Latest research news

December 7, 2005

Race against time to study mysterious new species
A mysterious creature has been discovered deep in an endangered rainforest, the wildlife charity WWF said yesterday. The animal, which is believed to be a mammal slightly larger than a cat, has red fur and a long bushy tail and was photographed twice by a hidden camera at night. Researchers believe it could be the first new carnivorous mammal to be found on Borneo, which has one of the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth, for more than a century.
Daily Telegraph , The Times , The Guardian

Warming effect in a world without snow
The role of snow in maintaining the Earth's climate is far more important than scientists had previously thought. According to a new climate model in which researchers imagined a world without snow, not only would global temperatures rise but, bizarrely, the amount of permanently frozen land in the world would also go up. Losing every last snowflake in the world is an unlikely scenario. But global warming is expected to melt around 10-20 per cent of the world's snow in the future and, by modelling the no-snow climate, Stephen Vavrus from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was able to work out how the predicted melting would affect the planet.
The Guardian

Pre-menopause HRT 'may halt heart disease'
Taking the Pill before the menopause or starting hormone replacement therapy before menopausal symptoms arrive could help prevent heart disease in women, an American researcher said yesterday. Professor Jay Kaplan, from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Centre in North Carolina, urged women to consider boosting their oestrogen levels before they reach the menopause after studies showed its importance in preventing heart disease and osteoporosis later in life.
Daily Telegraph , The Guardian , The Scotsman

Galaxies become monsters by repeated mergers
Half of the largest galaxies near the Milky Way have undergone relatively recent mergers, suggests a new study. The research offers the first solid evidence that the most massive galaxies in the universe grew gradually - rather than in a brief growth spurt soon after the big bang. "The best-developed computer models have predicted for a long time that galaxies build up their mass slowly," says Pieter van Dokkum, an astronomer at Yale University. In the models, galaxies grow larger by repeatedly merging with others over the 13-billion year history of the universe.
New Scientist

Colour blind? No, you are just a shade different
Tests on people who are colour blind reveal that they see a variety of colours as rich as those with normal sight, research has found. Scientists investigated the most common form of colour blindness which affects six per cent of men, who are described as "green weak". They found support for an idea that dates to the Second World War that they are better at penetrating camouflage. The findings are in a study, published today in the journal Current Biology , by Professor John Mollon, Jenny Bosten and Jo Robinson, of Cambridge University, and Dr Gabriele Jordan, at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Daily Telegraph

With love at Christmas - a set of stem cells
Christmas shopping for the unborn baby has never been easy. However, stem cell technology may have brought what is possibly this year's most original gift. For a mere £1,250, it is possible to harvest stem cells from the umbilical cord at birth and store them frozen for up to 25 years. "Stem cells are not just for life - they're for Christmas," said Shamshad Ahmed, managing director of Smart Cells International, a company offering stem cell gift certificates as a new line this year.
The Guardian

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