So the bodies just break down and make new dirt.

So then it helps new flowers and tress to grow.”

Damn I was happy with that explanation! I think he was too – as he leapt on his scooter and raced away.