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Robert H OlleyRSS Feed of this column.

Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

I would describe myself as a Polymer Morphologist. I am not an astronaut,

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A possible breakthrough in understanding of cancer pain has been announced. A group at Heidelberg University, led by Prof Dr Rohini Kuner, has just published an article in Nature Medicine entitled Hematopoietic colony–stimulating factors mediate tumor-nerve interactions and bone cancer pain link to abstract.

An indignant letter in this month's Chemistry World has drawn my attention to a forthcoming ban on the use of dichloromethane, except by the most professional of professionals. EU sidesteps Reach to ban paint stripping solvent goes the relevant article, Reach being an acronym for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals.

Practically every month in my Chemistry World there appears an article where a group of workers has synthesized some natural product with amazing ingenuity. But why, to use a Hogwartsian analogy, does one go to such great effort when the greenhouse is only a walk away from the potions department? So let us join Professor Sprout for a walk around the Hogwarts greenhouses.

Some plant families, such as the Cruciferae and the Labiatae are remarkably free from poisonous plants, whereas others such as the Araceae all seem to come with a toxic hazard warning sign.

Frederick II (1194 –1250), Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, so I have read, preferred equation-solving contests to watching knights impaling each other in jousting. Certainly, the great mathematician we know today as Fibonacci spent some time at his court.

As a result of this development, Italy became a leading centre of the mathematical arts, and by the 1530s the solving of cubic equations was all the rage in Venice, with great prize money.

When the Chinese invented gunpowder round about the 800s, they founded one half of the science of chemistry, namely bangs, the other half of course being stinks

They quickly applied it to warfare, both as an explosive in bombs, and as a propellant in rockets.  It remained the explosive for about a millennium, but in the 19th century demands both from the military and from industry created a demand for new explosive.unpowder was a low explosive which burns swiftly rather than detonates.  

(Sensors in the skin - does that sound like Frank Sinatra singing?)

Of the professors at Reading University, perhaps the one with the highest media profile is Kevin Warwick, well known for planting microchips inside himself as signalling devices. However, it seems that nature, as so often happens, got there first.