Latest research news

July 7, 2004

Scientists get a titanic surprise at encounter with Saturn moon
Unprecendented images of the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest and most interesting moon, have been captured by the Cassini spacecraft which began orbiting the planet last week. Cassini ’s first of 45 close encounters with the moon — the only satellite in the solar system with its own atmosphere — has revealed details of its surface that have never been seen before.
( The Times )

Beagle leader denies Mars probe was 'amateurish'
The scientist who led Beagle 2 , Britain's failed attempt to land a spacecraft on Mars, yesterday denied that the mission was "amateurish". Giving evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Professor Pillinger, a space scientist at the Open University, also denied that his management of the project had been flawed and had contributed to the failure of the £45 million probe.
( Daily Telegraph )

Climate change threatens species, says archbishop
The viability of the human race is at stake because of "offences against our environment" which threaten the world with further wars and rising inequality, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said last night. He warned that in the short term the "addiction" of rich nations to fossil fuels had all the ingredients for the most "vicious kinds of global conflict - conflict now ever more likely to be intensified by the tensions around religious and cultural questions".
( The Guardian )

Climate change threat to golf
Scotland's golf courses could be destroyed by the effects of climate change, scientists said yesterday. A report by the Sports Turf Research Institute said that hot, dry summers and wet winters could lead to parched greens and waterlogged fairways.
( The Times )

Brain enzyme linked to suicide
A “suicide enzyme” has been identified in the brains of teenagers who killed themselves, American researchers have reported. The enzyme, protein kinase C, had earlier been linked with mood disorders. The findings show it is significantly less plentiful in the brains of teenagers who have committed suicide than in the brains of a comparable group who died of other causes.
( The Times )

Sugary water better than cough mixtures
Two of the main ingredients found in over-the-counter cough medicines are no more effective than taking sugary water, research has shown. A study of children with night-time coughs found that a basic syrup worked as well as dextromethorphan and diphen-hydramine, two of the most common drugs used in Britain’s £300 million cough cure industry.
( The Times )

Stone-eating bugs present monumental challenge
World-famous buildings in London once ravaged by acid rain are facing a new threat from bacteria and insects, flourishing in the capital's cleaner air, that eat into stone and wood. A €1.2 million (£805,000) study into the threats that climate change poses to Europe's heritage warns that the rising output of nitrogen oxides from cars, together with cuts in sulphur output from power stations burning coal, has created the ideal conditions for bacteria and lichen to settle and grow on the nation's best-known monuments.
( The Independent )

Hawks to combat invading seagulls
Birds of prey are to be deployed in an attempt to drive away thousands of invading seagulls from a city centre. A team of hawks will be let loose in the skies above Glasgow which have become plagued by aggressive gulls forced inland because of dwindling fish stocks.
( The Times )

Teeth show how society was shaped by old age
The lifespan of our ancestors made a dramatic leap 32,000 years ago, allowing people to grow older and wiser, according to a study of hundreds of ancient teeth that is published today. The wear on the teeth suggest that longevity more than quadrupled at that time, a jump that may have been the key factor that shaped modern civilisation. Before then lifespan had increased only steadily.
( Daily Telegraph )

Microsoft wins patent to exploit network potential of skin
In what may seem a move too far to some, the computer software giant Microsoft has been granted exclusive rights to this ability of the body to act as a computer network. Two weeks ago the company was awarded US Patent 6,754,472, which bears the title: Method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body.
( The Guardian )

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