Quantum Ultimatum

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Quantum Ultimatum RTHE ANNUAL MAGAZINE OF THE MONCRIEFF-JONES SOCIETYIEFF-JONESSO2018NDA2017 - 18 ISSUEITTHNIO NMOETYNCCI501968IVERSARYEFOREW0RLDast summer, a group of 21 Caterhamians ventured across the Atlantic to Honduras to learn about tropical forest and coral reef ecology and conservation as part of a scientific expedition run by Operation Wallacea. I had the pleasure of working with the group on the idyllic Caribbean island of Roatan where we discussed the major threats occurring on the world’s coral reefs and taught students various research techniques needed to try and protect these vulnerable ecosystems. I have been involved with running these programmes for nearly a decade, and I must say that the Caterham group was one of the most engaged and enthusiastic that I have ever come across; it really does fill me with hope to see that the next generation of budding environmentalists coming up through the ranks is so passionate about these issues! It was a real privilege to be asked to present to the Moncrieff-Jones Society in February and I was very impressed by the level of student (and parent!) engagement. It really is wonderful to see students being provided with a platform from which to explore important and complex scientific ideas by contributing to the Quantum Ultimatum and the programme of talks is great training for life beyond the classroom! Dr. Max BodmerPRESIDENT’SINTRDear reader, welcome to the 10th issue of the Quantum Ultimatum magazine.This year was a special one for Moncrieff-Jones, as the prestigious society turns 50. It was pack full with amazing events, ranging from the society’s first president Dr. Luke Bashford talking about his neurological research and Dr. Max Bodmer speaking about coral reefs. This year’s ten brave speakers have worked very hard to deliver high standard talks on many incredible topics. From looking at the past by investigating the relationship between pathogens and the evolution of our species, to looking at the eye and cutting edge new medical procedures and scientific research that will change many lives in the future, which you can read about in the articles they prepared themselves. As always the presenters bravely battled through the tough forty minute question session and were awarded with their badge and tie or shirt at the end. In the magazine you can also read about the scientific successes in the school, including the record number of medals in the British Biology Olympiad, the independent research projects, as well as about the cool trips that students took part in. I would like to thank all the speakers, for pushing the boundaries in the society once again and raising the standards further, proving that the society is the best in the school. I would like to thank Mr. Quinton for trusting me to be the society’s president in this important year and always challenging students during question sessions, something that we all enjoy. I would also like to thank the Vice-President Natalie Bishop for always helping and for doing such an astonishing job. Lastly, thank you to all the students who have been coming to the society's meetings, without you Moncrieff-Jones would not be. Best of luck to the next President and Vice-President Daniel Farris and Rowan Bradbury. I hope you enjoy running this influential society as much as Natalie and I did and to help to further improve it and help it grow. Enjoy the Magazine! Kamen Kyutchukov4ODUCTION50 years of the Moncrieff-Jones Society John JonesIam delighted to have been asked to write a short article about the Moncrieff Society, to which my name was kindly appended when I retired from Caterham in 2004. The concept of the society (named after an eminent OC who worked at Great Ormond Street hospital) arose during my first year of teaching chemistry at Caterham, as I sought to offer a greater opportunity for sixth form pupils to present talks and initiate discussion with their peers. My own background of a science degree, a choral scholarship, and accommodation shared with an English student at Cambridge, coupled with the pursuit of aspects of the history and philosophy of science during my certificate of education year at Bristol, almost inevitably led me to form a ‘liberal’ science society. Over the years, this concept has embraced events such as an abridged reading of Brecht’s play ‘The Life of Galileo’; a concert on scientific themes; a keenly contested (mainly scientific) annual Christmas Quiz – the University Challenge style buzzer system of course constructed by two society members; techniques of pop music; and my own swan song ‘A Chemist’s Macbeth’ delivered to the whole of the sixth form. During the first three decades of its existence, the society held about three meetings a term. Initially most school societies were obliged to meet in the evenings, and with my own after school commitments in boarding, rugby and music, this remained the essential pattern. My somewhat incomplete archives contain the record of nearly 200 sixth form speakers, with topics ranging from astronomy to the quantum world; from sewage to issues of the wider environment; from the plant world to that of insects; from photography to visual perception; from Leonardo Da Vinci to the use of metals in eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings; there was even an introduction to the then little known world of the computer! Staff and visiting speakers made contributions on animal husbandry, eugenics, organ transplants, chemical engineering, entropy, chaos theory, and much more. On some occasions I arranged for small groups to go to London for experiences such as the play Copenhagen (exploring exchanges between Bohr and Heisenberg), or to lectures and events at the Royal Institution and Royal Society.This photo of John Jones was taken and developed during an yearly Moncrieff talk on photography.As commitments as Head of years 9-11 became more demanding of my time after Caterham merged with Eothen, I sought a member of the science staff who could both perpetuate and breathe new life into the society; and in this respect Mr. Dan Quinton has really ensured MJS is well placed, as it enters another decade, to provide opportunity and stimulus to yet more generations of Caterhamians. With so much more going on in the school than in my early days of teaching, it is appropriate that the society is now able to focus entirely on the world of science, and I would like to conclude with my very best wishes for the future as it offers inspiration and challenge for all its members. 5M ON C R I E F F- JO N E S A N N UA L LECTURE - DR. MAX BODMERCoral Reefs On the 26th of February, for the second time in its 50th anniversary year, the Moncrieff-Jones society held an incredible lecture, this time on the topic of Coral reefs. It was an honour to have the founder of the half century old society, Mr. John Jones himself attend the talk. The speaker was the amazing Dr. Max Bodmer, a marine ecologist, who was the lecturer and one of the guides that lead and taught the Honduras expedition team, during the marine section of the trip at Roatan Island, an experience all of us will remember for the rest of our lives. Dr. Bodmer works for Operation Wallacea, and focuses on carrying out studies off the Honduran coast looking into the restoration of sea urchin populations in the Caribbean Sea, and aid the increase of coral cover in the process. He is looking into what effect the installation of breeze block artificial reefs will have, an affordable technique for many of the Caribbean countries. Dr. Bodmer spoke about his field of expertise, focusing on topics ranging from what corals actuallyare as well as the algal threat to reefs and its causes and observed effects. He presented many amazing and weird organisms that live in such ecosystems such as the Parrot fish and the ability of female individuals to change sex and become a male fish in order to establish dominance and replace the previous male as an addition to the fish’s peculiar reproduction tactics involving sneaky beta-male fish secretly inseminating the eggs, while alpha males are competing against each other regarding who will get to reproduce. The invasive to the Caribbean lion fish was also mentioned and howand why it threatens many of the organisms in the Caribbean reefs. A main focus of his talk was how coral reefs are threatened by modern day human activities and therefore why there is an incredibly big decline and loss of coral reef cover globally at an alarming rate, a grim reminder to all the audience. In the talk small scale threats such as coral mining in the Maldives for building materials along with bomb and cyanide fishing were mentioned, as well as the more global threats such as rise in sea levels, temperature and acidity, which all goAfter the talk ended, the evening was completed with a Honduras team reunion, at the Raj in Caterham. A very enjoyable evening and amazing talk by Dr. Bodmer.hand in hand with global warming. Subsequently he explained what can be done by humans to conserve and stop the drastic decline in coral reef health and cover. There was a glimmer of hope presented by Dr. Bodmer showing how the more small scale threats can be easily negated and how it is already being done, however for the global threats he clearly stated that to improve the situation we would need immediate and drastic measures globally and that such actions will be immensely challenging. Including humans stopping the use of cars, something almost no one on today’s society canimagine to do. Emphasising how serious of an issue the destruction and the need for action to save coral reefs is and that we still have a long way to go in order to ensure these beautiful ecosystems still exist in a hundred years from now, for future generations to marvel at. After the talk, there was a prolonged question session, when both parents and students asked detailed questions about the animals, the research that Dr. Bodmer does and the different solutions to conserve reefs.7UPPER SIXTH TALKS CRISPR - The Future of Genetic Engineering . 10 Hello, my name is Ben Prego and for my Moncrieff Talk I chose to research CRISPR. I chose CRISPR as it is fascinating how from eradicating genetic diseases to increasing the world’s food production, the applicative possibilities stemming from CRISPR gene editing are endless. Within a few years, diseases such as Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, cardiomyopathy, diabetes and Alzheimer’s could all become treatable. In addition, we might soon be able to produce corn with higher crop yields, mushrooms that don’t brown, pigs with more meat and even disease resistant cattle, all due to CRISPR gene editing.The Rise of Infectious Diseases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hi, I’m Millie De Leyser and I chose to do my Moncrieff-Jones talk on the rise of infectious diseases, how they shape human evolution and how they are able to spread so successfully. This topic really interested me because of the overlap between biology and human history and because the effects of this rise and expansion are still felt so strongly today across the globe.814Colour Vision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18My name is Jasmin Leung and I did my MoncrieffJones talk in October. I decided to do my Moncrieff on colour vision after watching a presentation at a university open day which inspired my interest in this topic. I enjoyed researching the great variety of vision throughout the animal kingdom and especially loved learning about the role colour vision has played in evolution such as its influence on the Cambrian explosion.Synaptic Plasticity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Hello, my name is Callum Chaney and I chose to research synaptic plasticity because I have always been interested in the brain and the ability of the brain to learn and remember is the most important feature of this organ. Without this ability, intelligent life would not exist. My specific interest in memory and learning is also deeply connected that for the whole time I knew my grandfather he suffered from Alzheimer's. His suffering greatly influenced my decision as I wanted to know more about memory and why this disease can be so crippling.Epigenetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Hello, my name is Oli Young and I am planning to study biological sciences in university. I chose to research Epigenetics because as I read more and more about it, I found the topic fascinating, due to its importance and the issues it may create when going wrong.9CRISPRThe Future of Genetic Engineering Ben Prego The term CRISPR, short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, was first proposed by Francisco Mojica and Ruud Jansen in 2001. Previously Mojica, a scientist at the University of Alicante in Spain, theorised that CRISPRs served as part of a bacterial immune system against viruses. He discovered that the system consisted of repeating sequences of genetic code interrupted by “spacerâ€? sequences of DNA; remnants of previous viruses. The system could then act as a genetic memory bank, helping the bacterium to detect and destroy the virus the next time it infected the cell.1011CRISPR THE FUTURE OF GENETIC ENGINEERINGDiagram of CRISPR system in action in a bacterial cellGuide RNA binds to Cas9 protein which converts the inactive protein into its active formHow does the system work? Following this, scientists began to research the possible uses for CRISPR in genetic engineering; in particular they looked into the system’s ability to target specific points in a virus’s genome. In 2008, scientist John van der Oost showed that the “spacer” sequences in CRISPR are transcribed into short RNA sequences (CRISPR RNAs or crRNAs), capable of guiding an enzyme to the matching sequence of DNA in a bacteriophage and destroying it. The next breakthrough came in 2010 with the discovery of an enzyme linked to CRISPR that cuts both strands of DNA at precise locations called Cas9 (CRISPR associated protein 9). The CRISPR-Cas9 system proved to be an efficient and precise method of creating double-strand breaks in the DNA of viruses and therefore scientists believed that the system could perhaps be used in animal cells. How has it been adapted for use in other cells? The CRISPR-Cas9 system has proved to be a precise and customizable substitute to other genome editing tools. The system itself is capable of cutting DNA strands and therefore does not need to be paired with separate cutting enzymes unlike other editing tools. Synthetic guide RNA (gRNA) sequences can also be made, designed to lead the mechanism to the desired location in the genome in order for the enzymes to cut the DNA. Already, thousands of these gRNA sequences have been produced and are readily available for the continuing research. Scientists deliver the CRISPR components into cells via viral vectors (harmless viruses that are capable of entering cells without damaging them in any way). Once inside the cell, the synthetic gRNA will guide the mechanism to the correct part of the cell’s genome where the enzyme Cas9 then binds to the DNA and cuts it, shutting off the targeted gene. Using modified versions of Cas9 scientists can activate certain genes rather than shut them off, allowing researchers to study the gene’s function12After activation the protein searches for target DNA, then binds with sequences that are complementary with the guide RNA sequence, causing the HNH and RuvC (nuclease enzyme) domains cut the target DNAThe Future of CRISPR Currently the most conventional method for introducing CRISPR into cells is via adeno-associated viruses (AAVs). However these viruses are small and usually at least two are required to carry both the mechanism and the donor DNA into cells. The most promising solution to this issue acts as a delivery vessel for both the mechanism and the new DNA without the use of a virus. Dubbed CRISPR-Gold, the new system uses gold nanoparticles to bind Cas9, the guide RNA sequence and the new donor DNA together and deliver it into the cells of a living organism in order to fix a mutated gene. When injected into an organism, their cells engulf the system and once inside the cytoplasm the CRISPR-Gold breaks apart, releasing Cas9 and the donor DNA. A recent study showedBen Pregothat CRISPR-Gold is a safer approach to deliver Cas9 into cells, and also causes minimal collateral DNA damage, unlike the alternative of using viral vectors.Biomedical Applications of CRISPR Now, only a few years since its discovery, CRISPR gene editing is already having a major impact on biomedical research. Scientists are able to study the functions of genes and introduce specific mutations to them in order to determine what makes cells cancerous or prone to diseases. In the not so distant future, CRISPR-based research could bring drugs for tackling obesity, powerful gene therapies for common genetic disorders and large supplies of organs for transplants. However with these benefits come the more controversial applications. Scientists have spoken for generations of the possibility of permanently altering the genomes of our children by modifying human embryos, termed germ-line editing (sperm and egg cells or early embryos are altered so that the changes are passed on to future generations). This would allow scientists to eradicate certain disease-causing mutations or even enhance children by giving them helpful gene variants.The scientists were then able to induce a wide range of changes in the three traits mentioned earlier by inducing certain mutations causing an increase in crop yield. The other way CRISPR is aiding the increase in food demand is through the gene editing of livestock. Scientists have demonstrated that CRISPR can remove the portion of a gene that acts as a pathway through which the PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) virus infects pigs. Experiments have now shown that DNA from these cells successfully resists the virus and therefore it is likely that the pigs themselves will become resistant. Elsewhere, at Seoul National University in South Korea Scientists are creating meatier, more muscular swine by removing a gene that inhibits muscle growth, allowing the animal’s muscles to grow rapidly.Agricultural Applications of CRISPR Aside from treating genetic disorders and traits, another incredibly important use for CRISPR gene editing is to address issues such as world hunger and the planet’s increasing demand for food. One way in which CRISPR is providing a solution is through the increase in yield of certain crops. Researchers have developed a technique in order to edit the genome of tomatoes; specifically they targeted traits including the size of the fruit, its branching architecture and the shape of the plant. Scientists were able to make multiple cuts inside three genome sequences in tomatoes called promoters (areas of DNA close to the genes that regulate the activity of the actual “yield” genes).A meatier more muscular swine with a muscle growth inhibition gene removedThe insertion processConclusion It is evident that the uses of CRISPR gene editing would have an impact on the whole world. On the one hand, within 20 years we might have finally found a solution to tackle all varieties of genetic diseases and humans will be able to live longer and healthier lives, and we might have also found a solution to the sustain the enormous demand for food due to an increasing global population. However, before any further progress can be made we must tackle the huge ethical responsibility of using such a technology. The first steps needed to ensure this would be to make the public aware of this incredible instrument at our dispo
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