When #scicomm critisism took a wrong turn

Let’s talk about the real reasons for #scicomm being increasingly popular.

Click here to read the letter.

A couple of days ago Science – a highly-regarded scientific magazine has published a letter which has shaken science communicators’ world. A faulty understanding of the reasons why science communicators publish their posts/pictures /videos caused the most outrage (click on the picture to read the full story).


I have to say I am a newbie in the science communication field, nevertheless I’ve been enjoying it from day one. The real aims for opening this blog and turning my Instagram account into motivational and popular science resource were not to solve the gender inequality issues. I started motivelina.com to spread the knowledge and to shrink the barrier between a scientist and general public. I simply felt that if I meant to stay in a lab behind closed doors for most of my life, I may as well just never become a researcher. Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Michio Kaku, Sam Harris and many others started sharing their knowledge way before Instagram was popular and they did an amazing job, becoming role models for people like myself.

We live in 21st century which means that all professions become more public and the only way to not be alienated and misunderstood by the society is to open up. Doctors, lawyers, journalists, politicians, housewives – all of them are sharing their knowledge online. And it’s brilliant! It was never as easy to learn how a day of a teacher/vet/surfer looks like. Why do we have to witness undermining the public roles of the female scientists?

We all want to live in a wiser and less hateful (or less envious) societies. We come out of our comfort zones and publish posts hoping that  BigPharma/ GMO/ vaccinations/ microwaves/ the shape of the Earth are not going to be the issues in future. We share in order to get people’s trust, engagement and inspire younger generations to follow our career paths!

The letter reads as an envious attack on a particular Instagram account. The author of this quite badly written piece of work tries to show-off hate towards her campus friend (@Science.Sam). How? By demonstrating that she should spend more time fighting ‘policy changes at governmental institutions’ rather than taking pictures on Instagram. Wright mentions the gender inequality issues by saying:

I have come to understand #scicomm on Instagram as a digital demonstration of the efforts that many female scientists exert daily to correct for gender disparities.

Can we for once not include gender pay gaps and inequalities into every single outreach activity done by women? Firstly, equal amount of men and women in the lab would not help science. It would be more desirable to employ people based on their interest in science rather than their gender. Secondly, if Wright wanted to help women in the science field (and she seems like she is willing to), she should stop criticising successful women and start teaching the unsuccessful ones how to smash their interviews or have balls to ask for a pay rise.

Let’s not cry because there are more men in science. We are not bothered that there are more women than men in nursing.

When I’ve read this:

Female scientists spend demonstrably more time teaching, mentoring, and participating in community outreach than their male colleagues, just as there are far more female #scicommers on Instagram than male.

I thought of all the male scientists, who I mentioned in the first paragraph. They spent enormous amount of time writing books, creating podcasts or lecturing. The words ‘demonstrably more time’ did not convince me at all.

Wright also says:

When I next interview for a job, I won’t have an Instagram page to show that my love of science doesn’t make me boring and unfriendly. Publicly documenting the cute outfit I wear and the sweet smile I brandish in the lab isn’t going to help me build a fulfilling career in a field.

Personally, I don’t think any extra-curriculum hobby like owing an instagram account or baking will get you a job in science. Nevertheless, I’m sure that nowadays good networking skills can get you a job quite easily.

If we want to help out women in our filed – hey, let’s not criticise them! This shows why women struggle in professional life – because per every amazing, self-driven, top-quality female worker, there will be five of her work colleagues (also women), so envious and ruthless, that they will try to destroy her career. It is the painful truth which I experienced myself. Instead of empowering each other, we judge – very often publicly. In my opinion, this is far more important issue than gender inequality. Because if we sort things out in our own garden, it will be easier to come forward to tackle bigger problems.

How is #scicomm community doing?

The response is absolutely enormous. Scientist outreach movements like #scientistswhoselfie increase their popularity gaining new supporters every hour. It might be that the criticism of the scientists activity on Instagram has taken a wrong turn and instead of putting people off from outreach projects, will make it more popular.

Please feel free to use the comment section below to attach links to your own outreach projects, accounts, blogs and I will be more than happy to follow you and promote them on this blog!


Let’s end the war on GMO! 2. GM foods

This is a second post from my educational series ‘Let’s end war on GMO’. You can read the first one, where I explain the science behind GMO concerns here.

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for high engagement of my pervious post on wordpress.com and social media. I am thrilled that many of you found my article helpful and informative. I am feeling extremely inspired to continue our scientific journey, especially when I see that the aim of this blog – to educate and motivate is heading in the right direction.

Today, we will talk about the examples of GM foods and the reasons for their production. You will find out that scientists create GMOs in order to address world’s hunger issues, reduce the amount of harmful substances in our foods and help agriculture to improve rapidly.


  1. Golden rice.

2012 WHO report showed that 250 million children up to the age of 5 are affected by vitamin A deficiency (VAD). The cases are clinically severe in developing countries like Southeast Asia and Africa, where VAD leads to suppressed immune system, blindness, skeletal deformations and other health complications. Providing the poorest with vit. A could prevent 1/3 of all preschool children’s deaths which equals to about 2.7 million kids being saved from dying unnecessarily each year. Scientists from Switzerland and Germany developed genetically modified rice, which contains gene encoding for β-Carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) which gets broken down into the desired vitamin A. They achieved it by adding to the ordinary Asian rice a β-Carotene producing gene from a daffodil. The crop is visibly more yellow in comparison to its traditional version. Golden rice is probably going to be implemented first in the Philippines and Bangladesh by 2019, because both countries have large impoverished populations and relatively advanced regulations for developing GM crops. The implementation of Golden rice is not an easy task, because of the bad press and anti-GMO movements such as Greenpeace. In 2013 American researchers admitted that they violated ethical rules by feeding Golden rice to children in Chinese schools without their parents’ approval. The group ended their research immediately. In June 2016, 107 Nobel Prize laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to stop campaigning against Golden Rice. To read more, click here and here.



  1. Multivitamin white corn.

Since micronutrient deficiency is estimated to affect up to 50% of world’s population, another example of biofortified GM foods is white corn. It has been enhanced with macronutrients like β-Carotene, folate and ascorbate. It was achieved by adding to South African elite white corn 4 new genes from maize and two species of bacteria. This time researchers aimed to improve three vitamin deficiencies in countries with cereal-rich diets. For genetic details click here.

For more information on market potential of biofortified crops click here. 



  1. Folate-enriched tomatoes.

There are many genetic modifications of tomatoes, some increasing their nutritional value and other extending their shelf life. One of the most interesting examples of GM tomatoes are the folate-enriched ones. Folate deficiency is another global health problem. It is an essential micronutrient for women of child-bearing age because of its role in embryonic nervous system formation. Neural tube forms within the first month from conception, thus in order to prevent foetal defects suitable levels of folate need to be maintained from the early days of pregnancy. Researchers from the University of Florida over-expressed a gene which caused a 25-fold increase of folate within a ripe tomato. For more details click here. 



  1. Virus-resistant Papaya

Papaya ringspot virus was discovered in Hawaii in 1992. It spread rapidly worldwide significantly decreasing papaya’s production. The bioengineered version of the fruit overexpressed the virus-resistant gene from wild relative of papaya (Vasconellea) and was commercialised in 1998. The Hawaiian industry was saved, the resistant papaya is successfully produced and sold until now. It is by far the most successful example of GM food development to date. More: click, click.



  1. Innate potato.

It is a group of potato types sold from 2014 with enhanced properties. The name ‘innate’ comes from the fact that scientists did not add genes to them from other species but changed the expression levels of their own ones. They do not bruise or brown easily and they produce less asparagine – an amino acid which turns into acrylamide when potatoes are fried. Acrylamide is a carcinogen, so the less of it in our foods the better. Unfortunately, the major consumer of potatoes – McDonald’s, under a public pressure of anti-GMO movement ruled out using Innate. Find out more here, here and here.



Lastly – GM milk

Now, I will show you GMO approach to handle the enormous consumers demand for milk. It is a very controversial example and one where there is no straightforward answer whether GM milk is better than a natural one. Milk industry is – in general – a very sensitive topic and the one when the consumer demand for milk overtakes the wellbeing of an animal. It is nevertheless, not worse than ordinary milk production, thus if you oppose GM milk, you should also consider opposing drinking milk at all. GM milk is safe for humans, whilst available in the US, it is banned in Europe, Canada and Australia. Dairy cows are injected with a bovine growth hormone, which enhances lactation. GM milk is produced from cows injected with artificial version of the same hormone. The studies comparing the health risks of cows overproducing milk were mostly inconclusive, with indication that the impact of artificial hormone very much depends on the individual cow’s state. Some cows seemed to be healthier on GM treatment and some were more prone to infections. The studies comparing the quality of milk indicate no difference between both types. The studies on milk consumption show no significant differences of impact on humans between both of the cow milks. To conclude, if you drink milk anyway, to your health it does not matter whether you drink GM one or organic. The only difference is that significantly less cows are needed to produce your weekly milk supply when you purchase GM milk. More info: click, click, click. 


I hope that through this post you have gained some more insight into the development of GM foods. Next week, I am going to finish the GMO educational series by showing you interesting GMO uses outside the food industry.


If you liked this post – share & comment 🙂

Let’s end the war on GMO! 1.GMO concerns

This post is the first one of my new educational series “Let’s end the war on GMO” where I will be explaining different aspects of Genetically Modified Organisms, their usage and hopefully clarify some of the uncertainties which arose online.


This week, let’s end the war on… GM foods!


Recently, I’ve seen a water bottle labelled with three signs – safe for babies, vegan and non-GMO. I could probably agree with the first one. But I laughed out loud when I noticed the other two symbols. Vegan water – as far as I am concerned, you can’t water a cow (correct me if I’m wrong). Finally, the Non-GMO sign made me (cry) think – if marketing specialist use NON-GMO signs on water, it means, that people have no clue what GMOs are. I’m here to talk to you about it!



  • Gives you cancer
  • Induces allergy
  • Is contaminated with viruses
  • Causes autism
  • Accelerates ageing


These are only some of the ‘reasons to avoid GM foods’ freely floating between google searches.  It is worth noting, that none of these so-called reasons are backed up by scientific publications or any references. As a scientist, I have an obligation to educate the general public about controversial or unpopular topics, so that informed people can make their own responsible choices regarding their diet.


Let’s have a deal. I will show you the facts about GMO, and you will decide what to believe yourself, alright?


What are Genetically Modified Organisms?


Nothing ‘gives you cancer’, something can only increase your risk of cancer. But it is not GMO. WHO has a really good definition of GMO:

GMO can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination. The technology is often called “modern biotechnology” or “gene technology”, sometimes also “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering”. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between nonrelated species. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are often referred to as GM foods.


Nowadays scientists are able to manipulate DNA in a very specific way, thus a process which would take 1000 years through the natural breeding techniques is achievable within one generation of the living organism. Also, some valuable features (genes) may be suitable to transfer from one species to another. However scary it sounds, it does only because science sounds complicated. Complicated does not mean bad for you. It means – you need to make an effort to understand it. Please, do not take media as your main source of scientific information – question what you hear or read.


  1. GMO and cancer.

People say, that DNA from a GM tomato binds with our DNA and ‘gives us cancer’. It is simply impossible. We eat DNA of plants and animals (and bacteria!) every day. DNA is a fairly weak (deoxyribonucleic) acid, which gets broken into small pieces very quickly. Those pieces are not able to mutate our DNA. Different molecules obtained from digested foods do build our DNA strands, but only in an ordered way, not invading it. GM vegetables will have altered DNA but it does not change the fact, that its genetic material is broken down in our guts as non-modified ones (1 and 2)


  1. GMO and allergies

There is a concern, that the additional or altered genes within GM crops may induce immune responses in human bodies (ie. allergy). All GM foods are tested backwards and forwards thousand times before they enter the market. Researchers make sure, the plant is as safe as possible before it lands on your plate.


  1. GMO and antibiotic resistance

Many years ago, there was a risk that GM crops could be bearing antibiotic resistance genes within their DNA, which could potentially (but very unlikely) be transferred into our gut bacteria and (maybe) in result affect our health (3 and 4). Now, the approved GM foods do not have antibiotic resistance genes as their markers, thus it is impossible to make little X-mens from our little gastrointestinal guests.


  1. GMO and pollution

The word ‘pollution’ is very unfortunate in here. It makes people think GM seeds are negatively impacting their health as air or water pollutants. Generally, the farmers want to avoid mixing non-GM crops with GM ones from obvious reasons – food needs to be appropriately labelled and any possible side-effects of cultivating new crops identified. Studies show there is a very low risk of mixing genes between GM and non-GM species, since countries developed strategies to reduce outcrossing (and 6)Any old-style GM crops which were responsible for heavy metal ions aggregation were identified years ago, destroyed and the soil was cleaned from all ‘contamination’. (7)


  1. Ordinary vs GM foods

GM foods are as nutritious as the ordinary ones. Moreover, some of them (like soybeans) were modified to increase their nutritional value. Plants were genetically engineered so they are easier (and cheaper) to grow by farmers, to make them resistant to herbicides, pests or to even their size. A good example of this is a freeze-resistant and insect-resistant maize. It used to be frost sensitive but now can be grown in the cooler climates. (8) The livestock is fed with a lot of corn; thus, the GM maize can sustain the agricultural demands for crops. More examples of GMO saving lives in the next post, so stay tuned!


And remember: Do not get fooled by the pictures of apples with needles stuck in them.

Image result for apple needle

These pictures meant to manipulate you to think, that GMO are treated with large amounts of some chemical substances before they are given to you – the customers. This is not how scientists modify plants! It happens on the cellular level – at the nucleus of the cell within a seed, not a fully-grown apple. Modern techniques (such as CRISPR-Cas9) allow the changes to be done in a very specific, subtle way, so there is no need for a syringe or any dodgy substances to be added.


To conclude, nowadays the scientists are able to tackle the problems and issues regarding long-term effects of GM crops. (9) Each seed coming from a laboratory is checked backwards and forwards multiple times and we know about them more than we probably ever will about the ‘organic’ foods. To finish off, I have got for you a great quotation from James Watson’s book called ‘DNA The Secret of Life’ (click the title to check it out)


“There are more rodent carcinogens in one cup of coffee than pesticide residues you get in a year. (…) So it just shows our double standard: If it’s synthetic we really freak out, and if it’s natural we forget about it.”


~ James Watson


In the next post of this series, Motivelina will show you the most interesting examples of GM foods and their impact on the environment and the society.



What are your thoughts about GMO after reading this post? Share your thoughts with me!



World Book Day 2018 – my recommendations!

What could I post on a World’s Book Day if not some book recommendations?!


Last year wasn’t the most fruitful one on my bibliophile shelf. University textbooks took over my reading lists. Nevertheless, I prepared for you some good titles, which I have devoured and especially enjoyed within the past 12 months (you can purchase the books by clicking on the pictures):


Image result for the silk roads


The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan – if you ever wanted to find a single book which is going to cover a whole history of the world in a nice continuous story – this is the one. Author changed the way I perceive the current political situation in the world, especially looking at the history of Middle East and Asia. Frankopan shows the connections between different historical events and the countries in a clever and engaging way, so learning history on Friday afternoon is pure pleasure.



Image result for stuff matters miodownik


Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik – I have never thought I will get amazed by the chemical details of concrete or plastic. I was. Mark is an engineer and a great scientist, who shares some technical insights, development and features of different types of materials, from chocolate to glass. Do you remember reading an information which literally blows your mind, so you need to stop reading and tell your friend about it? While reading “Stuff Matters” I experienced that feeling every couple of pages – until my partner asked me when I’m going to finally stop talking about the melting temperatures of chocolate! 😉


Image result for how to win friends and influence people


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carengie – whether we like or not, we are constantly forced to interact with people. This book is a classic self-help guide and if you have never read it, start now! The wisdom of Carengie’s mind is far beyond what modern life coaches have to offer on their blogs and websites. My only thought, when I started reading this book was – why haven’t I read this ages ago?! Highly recommend!


Image result for essays in love


Essays in Love by Alain de Botton – regardless of your current state of affairs, you will enjoy this beautiful piece of everyday philosophy. The author taps us in our backs saying: we all go through the same problems, you are not the only one. It is a smooth, witty and eloquent evaluation of a relationship between two people. Alain dresses emotions into words, being able to describe the processes occurring in our heads when encountering intimacy, anger, fights, misery and excitement. An excellent short uplifting book!


Image result for p53 the gene that cracked the cancer code


p53:The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code by Sue Armstrong – you don’t need to be a scientist to understand the story of p53, the tumour suppressor protein very closely related to cancer. Sue guides us through the history of the protein’s discovery, scientific frauds and modern advances in cancer research. She presents short biographies of researchers who changed the world, while showing their determination, failures and achievements. It’s a good title to start with if you are interested into science but haven’t read any pop-science books yet.



Audiobooks which I fall in love recently:

Image result for sherlock holmes definitive collection


Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection read by Stephen Fry – over 70 hours of pure pleasure. Fry’s voice is utterly amazing! He creates different voices, accents and impressions with a true perfection. The audiobook is split into few parts and each part has a personal comment from Fry, which makes the experience even more amusing.


  • The Great Courses series on Audible – when you want to know more about the world you live in, from mindfulness, through physics to cooking and history. This production offers you great courses on almost everything. The recordings are divided into 15-45mins sessions and you can listen to them daily while commuting to work or walking a dog. Very informative and enjoyable.


In my reading queue: Great Thinkers: Simple Tools from 60 Great Thinkers to Improve Your Life Today (Alain de Botton), 12 Rules of Life (Jordan B Peterson), Mythos (Stephen Fry), A Briefer History of Time  (Leonard Mlodinow and Stephen Hawking).


Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post? What are your thoughts?

Do you have any recommendations for me? Comment below 🙂

Please like & share if you enjoyed it! 😉


What is the UCU strike about? – A student’s viewpoint

This post is aimed at everyone, who is as confused about this situation as I was few days ago.



While I am writing this post, there is still 50 hours left for Universities UK (UUK is an advocacy organisation for UK universities) to change their minds and continue the negotiations with UCU (University and College Union – a British trade union) about the academic’s future pensions schemes (more precisely USS -Universities Superannuation Scheme, one of the largest private pension schemes for universities).



I was informed by the university staff about the plans of starting strike action a week ago. The lecturers simply said their pension is going to be significantly decreased and they are not happy with it. Some briefly mentioned about this fact during their lectures, one of them even put a poster up during the coffee break. Unfortunately, the information showed to us was very vague, the poster hardly readable from a projection and I still knew almost nothing. Shortly after, I realised that the action will take 14 days in total over a period of  four weeks. Two days in 1st week, three days in 2nd, four days in 3rd and a whole 5th week. Lecturers are requested to not reschedule any sessions, check work emails or do any academic work related to teaching.


Take a look at the amount of stress this country is putting on foreign students throughout the last couple of years. Firstly, we had the whole unpredictibility of Brexit which has been followed by the requirement of additional insurance for EU students, together with the rumours about not being able to come back to The UK from summer holidays without it… followed by the increase of already high university fees, followed by the complete chaos regarding the terms of application and funding for postgraduate studies of EU students. And now – we are facing a whole month of no lectures or any kind of academic support.


No lectures most days. No meetings with the supervisors regarding my 3rd year project until a week before the deadline (which I hope is a joke). This is what I paid my £9k this year for.


It’s utterly shocking that when I do not come to compulsory lectures or seminars, the university has a right of kicking me out of the course. Why? Because without attending lectures we do not use the full potential of what the university course and we are (supposedly) not able to learn the material ourselves. Nevertheless, in case of a strike – a month of no lectures is not a problem, we can prepare for upcoming exams ourselves. Apparently ‘our education won’t suffer’ they said. Strange.


Despite paying for my course I am forced to attend all the lectures. The same rule is not applied to the academics who can cancel their lectures whenever they want.


So what’s the deal?

After doing some research, I found out that the USS has an unsustainably high financial deficit already (£7.5bn). If nothing is done – the estimated deficit will grow to £17.5bln. That’s why UUK proposed changes, which have been opposed by the trade union.


Basically, UUK wants to swap a current so-called post-employment defined benefit plan with a defined contribution plan. The existing one requires employer to promise a specified amount of money on academic’s retirement based on their earnings, age, academic performance and other factors. The newly proposed plan works in a way that both employer and employee contribute towards a pension fund, so the employees get whatever amount they collected over the years of work + the returns on pension scheme investments. (1, page 207)


Academics calculated that the new option is likely to leave them with less money – so they did not agree on the new plan. UUK refused to negotiate and in return the union voted in favour of a national strike.


The real reason for starting a strike action is cleverly hidden on UCU website (2). The pages are full of FAQs with no valuable information, cute videos and colourful posters. It took me ages find out some useful facts, which to be fair do not sound as bad as the media and academics are showing it to us. I had to go through a long pdf version of RS 102 The Financial Reporting Standard to find out what is really going on with those dramatic pension cuts.


Time for a bit of reflection. I pay a ridiculous amount of money to be able to study in The UK. It was my conscious decision to study here, I knew if I applied for a good scientific course, the possibilities and opportunities opening in front of me in future will outweigh the initial costs of my studies. I took a risk of investing into my degree (always something may go wrong and I will end up jobless with -£27k + interest on my account) hoping that one day it will pay off. I know already that if I want to have some money left for my pension, I need to work twice as hard – firstly, to repay by student debts, secondly to save or invest.


I believe, that academic members of university staff are very wise people and their decision to work at the university was also their own, conscious choice. They understood from the beginning of their career that going into academia will delay their start of salary-based jobs. They were completely aware of the fact, that on average they are going to work for fewer years that their peers pursuing other carrier paths. I also assume, they know that the population is getting older in The UK, thus there is less people to work for the older generations which results in deficits in pension schemes. It’s worth highlighting, that they do not strike because someone takes their own money away (this would be a fraud, legally charged). They strike because someone is telling them: there used to be some additional money to be given to you as a benefit, but this money is now gone and we cannot give it to you, so we suggest a new way of saving for your pension.

A fair and completely legal way, which is the best possible option so far.


What was trade union’s answer?

They put their suggestion forward that the university should contribute a bit more to their pension, so the decrease in their benefit is not as significant.


UUK did not agree on UCU’s proposal.



Yes, this is it.



In my own opinion, this strike causes the most damage to us – students. Nothing was discussed with us. We would like to be involved in such decision-making process, since we pay for every working day of university at least £60 (calculation based on: 1year = 3 terms, each about 10 weeks long, thus ~£900 lost over 3 weeks of strike). Even if some academics are not technically the members of the union, they still support their colleagues, so practically whole uni is going to malfunction for a month. We probably won’t find out until last moment if our lectures happen or not, which will cause a massive confusion over the period of 4 weeks. If the lecturers have an issue regarding not the teaching but their own pensions they should resolve it on legal terms with their employers – so thousands of students, who paid thousands of pounds for this semester are not going to be affected.



Let me know, what is your view on the strike?



The News: Declutter your brain.

Hi everyone! Today we are going to talk about… The News!


For many, maaany years the first thing I would do after waking up would be to check the news. My idea of a well-informed and wise person was of the one, who always follows the current situation of the world. My perception has changed dramatically when I entered my second year of university studies.



Let’s start with the fact that most of the news is not new. In the past, the newspapers were the only sources of new information. People would buy them daily to get a snapshot of what’s happening not only in the world, but also around their neighbourhood. Because the pages and columns were so ‘precious’ at the time, the editors could not allow themselves to sell unattractive, badly written articles. Nowadays, the news have a completely different function to what used to be an informative mean of communication – it is to manipulate. In 2018, we are bombarded with information with no mercy. Radio news every hour, multiple newspapers, news apps in our phones and TV channels with news presented non-stop.



Have you ever noticed the order of the news presented to us? We are being shown the saddest events, such as murder of a child or a drastic car accident first, followed by some political news. Why? Firstly, to make us think, that the everyday life is miserable and fragile. Then (when our minds are still mourning the deaths of the people who we have never met), we are being given a daily catch up on world’s politics. The party leaders arguing with each other become less of a problem, when our perception of our existence is under consideration.



Children get killed or die because of health problems in all countries, under different circumstances practically all the time. Being reminded about it will not help either us or the affected people. What media should actually do is show us statistics (a real piece of evidence, without drastic details impacting our imagination) and educate us on what to do to avoid these things happening. We shall be educated on what to do when we are witnessing child’s abuse (in a shop or in our neighbourhood) and where go to report it. This is an example of a good journalism, not trying to make salad out of old lettuce.



Accidents, crashes, catastrophes. All of these are our favourites. People love catastrophes. They happened in the past, they are happening now and will definitely happen in future. We read about the details of them only to get more scared of flying or driving. What’s more useful, we would rather know how to behave in the moments of danger. Or even more likely, how to avoid danger in first place. The emotional hole which is left inside us after finding out about another tragic car crash is not filled with mindfulness and eagerness to drive safer. It leaves us confused and not able to understand the rest of the news correctly, because we will always compare the next piece news with the most emotional one.


Have you ever had this painful feeling of pure sadness after watching evening/morning news? This is not a good start (or end) of the day. Especially, when the people tragically affected are not related to us.



The people responsible for publishing the news, know very well the psychology of our minds. They are aware of the fact that they manipulate us in order to get more clicks or views and what follows – money. Our brains will follow the next plane crash like flies attracted to a bulb. It requires a lot of self-control to stop reading the top tragic stories.



The main problem of the news is that they dump on us tonnes of information every day. Without filtration and (which concerns me the most) without any sort of digestion of the topic. We face the information without the explanation of what is the impact of the event or what is the outcome – unable to learn anything from it.



If journalists could connect the current news with the philosophical aspects of human behaviour, historical background, technical facts and grasps of logic, we would be having completely different first pages of the newspapers.



And no, we do not need to become a more clever society to read better news. Our base level is high enough to digest the information with a guidance of a journalist. What is more difficult, is the creation of our own point of view, which comes after the article is presented. This is a skill to be learnt.


The correct way of presenting and understanding the news:

facts, evidences -> discussion -> conclusions -> our own judgement


Currently, we are given the news in reverse order. First comes a prepared already judgement (the journalist’s viewpoint), then the information itself. At the end, often omitted, comes the ‘digestion’ or a discussion part of the story. This is what makes us a passive reader.



Is isolating myself from the news a good idea? Not necessarily. Obviously, the news is needed. We want to know the weather forecast, the traffic information, the new laws established by the government etc., so we cannot easily escape the whole emotional wrapping surrounding these pieces of information. What we can do is try to control our greed for tragedy by skipping the manipulative news. Try not to follow every story which hits us. Respect ourselves as the audience and filter the incoming waves of the information.


Being informed does not mean knowing everything. Having much of workload at uni already, I realised that additional information was cluttering my mind. I was carrying the thoughts of a stabbed teenager with me to the lecture theatre losing the focus on what I meant to learn on my course. At that point I started separating myself from the daily news habit and to my surprise I became more focused and happier.



R e c o m e n d a t i o n


If you would like to find out more about what news do to our brains, one of the best books describing my today’s topic is “The News: A User’s Manual” by Alain De Botton. The author, together with his team used to create very thoughtful reports on basis of philosophical and educational context of the current news. The website still exists http://thephilosophersmail.com/ , nevertheless some time ago it was replaced by their new project – The School of Life.

Welcome to my blog!

Today, my imagination has left the tightly closed frames of self-control and led me straight in here, into a world of published thoughts. Many times in the past, I have been telling myself that it’s still too early, that my ideas are not clear enough or I should get more life experience before I start. Regardless of all those thoughts, my needs for externalising my views and motivating others have taken over, so here I am – typing my first blog post. I would like to invite you to sit down with me, take a sip of your favourite tea and let me to take you into a new world. A world in which you are going to discover, discuss, get inspired and most importantly, get to know yourself from a completely new perspective. Let’s begin!


My name is Ewelina and I’m on my final year of human genetics course. My passions for science, sports, travelling as well as years spent in a different country have shaped me into a person who can never stop to look for new challenges. This blog is a one of them. Since I was a child I loved dressing my thoughts into words. I always found something therapeutical about it. Later on, I discovered that sharing my texts with others is even more satisfying because it gives the opportunity for reflection and discussion. As we know, discussion is the mother of the most amazing ideas, which constantly revolutionise our world.


Through this blog, I would like to get you out of your comfort zone and push you up in order to make you fly higher than you ever expected. This is a website for people who want something more from their lives. People who wake up every day thinking ‘how can I improve the world today?’. People with passion and life mission, motivated and brave (or these who would like to become those kind people!). People who do not find fulfilment in just watching tv or scrolling social media. People who not only observe but also like to take an action.


The picture of millennials is painted with the critical brush, characterising a lack of ambitions, laziness or psychological weakness. Nevertheless, only we know that this is not true and only we are aware of the power we have got in our minds and our hands. We just need to use it well! Within us, there are people who know what they want, or who actively look for it. We study with purpose, work efficiently and plan ahead. We are people with many passions, hard working and well organised. Many of us look after themselves and work on self-improvement in a way that no-one did before. The aim of this blog is to unite those people and show the world that we are the amazing, powerful generation. Moreover, we will motivate others and show that together we are able to achieve great things. Let’s do this!


Here, you will find doses of motivation and inspiration with a high scientific background because in order to understand the world and change it, we need to understand ourselves too. I would like to invite you to a journey, during which you won’t need a map to get to your destination.









Why we need Facebook 2.0?


Facebook is  now not only a means of communication between you and your friends, it is also a great marketing tool, a news source as well as an online space where people of the same interests from all over the world can find each other. To me, it seems like Facebook reached the point of being ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. Of course, it is convenient to have most of the social and informational activities placed in one easy-to-use application. Nevertheless, it feels like we stuck in this little ‘meme of the day’ bubble sharing videos of funny cats while at the same time being deeply moved by the post about homeless children in Syria.


It looks like we stopped social evolution, because every day my news feed is just a mixture of funny animals and sad newspapers stories. Do I learn anything from it? No. I am ensuring myself (every day) that animals can be funny and that (every day) fathers kill their kids, politicians are cowards and cars crash on motorways. I am certainly convinced, that if I have seen any of these posts once a year – not once a day, I would not lose much. Probably, even gain few spare minutes to write more articles on my blog.


We have reached an era of being a passive audience, which is fed with all the possible information the world can handle, without any type of filtration – straight into a device held in our pockets or hands at all times. But this is not the worst thing. The main problem is that our society is completely happy about it. It is us pressing likes or entering clickbait links, causing this sort of posts to become popular.


We have entered 2018, is it a right time for a change?


I would like to show you how the new ‘Facebook’ could look like. I also welcome opinions from any of you, maybe we could inspire each other to create a brand new platform? Maybe it already exists and just needs some more attention to be brought towards it?


Firstly, the news feed should be revised. Most of the ‘news’ is not even a news. The brand of a new Meghan Markle’s jacket is hardly a news at all. We are unnecessarily covered by tons of information, which tend to manipulate our perception of the world. The better social media would encourage us to spend some valuable time exploring the world as its really is. For example, it should let us find out about daily life in Zimbabwe before we encounter its political news.


Imagine commuting to work in a bus and scrolling through hundreds of memes, half of them being the ones you have seen the day before already. What did you gain through that journey? A smile… maybe. Now imagine the same amount of time spent on tagging your friends under one of the Rembrandt’s paintings. Reading a description to understand its historical background. Scrolling up to click on ‘Leiden, Netherlands’ to discover the place where a large collection of Rembrandt’s work is placed.

What did you gain from that journey?

You managed to see a work of one of the most praised artists of Early Modern Europe. You shared it with your friend. In addition, you found out about a new city, which you probably would like to explore during your next trip to Amsterdam.


This way, we would come across so many interesting information, become curious, learn how to rest and relax without getting brainless. We could exchange real news, books, plays, songs, history, ideas, professional relationship advices, medical novelties, science breakthroughs and many maaaany more in much better, productive way.


What would happen if we replace ‘vines’ fashion with a fashion for Ted Talks? Or ‘The most idiotic comments’ fashion into the one of ‘grammatically correct 2 lines’ of an actual discussion? Why things which would probably make us stronger, more clever, witty as well as psychologically healthier are not appealing at the moment? Because there is not enough people who are willing make a change. We can be a better performing society if we make it into a new trend. Let’s create a fashion for better videos, wiser news, good quality discussions and let’s wait for a revolution!  Afterwards, the hours spent on Facebook will never feel like a procrastination again.


You could ask, if I am against Facebook’s reality, why do I still use it? Because overall, it is a very good and powerful social media, which in my opinion could be slightly improved. Of course, there are many educational websites we could use; Reddit, Ted, YouTube, Science… the list is enormous. But why do we need to jump between those websites and search the pieces of interesting materials if we could have a whole newsfeed filled with them by our friends? If this happened years ago, it might be that the vaccination crisis would not happen, GMO would not scare people anymore and the freedom of speech would be the most respected right of every human being.


Maybe until now, most peoples’ evening read would be ‘Nature Briefing’ instead of ’10 times President Trump’s face was most orange’. Is it really what we want to read? Educated and well-informed society is something we should be aiming for to make the most of our democratic privileges.


The mission of this blog is to inspire and initiate a discussion, thus feel free to drop a comment below (whether you agree with me or not) or share it with your friends.

Remember, it’s your day to achieve great things!


Ewelina x

How exactly can I get lung cancer?

Today, I am going to focus on lung cancer. Why? Because it is the third, just after breast and prostate, most common cancer world-wide. Only in The UK, it accounts for 13% of all cancer cases. If we take into consideration, that there is more than 200 different types of cancers – lung cancer incidence looks quite impressive. (1)

For these who just got out of a cave: what is cancer? It is an uncontrolled multiplication of our mutated (immortal) cells, which grows into so-called tumour. It invades the organism by destroying its surrounding tissue. Cancerous cells may spread to other organs of our body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

As it is with any cancer, there are multiple reasons and causes of lung cancer. Nevertheless, I am going to focus on what happens on the molecular level, since the mechanism is pretty much the same in all cases.

The cells creating our body are not that easy to be invaded by cancer. There are some quite clever mechanisms to stop the cell grow or force it to commit suicide when it starts freaking out and getting out of control. The main guy inside our cells which is a sort of anti-cancer policeman [scientifically speaking, a   t u m o u r   r e p r e s s o r ] is a protein p53. Its name literally means that this is a protein 53kDa in size. In ’80, scientists used to estimate protein sizes on polyacrylamide SDS gels during electrophoresis. They would compare locations of the bands on a gel against a standard molecule. Nowadays, they use mass spectrometry, which allows to sum up the masses of all the amino acids making up a particular protein with a very high resolution. The updated size of our beloved P53 is actually only 43.7kDa, but nobody even thought about changing its name. 

P53 is produced in our cells all the time and it can quickly trigger a response to a DNA damage or other growth abnormalities. P53 has a good sense of what is going on inside the cell. That cellular policeman has also quite a lot of power – it can kill the cell anytime or make it stop growing until the DNA is fixed. That’s why p53 needs someone who will keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t kill the cell by mistake or because it had a bad day. Its best friend is called Mdm2 and it binds p53 for most of the time, allowing cell to grow and proliferate. When DNA damage or some sort of abnormality happens within the cell, the stress activates a special type of genes which produce many phosphorylating molecules. These molecules tag p53 by attaching phosphate groups to its tail. It forces Mdm2 to release its friend free, allowing p53 to orchestrate a temporary arrest or cell death [ a p o p t o s i s ].

So we know what happens in a healthy cell. Now let’s see what happens in a cancerous lung cell.

In the cell which becomes cancerous, the protein p53 is not functional. It does not protect our healthy cells neither instruct the mutated ones.

Why is it not functional? Because the gene which encodes for p53 is being mutated.

How does it happen?

For example, when a Group 1 carcinogen (by IARC (2) ) – Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) binds to our DNA. This molecule likes some parts of DNA more than others and in case of the lung cancer, it is attracted to a position [c o d o n] 157. It muddles up this region of the gene making one of the base pairs (Guanine, G) to be replaced by Thymine (T). This G to T replacement causes p53 to not function as it should. (3)

What is the effect of this mutation?

If the cell is put under a stress, the signalling molecules do not alert p53. A lack of functional p53 leads to cell dividing faster than others becomes immortal. This is when cancer starts.

Is BaP only in cigarettes tar?

Unfortunately not. In cigarettes tar the concentration of BaP reaches about 42ng/g (48ng/g in cigars). There is also a significant amount of BaP in air pollution (average concentrations in Europe visible on a map below). Of course smokers are far more prevalent to get a lung cancers than non-smokres, but air statistics show us that nobody is protected from those nasty substances.

There is a reason why lung cancer is so common world-wide. The amount of people smoking cigarettes between 1950 and now has dropped dramatically, nevertheless we all breath the same air every single day.

Remember, BaP is not the only nasty substance causing cancer and lung cancer is not the only one caused by BaPs!

I hope you enjoyed some molecular insights of lung cancer. Without calling you to stop smoking right now or showing you any nasty pictures of black lungs… I would simply like to make you more aware of the world surrounding us.