How Science Has Recently Affected the Royal Family

I’m not ashamed to admit that when it comes to my reading and studying, I tend to stay pretty tunnel vision on science articles and books. I’m also not afraid to admit that, even though I went to a liberal arts school with a well rounded core, I consider myself relatively under-educated when it comes to world history, and even more so when it comes specifically to British government and history. So when I got to take a trip to the Palace of Westminster recently, it was a whole new and amazing learning experience for me. There was so much new information to take in that I though to myself,
“How on earth am I going to be able to blog about this on a science blog?”

Needless to say, I felt compelled to come home and continue to do some research and educate myself on British government and the royal family a bit more before I could write something that even made sense. And in my research, I found quite a fascinating news story that was right up my alley….

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Photo courtesy BBC News, Screenshot

It’s almost as if Dr. Turi King knew I was struggling!
Who says procrastination gets you no where?!
(No really, don’t procrastinate it almost never works out like that…)

As you can imagine, I completely geeked out upon finding that DNA analysis was used to potentially change what we know about the royal family’s lineage (especially after hearing about the entire lineage on our tour).

To sum up what was found:
In a study headed by Dr. Turi King of Leicester University, remains were found under a parking lot, which was formerly the site of Greyfriars Abbey , where Richard III was killed in battle and buried in 1485.
Two years ago, it was confirmed by overwhelming evidence when it was excavated that this was indeed the body of Richard III. At this time, DNA was extracted from these remains.
A DNA analysis was performed comparing the DNA from the body to DNA from all known living relatives of his lineage.

Now small intermission for a science fun fact, mitochondria in your cells have their own separate DNA, independent of the DNA that resides in the nucleus. Now these mitochondria can only be inherited from your mother (sorry about that dad!). So…

When The DNA was compared to one of the living relatives, there was a perfect match of mitochondrial DNA, meaning that the maternal lineage has remained the same.
But when they compared “Y-chromosome haplotypes from male-line relatives”, DNA that can only be passed through the paternal lineage, there was no match between the remains and said relatives.

Basically this means, there is a whole span of generations during which it is believed that infidelity was committed in the royal family. SCIENCE!

Even with this whole new light shining on the situation, I still had an amazing experience getting to tour the House of Commons and the House of Lords, even though they might need to change a couple portraits around!

For further reading, these are the sources I have used to help write this post. They’re actutally quite interesting to read through if you’ve got the time:

BBC News, Science and Environmenthttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30281333
National Geographic Newshttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/141202-richard-iii-genes-shakespeare-science/
Nature Communications Journal:http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141202/ncomms6631/full/ncomms6631.html

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The Dog Days of Autumn

Caution, prepare for an obscene amount of dog pictures and cuteness overload in this post…

First off, anyone who knows me knows I love dogs. If it were possible, I would just move to the countryside and be a crazy dog lady, with one of every kind of dog. Obviously, that’s never going to happen. This is why I was so pumped when my friend invited me to Discover Dogs at Earl’s Court last Sunday!

It was a huge event that hosted over 200 breeds of dogs, and YES, we pet every single one!
I’m a very big advocate of pet therapy, and am in huge agreement that petting a dog (or cat, or any pet really), even for five minutes can reduce stress immensely. The fact that this event fell right at the beginning of my Reading Week could not have been more perfect timing!

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This Komondor obviously won coolest looking dog!

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We found a very cute and very fluffy Keeshond!

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This Italian Spinone just stayed like this expecting belly rubs from everyone who passed by

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We found a very sweet and obedient Irish Setter!

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I fell in love with this Greyhound! Hopefully by this time next year I’ll be close to getting either this or a Whippet!

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The dalmatians just couldn’t get enough!

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A King Charles Cavalier Spaniel tired out after a long day of hugs and petting

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I love big dogs, and this Bullmastiff was just the cutest!

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This Bouvier de Flandres posed specificallyfor pictures

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I spent so much extra time this this Whippet and got to learn so much about them! I’m really hoping to have this as my first dog next year!

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This Shetland Sheepdog whose legs are lost under all his fur

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A very fluffy Samoyed who had a very exhausting day

Overall, this was just such a great, relaxing, and therapeutic day, and I could not have asked for a better way to spend my Sunday!

Overall, this was just such a great, relaxing, and therapeutic day, and I could not have asked for a better way to spend my Sunday!

And now, some of the usual and expected science-y fun facts! It’s been proven that pet therapy can:
Lower blood pressure, give a sense of calmness, decrease aggressiveness, decrease loneliness, increase self esteem, and reduce anxiety.
(Dr. Karen Becker and Delta Society, Huffington Post- Article Here for More.)

Eukanuba and Metro Bank’s Discover Dogs is an annual event, so if you missed it this year, there’s always next Autumn as well! And to add on to the already amazing time, it’s made even better by the student discount college students can get on the tickets! Seriously, perfect day! If you’re a dog lover in London, this truly is the perfect therapy!
To find out more about it you can visit discoverdogs.org.uk

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A Saturday in London

Last Saturday, on November 8th, our group of Study Ambassadors got the opportunity to participate in a treasure hunt all over Westminster, and we had a blast!
First, our team ended up dressing very similarly, so we called ourselves the Collared Button-downs. ↓

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Photo courtesy of Chenyi Liao

Our team had to take on three challenges during this treasure hunt including: Deciphering clues to bring us to cool places around Westminster, answering a series of questions whose answers could be found on the trail of the hunt, and finding picture clues that were given to us on a sheet and answering questions on them.

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Photo courtesy of Chenyi Liao

We got some amazing views throughout the day, including Westminster Abbey, Horse Guards Arch, Big Ben, and all the statues and memorials along Whitehall, plus plenty more.

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Photo courtesy of Tom Garvey

We finished our hunt after about two hours, and had such a fun day exploring and seeing places and sights we may not have been able to go out and see on our own!
After our hunt, we took the tube to Brick Lane for some late lunch, where we had some delicious Indian food at little restaurant called Preem and Prithi. I had never actually had Indian food before that Saturday, so for a first experience, it was great (And it helped to have such a fun group of people to share the meal with)!

At the end of the night, we went down to the Victoria Embankment, where we got to see fireworks from the Lord Mayors Show! Even though we got stuck in a fairly heavy downpour, I like to think of it as getting the full London experience.

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And let’s be honest, it just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw at least a little bit of science nerdiness into this, so I’m gonna show y’all something that I always think about when I watch fireworks, and that’s where all of their colors come from.
So fun fact! Here’s where fireworks get their colors:

Source: The Works Science Museum, Bloomington, Minnesota http://boingboing.net/2012/07/03/where-the-colors-of-fireworks.html

Yeah, I know, I’m a dork.

Anyway, a nice day of walking and hunting around around the city was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, and it really inspired me to get expanding on all the things I get to go out see and do during my year here. There is never a way to run out of things to explore in London!

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Night at The Museum– Halloween Edition

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So, I decided to spend my Halloween night this year in a way quite different than I’m used to, by attending the AfterHours event at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington! The museum sets aside the last Friday of every month to keep the museum open late and people get to come and enjoy drinks, food, and getting to see the exhibits late at night (Don’t worry, none of them came to life). And the best part is, the event is free!
The exhibits we got to see displayed everything you can imagine, from dinosaurs to modern mammals, bugs to birds, plants to rocks, and that wasn’t even the half of them! No matter what your interests, the Natural History Museum will have something to peak them! (:

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Like Paleontology? This giant Diplodocus was there to welcome us in the front main hall

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And right up the front stairs, Charles Darwin is there to guide you up to the
Treasures Room.

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Me posing in front of a 1300+ year old Giant Sequoia tree. Like nature and ecology? The white writing shows a timeline of everything the tree had lived through until it fell in the late 1800’s.

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So the dinosaurs didn’t exactly come to life, but this T-Rex was pretty active!

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Being a Parasitology major, I just had to include the giant Amblyomma tick!

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A rhino and a whale in the Mammals exhibit, British minerals and stones in the Geology exhibit, and an extinct Dodo bird in the Avian exhibit.

I can honestly say that I’ll be visiting this museum at least two more times while I study here. As with many museums in the area, it’s free admission and there is plenty to see, more than I was able to see in one night anyway! And there’s a little bit of something for anyone of any interest!

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