Latest research news

October 15, 2003

Chinese connection beats ban on cloning-style fertility technique
An experimental fertility technique, tested on five women in China because it would be banned in the US and UK, was condemned yesterday as perilously close to procedures used in cloning and in any case unethical. One woman became pregnant with triplet embryos, one of which survived 29 weeks - the first human pregnancy using a cell nuclear transfer of the sort that produced the cloned sheep Dolly.
(Guardian, Nature, BBC)

Marijuana smoking damages sperm
Men who smoke marijuana frequently damage their fertility in several different ways, research suggests. Scientists at Buffalo University found regular smokers had significantly less seminal fluid, and a lower sperm count.

Monkey's brain signals control 'third arm'
Monkeys can control a robot arm as naturally as their own limbs using only brain signals, a pioneering experiment has shown. The macaque monkeys could reach and grasp with the same precision as their own hand. "It's just as if they have a representation of a third arm," says project leader Miguel Nicolelis, at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Experts believe the experiment's success bodes well for future devices for humans that are controlled solely by thought.
(New Scientist)

US firms 'tried to lie' over GM crops, says EU
American biotech companies tried to lie to Europe in an attempt to force genetically modified crops upon them, Margot Wallström, the European environment commissioner, said yesterday. Far from developing GM crops to solve the problem of starvation in the world, as they claimed, the biotech companies did so to "solve starvation amongst their shareholders", said the European Union's leading green politician.

Scientists uncover risks in GM oil seed rape
Government scientists have discovered that genetically modified oil seed rape cannot be contained by separating it from fields of conventional crops, after bees carried the pollen up to 16 miles (26km) away.

China set for space first
China has tightened security at its premier rocket launch site as the countdown continues for the country's first manned venture into space. With just days to go before China is set to try and join the world's exclusive club of space explorers, officials slapped a ring of security around the launch site.

Astronaut Foale heads for space
British-born astronaut Michael Foale is about to fly into space to take up his post as commander of the International Space Station. Foale, 46, who now lives in the United States, will stay on the orbiting outpost for six months with cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri.

Astronomers date Universe's 'cosmic jerk'
The point when the repulsive force of dark energy overwhelmed gravity and started the accelerating expansion of the Universe that continues today has been revealed. "It happened five billion years ago," says Adam Riess, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. "That was when the Universe stopped slowing down and began to accelerate, experiencing a cosmic jerk."
(New Scientist)

Forgotten corner of college cellar paints rare view of Canada
A filthy bundle of papers, which had been lying in a corner of the cellars of Balliol College in Oxford for at least a century, has turned out to contain rare landscapes of 18th century Canada, including the oldest known views of the green hills and scattered houses around what are now the cities of Montreal and Quebec.

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