There are three people in Markus Meissner's office in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology at Glasgow University. So chances are one of us has Toxoplasma gondii living in our body, he says.
Biologists now have a complete parts list for the living cell, says Julian Blow, deputy director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression But that doesn't mean we understand what's going on. "Molecular biology has made enormous progress. But there's a vast, unexplored territory still out there. To a scientist that's not daunting. It is exciting."
Rett Syndrome is a distressing disorder of young girls caused by a faulty gene that fails to produce a protein called MECP2. The protein was discovered by Adrian Bird, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology. His experiments, aimed at understanding how the protein works, have raised the possibility that Rett Syndrome, and other developmental disorders, might be curable.
The inside of a living cell is like central London in the rush hour. The closer scientists look, the more complex life seems. But that won't go on forever, says Adrian Bird, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology. "Things seem impenetrable when key facts are missing."
"My mum likes to hear about my work," says Dr Sonia Rocha, a researcher in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression. "She isn't a scientist - none of my family are. But they are interested in what I do."
Plenty of people want to bottle-feed orang-utans, but very few can do time-series analysis on orang-utan population dynamics. So if you want to get into conservation and biodiversity learn a little mathematical modelling, says Professor Dan Haydon.
The genetics of the human body are more complex than we ever imagined. But science offers good prospects of treating some genetic diseases in the near future, says Darren Monckton. . Myotonic dystrophy is one of these.
When Jim Brewer pushes the heavy door open, the vista of gleaming glass and bright lights that meets our eyes seems to stretch to the horizon.
Why is the immune system like the best Liverpool football sides of the past? No it's not a riddle. It's Paul Garside's analogy for a new window that has opened on our bodies' defence systems and the fight against disease.
Our brains are plastic. This just means that other jobs are found for parts of them that aren't busy. But that's the last thing you want if you're recovering from spinal injury and can't yet move your hands. So Aleksandra Vuckovic is using computers to read thoughts and help patients exercise their brains, until their bodies are ready to move again.
Insects in amber, perfectly preserved, reveal the movement of continents 50 million years ago.
Scientists and engineers are designing new types of nuclear reactor that could be cheaper, greener, safer and more secure than those we have now. But they have plenty of problems to solve, some technical, some financial.
Astronomers have found the first planet in the zone around its star that is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right for life. "Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet," says Steve Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz.
Without connective tissue we would all be a "soup of cells", says Iain Johnstone who is finding out how this complex component of all our bodies keeps us in shape, what goes wrong in diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta, and how understanding the basic science offers prospects of a cure.
Innovative science means the war against the disease parasites that devastate Africa can be won, says Professor Dave Barry, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology.
Point of care is particularly vital in poor countries, says Professor Jon Cooper, where infectious diseases are very common and healthcare systems struggle. But it's also important in the poorer parts of the developed world, where for example thousands of people are dying of TB every year.
"Thellungiella is a plant that can tolerate cold, high salt concentrations and low levels of nutrients," says Anna Amtmann. "It grows for example in the Yukon in Canada. It is a real tough cookie.”
"Cells in animals and plants are divided into compartments called organelles," says Nia Bryant. "So we're looking at how the cell determines the make-up of those organelles. This is important for many processes in the body – from producing hormones, such as insulin and adrenalin, to brain function and the firing of neurons.”
A plant that knows when the sun is going to rise can get itself wide awake and ready to photosynthesise. It can steal a march on its sleepier companions. This is why circadian clocks are found in all higher plants, says Hugh Nimmo, whose experiments have shown that the prevailing wisdom on circadian clocks was wrong.
Blue skies, plant clocks and the right marriage partner for a scientist.
Dumpy worms to cure disease, sound science for diagnosis and why the war on parasites can be won.
Art, science, understanding disease and getting the best out of brain waves at Glasgow University.
A fortnight after the birth of his second child, Glasgow University palaeoclimatologist James Bendle waved goodbye to his wife and sons and set sail for the Southern Ocean.
Like an angry dog, a volcano growls before it bites, shaking the ground and getting noisy before erupting. This could help us predict when volcanoes will erupt, says Emily Brodsky, who has been studying pre-eruption earthquakes.
A new dinosaur species, one of the earliest yet discovered, has been found in New Mexico. "When we saw them our jaws dropped," says Sterling Nesbitt. "A lot of these theropods have really hollow bones, so when they get preserved they get really crunched. But these were in almost perfect condition."
A major review of the science of Antarctica has just been published. Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment presents the latest findings, suggests future research, and tackles questions of melting, sea-levels and biodiversity.
Great crested newts are protected by law. So if a builder finds these little amphibians on his land he can't just go ahead and build there. He has to make sure first that the newts are safely moved and found a new home. But how well do the newts do after their translocation? Glasgow University's Debbie McNeill has been investigating.
One of the biggest uncertainties in the science of climate change is what happens to clouds in a warming world. If we get more of them, they could shield us from the sun so that severe climate change would not happen. The latest research from Amy Clement and colleagues at the University of Miami shows this is a forlorn hope. The clouds are not going to save us.
Men far outnumber women at the highest level of mathematics. The most common explanation is that more male brains than female brains are born with the talent. Now two professors from the University of Wisconsin, Janet Mertz and Janet Hyde have reviewed the evidence. They find that the gender gap is most likely caused by social and cultural factors, not biology..
Jackdaws can tell what we are looking at, says behaviour ecologist Auguste von Bayern. Not only do they notice the direction of a human gaze, but they seem to realise what it means. This second step is astonishing for a "bird-brain". Our closest relatives, the apes, and our best friends, the dogs, don't seem to be this aware of the eye's role in visual perception.
Chemists report the first process to turn algae oil into biodiesel that is "both economical and eco-friendly". This could eventually lead to algae replacing petroleum as a source of fuel, they say.
Canadian researchers have found the smallest dinosaur species in North American. Their work helps re-draw the picture of the continent's ecosystem at the height of the dinosaur age 75 million years ago.
Scientists have found gullies on Mars where water from melting snow and ice flowed 1.25 million years ago. This may well be the closest to the present that liquid water flowed on Mars.
Swimming with wild salmon as they make their last journey upriver to the place of their birth is just one application for a new underwater robot, says Euan McGookin.
Keeping human waste away from drinking water is not glamorous research, admits Bill Sloan - although it can get exciting when you're hunting bugs in the world's wild places.
A force field can be created that will protect the occupants of a spaceship on the long voyage to Mars, say UK scientists
When a team of scientists searching for gravitational waves given off by the Crab Nebula found none at all, they weren't too disappointed, says Glasgow University's Graham Woan. "We would have been ecstatic if we had found them. But we weren't expecting to - and the fact that we didn't tells us a great deal."
Engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a better way to get energy from the sun.
A primitive single-celled organism has more machinery for signalling to other cells than we do.
Extreme star system supports general theory of relativity.
The biggest ever study of bird genes has redrawn their tree of life - and thrown up a whole lot of surprises.
Lizards get up on two legs in the same way that bikers do a wheelie. And they do it deliberately, say Australian scientists
Scientists have been probing the living brain to find out what is happening when we are aware of some sounds and mask out others - "the cocktail party effect".
The Andes Mountains went through a spurt in growth that doubled their height in a far shorter time than was thought possible, according to new research.