Latest research news

November 5, 2003

Fatigue an early sign of heart trouble, say scientists
Unusual tiredness and trouble sleeping could be early warning signs of a heart attack in women. These advance symptoms could be used to help prevent an attack if medical attention is sought and received, according to scientists who studied more than 500 American women.

Shell implants 'burn out' cancer cells
American scientists have found a new way to "burn" cancer tumours but leave healthy tissue unhurt. The technique harnesses nanotechnology - science at the scale of a millionth of a millimetre - to reach cancers beyond the surgeon's knife. So far, the technique has been tested only on laboratory mice.

Iceland DNA study reveals key gene in osteoporosis
A study of Icelandic families has identified a gene that could play a decisive role in osteoporosis, the bone-wasting disease that affects an increasing number of elderly women. People who inherit a variation of the gene are three times more likely to develop osteoporosis, which is characterised by brittle bones that fracture easily. Scientists for deCODEgenetics said that they hope to develop a test that will identify people at highest risk of the disorder in later life.

Wines bask in rising temperatures
Rising temperatures are giving some of the world's top wine regions a boost and fuelling new vineyards. But warming could also threaten the distinctive flavour of some harvests, says climatologist Gregory Jones of Southern Oregon University in Ashland. (Nature)

University project to teach seals how to talk
St Andrew's University has acquired its very own Dr Dolittle, with the arrival of a Harvard academic on a mission to teach seals to talk. Tecumseh Fitch, a specialist in language evolution, plans to recruit undergraduates to "hang out" with young seals in the hope that the seals will pick up human speech patterns.

Silicon sees the light
A new light detector made of silicon could fuse microelectronic and light-based information processors. Carved directly onto silicon chips, such devices could make circuits smaller, cheaper and more robust

Foul gas may have killed 95% of life
The biggest-ever mass extinction of life on Earth may have been accompanied by the smell of rotten eggs or decomposing cabbage, geologists said yesterday. At the end of the Permian era, 251 million years ago, 95% of all life went extinct - and the killer might have been foul-smelling hydrogen sulphide.

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