Latest research news

November 12, 2003

EU 'must double' space spending
Europe should be prepared to at least double its spending on space programmes if it wants to support its security, defence, environmental and economic policies. This recommendation will be made today by the European Commission when it presents its white paper on space policy, which will have wide implications for the success of the European Union's Galileo system.

Vote may end dispute over site of energy research centre
European Union ministers are likely to vote this month on the proposed location of the world's largest energy research centre to end a stand-off between France and Spain about which country should host the project. The year-long battle between the French and the Spanish has highlighted the limits of EU co-operation when national scientific pride - as well as jobs and money - are at a stake.

Flanders mud yields up its forgotten victims
The remains of six soldiers killed and buried by the hellish artillery duels of the first world war have been found in the trenches where they fell in Ypres. A complex network of trenches has been unearthed virtually intact - including the remains of soldiers still in uniforms and boots, along with rum flasks, shellcases and barbed wire - under a Flanders sugar beet field. 

Doctors assess aspirin's use against cancer
Doctors are considering whether aspirin may be able to prevent some cancers in the same way that it can help to avert heart disease and strokes. A conference in London yesterday heard that it may be 10 years before research into aspirin's ability to prevent bowel cancer and breast cancer will provide answers.

Surgery risk from CJD prions
Infectious proteins that cause the rare brain condition Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) can be detected in muscle and may be transmitted during surgery, hints a new study.

Endangered species back from the brink
One of Britain's most endangered birds, the cirl bunting, has been saved from extinction through payments to farmers to sow barley in the spring rather than the autumn. Stubble left in unploughed fields over the winter provides adults birds with enough seeds to survive.

Climate threatens butterfly's 2,000-mile migration
The unique life cycle of the monarch butterfly - which migrates more than 2,000 miles to its wintering grounds - could come to an end within 50 years, according to a study published yesterday. Scientists have discovered that the oyamel fir trees of Mexico on which the butterflies spend the winter are highly vulnerable to the changes in climate that meteorologists have forecast for the next 50 years.

Bug makes bats bad for brains
An epidemic of brain disease on the Pacific island of Guam might be due to bacteria, say researchers. The microbes make a toxin, called BMAA, which accumulates up the food chain, reaching humans in big doses via plants and bats. "It's like an Agatha Christie novel," says Paul Cox of the National Tropical Botanic Garden in Kalaheo, Hawaii. "We haven't got to the end yet, but BMAA is the lead suspect."

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