Latest research news

November 30, 2005

Secret of bees' flight revealed
The flight of the humble bee was once so baffling that mathematicians famously concluded it was impossible. But using high-speed cameras and a scale model robot scientists have at last worked out the secret that helps bees stay aloft. Most flying insects flap their wings using long, sweeping strokes, but honeybees take a less efficient approach. Even though it is a less stable way to fly, honeybees flap their wings more furiously and with a shorter stroke than other insects, producing just enough force to lift their bodies. The scientists believe bees developed the unusual style to cope with the varying demands they face during flight. When foraging for nectar, they are at their lightest, but when laden with pollen, or carrying larvae, they can weigh twice as much.
The Guardian, New Scientist

How the brain builds its image of the body
Scientists have identified the region of the brain that is responsible for the way people view their bodies. The parietal cortex generates the body image, and disruption of the region's normal functioning could play a role in conditions such as anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder, in which people grossly over or underestimate their body size, researchers believe. The researchers, led by Henrik Ehrsson, a neuroscientist at University College London, scanned volunteers' brains while carrying out an illusion that made them think their waists were shrinking.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

Fat bottoms blunt effect of a jab in the rear
Injections may not work on some people because their bottoms are too big, researchers said yesterday. Many vaccines and other medications are administered by a jab in the rear. But doctors have found that needles cannot penetrate the excess bottom fat of many patients, particularly women. To be effective, the drug has to be injected into the underlying muscle. Dr Victoria Chan, who led the research at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin, said: "Our study has demonstrated that a majority of people, especially women, are not getting the proper dosage from injections to the buttocks.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Pollutants link to rise in diabetes cases
The dramatic rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes could be driven in part by exposure to pollutants as well as obesity, according to a study published yesterday. A link has emerged between the disease and exposure to high levels of persistent organochlorine pollutants, which are most likely to come from eating fatty fish such as salmon and herring from the Baltic. However, the professor who led the Scandinavian study of the families of fishermen emphasised that more research was required on the wider implications. Type 2 diabetes is usually found in older people and complications include heart disease, stroke and blindness.
The Daily Telegraph

Study backs bird vaccination
Large-scale vaccination of poultry is a viable way of preventing the spread of avian flu, a study has found. Research in the Netherlands has shown that vaccines against highly pathogenic strains of influenza can protect chickens against illness and death brought on by infection, as well as preventing further transmission of the virus. Though the findings, from a team at the Central Institute for Animal Disease Control and Wageningen University, relate to the H7 strain of flu and not the H5N1 type currently causing global concern, they support the idea that vaccination is a practical weapon against avian influenza.
The Times

Study group spends £40,000 on proving that a hangover hurts
It reads like a fantasy concocted by a student: scientists give group of young people money to go out and get drunk on the understanding that they return the next day to report how they feel. But this is no fantasy. Academics at Glasgow Caledonian University spent £40,000 proving that hangovers make you feel tired and impede concentration. Some people found the study anything but amusing, accusing the Government quango concerned of wasting taxpayers' money.
The Independent

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