Latest research news

July 23, 2002

Patents on DNA restrict research
Research into Aids and diseases such as cancer and malaria is being held up because patents on human genes are granted too readily, a leading advisory group of scientists and lawyers say in a report published today. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics says that although patents covering DNA sequences are often justified to reward innovative science, too many restrict legitimate research. (The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times)

Government sets out £13bn science strategy
A £13 billion strategy to boost science across all government departments will be announced today, fleshing out the big increases in resources for academic research and science teaching announced in the spending review. (The Financial Times)

Poor sense of rhythm could cause dyslexia
British researchers believe they have identified an underlying cause of dyslexia - a poor sense of rhythm. According to Usha Goswami of the Institute of Child Health in London and colleagues reporting in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, infants use speech rhythms to discriminate between syllables and detect the next vowel sounds. (The Guardian)

Giant squid may be a first
A giant squid with tentacles measuring 15m has been washed up on a Tasmanian beach, exciting scientists who believe they may have stumbled upon a new species. The cephalopod weighs about 250kg. (The Guardian, The Independent)

Men in two minds over emotions
Researchers at Stanford University have found that the sexes use different parts of the brain to recall emotional experiences. Men employ two parts to get in touch with their feelings, while women use nine. (The Daily Mail, The Times)

Net's next generation unveiled
The technology that will form the next generation of the internet was unveiled by researchers at the National e-Science Centre in Edinburgh yesterday. (The Financial Times)

Second law of thermodynamics broken
Researchers have shown for the first time that, on the level of thousands of atoms and molecules, fleeting energy increases violate the second law of thermodynamics. This is the tenet that some energy will always be lost when converting from one type to another. The breach may mean there is a limit to miniaturisation and to our understanding of the living world. It suggests that at scales of millionths of a millimetre where machines may one day operate, and where cells already do the mechanics of large systems cannot simply be scaled down. (Nature)

Diamond gets tough rival
There is a contender for the title of second-hardest material. Diamond is still number one, but boron suboxide, say US researchers, makes a strong pitch for second place. Diamond-tipped tools can cut through everything except steel because diamond dissolves in hot iron. Boron suboxide, a compound of boron and oxygen, may find similar applications, say Duanwei He of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. (Nature)

Children to get Viagra in lung disease trial
Viagra is being given to babies and children around the world to try to save them from life-threatening lung conditions. The anecdotal evidence and case studies reported so far suggest the anti-impotence drug is a promising treatment for pulmonary hypertension in both children and adults. (New Scientist)   

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