Latest research news

March 1, 2006

Climate scientists issue dire warning
The Earth's temperature could rise under the impact of global warming to levels far higher than previously predicted, according to the United Nations' team of climate experts. A draft of the next influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report will tell politicians that scientists are now unable to place a reliable upper limit on how quickly the atmosphere will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase. The report draws together research over the past five years and will be presented to national governments in April and made public next year. It raises the possibility of the Earth's temperature rising well above the ceiling quoted in earlier accounts.
The Guardian

Research teams to home in on £35m animal bioscience centre
An animal bioscience research centre is to be built on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The £35 million complex will be at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Bush Estate, Penicuik, and it will also provide a new home for the Roslin Research Institute and the neuropathogenesis unit of the Institute for Animal Health. The Moredun Research Institute will share the premises and some Scottish Agricultural College researchers may work there.
The Scotsman

'Science nation' goal revealed
Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen said Scotland's future as a "science nation" was key to the country's long term economic success. Scotland ranks third in the world, ahead of the US and Germany, in terms of research publications and citations per head of the population. A Science Strategy for Scotland was launched in 2001 and a progress report out indicates that the Scottish Executive is measuring up well in its goals to compete and encourage participation and innovation in science.
The Scotsman

Astronomers discover hidden treasures in new Hubble image
The most detailed image of a distant spiral galaxy ever captured has been assembled using the Hubble Space Telescope, revealing new stellar nurseries where stars are formed. The remarkable portrait of the Pinwheel Galaxy, also known as Messier 101, has given astronomers an unprecedented opportunity to study the workings of a galaxy of similar type to our own Milky Way. An international team of astronomers pieced together the picture from 51 separate Hubble images gathered over 10 years, which were combined with observations from powerful ground-based telescopes.
The Times, New Scientist

Study sheds light on Alzheimer's
Scientists have identified the section of the brain which can cause the onset of dementia and depression when damaged. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have pinpointed a certain area of the brain which can shrink in old age and bring on conditions such as Alzheimer's. The anterior cingulate cortex, found at the centre of the brain, controls emotions. High levels of stress hormone - long associated with depression - is believed to reduce it in size.
The Scotsman

Butterflies poke holes in DNA barcodes
A study of butterflies has highlighted a hotly debated glitch in DNA barcoding, a scheme by which some researchers hope to quickly catalogue vast numbers of species. Biologists sampling Karner blue butterflies have found that genetic scans failed to identify the endangered animals. "This is clearly one case where if you were using DNA barcoding to identify units for conservation, it would be failing," says co-author Chris Nice of Texas State University in San Marcos. The Karner blue, famously first identified by the novelist Vladimir Nabokov in the 1940s, differs from related butterflies in its feeding preferences and in the patterns on its tiny wings. Over the years, the Karner blue population has dwindled to some 1 per cent of its previous numbers, leaving just a few thousand individuals in the northeastern United States.
Nature

For a long life, drink cocoa and think positive
A cup of cocoa and a sunny outlook can help lengthen life, according to two studies of elderly Dutchmen. In a study of 470 men aged 65 to 84, those with the highest cocoa consumption were half as likely to die from cardiovascular disease as others. The research, in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine , suggests that the cocoa may be beneficial because it is a rich source of antioxidants, which mop up free radicals.
The Daily Telegraph, New Scientist

Chip in tooth - scientists point way to new identity tag
It is the ID card you will never lose or forget to carry with you - unless your teeth fall out. Scientists have implanted an ID chip into a tooth to show how detailed personal information can be stored. The scientists say the tooth chip will be useful to forensic scientists trying to identify bodies after natural disasters and terrorist attacks with numerous victims. They say it will also have advantages over a simple identity card. "You put your ID card in your pocket, we put it in a tooth," said Patrick Thevissen, a forensic odontologist at the Catholic University of Leuvenin in Belgium.
The Guardian

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