Latest research news

March 5, 2003

NHS research at risk, report warns
The huge contribution made by universities to the National Health Service was being put at risk by government plans to concentrate research in the very best departments, university leaders warned today. In a report entitled Partners in Care , Universities UK, which represents the vice-chancellors, said universities were not only educating healthcare professionals but researching treatments and caring for patients. If funding for departments rated 4 or below was cut, as much as 60 per cent of community-based clinical research in England would be affected, said Universities UK. For Wales and Northern Ireland, there would be no funding for research activity at all.

Nobel prize-winner warns of genetic apartheid
Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel prize-winner and chief executive of Cancer Research UK, will today spell out his fears of a future of "genetic apartheid" where those with low-grade DNA could be stigmatised. Sir Paul, also chairman of the Royal Society's Science in Society Programme, predicts that in 20 years, it will be technically possible to sequence the genome of each new baby. Children could then be given a "genetic identity card". While this would enable people to seek preventative measures and adopt healthier lifestyles, Sir Paul warns it could also lead to a sinister form of separation.

Research and investment may shift outside Europe
The European Round Table of Industrialists, a forum of 45 heads of Europe's largest industrial companies will warn this week that if governments do not invest in new centres of excellence and raise the status and supply of scientists in Europe, their companies will shift research and investment outside the European Union.
(Financial Times)

Science perfects the pancake toss
Physics students from Leeds University have come up with a scientific formula that should produce the perfect pancake toss. The equation reveals that the secrets of crêpe aeronautics lie in the wrist action and the correct angle and speed of the pancake. Put simply, it states that the shorter the arm of the pan handler, the more strenuous and faster the flip required to achieve proper lift-off and a satisfactory landing.
(Times, Guardian)

Cut sugar to battle obesity, says report
Scientists have stood up to the food industry by stating that a key way to tackle the growing global obesity epidemic is to encourage people to limit their sugar intake to no more than 10 per cent of their diet. A report by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organisation warns that in 2001, chronic diseases resulting from poor diet contributed to 60 per cent of the 56 million reported deaths worldwide and nearly half the global burden of disease.
(New Scientist)

Un-blinded by the light
Light could prevent alcohol poisoning from causing blindness, a new rat study suggests. Shining red light into intoxicated rodents' eyes stops them going blind. Just one shot glass of neat methanol, a common ingredient in antifreeze and windscreen-washing fluid, can blind a human permanently within days. There are over 5,000 accidental overdoses in the United States alone every year.

China plans three-phase Moon exploration
China has revealed further details of its plans to explore the Moon - the first unmanned probe could be launched by 2005, say officials. They also hinted that the motivation for the missions is to mine the Moon's resources. The lunar programme, named Chang'e after a legend about a fairy that visits the moon, would be in three phases. First an orbiter would be sent to the Moon, followed by a lander, and then finally a sample return craft.
(New Scientist)

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