Latest research news

June 16, 2004

Runner carries torch for diabetes cure
A transplant of insulin-producing cells has enabled a 60-year-old diabetic running enthusiast to take up her hobby again in time to carry the Olympic torch through London at the end of June. Mary Jenkins, who has suffered Type 1 diabetes for 38 years, had an islet cell transplant that has allowed her to cut her daily intake of insulin from 40 units to just four.
( The Times )

Travel writer Bryson wins science prize
The £10,000 Aventis science book prize last night went to Bill Bryson, a travel writer with almost no background in science. The American-born journalist-author won the prestige-laden award for A Short History of Nearly Everything. He won against professional scientists and communicators such as the biologist Matt Ridley, shortlisted for the fourth time for his highly praised Nature Via Nurture, and the bookies' favourite, Armand Marie Leroi, the presenter of the Channel 4 series Mutants, and author of the book of the same name.
( The Guardian )

Healthy hearts are all in the legs, study finds
Women with short legs are at greater risk of heart disease than those with willowy figures, a major study has concluded. Researchers studied the health of 4,000 women aged between 60 and 79 across Britain and were able to make a direct correlation between leg length and coronary heart disease.
( The Times )

Abstinence won't make the heart grow stronger, say scientists
Drinking a little of what you fancy every day is better for your health than being teetotal, a big American study has confirmed. A regular but moderate alcohol intake — a drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men — generally does more good than harm, according to an extensive review of the evidence by the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
( The Times )

Spinal cord injury treatment raises hope
The initial trial of a controversial method for treating spinal cord injuries within two weeks of an accident suggests it may be partly successful. More patients recovered some sensation and movement than would normally be expected, the company behind the trial claims.
( New Scientist )

Take a deep breath for better sex
With some pills it can take up to an hour to work the magic. But for the couple seeking something a little more spontaneous scientists have now invented an inhaler for erectile dysfunction that bears results in eight minutes. "It's a spontaneous product for a spontaneous need," says Chris Blackwell, the chief executive of British firm Vectura, which has taken seriously the rule that consumers want instant gratification and may find the wait of up to an hour with some of the older, pill-based products disconcerting.
( The Guardian )

Why it hurts less to be a man
Men may be keener to fight than women because they feel less pain. It will come as no surprise to some... men are less sensitive than women, at least to pain. Researchers have found that the male hormone testosterone masks feelings of discomfort. They believe that such tolerance effects may help men to maintain their stamina in fights, when testosterone levels are high.
( Nature )

Farmers blame wind turbines for drought
Claims that wind turbines are responsible for the three-year drought blighting parts of the sub-continent are being investigated by a group of India's most eminent scientists. Farmers in Maharashtra, a drought-ridden central state, are convinced the windmills' massive propeller-shaped blades are chopping up the clouds which bring precious rain to their fields. The claims were mainly ignored until last month when militant protesters attempted sabotage in one of the state's five turbine fields, which together hold 1,700 turbines.
( Daily Telegraph )

Marine parks can solve global fish crisis, experts say
For less than £8 billion a year - about as much as humans spend on ocean cruises - governments could protect declining world stocks of fish in a series of marine nature reserves around the globe, British scientists reported on Tuesday. Andrew Balmford of Cambridge University, Callum Roberts of the University of York and colleagues report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that that figure would be enough to protect 30 per cent of the oceans from all fishing.
( The Guardian )

How to bend it like ZZ
The awesome Zinedine Zidane free kick that marked the beginning of the end for England in their opening match of Euro 2004 was studied on Monday by scientists. Although the kick has yet to be analysed in detail, the equalising goal was blamed on a combination of an inadequate defensive wall, the ball's curl, the goalkeeper's poor view and perhaps a lack of sleep.
( Daily Telegraph )

A million mouths transform woods
Forestry experts are investigating why millions of caterpillars have stripped acres of trees bare in an ancient woodland. The invasion has left Wombwell Wood, near Barnsley, south Yorkshire, resembling a winter scene with not a leaf in sight.
( Daily Telegraph )

Mini heroes
We swat them, poison them, and squash them underfoot. Yet, without creepy-crawlies, mankind would be extinct in a matter of months. As the first National Insect Week gets under way, Steve Connor says it's high time we showed bugs more love.
( The Independent )

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