Naturalist criticises closure of eco labs
The television naturalist Sir David Attenborough has joined in a backlash against plans by a research council to close several ecological laboratories, one of which was featured in his Life in the Undergrowth series on BBC. The laboratories at Monks Wood in Cambridgeshire, Winfrith in Dorset, Banchory in Aberdeenshire and at Oxford are being closed, together with a site at Swindon, by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology as part of a £45 million restructuring plan. The centre has decided, with the approval of its parent body, the Natural Environment Research Council, to reduce its sites from nine to four, over four years, and to cut 200 of its 600 staff. Its plans are expected to save £5 million a year.
Heart drugs 'do not cut risk of cancer'
Drugs used widely to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease do not cut the risk of cancer despite earlier claims, according to scientists. They re-analysed data from previous studies involving more than 86,000 people and found that taking statins did not reduce their chances of either developing or dying from any type of cancer.
Mystery of Mozart's skull nears solution
The century-old mystery as to whether a skull found in an Austrian basement is that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart will be solved over the weekend when experts reveal the results of DNA tests. Researchers said yesterday they would broadcast their findings on Sunday as part of a year of celebratory events marking the composer's 250th birthday
Pluto is colder than its moon Charon
Pluto is significantly colder than its largest moon, Charon, reveals the first measurement of its temperature. The disparity is probably down to the objects' different surface compositions, which may give clues as to how the pair formed. Pluto and Charon are often called a "double planet" because they are quite close in size – Charon is half as wide as Pluto – and orbit each other at a distance of only 18,000 kilometres. But until now, astronomers did not know their individual temperatures because most telescopes do not have the resolution at thermal wavelengths to distinguish the two.
Underdogs fare better in soccer
English soccer is more exciting than any of the main American team sports - and it's a team of US scientists who say so. Eli Ben-Naim of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and his colleagues say that soccer matches in the English premier league are more likely to produce upsets, with the underdog winning, than matches in the major leagues of American football, baseball, hockey and basketball.