Latest research news

March 2, 2005

Nanoscopic 'ruler' could provide microchip benchmark
A nanoscopic measuring device that uses atomic lattices to gauge tiny distances could enable microelectronics engineers to build better components, say US scientists. The "nanoruler" was developed by researchers at the US government's National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, and industry collaborators. They say it will enable researchers and engineers working on nanoscale objects to calibrate their instruments more precisely, resulting in greater accuracy in their work.
New Scientist

Teams solve structure of key HIV proteins
Shape-shifting HIV has many tricks for evading the immune system, which makes developing a vaccine particularly challenging. But researchers are beginning to gain ground: independent teams have solved the structure of two key proteins, providing crucial information about the AIDS-causing virus. Although the virus stimulates the immune system to produce many antibodies, it has a highly variable protective membrane that allows it to evade the attack and survive in the body long term. This causes a major problem for developing an HIV vaccine.
Nature

You may not need sleeping pills
New research shows drug-free techniques are more effective. For the insomniac, night promises not the bliss of restorative sleep but hours of watching the clock as the dream of a good sleep eludes us. But researchers at Loughborough University have developed a drug-free programme of treatment that they claim could virtually eliminate insomnia. In a study funded by the National Institute for Mental Health, Professor Kevin Morgan and colleagues at Loughborough’s sleep research centre have shown that psychological tools and behaviour therapy are far more effective at inducing restful nights than tranquillisers.
The Times

Scientists beam in on particles that helped shape the universe
They are one of the most common particles in the universe. You are no doubt oblivious to the 1,000 trillion of them flying through you every second and the 100 million or so that your own body produces every day. In fact, these mysterious particles are so elusive that it would take 10 light years of solid lead to stop one of them. And scientists know next to nothing about them. Welcome to the blurry world of neutrinos.
The Guardian

Ministers say no to nano centre funding
The government has rejected academics' calls for funding for a new nanotechnology centre, but has accepted that more research is needed to allow it to implement a sensible regulatory structure. Responding to the proposals in research it commissioned itself, the Department of Trade and Industry's Office of Science and Technology did agree to a review of safety regulations to assess the impact of the "science of the very small" on public health and the environment.
The Guardian

Top scientist defends data that he says point strongly to life on Mars.
Formaldehyde has been found in the martian atmosphere, according to a senior scientist working with the Mars Express orbiter. If correct, the discovery provides strong evidence that Mars is either extremely geologically active, or harbouring colonies of microbial life. But many experts are not yet convinced. The claim comes from Vittorio Formisano, who is in charge of the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer on the European Space Agency's orbiter. The spectrometer analyses infrared light, whose frequencies carry the fingerprints of chemicals in the atmosphere.
Nature

Cannabis may help prevent Alzheimer's memory loss
Scientists at one of Spain's leading research centres claimed yesterday to have found evidence that cannabis helps prevent the memory loss experienced by people suffering from Alzheimer's. The potential breakthrough in understanding a disease that affects nearly half a million people in Britain, and around nine million worldwide, was made by a team led by María de Ceballos at the Cajal Institute in Madrid.
The Guardian

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