Online games to generate real - and academic - riches
Multiplayer online computer games are expected to generate more than $1 billion (£552 million) in revenue for the first time in 2004, according to a new prediction. But as well as providing financial riches, some researchers believe the virtual communities built within these complex artificial worlds may also provide academic riches by providing a unique new way to study social, economic and legal phenomena.
( New Scientist )
Power blackouts likely
Two groups of researchers have independently brought forward evidence of intrinsic weaknesses in the North American power grid. Their analyses both conclude that massive power blackouts such as the one that took out New York last summer are likely to happen again.
Vitamin C, E supplements may curb Alzheimer's
Taking vitamin E and C supplements together might reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests. Previous studies had hinted that the so-called antioxidant vitamins might help protect the brain against the degenerative disease, but the evidence has been far from conclusive. Vitamin use is one of many possible strategies that researchers are studying in hopes of finding a way to prevent Alzheimer's.
( USA Today )
Brain protein discovery may herald 'memory pill'
A pill to prevent people forgetting things has come a step closer with the discovery of a protein in the brain that stimulates nerve cell growth. Scientists believe that the protein chemical, cypin, is involved in learning and memory because of the role it plays in forming connections between brain cells.
( Independent )
Birds at risk if new EU farmers do not go green
Thousands of farmland birds will be lost from Eastern European countries unless farmers adopt greener working practices, conservationists said yesterday. With ten countries set to join the European Union on May 1, a new study shows that the number of farm birds across Europe, including Britain, has dropped by one third since 1980 because of overuse of chemicals in weedkillers and fertilisers and the draining of marshland.
( The Times )
Number of mountain gorillas on the increase
After years in which they were poached almost to extinction, the number of mountain gorillas in central Africa appears to be on the rise. The first survey in 15 years showed that despite wars, poachers, and human encroachment on their habitats, populations of mountain gorillas in a range of volcanos straddling the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have grown from 324 in 1989 to 380.
( The Guardian )
Personality test for dogs
A test that can assess a dog's personality has helped to prove what pet owners know, but many psychologists deny: pooches have personality. The test, developed by Sam Gosling from the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues, may help researchers to unravel the biology of animal and human character.
( Nature )