How the Boxing Day quake made new tremor inevitable
The earthquake of magnitude 8.7 that struck off the coast of Sumatra on Monday fulfilled many of the worst fears of scientists, who predicted just ten days ago that faults in the region were primed to deliver another big quake. The latest earthquake appears to have followed precisely the pattern set out by researchers at the University of Ulster, who forecast that the quake that caused the Boxing Day tsunami had destabilised two neighbouring fault lines.
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman
British scheme to map cancer genome wins backing from US
The success of a small British project to map the genes that cause tumours has convinced the world’s largest funder of cancer research to begin a global hunt for the genetic roots of the disease. The achievements of the £36 million Cancer Genome Project, at the Sanger Institute, near Cambridge, have so impressed an expert committee advising the United States National Cancer Institute that it has recommended a similar scheme on a dramatically larger scale.
Trials on way for new GM rice
British scientists have developed a genetically modified strain of rice they believe could combat childhood blindness and prevent deaths due to vitamin A deficiency. The plant is an improved version of "golden rice", a GM crop released five years ago that is enriched in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. The release of golden rice met with widespread criticism from anti-GM groups, which claimed it did not contain enough beta-carotene to have any beneficial effect.
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph
Curse of mummy to be uncovered by medical check-up
Ancient Egyptian mummies on display in museums and stately homes are beginning to offer up their secrets to modern medicine. Scientists have taken samples of tissue from more than 1,000 mummies to build a medical map revealing the way that disease has evolved over 5,000 years. Egyptologists at the KNH centre for biomedical Egyptology at Manchester University have been charting the evolution of schistosomiasis, more commonly known as bilharzia, from antiquity to the modern day.
Protein discovery offers hope for cat allergy sufferers
A new chemical protein, part-cat and part-human, holds out hope for the millions brought out in rashes or sneezing fits whenever they go near a cat, researchers in America reported yesterday. Scientists, writing in the April issue of Nature, said their approach in creating the compound may work against more dangerous allergies, such as the potentially fatal reaction in some to peanuts.
The Daily Telegraph
Row over fire-safety 'threat'
One of Scotland’s leading science academics has launched a withering attack on the environment group WWF, claiming a campaign to eradicate flame-retardant chemicals from consumer products "could endanger lives rather than save them". Professor Anthony Trewavas, a microbiologist at the University of Edinburgh, warns that if WWF succeeds in its campaign to regulate and restrict the use of chemicals used in household furnishings, families and children will be placed at much greater risk, with more household fires likely to result in an increase in deaths and disfigurements.
Robot surgeons could be sent to treat battle troops
Frontline battlefield first aid could be carried out by robots capable of performing full surgery in unmanned "trauma pods" within a decade. The Pentagon yesterday awarded $12 million (£6.6 million) in grants to research the project which could transform combat medicine for wounded soldiers. Researchers who convinced the United States’ defence department of the wisdom of the proposals have prepared a futuristic "concept video" that seems straight out of a computer game, illustrating how robots in unmanned vehicles could operate on soldiers under enemy fire and then evacuate them.
There's a quicker way to get into shape
It is music to the ears of the time-crunched and the gym-shy: researchers have found that when it comes to shaping up and shedding the pounds, quick workouts are as effective as hours spent exercising. In a study conducted by sport scientists at the University of Glamorgan in South Wales, it was found that fitness enthusiasts who cut the time of their gym sessions by up to two thirds achieved the same results as those who plugged away for longer.
The Daily Telegraph