By Claire Lane, RCUK Communications Officer
It’s that time of year where we are all buying and wrapping presents whilst trudging round supermarkets finding the last turkey on the shelf. So, we at the Research Councils, thought we would give you a valid excuse to put the sticky tape to one side, stop chasing that elusive bag of sprouts, put the kettle on and take a well-earned break to celebrate with us, this year’s great stories.
In January, we released a study that showed the benefit of blocking brain inflammation in Alzheimer’s. It was originally thought that Alzheimer’s disease disturbs the brain’s immune response, but this latest study adds to evidence that swelling in the brain can advance the development of the disease. The findings suggest that by reducing this swelling the progression of the disease could be halted.
In March, we asked what is life like now, for the British generation born in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The finding let us about housing and education, to social mobility, health and religion. If we take religion the comparison between men and women opinions on whether they believe in God and life after death – 60 per cent of the women but only 35 per cent of the men believe in life after death. Similarly, more than half (54 per cent) of the men surveyed said they were atheists or agnostics, compared to only a third (34 per cent) of the women. Read more in Thatcher’s children: the lives of Generation X.
In April, we wanted you to Walk Shakespeare’s London. When thinking of Shakespeare in London, we automatically think of the Globe Theatre, but the researchers also wanted us all to know about The Rose and other theatres from the period. Did you know that London’s first purpose built theatre is in Shoreditch known, simply as The Theatre, was built in 1576? The venue was taken down in 1598 and transported south of the Thames to form the basis of The Globe. Take a tour with their interactive map that brings Elizabethan London’s theatre land to life.
In May, the Natural Environment Research Council announced the name of their new Polar research Ship in honour of Sir David Attenborough Following a call for suggestions that sparked global interest, the new £200m state-of-the-art polar research ship is to be named after world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. It was selected as a name that captures the ship’s scientific mission and celebrates the broadcaster’s contribution to natural science
In July, we were also solving a plant-based Rubik’s cube puzzle as researcher discovered a key “twist” in a Rubik’s cube-like plant puzzle. Piecing together the puzzle of how some compounds are made in plants could have enormous potential for developing new and improved therapies.
In October, we announced that the self-driving car made its public debut following their support, there was significant media interest as a self-driving car was trialled in public for the first time in the UK. Media including the BBC, ITV and Sky filmed the car as it made its way around a 1km-long route in trials organised in Milton Keynes by the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC).
In November, we announced pioneering laser technology that could boost the performance of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to new levels of efficiency and therefore helping to unlock some of science’s greatest mysteries going back to the `Big Bang’. The laser technology changes the surface of metals and reduced the ‘electron cloud’. This cloud of negative particles under certain conditions may degrade the performance of the primary proton beams that circulate in the accelerator, which is central to its core experiments. The technology could have widespread implications and applications in satellite and aerospace technologies.
We hope you enjoyed your break. Merry Christmas from all at the Research Councils.