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It’s not every day that a researcher claims to have invented a new science, but that is the bold statement made recently by Dr Richard Green of Glasgow University’s department of aerospace engineering. In a cross-disciplinary association that’s unusually broad even by the standards of these collaborative days, his group worked with fertility experts at Sheffield University to apply techniques of their craft to the problem of determining the potency of sperm. The previous test required three separate checks by an andrologist that were time-consuming and subjective. But aerospace engineers, who have long used automated methods for counting smoke particles in the air flow inside wind tunnels, have now applied the techniques to fertility investigations by zapping the sample with a laser and so tracking the movement of individual sperm. A test that would previously have taken several days can now, the researchers claim, be done more accurately in minutes. Dr Green is clearly a master of the neologism; not only has he coined spermodynamics for the new process, but he is quoted as saying that “in a sense, we are providing a man with a reading of his ‘vigourosity’”.

One in seven couples suffers from fertility difficulties and in about 30 per cent of these cases the problem can be traced to the man. But establishing that the problem lies with his sperm can be tricky... Such measurements can take days with highly variable results. By contrast, the spermodynamics counter takes only a few minutes and produces consistent results.

Observer, 7 Mar. 2004

Project leader Dr Richard Green, of Glasgow University, said: “We have developed a new science — spermodynamics. The device is important as it means we can quickly spot if it is a woman or man who is the source of an infertility problem and take action to help.”

Mirror, 8 Mar. 2004

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