Today's news

March 2, 2004

Brown promises billions to science
Gordon Brown will make science and engineering the centrepiece of this summer’s spending round, announcing a policy review in the Budget to identify investment priorities. The chancellor has decided that although this will be the toughest spending round since 1998, billions of pounds more will be ploughed into the science base to try to make Britain the most attractive location for research in the world.
( Times , Guardian , FT )

Gay US bishop cancels Oxford Union debate
Gene Robinson, the gay American bishop, has withdrawn from speaking at the Oxford Union debating society next week. The announcement led to speculation that he had been ordered not to reopen the furore over his appointment as bishop of New Hampshire in November.
( Guardian )

Nasa to reveal 'significant' evidence of Martian water
Space scientists plan to make a "significant" announcement today about their mission on Mars with speculation last night they would announced new evidence Mars was a wet and warm planet, capable of sustaining microscopic life.
( Independent )

Comet-chasing spacecraft blasts off
Europe's comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft finally lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana, at 0717 GMT on 2 March - five days after its scheduled launch date.
( New Scientist )

£33m deal to save Murray literary archive
A £33 million deal has been agreed to save Britain's greatest private literary archive, which includes the original manuscripts of works by Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott and Benjamin Disraeli and more than 150,000 letters. The archive assembled by the publishers John Murray will be bought by the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, provided the Heritage Lottery Fund approves its £22 million grant application.
( Daily Telegraph )

Rival says Atkins diet can make you depressed
The Atkins diet, which replaces bread and pasta with steaks and eggs, is likely to make many people - and especially women - irritable and depressed, according to researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They have found that when we stop eating carbohydrate our brains stop producing serotonin, the chemical in the brain that elevates mood and suppresses appetite.
( Guardian )

Eden grows GM tomatoes
There were red faces at the ecologically-correct Eden Project, Cornwall's runaway tourist attraction, when staff discovered they had been growing a group of genetically modified tomatoes by mistake. Twenty-five seeds, not approved for planting in this country, were received in a batch ordered by the futuristic botanical garden from the University of California, Davis, which thought it was sending a non-GM variety.
( Daily Telegraph )

Scientists unscramble genes of chicken
The genetic code of the domestic chicken has been mapped by a team of international scientists. It could eventually help efforts to prevent the emergence and spread of strains of bird flu. The map also shows the genetic variation between different breeds.
( Times )

Veni, vidi, veggie...
Roman gladiators were overweight vegetarians who lived on barley and beans, according to a scientific study of the largest gladiator graveyard discovered. Analysis of the bones of more than 70 gladiators recently found near Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia Minor, puts paid to traditional Hollywood images of macho carnivores with the physique of boxers.
( Daily Telegraph )

Asteroid predates dinosaurs' extinction
The theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a huge asteroid that struck Mexico 65 million years ago has been called into question by research. Fresh analysis of rock cores drilled from the Chicxulub crater, in the Yucatán peninsula, suggests that it predates the extinction of the dinosaurs by 300,000 years.
( Times )

Book explores reason behind the rhyme
Jack and Jill went up in the hill anxious to lose their virginity, according to a social historian who has published a book documenting the real stories behind the nation's favourite nursery rhymes. Chris Roberts, a librarian at the University of East London, claims the nursery rhymes we all grew up with are full of sex, disease and royal scandal.
( Guardian , Daily Telegraph )

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