Last time we heard about some of the positive aspects that wearable tech has been bringing to modern life, now we hear about its dubious side. From big tech trying to guess if you're happy or sad so they can sell you stuff, to healthcare apps that monitor much more than they should. One thing is for sure - by the end of the episode you’ll be checking every T&C on every app or piece of tech you have at home - if you don’t do so already!

In a two part special on wearable technology, we are joined by experts that look at this booming industry from completely different perspectives. In the first episode we look at wearable tech's exciting potential, including how mass consumer devices, that previously simply nagged you to walk more, are becoming more like sophisticated medical devices. And since heart rate data from Fitbits were able to predict infection outbreak, could this lead to a better understanding of disease transmission in the community?

We take a break from our usual molecular bread and butter and look at the recent American presidential election. After all, American presidents are made of molecules too, right? We begin our story back at the 2016 presidential election, where Russia (and others) tried to influence the outcome of the result by spreading misinformation through social media channels. But what happened in 2020? We find out!

Blog on misinformation: http://wwwf.imperial.ac.uk/blog/the-forum/2020/11/02/misinformation-and-social-media-in-the-us-election-comparing-2016-and-2020/

October 29, 2020

Episode 13 - Lucky for some

It's our 13th episode! Far from being Triskaidekaphobes - that is of course the phobia of the number 13 - we’re lucky enough to have a returning guest who brings some much needed positivity on the Covid-19 vaccine search. We also hear how a chance fishing trip off of Seattle could provide scientists with the answer to just how many antibodies someone needs to fight the virus successfully - another piece of luck!

Link to the #TeamHalo home page: https://teamhalo.org/

Anna Blakney's TikTok account: https://www.tiktok.com/@anna.blakney

October 1, 2020

Episode 12 - Snail fever

Turning our attention away from Covid, we look at a different disease that has plagued humanity since the time of the ancient Egyptians - and still claims 280,000 lives every year. What’s all the more tragic, is it's curable by modern medicine. We hear from 2 researchers who are part of a multinational, multidiscipline team who are trying to finally eradicate it.

WISER: Water Infrastructure for Schistosomiasis-Endemic Regions

From the humble AAs we stick into the back of our TV remote controls, to our phones, laptops, and increasingly, our cars, batteries are now everywhere to be found. We hear from someone who spends more time than most of us examining these magical capsules that power our lives, and looks at what exciting new ways we could use them.

Ethical and environmental battery brands: https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/energy/shopping-guide/batteries 

We have a returning guest with some exciting results from the initial tests of the vaccine! Anna Blakney gives us an update on vaccine trials, including when they now think it will be ready, along with her take on public health measures and the use of masks.

Continuing on from the last episode, Kieran hears about the work of a team at Imperial College who are now grappling with the next big challenge to producing a Covid-19 vaccine: how to make enough of the vaccine for billions of people. And since it's mental health week, we speak to the team about the pressures they face and how they are managing to cope.

Most of us have been in some form of lock down now for several weeks. The only sure way we can get back to the life we had before is with a vaccine, which is what researchers at Imperial College London are trying to develop. Kieran speaks to one of the team about what it’s like developing arguably the most urgent tool ever needed.

Music: Viral Counterpoint of the Coronavirus Spike Protein by Markus J Buehler.

Carbon capture is muted by some as a key tool in the fight against that other huge challenge facing human kind, climate change. Kieran finds out more about this emerging field by going on a tour of Europe’s first educational carbon capture pilot plant, and discovers how recycled carbon could be used to make mattresses!

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