Latest research news

January 15, 2003

Comet mission that could save Earth
European scientists are about to launch a £640 million unmanned spacecraft to intercept and land on a comet. Rosetta , named after the stone that provided the key to the mystery of ancient Egypt, will travel 4 billion miles to the far edges of our solar system before catching up with the comet Wirtanen and launching a robotic lander onto its surface. It is hoped that the mission will help unlock the secrets of the universe and provide data that could prove crucial to defending the Earth from the kind of celestial collision that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
(Daily Mail, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Times)

Scientists say it's the beginning of the end
The end of the world is still 7.5 billion years away, according to research by American scientists, but the process of destruction has begun. A new book by David Brownlee and Peter Ward, of the University of Washington, compares the Earth's existence to a single 12-hour period. The clock, which started ticking at midnight, has reached 4.30am. By 5am, or in another 500 million years, animals and plants will cease to thrive. The oceans will vaporise at 8am and, at noon, the expanding Sun will engulf the planet and melt away any evidence that it ever existed.

Men today are such smoothies
Research conducted by Nottingham Trent University shows that increasing numbers of men are waxing their legs and having their eyebrows plucked as attitudes to body hair change. Hair is traditionally seen as dirty and gay culture, widespread gym membership and sports such as bodybuilding and cycling have made shaving body hair more popular with men.
(Daily Mail)

Old clothes filter out cholera
Filtering drinking water from rivers and ponds through a piece of cotton cloth could cut disease by half in cholera-plagued countries, a new field study suggests. Putting water through an old piece of sari folded at least four times halved cholera cases in 65 Bangladesh villages during a year and a half, researchers found.
(Nature, New Scientist)

Dazzled by the science
Biologists who dress up hi-tech eugenics as a new art form are dangerously deluded, writes Jeremy Rifkin.

New moons for Neptune
Astronomers have found three new moons orbiting the distant gas-giant planet Neptune.
The discovery boosts the number of known satellites of the gas giant to 11. They are the first moons to be discovered orbiting Neptune since the Voyager II flyby in 1989, and the first discovered from a ground-based telescope since 1949.

Culture predates Man
Orang-utans at work and play in the wild have proved to scientists that the origin of human-like culture goes back at least 14 million years - 7 million years earlier than thought.
(Daily Telegraph)

Ice tracker blasts off
A satellite that will track the changes in the major ice sheets covering the polar regions was launched on Sunday. The spacecraft will give scientists the clearest picture yet of what is really happening in the Arctic and the Antarctic - whether the ice there is shrinking or growing and by how much, and the impact these changes might have on global sea levels.

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