Latest research news

April 14, 2004

Blair 'adrift' on environment, warns leading green adviser
A critique of Tony Blair's green credentials by Britain's leading environmentalist accuses his government of being dangerously deluded in its belief that it is making people's lives better while protecting the planet. Sir Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the government's Sustainable Development Commission and principal author of the report, says the government's central objective remains conventional economic growth, rather than the well-being of society and the planet as a whole.
( The Independent )

Mars rovers rev up for five more months
The twin robotic rovers exploring Mars should complete the installation of a new set of software patches on Tuesday, aimed at improving their built-in hazard avoidance capabilities. This should allow the rovers to travel greater distances during the five month extension granted to the missions by Nasa on Thursday. The first rover to land, Spirit , could see its daily range boosted from 50 to 75 metres.
( New Scientist )

Eureka! Scientists map the moment
Neuroscientists in the United States have identified the brain region involved in that glorious "Eureka!" moment, when a solution to a puzzle suddenly appears from nowhere. Mark Jung-Beeman and Edward Bowden of Northwestern University, and John Kounios of Drexel University, report that the so-called "Aha!" moment is accompanied by a burst of telltale neural activity in the right hemisphere of the brain.
( The Guardian )

Scientists find image on back of Turin shroud
Italian scientists have found a ghostly image on the back of the shroud of Turin. Using sophisticated mathematical and optical techniques, they have exposed the faint imprint of the face and hands of the figure on the front of the cloth.
( The Guardian )

Plants give off the smell of fear
The debate over whether plants have feelings is about to be reopened with the publication of research by scientists in Italy and Germany. Biologists at the University of Turin and the Max Planck Institute in Jena were yesterday reported to have found evidence that plants sensed - and reacted to - the presence of hungry, leaf-chomping grubs. Their response was to emit an odour similar to that of lavender.
( The Guardian )

Blindness alert for diabetics
One in 12 diabetes sufferers over the age of 40 has an eye condition that can cause blindness, specialists said on Monday. There are 1.4 million people in Britain with diabetes, three in every 100, plus an estimated million who are undiagnosed. New research suggests that many may also have undetected eye problems.
( Daily Telegraph )

Fat cells heal broken skulls
For the first time, cells purified from fat have been used to heal an injury in a living animal. Michael Longaker of Stanford University in California and his team showed in mouse experiments that so-called adipose-derived adult stromal cells purified from a rodent's belly fat could be coaxed to heal a skull fracture too large to mend by itself.
( New Scientist )

Lion gets its head together after a couple of millennia
Two halves of a 2,500-year-old Greek sculpture of a lion's head are to be reunited after spending most of their existence apart. Brian Shefton, formerly a professor at Newcastle University, spotted the connection in the 1970s between the university's part-sculpture and the other half, owned by Dr Leo Mildenberg, the renowned Swiss collector. But he had to wait until Tuesday to see the pieces reunited, in accordance with a bequest from Dr Mildenberg, who died in 2001. Professor Shefton, 84, said he was delighted that the complete work would now be on permanent display at the university's Shefton Museum of Greek Art and Archaeology.
( The Independent )

Lovelorn eagle's flight
RSPB wardens were scanning the skies above Haweswater yesterday in the hope that England's bereaved golden eagle will find a new mate in time to begin nesting. The male bird, believed to be aged around seven, is the sole survivor of 40 years' colonisation of the Lake District.
( Daily Telegraph )

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