Latest research news

October 6, 2004

Nobel scientists savour success of smell
Two American scientists who solved the mystery of the sense of smell were on Monday rewarded with the 2004 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Richard Axel, of Columbia University in New York, and Linda Buck, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, shared the top honour in science for discovering the genes that allow us to appreciate fine wines and the scent of flowers.
The Times

Private spaceship wins $10m for breaking the final frontier - twice
A stubby rocket plane touched down safely in the Mojave desert on Monday to claim a dual prize: the first private, crewed spacecraft to fly two successful missions within two weeks, and a $10m (£5.6m) prize for doing so. SpaceShipOne , piloted by Brian Binnie, was launched at 8am local time from the belly of a carrier plane in midair. It then accelerated to three times the speed of sound and rose to an altitude of 62 miles, generally agreed to be the height at which space begins and the Earth's atmosphere ends. It landed 30 minutes later.
The Independent

Taste for G&T is all in the genes
The secret of why human beings have a taste for gin and tonic while chimpanzees do not may lie in the genes. Scientists have discovered that genes governing the taste of bitterness are subtly different in people and their closest animal relatives. The findings, by the Nestlé Research Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland, suggest that the sense of taste is an adaptation that can evolve relatively quickly to help animals to find nutritious food and avoid poisons.
The Times

Wind farms 'grounded by air safety fears'
Nearly half of all wind farm applications are rejected on civil aviation air safety grounds, raising fears that the Government will fail to meet targets for a significan increase in renewable energy. Air traffic controllers often veto preliminary applications for new wind farms because radar screens cannot differentiate between aircraft and the turbines.
The Times

Ban on hunting the endangered black rhino lifted
A decades-old ban on hunting the critically endangered black rhinoceros was lifted yesterday at an international convention in Bangkok. Namibia and South Africa were each granted the right to issue five export permits a year to trophy hunters, despite opposition from conservation groups.
Daily Telegraph

Invaders threaten UK ladybirds
British ladybirds are at serious risk because of a voracious foreign ladybird species that has just arrived in the UK, says a leading entomologist. The arrival of the harlequin, an Asian species that has killed many insects in the US and other countries where it has been introduced, is a "disaster", according to Britain's principal ladybird expert, Michael Majerus, of Cambridge University's genetics department.

Sex is a simple equation
Looking for a perfect lover? Mathematics could be the answer. Most women's idea of a scientific approach to love does not extend beyond the horoscope pages. But a mathematician, Clio Cresswell, believes the answers to some of the big questions lie in mind-bending equations. After years of research, she is explaining her theories on finding the perfect relationship in her new book, Mathematics and Sex .

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