Latest research news

May 14, 2003

Research elitism will make life harder for female academics
The government's plans to reform higher education will increase the pay and opportunities gap between men and women in universities, lecturer leaders have warned. Delegates to the Association of University Teachers conference in Scarborough heard last week how a string of proposals in the government's plans would impact on women in academia, who are more likely to be on short-term contracts, less likely to be promoted and earn 81p for every £1 their male colleagues earn.

New test will save 200,000 rabbits from research lab
Two hundred thousand rabbits a year could be spared an untimely death, thanks to new methods of testing drugs, the European Commission announced yesterday. Scientists have found a way of using human blood cells instead of rabbits in six tests to detect potential fever-causing agents, known as pyrogens, in drugs.

Earth's shadow to cause lunar eclipse
When Thursday turns to Friday this week, the full Moon will appear to much of the world as a copper orb against a darkened sky. This lunar eclipse will be the result of the Moon, Earth and Sun lining up, plunging our satellite into our shadow. The eclipse will last for more than three hours and, if the weather holds out, could attract an audience of more than two billion people. The spectacle will be visible in most of North America, all of South America, central and Western Europe, and most of Africa.

Boost for Britain's bitterns
One of the UK's rarest birds, the bittern, can look forward to a more secure future. Conservationists hope work to improve the reedbeds where they live will double the numbers of bitterns within a decade. In 1997 the population was so small there were fears the bittern could become extinct. The European Union's Life-Nature programme, the only EU funding dedicated to promoting nature conservation, is providing 60 per cent of the £4 million cost.

No-shrink sheep to be bred
Genetics could soon end our struggle to keep knitwear from shrinking and cut down on the chemicals used in wool manufacturing. Fibres from certain sheep retain their length, separation and shape more than twice as well as others, scientists in Australia have discovered.

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