April 2014

Earth Global warming: A new NASA study shows Earth's climate likely will continue to warm during this century on track with previous estimates, despite the recent slowdown in the rate of global warming. Read more ....

Cosmic microwave background cosmic inflation: Almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of today's best telescopes. All this, of course, has just been theory. Read more ....

Robotic fish Soft robots: Soft robots - which don't just have soft exteriors but are also powered by fluid flowing through flexible channels - have become a sufficiently popular research topic that they now have their own journal, Soft Robotics. In the first issue of that journal, MIT researchers report the first self-contained autonomous soft robot capable of rapid body motion: a "fish" that can execute an escape maneuver, convulsing its body to change direction in just a fraction of a second, or almost as quickly as a real fish can. Read more .....

Cartoon Cartoons and health: Researchers from the University of Southampton have shown that cartoons could be a beneficial way of educating patients and empowering them to cope better with their long term conditions. Read more ....

Razor clam Learning from animals: The Atlantic razor clam uses very little energy to burrow into undersea soil at high speed. Now a detailed insight into how the animal digs has led to the development of a robotic clam that can perform the same trick. Read more ....

Laurie Barge Life origin: How life arose from the toxic and inhospitable environment of our planet billions of years ago remains a deep mystery. Researchers have simulated the conditions of an early Earth in test tubes, even fashioning some of life's basic ingredients. But how those ingredients assembled into living cells, and how life was first able to generate energy, remain unknown. Read more ....

Is laughter the best medicine?

Cartoons could help patients cope with chronic conditions


(Cartoon courtesy of Fran Orford)

Researchers from the University of Southampton have shown that cartoons could be a beneficial way of educating patients and empowering them to cope better with their long term conditions.

"Humour is frequently and naturally used by people with chronic illnesses to help them adjust and understand what is happening to them," explains Associate Professor Dr Anne Kennedy, who led the study. "Our study has shown that cartoons could provide clarity to patients and be a way to engage with them. It is an untapped resource and could be a potential approach to support self-management."

Cartoons are already used in patient information but the content is sourced from health professionals rather than directly from patient experience, a unique aspect of the Southampton study.

Published in the Health Services Research journal, the study was carried out under the auspices of National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR CLAHRC) Wessex and Greater Manchester. Researchers used patient feedback to create a series of cartoons which demonstrated common experiences, problems and anxieties. The cartoons were incorporated into a guidebook given to patients who have chronic kidney disease. These patients were asked their opinion on the use of cartoons and humour in regular patient information and then asked to evaluate the cartoons drawn for the guidebook.

Results showed a range of feelings towards the cartoons including amusement, recognition, hostility and incentives to action. Overall patients found the cartoons useful in lightening the tone of information and gave patients insight and understanding they had not had before.

Dr Kennedy says health professionals could use the cartoon approach to help their patients engage more in the management of their own conditions.

She says: "Cartoons can be challenging and the difficult emotional responses some pictures evoke could be used to help people adjust to their situation, but they can also be used to dispel misconceptions. The word chronic is often misinterpreted as meaning terminal - reaction to the particular cartoon that demonstrated 'chronic' did prove a bit shocking to some patients but it allowed the word to be talked through and it was a tipping point for patients to better understand what their condition was."

Professor Anne Rogers, NIHR CLAHRC Wessex Research Director, who also worked on the study, adds: "Cartoons, drawn with patient input, have potential to help communicate important advice and help patients self-manage their conditions while boosting moral. More work needs to done in this area to build on our findings and we hope that this knowledge will be used to develop cartoons that reflect patients, experiences and get them thinking about where they can get support to suit their needs."

(Source: University of Southampton news release)

Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this website are for informational purposes only. Although due care is taken, the correctness and accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The science and medical research articles are for informational purposes only, aimed at kindling an interest in science. They are not intended to provide any kind of advice.