Latest research news

May 4, 2005

Putting tranquillity on the map
Want to get away from it all? If you live in the north-east, the answer could be at hand. Researchers from the universities of Newcastle and Northumbria have created the first maps of areas of tranquillity in the region. The lead researcher, Dr Rob MacFarlane of Northumbria University, says: "Tranquillity mapping is not an entirely new technique, but when it's been done before it's been expert-oriented, with people sitting round a table deciding which areas are most tranquil by their distance from a main road, and so on.”
The Guardian

Database aims to keep track of asthma at work
Scientists have developed the first database in Scotland to monitor the problem of asthma in the workplace, it emerged today. Researchers at Aberdeen University aim to establish the number of cases of occupational asthma, bronchitis and rhinitis in the north-east of Scotland. Chest physicians will be asked to input online specific details about patients who suffer from the conditions. Patients will be given a follow-up questionnaire after six months.
The Scotsman

Fruit and veg diet best for beating cholesterol
A low-fat diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is twice as successful at lowering cholesterol than a low-fat diet alone, new research shows. Christopher Gardner, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, California, and lead author for the study, said yesterday that too much attention had been paid by doctors to what not to eat, rather than emphasising beneficial foods.
The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, The Daily Mail

Body's defences let HIV thrive
A quirk of the immune system that helps HIV to evade its clutches has been identified, suggesting a new approach to designing vaccines against the virus that triggers Aids. Research in the United States indicates that HIV survives because antibodies that would kill it are destroyed by the body’s own defences. Efforts to develop an effective HIV vaccine have foundered because they prime the immune system to produce an antibody against a single strain. The virus mutates into forms that escape this defence.
The Times

Declining EU soil quality poses threat to farming
European agriculture is under threat as the quality of soil worsens. More than 16 per cent of the European Union's land is affected by soil degradation, but in the accession countries more than a third is affected, according to the first Soil Atlas of Europe, published last week. Arwyn Jones, research scientist at the EU's Joint Research Centre, which produced the atlas, said: "Agriculture depends on healthy soil. But changes in farming, land use and climate are threatening the health of soil in many areas. As the atlas points out, we owe our existence to a thin layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains."
The Financial Times

New generation with no cause to rebel
No longer single-minded in their pursuit of hedonistic pleasure, Britain's 17 to 24-year-olds are focusing on more responsible goals and ambitions, according to research. Prof Frank Furedi, of the department of sociology at the University of Kent, said there was a powerful "anti risk, anti experimentation" culture developing which was making young people far too conformist. "Even a gap year has become institutionalised," he said. "When I was younger, we just used to take off for a year travelling abroad. Now young people go on a special scheme that their parents have paid for.”
The Daily Telegraph

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