Science news

Spacewatch: ISS in the evening sky

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 21:30

The International Space Station (ISS) is again a conspicuous visitor to Britain's evening sky as it tracks eastwards, usually to fade from sight as it enters eclipse in the Earth's shadow. Our predictions give the BST times of its transits for London and Manchester over the coming week. Asterisks flag the directions in which it enters eclipse.

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Pharma to fork: How we'll swallow synthetic biology

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 20:00
Our best antimalarial drug comes from a plant, but now modified microbes are brewing it in a factory. Synthetic biology has got real – and food may be next (full text available to subscribers)






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Command a glowing robot horde to do your bidding

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 19:23
Squadrons of scurrying "pixelbots" swarm into shapes based on your gestures or what you draw on a tablet






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Flies steer like mini-helicopters to avoid attackers

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 19:00
High-speed cameras and winged robots have revealed how flies can dodge danger in less time than it takes us to blink






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Ghostly glasses let you learn through a teacher's eyes

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 18:30
The Ghostman system shows your teacher's movements superimposed over your own in real time. It could help people in remote areas who need physiotherapy






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Is stockpiling pandemic flu drugs shrewd or misguided?

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 17:40
A group questioning the stockpiling of antiviral drugs has renewed its claim that they don't work. What does the evidence say, asks Debora MacKenzie






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Today on New Scientist

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 17:30
All the latest on newscientist.com: consciousness as a state of matter, genetic testing of unconceived children, NASA's Martian flying saucer and more
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Scientists name world's 100 most unusual and endangered birds

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 17:00
'Little dodo', flightless parrot and giant ibis among species ranked by evolutionary distinctiveness and global extinction risk

In pictures - top 10 most unusual and endangered birds

The "little dodo", a flightless parrot and the world's largest ibis are among the world's 100 most unusual and endangered birds, according to a new study.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University assessed the world's 9,993 bird species according to their evolutionary distinctiveness and global extinction risk to produce a list of the world's 100 most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) species.

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Record-breaking cable car for La Paz's crazy commutes

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 14:34
Commuting is a nightmare in the crowded canyon where Bolivia's capital lies. An 11-kilometre-long cable car system is the answer to the citizens' prayers






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Britain's brightest star | Stephen Curry

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 13:17

A new video explains how a particle accelerator built to produce X-rays billions of times brighter than the sun is revealing the workings of life at the molecular level

If you have ever gazed at a crystal of salt or a sparkling diamond and wondered to yourself how its internal structure might be revealed using light generated by a particle accelerator, then wonder no more.

Thanks to the Royal Institutions Ed Prosser and funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, a short video released today explains how the intense X-rays beams produced at the £400 million Diamond Light Source, a silver doughnut that nestles in the Oxfordshire countryside, are enabling scientists to peer right into the atomic heart of matter.

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How to write a science feature | Nicola Davis

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:41
A feature is not an essay regurgitating facts. You need to get on the phone and speak to the people directly involved, or better still meet them in person

The Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize, in association with the Guardian and the Observer, is open for entries

Be realistic about the issue you are covering - does it have enough dimensions to hold a reader's interest for a long feature? If the story can be summarised in 180 words, you don't need to write a 1,800-word feature. And anything beyond 4,000 words is a very long read.

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Ringed asteroid will make a star blink out over Africa

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:19
The first known asteroid with Saturn-like rings will cross in front of a star this month, perhaps revealing clues to how the thin rings stay in shape






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James Lovelock: we should give up on saving the planet video

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:02
James Lovelock has spent his career in science defying the mainstream, with startling results. He accurately measured the extent of ozone depletion in the atmosphere using home-made equipment, and is most famous for the Gaia hypothesis, which suggests the Earth is a self-regulating system that enables life to exist on the planet. The theory shaped environmental scientists' exploration of climate change. As London's Science Museum opens a new exhibition dedicated to his life and work, Lovelock gives Ian Sample an exclusive tour Continue reading...
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A smart way to get personal with the future

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:45
The FutureEverything festival brought together art, ideas and innovation to reveal how people can take control of data about them and their surroundings






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Parental guidance advised over virtual embryos

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2014-04-10 09:00
The ability to create simulations of unconceived children by virtually shuffling the prospective parents' genomes poses questions for us all






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Longitude Punk'd: steampunk takes over Royal Observatory Greenwich

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 08:11

As a new exhibition opens at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, Heloise Finch-Boyer asks whether we should laugh at the history of science?

This Easter, Steampunks are taking over the Royal Observatory Greenwich showcasing fantastical inventions alongside real historic objects in an exhibition blurring the boundaries between art and science and fact and fiction.

Opening 10th April 2014, Longitude Punkd celebrates the madcap inventors, star-gazing astronomers and extremely elegant explorers of the past and delves into a world where sci-fi collides with 18th-century innovation. The Royal Observatory Greenwich has commissioned nine British steampunk artists to create works inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the Board of Longitude between 1714 and 1828. The Observatory will house specially created pieces by steampunk luminaries Robert Rankin, Lady Raygun, Herr Döktor, Doctor Geof, Emilly Ladybird, Major Thaddeus Tinker, Lady Elsie, The Alchemist and Citizen Griffdawg.

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What the Tamiflu saga tells us about drug trials and big pharma

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 07:00
We now know the government's Tamiflu stockpile wouldn't have done us much good in the event of a flu epidemic. But the secrecy surrounding clinical trials means there's a lot we don't know about other medicines we take

Today we found out that Tamiflu doesn't work so well after all. Roche, the drug company behind it, withheld vital information on its clinical trials for half a decade, but the Cochrane Collaboration, a global not-for-profit organisation of 14,000 academics, finally obtained all the information. Putting the evidence together, it has found that Tamiflu has little or no impact on complications of flu infection, such as pneumonia.

That is a scandal because the UK government spent £0.5bn stockpiling this drug in the hope that it would help prevent serious side-effects from flu infection. But the bigger scandal is that Roche broke no law by withholding vital information on how well its drug works. In fact, the methods and results of clinical trials on the drugs we use today are still routinely and legally being withheld from doctors, researchers and patients. It is simple bad luck for Roche that Tamiflu became, arbitrarily, the poster child for the missing-data story.

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Scientists regenerate organ in mice in world-first breakthrough

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 05:11

Results on rebuilt thymus in very old mice potentially open way for helping humans to live longer

Scientists have regenerated a living organ for the first time, potentially opening the way for life-lengthening human therapies.

A team at Edinburgh Universitys medical research centre for regenerative medicine managed to rebuild the thymus of very old mice, re-establishing the health of the organ seen in younger creatures.

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Scientists discover how parasite wreaks havoc by nibbling at intestines

Guardian Science - Thu, 2014-04-10 02:05
Microscope reveals how amoeba that kills 70,000 people a year works, giving clues to how other infections could operate

The gruesome means by which a parasite wreaks havoc in the human body has been laid bare for the first time by researchers who filmed the bug in action at the end of a microscope.

Infections of Entamoeba histolytica can trigger intestinal ulcers, gut inflammation and life-threatening diarrhoea in children in developing countries, but how the organism caused such distress was unknown.

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Calculating kinetic energy? Don't copy Department for Education's answers

Guardian Science - Wed, 2014-04-09 22:57
Michael Gove's department lets through two howlers in a list of physics equations that pupils in England are expected to know

Michael Gove, the education secretary, is fond of telling the public that his changes to exams will produce more rigorous and demanding courses of study and officials in Gove's own department have illustrated his point perfectly with a couple of schoolboy errors.

In a paper published by the Department for Education, announcing the new course content to be studied by pupils taking combined science for GCSE, officials managed to let two howlers slip through in a list of physics equations that pupils in England are to be expected to know.

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