Today's news

December 15, 2006

Many animal tests are badly flawed, say scientists
The real value of animal experiments is questioned today by a team of senior scientists who found that many are flawed and do not predict how well a prototype medicine will work in humans. The new paper, published in the British Medical Journal , is likely to be seized on by the animal rights lobby as substantiation for their case to stop all experiments. Their case was bolstered by the disaster of the Northwick Park clinical trial, where a drug that had been safe in animals had catastrophic side-effects in the human volunteers.
The Guardian

Appetite for language costs South Korea dear
South Koreans are spending $15.3 billion (£17.8 billion) a year on private English lessons, according to a report by the country's leading economic think-tank. But while Koreans appears to have an insatiable appetite for education, they remain hampered by low self-esteem as linguists. The Economics of English report was published by the Samsung Economic Research Institute last month. It claims that total expenditure on language learning accounts for 1.9 per cent of South Korea's gross domestic product.
The Guardian

Vegetarianism: the choice of the 'more intelligent' child
It's official - vegetarians really are smarter. But it is not because of what they eat. Bright children are more likely to reject meat and opt to become vegetarians when they grow up, a study has shown. Researchers from the University of Southampton suggest that vegetarians are more thoughtful about what they eat. But they say it is unclear whether bright children choose to become vegetarians for the health benefits or for other reasons, such as a concern for animals, or as a lifestyle choice.
The Independent

Stardust shines new light on the solar system
Stardust that dates from before the Sun was born, and which was collected from a comet’s tail, has the scientific world in a state of ferment. After 4.57 billion years drifting through space, a thousand grains of stardust are forcing scientists to reassess their theories on how the solar system was created. They were captured from the tail of the Wild 2 comet in 2004 by a Nasa space probe, which landed on Earth with its unique payload in January, after a journey of 2.88 billion miles. The probe was equiped with 132 ice cube-sized cells of aerogel - a porous, silcon-based solid - to catch the dust.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, New Scientist

HRT may hold key to fall in breast-cancer rate
Breast cancer rates in America dropped dramatically in 2003. Experts suggested yesterday that the unexpected finding could be the result of women giving up hormone replacement therapy and the Pill. The figures presented to a breast cancer conference in Texas showed a fall of 7.2 per cent in that year, against a background of rising breast cancer rates over many years in Western countries, including Britain. Researchers had expected to see about 200,000 new cases of breast cancer but instead there were 14,000 fewer.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Honorary degree for TV festival co-founder
The man who co-founded the Edinburgh TV Festival has been presented with an honorary degree by Napier University. John Gray, who is also former chief assistant of BBC Scotland, was made an honorary doctor of arts by the faculty of engineering, computing and creative industries. Mr Gray co-founded the Edinburgh TV Festival in 1976, and four years later founded the Radio Academy Festival. He started his career in the 1930s with the General Post Office Film Unit working on documentaries.
The Scotsman

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