Latest research news

May 25, 2005

Scientists to probe upper atmosphere
Scientists are to examine the highest and least known part of our atmosphere in an attempt to investigate climate change, it emerged today . Using a new research radar based in the Antarctic, the team of scientists will probe the mesosphere which is found 50-62 miles above the Earth. Temperatures in the mesosphere can drop to as low as –130 degrees Centigrade and the region’s very low air pressure make it impossible to fly aircraft and even weather balloons at that height. The scientists working on the joint project between the University of Bath and the British Antarctic Survey will explore the region using remote sensing.
The Scotsman

Research at your fingertips
Social science research will become more accessible and reach new audiences after the launch of a website by the Economic and Social Research Council. “Many of the biggest challenges facing us in the 21st century are social science issues,” says Ian Diamond, the chief executive of the ESRC. The site provides “plain-English” summaries of research papers from the UK and overseas covering a range of social and economic issues that range from crime, education and the environment to pensions and productivity.
The Times

Milk 'can combat heart disease'
A diet rich in milk may protect people from heart disease and strokes, says a study published today. Researchers who studied the diets and health of men over a 20-year period found that those who drank a lot of milk were 12 per cent less likely to have a heart attack and almost half as likely to suffer a stroke. The authors of the study - published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health - suggest that the widespread perception that milk increases the risk of heart disease is inaccurate.
The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail

Researchers launch animal testing inquiry
An inquiry into the use of monkeys in medical and biological research - and whether they can be replaced - was launched today by four leading UK research bodies. The wide-ranging inquiry, chaired by Sir David Weatherall, former Regius professor of medicine at Oxford, will gather evidence from animal rights campaigners as well as animal researchers, but is primarily aimed at establishing the scientific basis for using non-human primates in research in the light of recent rapid developments.
The Guardian

Instead of Sainsbury
The election malarkey over, it is a familiar face we find in charge of the science budget. Lord Sainsbury, of the eponymous supermarket chain, has agreed to stay in Whitehall as science and innovation minister, putting on hold - for now at least - persistent speculation about stepping down to sort out the family business. The fact that Sainsbury is staying will be welcomed by the big cheeses of the research world - the vice-chancellors and lab directors. During his seven-year reign, there have been three consecutive budget boosts for science.
The Guardian

Speed cameras' effect on crashes 'exaggerated'
Researchers have questioned the ability of speed cameras to reduce crashes on accident blackspots. Dr Linda Mountain, who led a University of Liverpool research team which investigated 149 blackspots across the UK, claimed the case for cameras on 30mph roads had been "exaggerated". The team also looked at the impact of other speed reduction measures, but only humps in the road were found to have a "significant" impact. Dr Mountain, whose research was funded by a government body, said: "Speed humps and cushions had a significant impact on fatal and serious accidents but cameras didn't.”
The Scotsman

Smoking harms lungs of babies in the womb
Children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy may be born with breathing problems, doctors said today. Scientists have discovered that damage can be done to a child's lungs while it is still in the womb. It was already known that the children of smokers tended to be significantly lighter and smaller at birth. But now researchers at the Institute of Child Health have proved that smoking in pregnancy leads to babies being born with smaller airways - on average with a 20 per cent reduced airflow.
The Evening Standard

Toxic shock
Modern life contains many hazards, but you would think that a tin of tomatoes would be a 100 per cent healthy option: all that lovely lycopene, plus one point towards your five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. However, research suggests that when the tin has a white lining, the chemicals in the epoxy resin used to make such lining can contaminate our bodies, and this is just one of a host of seemingly innocuous household products - from sofas to televisions - that emit such harmful chemicals. Although scientists are not unanimous over the exact effects of these chemicals, it has been suggested that they can affect unborn babies and wildlife, disrupt hormones, and even cause cancer.
The Independent

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