Latest research news

November 2, 2005

Southampton fire expected to cost £50m
The bill for damage caused by a fire that wrecked a leading computer and electronics research facility at Southampton University is likely to reach £50 million, it emerged today. The fire tore through the university's Mountbatten Building early yesterday morning, completely destroying a clean room for dealing with delicate optic fibres and a microfabrication room for constructing silicon chips. Staff in neighbouring offices do not yet know how much damage has been done to their work.
The Guardian

Why male mice feel urge to break out into song
Research by a team of neuroscientists has revealed that male mice construct complex songs and sing them for minutes at a time when they come across sex pheromones produced by potential mates. The songs are not audible to the human ear because they are too high frequency and although scientists knew mice emitted ultrasonic chirps, recordings of the noises had never been fully analysed.
The Guardian, Nature, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, New Scientist

Yoghurt 'could cut MRSA'
Washing hands with yoghurt might help to stem the spread of MRSA in hospitals, a specialist said yesterday. Professor Mark Spigelman, of the centre for infectious disease at University College London, said thorough washing with ordinary soap and then dipping the hands into a solution that contains good bacteria, such as that found in yoghurt, might have advantages. He said washing hands in antiseptics could be killing good bacteria, leaving space for MRSA to settle.
The Daily Telegraph

Experts in £2.6m test to make animals less stressed
Scientists from Edinburgh University are to spend £2.6 million trying to discover what makes animals stressed. Researchers say that by studying the emotions of farm animals during pregnancy they hope to get an insight into the mental experiences, pain and physical health of farm and laboratory animals. Scientists will look at the way early life events like exposure to stress in the womb or premature birth have long-term effects on animals' offspring.
The Scotsman

Mirror can trick your brain into easing pain
People with unexplained pain in an arm or leg may be helped by exercising the unaffected limb in front of a mirror, scientists have reported. The method has the effect of tricking the brain and stopping pain in the affected limb. Researchers at the University of Bath say that "complex regional pain syndrome" experienced by 10,000 to 20,000 Britons is often felt after a fracture. Although the bone has healed, people continue to experience pain.
The Daily Telegraph

Gut reactions may rumble a liar
Liars could be caught out by the reaction of their stomachs to telling untruths, suggests preliminary research from the University of Texas, US. The team believe that the early-stage technique could one day improve the accuracy of polygraph tests, which rely mostly on monitoring heart activity. “The heart is unreliable because it’s affected by not only by your brain, but by many other factors, such as hormones,” says Pankaj Pasricha, who is leading the team. “The gut has a mind of its own - literally. It has its own well-developed nervous system that acts independently of almost everything except your unconscious brain.”
New Scientist

Why a teenage clock ticks so late
The teenage dislike of early bedtimes may not be just an act of adolescent rebellion, but a symptom of changes to the body’s biological clock, research suggests. Scientists have found that a person’s “sleep pressure” rate - the biological trigger that causes sleepiness - slows down in adolescence, explaining the reluctance of teenagers to sleep until later at night. The study, published in the journal Sleep, suggests that as children mature, their internal, chemically driven pressure to sleep builds up more slowly.
The Times

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