Latest research news

July 9, 2003

Controversial climate claim exonerates CO2
The impact of cosmic rays on our climate might outweigh that of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, a controversial new report by a physicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel working with a climatologist from the Ruhr University, Germany, suggests. They conclude that cosmic rays alone can account for 75 per cent of the change in global climate during that period. Other experts remain sceptical and counter that the links are tenuous.

Virus causes mental illness symptoms in mice
A single viral protein causes behavioural changes in mice similar to those experienced by people with mental illness, a study by researchers at Osaka University in Japan reveals. The effects of the protein, produced by a common pathogen called the Borna disease virus, may help scientists understand how viruses could contribute to psychiatric disease in humans.
(New Scientist)

Renaissance of the wildflowers
Cornflower, pheasant's eye, weasel's snout, shepherd's needle and other rare arable weeds may be about to stage a return, English Nature said yesterday. Plants that were once widespread, but were killed off by sprays or better seed-cleaning techniques, are now among the rarest of Britain's wild flowers, representing a fifth of those targeted for conservation action. The government's conservation advisers say there is now the opportunity to bring some of them back under Europe's farm policy reforms.
(Daily Telegraph, Guardian)

Only 16 taboo words left
Everyday conversation is now so foul-mouthed that only a handful of words can be considered truly taboo, according to the authors of the new edition of the Collins English Dictionary. There are now, it appears, only 16 taboo words in use in English, including the f-word and c-word. According to Collins, the use of asterisks to soften the effects of industrial Anglo-Saxon may soon become a historical nicety as modern discourse sinks ever deeper into the mire.
(Daily Telegraph)

Suspicious software released
Software engineers at the Joseph Bell Centre Forensic Statistics and Legal Reasoning in Edinburgh, have programmed a computer to investigate suspicious deaths, prompting detectives to explore lines of inquiry other than the obvious.
(Guardian, Nature)

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