Latest research news

June 23, 2004

X-Prize runs may have to wait
The team behind Monday's historic first private space flight is trying to work out what went wrong with the flight control system on SpaceShipOne . The craft experienced a serious anomaly between the time its motor ignited and when the vehicle reached the pinnacle of the voyage 100km above the Earth. Pilot Mike Melvill had to use a back-up system to control SpaceShipOne . The team says there will be no attempt on a $10 million space prize until it understands the fault.
( BBC News, New Scientist )

Climate film put to computer test
A worldwide experiment to test the plausibility of the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow starts on 22 June. Computer users across the world are being invited to download and run a climate model of what may happen this century. The test will see how predictions may change if the behaviour of the Gulf Stream is affected, as the film shows. The project is the work of climateprediction.net, a consortium of UK universities and the Met Office.
( BBC News )

Dogs can predict epileptic seizures
Some dogs can predict when a child will have an epileptic seizure, a study by a neurologist at Alberta Children's Hospital in Canada has revealed. Nine of the 60 dogs in the study were able to predict a seizure by licking, whimpering, or standing next to the child. These dogs were remarkably accurate, predicting 80 per cent of seizures, with no false reports.
( New Scientist )

DNA left at crime scene will reveal skin colour
Scientists have found a way to tell the eye and skin colour of a suspect from the DNA left at the scene of a crime. The colour of eyes is influenced by the interaction of several genes, according to the study published in the journal Trends in Genetics by Richard Sturm of Queensland University, Australia, and Tony Frudakis of the company Dnaprint Genomics, Florida, US.
( Daily Telegraph )

Neanderthal man was not so dumb after all
Analysis of ear bones from fossilised skulls dating back at least 350,000 years has shown that Neanderthal man's hearing was attuned to pick up the same frequencies as those used in modern human speech. Details of the study by researchers from the University of Alcalá in Spain are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
( Independent, Times )

Dyslexia causes mooted
Dyslexia and similar disabilities may be caused by a delay in the development of important regions of the brain, scientists from Northwestern University in Illinois, US, say. This indicates that early intervention with specialist teaching could be critical to limit the impact that such problems have later in life. The findings are reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
( Times )

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