Latest research news

August 4, 2004

Nasa launches first mercury mission in three decades

Nasa launched its first mission to the planet Mercury in a generation early on Tuesday, one that scientists hope will strip away much of the mystery surrounding the tiny planet closest to the sun. The Messenger spacecraft, riding a Boeing Co Delta 2 rocket, blazed across the nighttime sky above Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as the mission got underway with lift off at 2:16 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
( Reuters )

Warning to patients on cancer therapies
Misleading advice on complementary therapy available on the internet is putting thousands of cancer patients at risk, according to a leading scientist. Professor Edzard Ernst, of the Peninsula Medical School at Exeter University, holds the UK's only chair in complementary medicine. He told a press briefing on Monday that patients need to exercise more caution when looking for information on the web.
( The Guardian )

Flu in pregnancy raises risk of schizophrenia
Children of women who contract flu during the first months of pregnancy are more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life, scientists have discovered. Research in the United States has provided the strongest evidence yet for the theory that schizophrenia is often linked to prenatal exposure to the influenza virus.
( The Times )
Gulf allies 'all faced chemical exposure'
US investigators researching illnesses suffered by veterans of the first Gulf war on Monday insisted that all troops and civilians in the area might have been exposed to low levels of chemical agents.
( The Guardian )

Low mineral levels linked to childhood wheezing
Babies exposed to high levels of iron and selenium in the womb are less likely to develop wheezing and eczema in early childhood, a study has found. A team of researchers from King’s College London and Bristol University investigated nearly 3,000 babies born in the Bristol area in the 1990s and followed as part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.
( The Times )
Man-made virus targets brain cancer
An experimaental gene therapy treatment for patients with an aggressive and incurable type of brain tumour was given the go-ahead yesterday. The Gene Therapy Advisory Committee approved a clinical trial that involves injecting the herpes simplex virus into the tumours of more than 100 patients with glioma.
( The Times )
Acid rain not all bad
Acid rain can benefit the environment by blocking one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, scientists said yesterday. Research led by Vincent Gauci, from the Open University's department of earth sciences, shows that the sulphur in acid rain dramatically reduces the natural production of methane, responsible for an estimated 22% of the greenhouse effect that is causing global warming.
( The Guardian )

Bustard back for shock therapy
The world’s heaviest flying bird was due back back in Britain last night — after a 172-year absence. Britain’s population of great bustards was wiped out in 1832 through recreational shooting, but a group of 30 three-week old chicks, bred wild in Russia’s Saratov region, were being flown to Heathrow in the hope that the species can be reintroduced.
( The Times )

Early fish hit land to be better predators
Our distant fishy ancestors first hauled themselves on to land in order to warm up in the Sun. A team at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, says that basking would have provided an energy boost that made the fish more agile in the water, improving their chances of snaring prey. It was also an evolutionary milestone that heralded the rise of all land vertebrates, including us.
( New Scientist )
When is a wasp not a wasp? When it's a hoverfly
Millions of marmalade hoverflies have crossed from the continent on warm thermals, causing havoc on beaches and seafronts where children and families have mistaken their banded black-and-yellow colouring for wasps.
( The Guardian )

A heavy nettle hero
"Everybody laughs at me when I'm weeding my nettles," says Professor Ray Harwood as he picks the burrs from his trousers, the result of a recent session. "They think it's just a weed. But they're worth their weight in gold." Harwood believes that the future lies in the common stinging nettle, urtica dioica . As professor of the textile engineering and materials research group at Leicester's De Montfort University, he is involved in the first contemporary British project to develop nettles as a fabric.
( The Independent )

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