Science news

Is MSG a silent killer or useful flavour booster?

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-01-26 01:00
MSG could help elderly people regain their appetite, but it has a bad reputation. Here are the facts about this much-maligned additive

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Let GM mosquitoes loose to bite and help cure tropical diseases - researchers

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-25 19:29
  • British biotech firm awaiting FDA approval to release bugs in the Florida Keys
  • petition gets more than 130,000 signatures to stop experiment

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential US neighbourhood.

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will allow the experiment.

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When you wish upon a star: nuclear fusion and the promise of a brighter tomorrow

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-25 10:00
Decades in the making, Iter, a huge experimental nuclear fusion reactor in rural France, could be the site of breakthroughs that will provide limitless, clean energy and secure the planet’s future Continue reading...

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The secrets of the shelf seas – one of Earth’s most important ecosystems

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-25 07:30

The sea off our coasts teems with microscopic life that breaks down the carbon dioxide we pump into the air. Now a series of expeditions aims to find out more

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New to Nature No 138: Gastrodia flexistyloides

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-25 07:00
This new orchid fertilises itself… but don’t go eating it as an aphrodisiac Continue reading...

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Chin-chin: US company toasts anti-fat drug to make double chins history

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-24 21:51
  • Experimental ATX-101 seeks to end curse of the double chin
  • Company claims more than 90% success, non-serious side effects
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Bill Gates predicts HIV vaccine by 2030

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-24 13:36
Microsoft founder tells Davos that vaccine and new intense drug treatments could end most new cases of deadly virus Continue reading...

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Life & Physics in pictures - No. 3

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-24 12:48

Not much time to write this weekend, but here are some more Life-and-Physics-related snaps, at least some of which may be “quite interesting”, as Stephen Fry might put it

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Cat genes could hold vital clues to treatments for human diseases

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-24 12:08
Researchers aim to sequence feline genomes to help in fight against diabetes and asthma Continue reading...

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Beautiful blood clot could reveal deadly detail

New Scientist - news - Sat, 2015-01-24 00:01
An award-winning extreme close-up of a blood clot could give insight into the causes of heart disease and stroke

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Finding ET – we're gonna need a bigger dish

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-23 17:17
We need to widen the way we listen for broadcasts from alien civilisations – looking for short pulses packed with information as well as simpler radio signals

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Robot jazz band showcases its freestyling skills

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-23 16:56
Watch as four robots accompany a human musician and show how artificial intelligence lets them improvise and play complex music

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Videos reveal rich upside-down world under polar ice

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-23 15:57
A secret underwater world thrives on algal meadows that hang under the polar sea ice – now we get some of the first glimpses of it

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GlaxoSmithKline boss optimistic about Ebola vaccine – video

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-01-23 15:31
Sir Andrew Witty, the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, says he has high hopes for the potential Ebola vaccine that is now being shipped to west Africa. Witty says the vaccine has been developed quickly, with the company running parallel trials, commissioning new production lines, and bringing in more people to speed up the process Continue reading...

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Mice evolve better, not bigger, balls in sperm race

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-23 15:29
Size isn't everything. When many male mice mate with the same females, their descendants evolve testes that can produce more sperm

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Oppenheimer five-star review – father of atomic bomb becomes tragic hero at RSC

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-01-23 13:01
The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon
Tom Morton-Smith’s massively impressive play explores the moral chain reactions before and after the bombing of Hiroshima

“Oppenheimer’s stature is not in question, but do we have a playwright big enough to depict him?” That was the question posed by critic Eric Bentley in 1969. The answer has been found in the shape of Tom Morton-Smith, a 34-year-old dramatist with a handful of fringe credits, who has come up with this massively impressive three-hour play for the RSC: one that shows the father of the atomic bomb and leader of America’s Manhattan project to be a genuinely tragic hero.

Oppenheimer’s tragedy, in Morton-Smith’s version, takes many forms. The most obvious is that this visionary scientist, who led the team that created the bombs released on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had to live with the moral consequences of his discoveries: “I feel,” he says, “like I’ve dropped a loaded gun in a playground.”

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Where I went right - interactive

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:56

Anyone can change everything, but to be successful you need to make the most of the time you have. Celebrated innovators Tim Berners-Lee, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Ranulph Fiennes and Alice Roberts provide unique insights into the formative moments that have shaped their remarkable careers.

Viewing on a mobile or tablet? Click here to launch the interactive

These films are designed to inspire a new generation of individuals working to change the world for the better. They can be consumed as end-to-end films or broken up into individual soundbites. Watch them, edit them and share them with the world.

This interactive was created by the Guardian and sponsored by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise as part of the Every Second Counts project.

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Smart clothes double as pregnancy health tracker

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:30
Pregnant? Love gadgets? You'll adore this maternity wear that lets you track the vital signs of your changing body

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How mathematicians are storytellers and numbers are the characters

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:00

Marcus du Sautoy explains how mathematical proofs are like narratives, with plots, thrills and ‘whodunnit’ reveals

Mathematicians are storytellers. Our characters are numbers and geometries. Our narratives are the proofs we create about these characters.

Many people believe that doing maths is a question of documenting all the true statements about numbers and geometry – the irrationality of the square root of two, the formula for the volume of the sphere, a list of the finite simple groups. According to one of my mathematical heroes, Henri Poincaré, doing maths is something very different:

“To create consists precisely in not making useless combinations. Creation is discernment, choice. …The sterile combinations do not even present themselves to the mind of the creator.”

proof = narrative

“I like to be surprised. The argument that follows a standard path, with few new features, is dull and unexciting. I like the unexpected, a new point of view, a link with other areas, a twist in the tail.”

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Feedback: Words for worthless whatsits

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:00
Newspapers recycling fear-mongering, Muphry was here, and here, amazing discovery at St Pancras Station and more (full text available to subscribers)

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