The blog post of an accident prone science geek

This week, along with course mates Rosie and Jan, I channelled the spirit of Neil Buchanan and created a giant art attack on Queens Lawn at Imperial. We collected items from departments all over Imperial to create a glorious double helix. Who said coursework can’t be fun?!


However, in the process of carrying around various weird and wonderful items (including a model of a formula one car) I dropped a heavy Variac (I had to Wikipedia it too…!) on my leg. The result of this is that I now have the bruise in a beautiful variety of colours covering most of my right quad!

It is fairly well known that the distinctive purplish colour of a bruise is due to small blood vessels beneath the skin breaking as a result of the impact, and a small amount of blood leaking into the skin. The full spectrum of colours which the bruise slowly develops is produced when the body metabolises the blood cells which have gathered in the skin. I found a thesis from a Masters student online which showed a bruise in a way I never had seen before. Acoustic imaging of bruises revealed the changes that in the skin as the result of an impact…!


Left: Off bruise site Right: bruise site

Urgh so half of my thigh now has severely flattened upper layers of skin… nice! To add insult to injury, when I went to bake some comfort cookies (obviously the number one cure for bruises!), I burnt myself!  A nice scorch mark accompanied by an oblong, pus-filled blister formed within seconds of my wrist touching the metallic oven shelf. This delightful(?!) looking injury is an example of a second degree burn.

Just do you know… you know that bright pink colour that people go when they spend far too long in the sun, and insist that it will magically turn into a tan overnight? That’s a first degree burn, where the very top layer of the skin is a bit frazzled! A second degree burn actually causes damage not only to the upper layer of the skin, the epidermis, but also some of the layer beneath that, the dermis. The dermis is full of nerves, blood vessels, glands and hair follicles. When this layer is affected in second degree burns, a blister filled with serum leaking from damaged vessel and cells form. The blister not only provides protection for the scorched skin beneath but also accumulates proteins and antibodies to aid the healing process.

Whilst I’m on the subject of common minor injuries, I thought I’d quickly find out exactly what is it that makes banging your funny bone so unbelievably crippling! When you bend your arm, it actually traps the ulna nerve between the bone and skin near your elbow. The ulna nerve is not protected by muscle or bone, so if you bump your elbow on something whilst your arm is bent then you are striking the nerve and the pain is immense!

Got to keep my guard up at the moment, don’t want this to happen, and they say bad things come in threes…..!

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