Latest research news

December 3, 2003

Women smokers at double the risk of lung cancer

A woman smoker’s risk of lung cancer is just over double that of a man, once age and cigarette consumption are taken into account, according to preliminary results from Cornell University, New York. The results were presented at the Radiological Society of North America conference in Chicago yesterday.
( Times )

Microbeam can drive cancer cells to suicide
Scientists at Cancer Research UK's Gray Cancer Institute have helped develop a microbeam that fires a stream of charged helium particles just a thousandth of a millimetre wide. The researchers found that the beam caused targeted cells to send out suicidal signals to their neighbours. The technology could help to make radiotherapy a more potent weapon against tumours and less damaging to healthy tissue.
( Daily Telegraph, Guardian )

Neanderthal 'face' found in Loire
A flint object with a striking likeness to a human face may be one of the best examples of art by Neanderthal man ever found, the journal Antiquity reports. The "mask", which is dated to be about 35,000 years old, was recovered on the banks of the Loire at La Roche-Cotard. "It should finally nail the lie that Neanderthals had no art," Paul Bahn, the British rock art expert, told BBC News Online. "It is an enormously important object."
( BBC Online )

Birds pull out of dive as wild flowers lose ground
Numbers of English birds are stabilising after a 20-year decline, but wild flowers are at risk, a government wildlife audit shows. The residues of chemical fertilisers sprayed onto farmland, aided by nitrogen-rich fumes from motor vehicles, are encouraging a small number of plants to outgrow and crowd out other species.
( Independent, Times, Guardian )

Envelope physics sheds light on ice sheets
Two physicists at Cambridge University have been investigating why you can open an envelope cleanly with a paper knife but not with your finger. They say similar ripping processes could explain the formation of jagged edges that sometimes interleave on adjacent ice sheets.
( Nature )

Cars jeopardise Europe's climate cuts
The European Union and many member states will probably fail to meet their promises on cutting greenhouse gases, the European Environment Agency says. It blames a huge growth in transport emissions, especially by road vehicles. These look likely to rise by more than a third between 1990 and 2010, even without a contribution from aviation. The agency's forecast will be published in a report, Greenhouse Gas Emission Trends And Projections In Europe 2003 .
( BBC Online )

Snails farm their own fungus
Seaside snails grow their own fungus, new research reveals. They chew grass to prepare it for cultivation then defecate on the wounded blades to fertilize their crop. The molluscs which live on salt marshes along the east coast of North America, are the first non-insects found to use such farming methods.
( Nature )

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