Latest research news

November 22, 2006

Universities to get extra money for giving places to the poor
Britain’s elite research universities were warned last night that they could forfeit millions of pounds in a shake-up of higher education. David Eastwood, head of England’s university funding council, says that in future, universities admitting a large number of students from poor backgrounds were likely to receive as much public funding as those that concentrate on research. The shift will make it harder for middle-class students to get places at university. At present almost a third (32 per cent) of all research funding goes to just five institutions: Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Imperial and University College London. These admit among the lowest number of students from poor backgrounds.
The Times

Chimps 'prefer older lovers'
Older, more mature female chimpanzees are seen as more attractive than their younger peers, and are more likely to be fought over by toy boys, according to research on the dating habits of their male counterparts. The discovery that males lust after older females as mates is probably a consequence of how apes are much more promiscuous when compared with humans. It also suggests that the preference of human males for young females emerged some time after we shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees some five to seven million years ago.
The Daily Telegraph

Could lack of oxygen trigger Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's disease has a range of disparate risk factors, but researchers may now have found one underlying cause that links them all: a lack of oxygen. Previous studies have shown that diabetes, stroke, clogged arteries and ageing all increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Only 5 per cent of cases appear to have been strongly influenced by genetic factors. Now evidence has emerged that lack of oxygen may be the ultimate cause.
New Scientist

Edible cotton breakthrough may help feed the world
Cotton that has been genetically engineered so its seed is no longer toxic could provide protein-rich food for poor countries. The researchers say the technology used could make other toxic plants safe to eat. Cottonseed contains about 22 per cent protein, and the cotton already produced worldwide has enough protein to meet the requirements of 500 million people. But it also contains the toxin gossypol, making it poisonous to animals, including humans.
New Scientist, Nature

Warming speeds species die off, says study
Animal and plant species have begun dying off or changing sooner than predicted because of global warming, a review of hundreds of research studies contends. These fast-moving adaptations come as a surprise even to biologists and ecologists because they are occurring so rapidly. At least 70 species of frogs, mostly mountain-dwellers that had nowhere to go to escape the creeping heat, have gone extinct because of climate change, the analysis says. The review of 866 scientific studies is summed up in the journal Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics .
The Guardian

Tempers fly over flat-packs
More than 40 per cent of people who assemble flat-pack furniture lose their temper before finishing the job, a study revealed today. The research, led by Dr Miles Richardson of Derby University, questioned 1,295 people who had attempted to build anything from shelving units to coffee tables. The results showed that 67 per cent admitted getting into difficulty, 33 per cent misread or misunderstood the instructions and 13 per cent managed to damage the item before they finished constructing it.
The Scotsman

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