Science news from the Guardian

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Science | The Guardian

Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016

Latest Science news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Last feed update: Wednesday June 29th, 2016 07:24:05 AM

Zika virus vaccine for animals brings hope for human protection

Tuesday June 28th, 2016 03:00:12 PM Ian Sample Science editor
Trial version in US giving successful immunisation to mice could help fight disease, but complications warned for those who have contracted dengue feverAn experimental vaccine that completely protects animals from the Zika virus has raised hopes for a jab that can bring the fast-spreading disease under control.Trials in the US found that a single immunisation shot made from a purified and inactivated form of the Zika virus gave mice total protection against the illness that has swept through Brazil and other parts of South America. Continue reading...

Having your partner for dinner? Mantis cannibalism boosts fertility – study

Tuesday June 28th, 2016 11:01:50 PM Nicola Davis
Research finds species of female praying mantises who eat males after sex produce greater number of eggs than those who do notDeath by cannibalism might seem like a high price to pay for a fleeting moment of passion, but male praying mantises are doing it for the kids, new research suggests.Scientists have discovered that female praying mantises who eat their mates after sex produce a greater number of eggs than those who do not, with the bodies of the ill-fated males used to aid their production. Continue reading...

Juno probe closes in on Jupiter after five-year journey from Earth

Sunday June 26th, 2016 11:40:59 AM Press Association
To complete its mission Nasa spacecraft must survive circuit-frying radiation storm generated by gas giant’s magnetic fieldScientists are preparing for a bumpy ride as they send a spacecraft perilously close to Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system.The Juno probe is due to reach the gas giant on 4 July after a five-year, 1.4bn-mile journey from Earth. Continue reading...

Prof Brian Cox criticises ‘nonsensical’ university speaking bans

Tuesday June 28th, 2016 06:01:07 AM John Plunkett
Scientist and presenter attacks ‘growing intolerance’, no-platforming and ‘deeply flawed’ national conversationThe BBC’s best-known science presenter, Prof Brian Cox, has criticised the “growing intolerance” of no-platform speaking bans at universities and colleges, describing them as “nonsensical”.The Wonders of the Universe presenter also attacked the “deeply flawed … national conversation” which he said meant people were unwilling or unable to change their minds on issues such as the European Union. Continue reading...

Why bad ideas refuse to die | Steven Poole

Tuesday June 28th, 2016 05:00:06 AM Steven Poole
They may have been disproved by science or dismissed as ridiculous, but some foolish beliefs endure. In theory they should wither away – but it’s not that simpleIn January 2016, the rapper BoB took to Twitter to tell his fans that the Earth is really flat. “A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’,” he acknowledged, “but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know … grow up.” At length the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson joined in the conversation, offering friendly corrections to BoB’s zany proofs of non-globism, and finishing with a sarcastic compliment: “Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music.”Actually, it’s a lot more than five centuries regressed. Contrary to what we often hear, people didn’t think the Earth was flat right up until Columbus sailed to the Americas. In ancient Greece, the philosophers Pythagoras and Parmenides had already recognised that the Earth was spherical. Aristotle pointed out that you could see some stars in Egypt and Cyprus that were not visible at more northerly latitudes, and also that the Earth casts a curved shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse. The Earth, he concluded with impeccable logic, must be round. Continue reading...

Beyond Cameron and Corbyn: what makes a good leader? Dean Burnett

Monday June 27th, 2016 12:26:22 PM Dean Burnett
Brexit has resulted in a PM set to resign and an opposition leader under threat. Within a few months, the leaders of the UK will look completely different. But, psychologically speaking, what makes a good leader? And why?Less than a week on from the EU referendum and still the disastrous consequences rain down upon us like angry red-hot turds from God’s own backside. It has, if you’ll forgive the record-breaking understatement, put the UK in a bit of a pickle. One consequence is that the prime minister has promised to resign. Never ones to look at a burning building without wanting to douse their own floorboards with kerosene and take up fire eating, Labour are currently undergoing a revolt against Jeremy Corbyn. It’s not all meltdowns; Nicola Sturgeon seems to be doing Scotland proud. Also, Tim Farron has promised the Lib Dems will campaign on a pro-EU ticket in the (possibly imminent) general election. Nice, but in 2016 it’s like having the Microsoft paperclip pop up and offer to help you; appreciated, but the initial reaction is “I’d forgotten you existed”. Continue reading...

Do women stay cooler under stress than men?

Sunday June 26th, 2016 05:00:05 AM Therese Huston
Men and women make very different decisions under pressure. But who loses their head?Mara Mather and researchers at the University of Southern California were curious to see if stress changes how people make decisions. They asked subjects to play a computer game: the goal was to make as much money as they could by inflating virtual balloons. As the animated balloon got bigger, you won more money. You could cash out at any time. If a balloon exploded, if you went one pump too far, then you received no cash for that popped balloon – and you couldn’t predict how many pumps it would take: it was entirely random.Did men and women behave all that differently in the game? Not when they were relaxed. But add stress to the equation and we see something different. Researchers asked subjects to hold their hand in painfully cold water to raise their heart rate and blood pressure. Women in this stressed state stopped inflating the balloons sooner, pumping 18% less than the relaxed women – they chose to take the sure win over the higher risk. Stressed men did just the opposite. They kept pumping – in one study averaging about 50% more pumps before calling it quits. Continue reading...

Brexit big blow to UK science, say top British scientists

Friday June 24th, 2016 05:47:40 PM Ian Sample Science editor
Leave vote sparks concerns over losing £1bn a year in funding and closing doors on researchers from EU countries Senior scientists in Britain have reacted with dismay to the nation’s collective decision to walk away from a European Union that hands them nearly £1bn a year for research, and sends to their laboratories some of the most brilliant minds in the world.The leave vote prompted immediate concerns for the future of staff and students from non-UK member states already at work in Britain, and the impact the result could have on the ability of leading institutions to attract the best overseas talent to the country. Continue reading...

Will your driverless car be willing to kill you to save the lives of others?

Thursday June 23rd, 2016 06:00:03 PM Ian Sample Science editor
Survey reveals the moral dilemma of programming autonomous vehicles: should they hit pedestrians or avoid and risk the lives of occupants?There’s a chance it could bring the mood down. Having chosen your shiny new driverless car, only one question remains on the order form: in what circumstances should your spangly, futuristic vehicle be willing to kill you?To buyers more accustomed to talking models and colours, the query might sound untoward. But for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles (AVs), the dilemma it poses is real. If a driverless car is about to hit a pedestrian, should it swerve and risk killing its occupants? Continue reading...

Crafty yoghurts: can your tastebuds be tricked? – video

Monday June 27th, 2016 12:08:26 PM Ekaterina Ochagavia, Ian Anderson and Paul Boyd
Studies have proven that colour plays a vital role in setting our expectations of taste and flavour in foods. But what happens when colour defies expectation? We put food colouring into vanilla yoghurt and challenged people to guess the flavour. Will they all be duped or might someone see through our ruse? Continue reading...

The search for planet Earth's twin – podcast

Friday June 24th, 2016 06:00:05 AM Ian Sample, Iain Chalmers and Stuart Clark
Ian Sample talks to Stuart Clarke about his new book exploring exoplanets and alien worlds, and how to find another EarthMany of the thousands of alien worlds discovered around distant stars are unlike anything in our solar system. Some face perpetual hurricane-force winds; others have not one, but two suns.But some of these planets do have striking similarities to those in our own cosmic neighbourhood. Could an Earth-like planet capable of harbouring life be one of our next discoveries? Continue reading...

Lab notes: Tim Peake on falling back to Earth, 'baby' planets and driverless cars

Friday June 24th, 2016 11:28:58 AM Tash Reith-Banks and Sajid Shaikh
Ground control to major Tim: how does it feel? “I was told that it would stop with a big jolt as the main chute opened, but in our case, it didn’t,” said Tim Peake as he recalled the moment when he feared his spacecraft’s main parachute had failed to open. In related news, the discovery of two “baby” planets this week (awww) is exciting for a number of reasons, not least because they’re still developing, giving us “a glimpse of planet formation as it occurs”. And finally, researchers explore the moral dilemma of programming driverless cars. Continue reading...

You can eat vegetables from Mars, say scientists after crop experiment

Friday June 24th, 2016 01:21:24 AM Staff and agencies in The Hague
Dutch researchers successfully raise radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes in soil mixed to match that of the red planet – giving hope that settlers could grow foodCrops of four vegetables and cereals grown in soil similar to that on Mars have been found safe to eat by Dutch scientists.Radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes grown on dirt mixed on Earth to copy that of the red planet were found to contain “no dangerous levels” of heavy metals, said the team from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Continue reading...

Biology would leave the Game of Thrones dragons grounded

Thursday June 23rd, 2016 03:01:44 PM Dr Dave Hone
As part of the Game of Thrones blog carnival, Dave Hone takes a look at whether Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons could fly if they were realThe dragons from the Game of Thrones books and TV series are, sadly, a fiction but that does not mean they are not worthy of some serious (OK, semi-serious) scientific thought and musings. Certainly they are not the most unlikely animals that scientists have seriously suggested could fly as made famous by the proposition in 1920 that Stegosaurus could take to the air (yes, that Stegosaurus, the one with the plates). Fictional creations in science fiction and fantasy can certainly be instructive and a great launch point for discussion and thoughts about what might be possible or plausible in reality. Many ideas and concepts have appeared in fiction before serious scientists looked at them, and some have been provided a real inspiration for later research and technological developments. With that in mind, just how plausible are these animals, in particular given their huge size? Continue reading...

Augmented eternity: scientists aim to let us speak from beyond the grave

Thursday June 23rd, 2016 11:00:09 AM Dan Tynan in San Francisco
Advances in artificial intelligence could give us digital immortality, distilling a lifetime’s worth of online presence into a deathless version of ourselvesWould you like a version of yourself to live on after death? A radical new concept called “augmented eternity” could make that fantasy a reality, creating a posthumous impression of our knowledge, opinions and even parts of our personality in digital form.Researchers at the MIT Media Lab and Ryerson University in Toronto believe that by applying artificial intelligence to all the data we produce each day, we may be able to transfer our thoughts to a virtual entity that not only survives our physical demise but continues to learn as new information is plugged into it. Continue reading...

Genetic link uncovered in sudden cardiac deaths in young people

Wednesday June 22nd, 2016 11:21:33 PM Australian Associated Press
Australian researchers find 27% of unexplained deaths have a genetic mutation, findings which could open the way for preventative treatment for existing family Australian research into the sudden cardiac deaths of thousands of young Australians and New Zealanders has uncovered a genetic link, which will be used to prevent further deaths for high-risk family members.A new study led by Sydney cardiologist Professor Chris Semsarian from the University of Sydney, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals a genetic link to many unexplained cases of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Continue reading...

How technology made us hyper-capable – and helpless | Jonathan Coopersmith

Thursday June 23rd, 2016 11:00:10 AM Jonathan Coopersmith
Tech enables us to do more while understanding less. That’s fine, until there’s a glitch – which is why the US navy is teaching sailors how to navigate by the starsThe smartphone in your hand enables you to record a video, edit it and send it around the world. With your phone, you can navigate in cities, buy a car, track your vital signs and accomplish thousands of other tasks. And so?Each of those activities used to demand learning specific skills and acquiring the necessary resources to do them. Making a film? First, get a movie camera and the supporting technologies (film, lights, editing equipment). Second, learn how to use them and hire a crew. Third, shoot the movie. Fourth, develop and edit the film. Fifth, make copies and distribute them. Continue reading...

The secret of taste: why we like what we like | Tom Vanderbilt

Wednesday June 22nd, 2016 05:00:27 AM Tom Vanderbilt
How does a song we dislike at first hearing become a favourite? And when we try to look different, how come we end up looking like everyone else?If you had asked me, when I was 10, to forecast my life as an adult, I would probably have sketched out something like this: I would be driving a Trans Am, a Corvette, or some other muscle car. My house would boast a mammoth collection of pinball machines. I would sip sophisticated drinks (like Baileys Irish Cream), read Robert Ludlum novels, and blast Van Halen while sitting in an easy chair wearing sunglasses. Now that I am at a point to actually be able to realise every one of these feverishly envisioned tastes, they hold zero interest (well, perhaps the pinball machines in a weak moment).It was not just that my 10-year-old self could not predict whom I would become but that I was incapable of imagining that my tastes could undergo such wholesale change. How could I know what I would want if I did not know who I would be? Continue reading...

Tim Peake: I feared main parachute had failed when we fell to Earth

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 02:34:20 PM Ian Sample Science editor
British astronaut relives fretful moment of re-entry journey from ISS as he calls on UK to support human spaceflightTim Peake has spoken of the fleeting moment when he feared his spacecraft’s main parachute had failed to open as he plummeted back to Earth.Crammed into the tiny Soyuz capsule with two crewmates from the International Space Station, Peake watched the clock tick past the time when the main parachute was meant to deploy with a reassuring tug. Continue reading...

Discovery of Roman coins in Devon redraws map of empire

Wednesday June 22nd, 2016 10:06:23 AM Steven Morris
Archaeologists find coins, pottery and stretch of road in Ipplepen, beyond what was thought to be limit of Roman influenceThe discovery of a few muddy coins in a Devon paddock by a pair of amateur metal detector enthusiasts has led to the redrawing of the boundary of the Roman empire in south-west Britain.Previously it had been thought that Ancient Rome’s influence did not stretch beyond Exeter but the find has resulted in a major archaeological dig that has unearthed more coins, a stretch of Roman road and the remnants of vessels from France and the Mediterranean once full of wine, olive oil and garum – fish sauce. Continue reading...

Widow to take fight to save frozen embryos to court

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 05:59:47 PM Ian Sample Science editor
Samantha and Clive Jefferies had been about to start fertility treatment with embryos when army veteran died suddenlyThe widow of a Falklands war combat medic will go to the high court on Wednesday in an effort to prevent the couple’s frozen embryos from being destroyed.Samantha Jefferies, 42, and her husband Clive were about to start fertility treatment with embryos they had created when he died suddenly in 2014 from a brain haemorrhage. He was 51 years old. Continue reading...

Embrace your inner Ziggy Stardust – the power of personas in therapy

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 02:56:07 PM Oliver James
Creating different personalities can be key to personal growth. We could all learn a lot from David BowieIt’s a commonplace that we are different people in different social roles – mother, worker, friend, lover. We put on a face to meet the faces that we meet. Creating new personas, or using ones from other settings, is important in order to flourish.David Bowie’s life is a powerful illustration of how we can be more conscious of which persona should be the host of the radio show, so to speak. Three of his aunts and his half-brother had mental health issues. Bowie’s consequent fear of insanity stalked him during the years of his greatest creations, between 1969 and 1973. It suffused his lyrics and was expressed in his stage personas. Continue reading...

Discovery of 'baby' planets sheds light on planet and solar system formation

Monday June 20th, 2016 03:00:01 PM Nicola Davis
Scientists believe the bodies - one a planet larger than Neptune, the other a young, ‘hot Jupiter’ - are among the youngest ever detectedTwo “baby” planets have been found orbiting close to young stars, providing new insights into how planets and solar systems form, scientists say. The planets, just a few million years old, are among the youngest ever to be discovered. Reported by two separate teams of researchers, they are both are giant planets which take around five days to orbit their stars. Continue reading...

Portable ultrasound for brain injuries could save soldiers and civilians

Monday June 20th, 2016 12:36:21 PM Ian Sample Science editor
Laptop-sized device can be used to spot hidden brain injuries or bleeding and allow speedy emergency interventions to reduce long-term damageA portable ultrasound system that can detect bleeding in the brain could help save the lives of soldiers on the battlefield and people living in remote communities far from well-equipped hospitals.Researchers in Scotland have created software for existing ultrasound scanners that allows the devices to be used by medics with no formal training in diagnosing brain injuries. Continue reading...

'Silent epidemic' of chronic pain affects nearly 28 million in UK, study suggests

Monday June 20th, 2016 10:30:02 PM Nicola Davis
Review finds women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men, while prevalence was generally found to increase with ageChronic pain affects more than two fifths of the UK population, meaning that around 28 million adults are living with pain that has lasted for three months or longer, a new study reveals. The authors estimate that almost 44% of the population experience chronic pain, with up to 14.3% living with chronic pain that is either moderately or severely disabling. Continue reading...

Tim Peake nursing 'world's worst hangover' after six months in space

Monday June 20th, 2016 01:42:32 PM Press Association
British astronaut experiencing dizziness and vertigo as he readjusts to Earth and begins intensive rehabilitation in GermanyBritish astronaut Tim Peake is experiencing the “world’s worst hangover” after spending six months in space.Now back on Earth at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, he faces three weeks of rehabilitation during which he will undergo a barrage of medical tests and maintain a strict exercise regime. Continue reading...

Breast cancer cell growth halted by osteoporosis drug, study shows

Monday June 20th, 2016 03:40:44 PM Ian Sample Science editor
A trial in mice has shown that the drug denosumab could become a preventative breast cancer treatment for women with BRCA1 gene mutationsWomen who have a high risk of breast cancer may benefit from a drug that is already prescribed to treat bone loss in old age, according to scientists in Australia.Researchers found that the osteoporosis drug, denosumab, can halt the growth of cells which give rise to breast tumours in women whose risk of the disease is greater because of mutations in a gene called BRCA1. Continue reading...

Breakthrough in understanding the chills and thrills of musical rapture

Friday June 17th, 2016 01:34:51 PM Ian Sample Science editor
How certain pieces of music send tingles up the spine has stumped researchers for centuries, but a recent brain scan study may have provided some cluesThe skin comes out in goosebumps and tingles run up the spine. But how particular pieces of music can induce such rapturous effects in people has stumped researchers for centuries.With the passing of time comes new technology though, and suitably equipped with modern brain scanning equipment, scientists may now have made some headway. Continue reading...

Hannah Fry: ‘There’s a mathematical angle to almost anything’

Sunday June 19th, 2016 07:30:02 AM Kit Buchan
Politics, the badger cull, trainspotting, the psychic powers of Paul the octopus – maths comes into it all, says the TV and radio presenterDr Hannah Fry is quickly becoming the UK’s best-known mathematician, having appeared as an expert and presenter on BBC4’s Climate Change by Numbers, Radio 4’s The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, and City in the Sky, an in-depth study of the aviation industry, currently on BBC2. Far from being a mere pop scientist, however, Fry is a much-published researcher and a lecturer at UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), where she specialises in the mathematics of urban and social systems. After gaining her PhD in fluid dynamics five years ago, she has published papers combining mathematics with criminology and architecture, as well as her 2015 book The Mathematics of Love, which applies statistical and data-scientific models to dating, sex and marriage. The accompanying TED talk has been viewed nearly 4 million times.In City in the Sky, you look at the maths behind the aviation industry. Are you concerned about the way that industry is expanding?Passenger numbers are set to double over the next 20 years, so there are definitely challenges facing the industry. We do have a section [in the show] looking at where air travel might go in the future: electric-powered planes is one thing and smaller planes are more efficient, surprisingly. It is astonishing that there are a million people in the air at any one time and sustaining that does require international co-operation on a scale that you really don’t see in other settings. Continue reading...

Second chance saloon: the power of old ideas - podcast

Friday June 17th, 2016 06:45:02 AM Ian Sample, Iain Chambers and Steven Poole
Why do ideas discarded for centuries, like electric cars, return to the cutting edge of science and technology? Steven Poole’s new book Rethink shows what we can learn by considering obsolete ideas from a new perspective, drawing on examples from military strategy and psychotherapy to chess and morphic resonance.Ideas given a second chance include electric cars, panpsychism, and teleology. Continue reading...

Lab notes: a great week for physics, archaeology and ... frogs

Friday June 17th, 2016 12:39:20 PM Tash Reith-Banks
A ripple in the fabric of spactime sent the science community wild in February, and now we know it wasn’t a one-off: this week LIGO scientists announced that a second gravitational wave has been detected, stemming from the collision of two black holes over a billion years ago. Archaeologists were also popping opening the bubbly as they announced the discovery of not one, but a series of vast medieval cities hidden beneath Cambodia’s jungle. There’s some great video of it as well. On a lighter note, the news we were all really waiting for: the unique mating position of Bombay night frogs has finally been revealed. Continue reading...

Do crowds really make the best decisions? I found out using scotch

Friday June 24th, 2016 11:01:21 AM Martin Robbins
To find out whether the ‘wisdom of crowds’ is real, I asked people on Twitter to guess the weight of my scotch. With Britons voting in a referendum to leave the EU, their responses speak volumes about the ability of populations to find the right answersLet me tell you the most boringly overused statistical anecdote ever. In 1906, an ox was butchered at a fair in Plymouth. 800 people present were asked to guess it’s weight, and you will literally not be amazed when you hear what happen next. From the Victorian polymath Francis Galton, who wrote about the event, we know that average of the crowd’s estimates was within a gnat’s bingo wings of the true figure – 1207 pounds versus 1198.Fast forward about a century, and James Surowiecki popularized the concept of ‘the wisdom of crowds’ in his book of the same name. The basic idea is this: if you get a large number of people, and you ask them to answer certain types of question – usually ones involving estimation, general knowledge and spatial reasoning - the average of their answers will be as good as or better than any one of them. The theory is that random individual errors cancel each other out, while collectively the crowd acts as a kind of fishing net to gather lots of little bits of information that accumulate to guide the result. Continue reading...

Frozen in time: fossil plant stem cells | Susannah Lydon

Wednesday June 22nd, 2016 12:56:05 PM Susannah Lydon
The anatomy of ancient roots pushes the boundaries of palaeobiology, pointing to more diverse root biology than previously understoodMost palaeontologists tend not to think about cells too much. Our world is dominated by the parts of living things that preserve well, and on a human scale: teeth, bones, shells, or (in my case) the bits of plants which best survive the processes of decay and preservation. Soft part preservation is highly unusual, and cell-scale detail is incredibly rare. Yet it is what soft parts do that most of biology focuses on, from molecules up to ecosystems. If we want to reconstruct lost worlds, we need to think about all these scales.Where we do see cellular detail, it is thanks to permineralisation, a mode of preservation where mineral-rich fluids infiltrate the cells of an organism before decay can take hold. If you have seen a polished slice of petrified wood, with its tree rings clearly visible and beautifully preserved, you have seen a permineralised fossil. Microbial fossils, found in some of the oldest rocks on the planet, are the most ancient direct evidence of life on Earth, and by their very nature, show us cell-scale detail. Continue reading...

The blood is up but my head and heart agree – I'm voting Remain

Wednesday June 22nd, 2016 06:50:51 AM Stephen Curry
The EU referendum has stirred the blood of the UK body politic as never before. It is up to us to ensure a positive outcomeAt 5:30 pm tomorrow I will make my way to the annexe room at our local library to give blood. The appointment was fixed months ago so the fact that it falls on the same day as the vote in the EU referendum is just a coincidence. But as the 23rd of June has approached and the campaigns intensified, being scarred lately by lies and xenophobia, and then disfigured horribly by the brutal killing of MP Jo Cox, the symbolic aspects of the vote and the donation have come to seem fused.I used to give blood when I was a student but, during my peripatetic early career working as a research assistant in Grenoble, Surrey and Boston (USA), I got out of the habit and only picked it up again a few years ago. I’m no great fan of needles, but as long as I look away I can cope with being pricked and drained of a pint of the red stuff. It’s for a good cause, though giving blood is clearly also an act of reciprocity: should I be in need one day, I hope the NHS will have the donations of others to treat me. Continue reading...

Stop blaming mental illness for violent crimes | Dean Burnett

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 10:43:54 AM Dean Burnett
Mental health problems are often blamed for violent crimes, but this is often just a deflection based on needless prejudice Whenever a violent crime occurs, one thing that happens with depressing inevitability is the accusation that the perpetrator was mentally ill. Continue reading...

If Britain leaves Europe, we could be leaving the space race too

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 10:28:54 AM Clare Moody, MEP
Britain has achieved more in space exploration by being a member of the EU says Clare Moody, MEP. And that has economic benefits for allBritain, long dormant in the space race, has recently taken up its full role in space science. It has done this through the EU space programmes and the European Space Agency. As a nation, we fete Tim Peake, launched by a European team to the International Space Station; and the landing of Rosetta’s Philae probe on a comet 500 million miles away. These things and so much more are the product of a collaboration of European technologies and science. It is proof positive of the ability of space to inspire. Continue reading...

Making NHS data public is not the same as making it accessible – we can and should do better

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 06:45:01 AM Christina Pagel and David Spiegelhalter
How should we explain hospital statistics to the parents of potential patients? Christina Pagel and David Spiegelhalter’s website helps make sense of themKnowing your child needs heart surgery is daunting for any parent. Being able to reassure yourself that survival rates at your child’s hospital are in line with UK’s very high standards could help ease at least some of the anxiety. But would parents know where to look and if they did find them, how easy are the statistics to understand?The NHS is increasingly publishing statistics about the surgery it undertakes, following on from a movement kickstarted by the Bristol Inquiry in the late 1990s into deaths of children after heart surgery. Ever more health data is being collected, and more transparent and open sharing of hospital summary data and outcomes has the power to transform the quality of NHS services further, even beyond the great improvements that have already been made. Continue reading...

Did you solve it? Are you smarter than Andy Murray?

Monday June 20th, 2016 04:00:42 PM Alex Bellos
Did you ace today’s tennis puzzles?Earlier today I set you the following three puzzles: Continue reading...

Can you solve it? Are you smarter than Andy Murray?

Monday June 20th, 2016 05:15:02 AM Alex Bellos
Three tennis puzzlesUPDATE: Click here for the answers.Hello guzzlers,To celebrate Andy Murray’s triumph at Queen’s yesterday, and in anticipation of Wimbledon, which starts next week, lets smash some neurons around the grass court of your brains. Continue reading...

Nasa ignites huge Mars rocket with fiery test in Utah desert

Wednesday June 29th, 2016 05:48:05 AM Staff and agencies
Larger version of solid rocket booster used on shuttle will form part of Space Launch System propelling astronauts beyond Earth’s orbitNasa has successfully tested a huge rocket motor that will one day propel astronauts out of Earth’s orbit and towards Mars.It was the second and final test-firing of the solid rocket booster designed for Nasa’s Space Launch System (SLS). The debut launch from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in 2018 will not carry people, but a few years later astronauts are scheduled to climb aboard for a flight near the moon. Continue reading...

UK light pollution 'causing spring to come a week earlier'

Wednesday June 29th, 2016 05:01:58 AM Anna Menin
Report is the first to examine the impact of artificial night-lighting on the seasonal behaviour of plants on a national scaleLight pollution is causing spring to come at least a week earlier in the UK, a new study has revealed.The report, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that budburst in trees occurs up to 7.5 days earlier in brighter areas, with later-budding species being more affected. Continue reading...

Bedroom where Charles Darwin died to be opened to the public

Tuesday June 28th, 2016 11:01:50 PM Press Association
English Heritage has closely matched the original appearance of the room at Down House, Kent, in the late 1850sThe bedroom in which Charles Darwin died has been recreated after more than a century, and is due to open to the public. Working from family letters, a detailed inventory, descriptions from the time, paint analysis and research into mid-Victorian interior design, the charity English Heritage has closely matched the original appearance of the room at Down House, Kent, in the late 1850s. Visitors will now be able to see the room where Darwin, father of evolutionary biology, died in 1882, and for 20 years before that enjoyed reading and resting, recovered from illnesses and looked out on his garden experiments from the bay window. Continue reading...

Huge helium gas find in east Africa averts medical shortage

Tuesday June 28th, 2016 10:50:01 PM Ian Sample Science editor
The natural store of helium found in the Rift valley in Tanzania contains an estimated 54bn cubic feet of the noble gas The discovery of a vast reserve of helium in east Africa has allayed fears of a global shortage of the precious gas crucial for the running of brain scanners, major scientific facilities, and parties that require floating balloons and squeaky voices.According to independent analysts, the natural store of helium found in the Rift valley in Tanzania contains an estimated 54bn cubic feet of the noble gas, enough to inflate a similar number of party balloons, or to fill 1,200,000 hospital MRI scanners, researchers said. Continue reading...

Statins controversy led 200,000 people to stop taking pills, says study

Tuesday June 28th, 2016 10:30:50 PM Sarah Boseley Health editor
Authors say there could be 2,000 extra heart attacks or strokes in next decade after research cast doubt on pills’ effectivenessThe public controversy over statins after a leading medical journal ran articles questioning their use will have prompted an estimated 200,000 people in the UK to stop taking the pills in a six-month period, according to researchers.The authors of a study funded by the British Heart Foundation say there could be 2,000 extra heart attacks or strokes over the following 10 years as a consequence, but say it is impossible to be certain. Continue reading...

Museum marks Somme centenary with tribute to 'inglorious wounded'

Tuesday June 28th, 2016 03:38:20 PM Maev Kennedy
Science Museum counts human and medical cost of injuries sustained during conflicts past and present Related: Somme trench recreated in Welsh castle to salute battle's centenary Scraps of ribbons, figurines and toys, and religious medals are among a collection of charms carried by soldiers a century ago at the Battle of the Somme that will go on display in an exhibition at the Science Museum on Wednesday. Continue reading...

Climate change: John Hewson accuses Coalition of 'national disgrace'

Sunday June 26th, 2016 05:04:22 AM Michael Slezak
Former Liberal leader says climate should be dominant issue of election campaign rather than ‘short-term politicking’ The former Liberal leader John Hewson addressed an estimated 2000 people protesting in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay – minutes from Malcolm Turnbull’s harbourside mansion – calling on the prime minister to take stronger action on climate change.Speaking at the same time as Turnbull addressed the party faithful at the Coalition’s campaign launch, Hewson told protesters the Coalition’s lack of action on climate change was a “national disgrace”. Continue reading...

Great Barrier Reef: scientists ask Malcolm Turnbull to curb fossil fuel use

Sunday June 26th, 2016 04:46:13 AM Associated Press
International Society for Reef Studies presidents say prime minister should prioritise reef after ‘devastating’ damageAs the largest international gathering of coral reef experts comes to a close, scientists have written to the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, calling for action to save the world’s reefs.The letter was sent to Turnbull on Saturday imploring his government to do more to conserve the nation’s reefs and curb fossil fuel consumption. Continue reading...

Douglas Coupland seeks Van Gogh lookalikes for art project

Friday June 24th, 2016 11:45:03 AM Mark Brown Arts correspondent
Generation X author offers €5,000 prize to person who most closely resembles red-haired painterDo you have a serious, grimly determined face, red hair and a beard? Do people swear you’ve got the look of Vincent van Gogh? If so, you can help the novelist and artist Douglas Coupland as he explores genetics and globalisation.Coupland, best known as the author of the 1991 novel Generation X, is searching for the world’s closest lookalike to Van Gogh and is offering a €5,000 prize. Continue reading...

Beijing has fallen: China's capital sinking by 11cm a year, satellite study warns

Friday June 24th, 2016 12:04:55 AM Stuart Leavenworth in Beijing
Pumping of groundwater blamed for causing soil to collapse as development roars ahead above, with railways among infrastructure at risk, say scientists China’s capital is known for its horrendous smog and occasional sandstorms. Yet one of its major environmental threats lies underground: Beijing is sinking.Excessive pumping of groundwater is causing the geology under the city to collapse, according to a new study using satellite imagery that reveals parts of Beijing – particularly its central business district – are subsiding each year by as much as 11 centimetres, or more than four inches. Continue reading...

Am I a psychopath? You asked Google – here’s the answer | David Shariatmadari

Wednesday June 29th, 2016 06:30:00 AM David Shariatmadari
Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queriesAre psychopaths trendy? Does saying “I have psychopathic tendencies” pass the dinner table test? Is this merely the latest debilitating condition to be reimagined as a fascinating quirk, à la “I’m a little bit OCD”? If so, popular non-fiction might be to blame. In 2011, Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test introduced millions of readers to a checklist, devised by psychologist Robert Hare, that scores people on a range of psychopathic traits. A year later, Kevin Dutton’s The Wisdom of Psychopaths advanced the idea that we all sit somewhere on a psychopathic spectrum, and that aspects of psychopathy can be harnessed for good. ME Thomas used an alternative term to describe her superficial charm and lack of empathy in Confessions of a Sociopath. Hare’s own own book, Snakes in Suits, written with psychologist Paul Babiak, examines the success of the psychopath in corporate settings. Continue reading...

Nasa successfully tests rocket designed to take humans to Mars – video

Wednesday June 29th, 2016 05:43:09 AM Guardian Staff
Nasa carried out a successful test on a rocket booster in Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday. The booster is intended to form part of the mission that will see the first human exploration of Mars. The rocket’s first outing will be an unmanned journey, set to launch in 2018, but it is hoped that astronauts could be on their way to the red planet in the 2030s. Continue reading...

Twinkle will cast a weather eye on far-flung planets

Thursday June 23rd, 2016 08:30:06 PM Stuart Clark
Independent UK mission hopes to analyse the atmospheres of distant worlds using off-the-shelf componentsTwinkle is a small mission with big ambitions. Designed to reveal the chemical composition, weather and history of planets orbiting distant stars, it will involve building and launching a space telescope before 2019.Twinkle is an independent mission proposed by UK scientists and engineers. It will be built in the UK, and this month it passed a key design milestone. Continue reading...

Analysing the sound of thunderstorms

Sunday June 26th, 2016 08:30:24 PM Kate Ravilious
Weatherwatch: Meteorologists are counting ‘thunder days’ – and checking they’re not hearing jet planes or fireworksRumbles of thunder have been performing multiple symphonies in the skies recently. Already the UK has clocked up more than its average quota of thunderstorms for a whole year. Normally, the most thunder-prone region – London and the south-east – would expect to have 15 to 19 days when thunder is heard, but by mid-June that number had already been exceeded. However, recognising the sound of thunder isn’t always easy.For more than 100 years, meteorologists across the UK have noted the days on which they hear a rumble of thunder. These “thunder days” make an invaluable contribution to understanding global warming and changes in the weather. But sometimes observers can be conned into thinking they heard thunder, when in fact the rumble was a jet plane passing over, or a firework exploding. Continue reading...

Starwatch: The July night sky

Sunday June 26th, 2016 08:30:24 PM Alan Pickup
What to look out for in the night sky over the month aheadOur notes for June concluded with advice to watch for noctilucent clouds low in the N sky between the NW after dusk and the NE before dawn. This proved timely, for the first decent display of these “night shining” electric-blue clouds of ice were sighted widely from Britain within a couple of days and there have been others since. Expect more until mid-August.Although the Sun has turned southwards, Britain’s summer twilight is slow to subside and we must wait until late in July to savour true darkness with no interfering moonlight. Continue reading...

Samphire, tiny defender of sea-ravaged coastlines

Thursday June 23rd, 2016 06:00:03 AM Paul Simons
Known as a culinary delicacy, this coastal plant plays an important role in saltmarshes – a powerful buffer against erosion from pounding wavesSamphire is a juicy green shoot eaten as a delicacy with fish dishes. It has a briny taste because it grows in saltwater. After the summer solstice is the traditional start of the samphire harvest. The shoots are picked at dawn each day on mudflats along the coast and river estuaries, especially in the Wash of Norfolk, and then rushed to market. Continue reading...

Omega block is nature's secret weapon

Thursday June 16th, 2016 08:30:28 PM David Hambling
The mechanism that brought floods to the Ile de France and a prolonged heatwave to the American Midwest is still not fully understoodAn omega block might sound like a comic-book secret weapon, but it is a genuine meteorological effect, and was responsible for extensive flooding in Europe last month.An omega block is an extreme version of a “blocking high”, an area of high pressure which remains stationary for a prolonged period. It gets its name from the way that the jet stream bends around the high and the lows on either side of it, forming a shape resembling the Greek letter omega – Ω. Continue reading...

Democracy is far too important to be the preserve of the elite | Giles Fraser: Loose canon

Thursday June 23rd, 2016 03:59:38 PM Giles Fraser
The EU referendum has led some to claim big decisions should only be made by intellectuals and elites. But gut instincts should play a huge part in how we voteTowards the end of CS Lewis’s The Silver Chair there is a fascinating little exchange between a rather dour marsh-wiggle called Puddleglum and a brilliant sorceress that has imprisoned him and his friends below ground. Tightening her grip on their minds, the witch tries to convince Puddleglum that there is no such thing as above ground, that Narnia and Aslan are all fantasies, that his quest for something better is hopeless. The friends are close to being persuaded when Puddleglum finds some inner strength to resist. His argument is stuttering. He admits that maybe he’s wrong and a dreamer. Yet his made-up world feels a lot more inspiring than the apparently real one described by the witch. “That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”I write in half-defence of what is now being called “post-truth politics”. In half-defence only because – obviously – I’m not enthusiastic about defending Trump-like liars and political frauds, or the idea that people in power can say anything they like regardless of its truth. But still, there is something about Puddleglum’s answer that represents a noble suspicion of what is asserted as established and uncontestable reality by intellectual elites. Continue reading...

Am I a perfectionist? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Linda Blair

Wednesday June 22nd, 2016 07:00:29 AM Linda Blair
Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queriesIf you’re asking this question, you’re probably also wondering if perfectionism can ever be a good thing.Perfectionists are those who strive for flawlessness, for a perfect creation, outcome or performance. They set excessively high standards. They’re harshly critical in their evaluations both of themselves and of others, and they’re highly concerned about the way others evaluate them and their work. They find compromise challenging – either something is done to their own high and exacting prescription or it’s regarded as a total failure. They find it difficult to delegate, even if that means neglecting their health, relationships and wellbeing in pursuit of a “perfect” outcome. They also find it difficult to forget about a past mistake or a situation in which they feel they failed – and as a result, they’re often plagued by feelings of guilt and regret. Continue reading...

Disgust – how Donald Trump and Brexit campaigners win votes

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 12:56:00 PM Arwa Mahdawi
Irrational feelings of disgust can cloud our moral judgment. It’s time to get wise to politicians who provoke them to gain powerWhat do Donald Trump, “moist”, and Pantone 448 C have in common? They all demonstrate the powerful sway that disgust has over us.The word “disgust” is overused, and is not well understood. It is one of the most powerful biological responses we have. It shapes how we think, feel and behave far more than we realise. It permeates and perverts politics, exercises an insidious influence on our laws, and helps trigger tragedies. Disgust at two men kissing, combined with self-disgust at his own homosexual feelings, motivated a gunman in Orlando to kill 49 people. And Donald Trump’s knack for triggering conservative America’s revulsion has helped propel him to his present political success. Continue reading...

The Guardian view on genetics: engineer, but with ethics | Editorial

Sunday June 19th, 2016 07:48:15 PM Editorial
The ability to manipulate DNA is advancing with breathtaking speed – and breathtaking potential. There is no argument for stuffing the genie back in the bottle, but we must proceed alert to the risks of accident and abuseThe confluence of technology and imagination is what drives science forward, sometimes at astonishing speed. This has been especially true of biology since the structure of DNA was elucidated by Crick and Watson in 1953. The discovery of the chemical basis of life meant that it could be manipulated directly, by chemistry, rather than slowly and indirectly by selective breeding. But, of course, man came late to this game. Viruses had been attacking and subverting DNA for billions of years, and organisms have been defending themselves against such subversion for just as long. Slowly we have learned to find and appropriate the weapons of that long war and turn them to our own purposes. We now have access to tools of astonishing power and precision for the editing of DNA. At the same time we are able to manufacture the substance through pure chemistry. It’s possible to glimpse a future in which DNA engineering becomes something as relatively simple as software engineering, and its products become as easy to use.Easy to use is not at all the same as safe. We have refined our nuclear engineering to the point where unimaginable destruction could be released at the press of a single button. Genetic engineering is not as spectacular, but it might have military applications almost as devastating – even if it were never used directly on humans. The results of a malevolent or a simply flawed experiment could devastate food supplies, weaken disease resistance or increase the virulence of existing pathogens. Entire ecosystems could be destroyed by thoughtless tinkering. This is not an entirely new threat. We have been doing that for millennia now: the history of the settlement of the Americas is (among other things) a ghastly chronicle of ecological destruction, the extermination of animal species, and the use of biological warfare against other human groups. So there is no reserve of natural goodness or moral luck which we can rely on to protect us against such dangers now that they are greater and closer than ever before in history. What will be needed is a profound sense of responsibility towards the planet and towards our fellow human beings. Continue reading...

Tim Peake feared main parachute had failed on return to Earth – video

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 12:32:37 PM Guardian Staff
British astronaut Tim Peake says he’d love to go to the moon for his next mission. He was giving his first press conference since returning back to Earth three days ago at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne. He said he’d go back to space in a heartbeat and added that he’d already discussed the idea with his wife. He refused to say which way he would vote in the EU referendum. Photograph: PA Continue reading...

Pink sky at night: your photos of the strawberry moon

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 11:05:46 AM James Walsh and Guardian readers
Whether at Stonehenge or in their back gardens, Guardian readers shared their pictures of the glorious strawberry moon during the summer solstice Continue reading...

Astronaut Tim Peake says return to Earth 'like world's worst hangover' – video

Monday June 20th, 2016 11:09:44 AM Guardian Staff
Tim Peake says adjusting to life back on Earth after spending six months in space is like having the world’s worst hangover. The British astronaut landed safely in Kazakhstan on Saturday inside a Soyuz capsule, alongside a US and Russian cosmonaut in Kazakhstan. Photograph: Stephane Corvaja/ESA/PA Continue reading...

Astronaut Tim Peake returns to Earth - in pictures

Saturday June 18th, 2016 11:09:32 AM Guardian Staff
After six months in space, the Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko, Nasa’s Tim Kopra and Major Tim Peake leave the International Space Station in a Soyuz capsule and land in Kazakhstan Continue reading...

Major Tim Peake lands safely in Kazakhstan from the ISS – video

Saturday June 18th, 2016 10:11:31 AM Guardian Staff
The Soyuz capsule lands in Kazakhstan at 10.15am UK time after a seven-hour journey from the International Space Station. The spacecraft was carrying Peake, the US Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra and the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who had spent 186 days in spaceTim Peake returns to Earth on ‘best ride ever’ Continue reading...

SpaceX rocket booster crashes onto Atlantic platform – video

Thursday June 16th, 2016 01:53:07 PM Guardian Staff
SpaceX launches two communications satellites into orbit on its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral air force station in Florida on Wednesday. Minutes later, a camera mounted on a platform in the Atlantic films the rocket’s reusable main-stage booster crashing onto the platform, where scientists had hoped it would land safely Continue reading...

Light pollution atlas shows areas of Earth that cannot see the stars – video

Friday June 10th, 2016 06:00:31 PM National Centers for Environmental Information, James Bullock
A team of scientists at the National Centers for Environmental Information in Boulder, Colorado have produced a digital atlas of the Earth that shows the levels of light pollution. The atlas makes use of low-light imaging now available from the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, calibrated by thousands of ground observations. Light pollution is so severe in some parts of the world that a third of human beings cannot see the Milky Way Continue reading...

Tim Peake: 'I miss the rain' ahead of return to Earth – video

Wednesday June 8th, 2016 03:38:52 PM Guardian Staff
After almost six months floating aboard the International Space Station and ten days before his scheduled to return to Earth, British astronaut Tim Peake says on Wednesday it will take several months to fully adjust to life back on earth. He also admits he missed the rain and comments on the EU Referendum Continue reading...

Nasa cameras capture fireball lighting up Arizona sky – video

Friday June 3rd, 2016 09:31:34 AM Guardian Staff
Nasa films a fireball so bright that it blinds all-sky meteor cameras as far away as western New Mexico. The meteor – 5ft wide and weighing a few tonnes – entered Earth’s atmosphere over Arizona early Thursday morning at a speed of 40,200m [64,700km] per hour, lighting up the pre-dawn sky for a few secondsPluto’s perplexing polygonal patterns caused by convection, scientists suggest Continue reading...

What we Cannot Know by Marcus du Sautoy review – the seven edges of knowledge

Wednesday June 29th, 2016 06:30:00 AM Jonathan Rée
Among the frontiers identified are time, the cosmos, consciousness and God, but aren’t swaths of knowledge concerned with meaning rather than scientific fact?Scientists like to see themselves as modern counterparts of the great explorers, sailing off into the unknown and coming back with marvellous tales of adventure and discovery. But the heroic age of exploration lasted no more than 500 years: after the so-called conquest of the poles there was not much terra incognita left to conquer. Does a similar fate await the sciences? Will nature yield up its last secret one day? Will our questions all be answered? Will scientists abandon their laboratories and take up poetry, painting or tap dancing instead?These are the questions raised by an engaging new book in which Marcus du Sautoy promises to lead us to “the edges of knowledge”. He begins by recalling a speech given by the physicist Lord Kelvin at the end of the 19th century. “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now,” Kelvin said, “all that remains is more and more precise measurement.” Albert Einstein soon proved him wrong, but scientists carried on dreaming of the day when they could declare mission accomplished. In September 1930, for instance, the distinguished mathematician David Hilbert addressed a meeting in his honour in Königsberg. Nothing could hold out against the progress of science, he said: “We must know – and we shall.” Unluckily for him, a young logician called Kurt Gödel had demonstrated the exact opposite in a paper delivered in the same city on the previous day. Every conceivable system of mathematics, Gödel showed, must contain statements that cannot be proved, so the idea of scientific closure was a quixotic fantasy. Continue reading...

The drugs work: the truth about statins and SSRIs

Friday July 31st, 2015 08:32:31 AM Suzi Gage
Pharmacology can get a bad rap in the press. Professors George Davey Smith and David Nutt fight the case for statins and SSRIs.In a public lecture hosted by the British Association for Psychopharmacology and Bristol’s MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (where I work), Professors George Davey Smith and David Nutt stripped away the sensationalisation and misinformation around statins and SSRIs. They come from very different fields, George is an epidemiologist and David a psychiatrist, but both fields can help us understand the efficacy and safety of drug treatments.George took on the topic of statins. George is a perfect example of a scientist being led by the evidence - he himself wrote an article 25 years ago calling for cholesterol lowering drugs to cease to be prescribed, but now believes the evidence is overwhelming in support of the use of statins for lowering cholesterol, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Not that you’d necessarily see that from the media, where their use has been linked to everything from baldness to memory loss, kidney damage to nosebleeds. Continue reading...

Space oddity: how do astronauts prepare for life on Mars?

Monday November 9th, 2015 06:54:50 PM Chitra Ramaswamy
Photographer Gaia Squarci followed a Nasa simulation of mission conditions on the red planetMars on earth Continue reading...

Nasa: watery flows discovered on Mars – video

Monday September 28th, 2015 05:37:55 PM Guardian Staff
Nasa announce that there are watery flows on the surface of Mars during the red planet’s summer months. Scientists say they’re still trying to figure out the chemistry and source of the water on the red planet, the discovery has them now rethinking whether Mars can support present day microbial life Continue reading...

Nasa scientists find evidence of flowing water on Mars

Monday September 28th, 2015 03:00:01 PM Ian Sample Science editor
Researchers say discovery of stains from summertime flows down cliffs and crater walls increases chance of finding life on red planetWater on the red planet - in picturesWater on Mars - an interactive guideLiquid water runs down canyons and crater walls over the summer months on Mars, according to researchers who say the discovery raises the chances of being home to some form of life.The trickles leave long, dark stains on the Martian terrain that can reach hundreds of metres downhill in the warmer months, before they dry up in the autumn as surface temperatures drop. Continue reading...

Water on Mars: Nasa faces contamination dilemma over future investigations

Wednesday September 30th, 2015 06:07:49 AM Ian Sample Science editor
Curiosity rover already on red planet cannot study streaks left by flowing water because it could be carrying bugs from EarthNasa scientists may still be celebrating their discovery of liquid water on Mars, but they now face some serious questions about how they can investigate further and look for signs of life on the red planet.The problem is how to find life without contaminating the planet with bugs from Earth. Continue reading...

Cask from the past: archaeologists discover 5,000-year-old beer recipe

Monday May 23rd, 2016 07:00:22 PM Nicola Davis
Chinese find suggests barley was used for booze before being grown for food - and that beer could have played a role in the development of societyChinese villagers could have been raising a pint 5,000 years ago, according to new research.Archaeologists studying vessels unearthed in the Shaanxi province of China say they’ve uncovered beer-making equipment dating from between 3400 and 2900 BC - an era known as the late Yangshao period - and figured out the recipe to boot. Continue reading...

Don’t throw away your statins yet - LDL cholesterol is still probably bad for you

Monday June 13th, 2016 01:04:47 PM Suzi Gage
A new study has claimed that there’s no link between LDL cholesterol and mortality in the elderly, but the majority of evidence disagrees“Throw away your statins, they’re not doing you any good,” reads a tweet I saw earlier. The reason, a study published in BMJ Open that has found no association between low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and mortality*, in individuals aged 60 or over.The study in question is a systematic review of cohort studies that have looked at this and, in 19 studies on a total of 68,094 people, found no evidence that LDL cholesterol levels predicted mortality. But a closer look at their methodology reveals the study is weak in terms of being able to provide evidence of (a lack of) a causal link, and there’s currently much stronger evidence that does support of a link between LDL cholesterol and mortality. Continue reading...






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