From today's UK papers

April 11, 2002

Tiniest particle may hold key to dark matter
The lightest known particle in the Universe has been weighed for the first time. Scientists from Cambridge University have calculated that the neutrino, the tiniest and most elusive of the sub-atomic particles that make up matter, weighs less than a billionth of the mass of a hydrogen atom, the smallest and simplest of all elements. (Times)

Milky Way may hold a billion planets like Earth
The chance of an Earth-like planet circling a distant star are far higher than previously thought, astronomers from the Open University say. They have calculated in a study of physical conditions needed for extraterrestrial life to thrive that more than 1 billion habitable planets could exist in our own galaxy, each with a sufficiently stable orbit around a nearby sun to support the evolution of life. (Independent, Guardian)

Astronomers uncover galactic graveyard
A galactic graveyard of more than 1,000 stars that once burnt with the intensity of the Sun has been discovered by British astronomers. A survey of the heavens, conducted with the Schmidt Telescope at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in New South Wales, has revealed unprecedented numbers of planetary nebulae - the disc-like clouds of debris that are left by the death throes of decrepit stars. (Times)

Chinese Emperor killed by meteorite
The Yellow Emperor, regarded as the founder of the Middle Kingdom, was buried under the impact of a meteorite 5,000 years ago, Chinese scientists said yesterday. According to the official China Daily newspaper, scientists believe that a metre-long meteorite fragment found near the Emperor Huangdi's mausoleum in the city of Xian, in north central China, verifies an ancient legend, according to which Huangdi "died when the land was shattered" and was "broken up by nine dragons". (Times)

Dose of own medicine for Parkinson's sufferer
Stem cells taken from the brain of a patient with Parkinson's disease have been used in a treatment that reduced his symptoms by 80 per cent. Scientists injected cultivated cells into the man's brain. The result, reported at a meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, provides hope that Parkinson's symptoms may be halted or even reversed. (Times, Daily Telegraph)

Pregnancy weight-gain linked to cancer
Women who gain more than 50Ibs during pregnancy and fail to lose it after birth can triple their risk of breast cancer, a study from Georgetown University in the United States revealed yesterday. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can cause changes to the breast tissue that increases the chance of developing cancer after the menopause, scientists said. (Independent, Daily Telegraph)

Pop-up headrest cuts car whiplash
Scientists from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have devised a "pop-up" headrest for car seats that can reduce the number of whiplash injuries by 75 per cent, a conference heard yesterday. The head restraint, which automatically adjusts during an accident, will particularly benefit women, who are twice as likely than men to suffer whiplash injuries in the front seats of cars. (Daily Telegraph)

BBC2 delays 'unfair' prison experiment
A television version of the Stanford experiment, in which students were "imprisoned" to study responses to power and oppression, has been delayed after participants rebelled against the way they were portrayed. After seeing an early version of The Experiment, volunteers claimed they were made to look stupid, and psychologists expressed concerns that the scientific purpose of the series had been lost in the editing. (Guardian)

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