Latest research news

April 9, 2003

Crucial launch for Europe
Europe's Ariane 5 rocket will take to the sky again today; its first flight since the loss of a heavy-lift version of the vehicle last December. The rocket's operator, Arianespace, has carried out an extensive review of all its systems and has cleared Flight 160 to blast off from Kourou, French Guiana, from 1950 local time (2250 GMT). The launcher will put a double payload into orbit: an Indian TV, meteorology and communications satellite; and a US spacecraft to provide satellite broadband coverage over North America.

Scientists fight terror
Leading scientists have joined the fight against international terrorism by launching a study aimed at finding ways of combating chemical or biological attacks. The Royal Society - the UK's national academy of science - has brought together experts from a range of disciplines to determine how the latest developments in science and technology could aid the detection of lethal substances.

Testing for deadly pneumonia begins
Widespread testing for the virus behind the global outbreak of deadly pneumonia will begin this week, according to the World Health Organisation's Western Pacific headquarters in Manila, Philippines. Health officials hope the ability to identify and isolate patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) will enable them to bring the outbreak under control.
(New Scientist)

Patients warned over internet drugs
People who take medicine bought over the internet could be putting their health at risk, according to researchers from Monash University in Australia. Their survey of more than 100 pharmacy websites has found that few provide customers with adequate information to enable them to use the medicines safely and effectively. Many also failed to inform customers of the potentially dangerous consequences of taking different types of drugs at the same time.

Wool-free sheep to shave mutton costs
American farmers are breeding wool-free sheep to bring down the cost of meat production. The almost-bald animals, called hair sheep, don't need shearing, in contrast with parasite-prone woolly sheep.

Flaw opens alien program to invaders
A security bug has been discovered in the screensaver software used by millions of people to search for alien messages in radio telescope signals. The bug could be used to invade computer systems worldwide, a Dutch computer student says. Berend-Jan Wever, at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, found that sending a specially crafted update to the SETI @ Home installed on a user's computer forces it to run unauthorised code. This could be exploited to gain control of the machine.
(New Scientist)

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