Latest research news

November 20, 2002

Decaf coffee gives same kick as full-strength
Decaffeinated coffee is no healthier than conventional coffee and may be just as likely to keep drinkers awake all night, scientists have found. Research in Switzerland shows that normal and decaffeinated coffee have near-identical effects on blood pressure and nervous activity, indicating that a decaf latte is no better for you than the real thing. The results suggest that coffee's well-established influence on blood pressure, nerve stimulation and cardiovascular health may have nothing to do with caffeine, contrary to received wisdom. Coffee has several hundred other chemical components, one or more of which must be responsible, the researchers from University Hospital in Zurich say.
(Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Independent)

IBM starts on computer to rival human brain
The first supercomputers to approach and even surpass the processing power of the human brain are to be built by IBM, under a £184 million contract announced by the US government yesterday. ASCI Purple and Blue Gene/L will be the fastest and most powerful machines built, with a combined capacity equal to the 500 best of today’s computers.
(Times)

Musical archive saved for the nation
The archive of the Royal Philharmonic Society, with Beethoven's annotated copy of his Ninth Symphony, was bought by the British Library for £1 million after a public appeal. Proceeds will support young composers and performers.
(Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent)

Larkin poem unveiled after 26 years
An undiscovered poem of high quality by Philip Larkin is published for the first time today. For 26 years, its existence and virtually all its text have been secrets kept by one person - his former secretary and lover Betty Mackereth. The untitled poem, imbued with Larkinesque sadness about the passing of love, relationships and the seasons, is revealed to 300 members of the Philip Larkin Society in their latest newsletter.
(Guardian)

Battered oil tanker breaks in two
A battered and leaking oil tanker damaged by a week of heavy seas off Spain broke in two at 0700 GMT on Tuesday. If all 77,000 tonnes that were originally on board the Prestige are lost, it will cause an ecological and fishing disaster along the coast of Portugal and Spain, say experts. The Exxon Valdez catastrophe, which struck Alaska in 1989, involved the loss of 41,000 tonnes of oil. (New Scientist)

Satellites to spot wildfire fallout
Satellites could soon monitor how much carbon dioxide, soot and other greenhouse gases and pollutants wildfires belch into the atmosphere.  Experiments at King's College in London suggest infrared sensors on the latest Earth-observing satellites could be calibrated to measure the heat of a fire. From this researchers could infer how much carbon it is releasing. (Nature)

Honey kills antibiotic-resistant bugs
Honey could help to treat wounds that refuse to heal. Researchers seeking scientific support for honey's legendary medicinal properties have found that it stops bacteria from growing - even strains that are resistant to some antibiotics. (Nature)

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