Latest research news

March 26, 2003

Research funding wasted, say MPs
Dozens of the best medical scientists are being starved of money because the government's funding body prefers to support speculative projects that may never help human health, a committee of MPs has found. The Medical Research Council, which distributes more than £400 million of taxpayers' money annually, is squandering resources on long-term schemes that are years away from producing useful results, according to a scathing report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
(Times, Financial Times)

UK seeks to go it alone in space
Britain is planning its first solo space science mission in 20 years. The Earthshine mission would showcase British expertise and provide vital data on climate change. Principal investigator Mike Lockwood, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, believes going it alone will deliver answers more quickly than joining forces with other nations.

Marijuana alters embryonic brain
Infant rats exposed in to cannabis compounds in the womb have memory difficulties and are hyperactive, a study has found. The compounds seem to alter the animals' brain chemistry permanently. Similar changes may explain why some children whose mothers smoked marijuana while pregnant suffer attention problems later in life.

Digging for life on Mars
Europe is stepping up its plans to search for life on Mars with proposals for a solar-powered robot that would spend months on the Martian surface. The Mars rover would be equipped with a portable lab, a drill, and a system to take soil samples from sites that could contain primitive life forms.

New suspect in super-pneumonia outbreak
Microbiologists have identified a second virus that may be involved in the deadly global outbreak of "super-pneumonia", raising the possibility that it may take more than one virus to trigger the disease.
(New Scientist)

Cranberry juice a day keeps heart disease at bay
Drinking three glasses of cranberry juice a day may reduce the risk of heart disease by 40 per cent, researchers said yesterday. Scientists found that it raised levels of "good" cholesterol and antioxidants. A group of 19 volunteers with high cholesterol were given between one and three glasses of cranberry juice every day for three months. Those on three servings appeared to have increased their levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol by an average of 10 per cent.
(The Mirror)

We've got lolly licked, say scientists
It is a sticky issue that has troubled generations of ice lolly lovers: How do you eat one in the sun without it dripping on to your fingers? Now, it seems, scientists have got it licked. They say they have come up with a formula for the Non-Melting Lolly, claimed as a world first, and it goes on sale in the UK this weekend. Its special blend means it doesn't drip or dissolve. Instead, when the strawberry lolly is removed from the freezer and begins to defrost, it turns slowly into a fruit jelly.
(Daily Mail)

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