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Science News

January 2, 2011

Quadrantids meteor shower and partial eclipse due

by Brian Turner
Stargazers across the UK could be in for a treat over the next few days, as the Quadrantids meteor shower takes place alongside a partial eclipse of the sun. The partial eclipse will occur with the top left corner of the sun blocked by the moon at dawn, and will peak on January 4th. The Quadrantids are a regular meteor shower that ...

December 14, 2010

Geminids meteor shower still visible tonight

by Darren Allan
While the best show of the Geminids meteor shower – the last major meteor shower of 2010 – was last night, you can still catch it tonight. The shower actually peaks at around 5pm today, so there should still be plenty of action tonight if you want to brave the cold night air. Just keep your fingers crossed that it isn't ...

December 7, 2010

Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver could become a reality

by Darren Allan
Anyone who watches Doctor Who will be familiar with the infamous sonic screwdriver. It's the Doc's equivalent of the old Batman's utility belt, and when there's only minutes left in an episode, and all seems lost for mankind, it's the ultimate multi-purpose device he can pull out to have a quick twiddle with a panel to co-regulate the methylnoptic synapse strands ...

December 2, 2010

Royal Society mulls some of science’s biggest questions

by Darren Allan
The Royal Society has launched a new report entitled Science Sees Further to celebrate the organisation's 350th anniversary. In the report, it aims to describe how science will address some of the biggest questions which currently stump humankind. President of the Royal Society, Martin Rees, wrote: “Science is an unending quest for understanding: as old questions are settled, new ones come into ...

November 25, 2010

European researchers create 3D invisibility technology

by Janet Harris
European researchers are the first to create an invisibility cloak with the power to make a hidden object invisible in 3 dimensions. Previous invisibility technology only worked in two dimensions, meaning a hidden object was invisible when viewed head on but was visible when viewed from the side. At the moment the technology only works on objects less than a ...

November 24, 2010

Chip implant can stimulate paralysed muscles

by Janet Harris
The BBC today reported a major advance in technology with the potential to help paraplegics and others with muscle paralysis. 'Active Book' is a silicon chip attached to platinum foil electrodes which fold around spinal nerve endings and emit electrical impulses directly to the spine, thereby stimulating muscles. Under a microscope it looks like the pages of a book are folded ...

November 23, 2010

Scientists claim dogs are cleverer than cats

by Darren Allan
Traditionally, dogs have been seen as loyal but perhaps a little dim in comparison to the clever cat that generally does its own thing, coming back for cuddles and food when it suits. But apparently dogs can outfox cats in terms of their grey matter, according to scientists at Oxford University. How have they come to this conclusion? Well, it wasn't ...

November 19, 2010

Kids launch spud Santa spacewards

by Darren Allan
You may recall that last week, a trio of Brits launched a paper airplane into space by attaching it to a helium balloon. And this week, a group of kids from a primary school in Devon concocted a similar project. According to a report in the Metro.co.uk, they launched a spud in a drinks bottle into the atmosphere using a helium ...

November 17, 2010

New camera technology can ‘see round corners’

by Janet Harris
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)is developing technology that camera-shy types are going to hate – a camera that can take photographs around corners. There’s no escape from the laser-based technology which emits ultra-short high-intensity burst of light that bounces around before returning to the camera to reconstruct the scene. The light particles can enter nooks and crannies and go over ...

November 11, 2010

Scottish scientists redefine starting point of evolution

by Darren Allan
Life evolved on Earth from simple organisms, catalysed by a shift in oxygen levels in the atmosphere which allowed them to develop into multi-cellular entities. Eventually, these evolved into animals, plants and ourselves. Previously, it was thought that this shift of evolutionary gears happened around 800 million years ago. However, scientists from Aberdeen university have uncovered evidence from rocks they've studied ...

November 8, 2010

Legal aid withdrawn in Epilim fight

by Brian Turner
Parents campaigning for action against the anti-epilepsy drug, Epilim, have suddenly found legal aid for their case withdrawn. They claimed that taking the drug whil pregnant had resulted in a significant number physical and mental disabilities in their children, and had sought to take the drug manufacturer to court. The action had been six years in the making, funded by the Legal ...

November 5, 2010

The Sinclair X-1, sequel to the ill-fated C5

by Darren Allan
Back in the eighties, when Clive Sinclair invented the C5, everyone laughed at him. And quite rightly too, because the battery powered trike was regarded as some sort of a joke dodgem at best, and a death-trap at worst (a famous comment made by the AA at the time). But it seems that Sir Clive has been spurred on by the recent ...

Electric brain stimulation boosts maths skills

by Darren Allan
Fed up with your sub-par mental arithmetic skills? Then stick your tongue in a plug socket, it'll make you a genius, apparently. Well, not quite, but scientists have been conducting experiments which showed that a weak (and harmless) electrical stimulation delivered to the cranium via electrodes helped improve a subject's maths skills. The electric current basically stimulates greater neural activity, and when ...

October 27, 2010

New cancer drug fund approved by government

by Brian Turner
The government has approved the next stage of a cancer drug fund - to pay for cancer drug treatments not available on the NHS - with £200 million earmarked from April 2011. It follows from a Conservative election promise to set up such a fund, and £50 million in emergency funding has already been set aside since October. In announcing the fund, ...

October 26, 2010

New Polio vaccine could eradicate the disease

by Brian Turner
Hopes that polio could be eradicated in the near future were boosted by recent trials of a new vaccine. World Health Organisation (WHO) scientists reported in the medical journal, The Lancet, that in a study the so-called bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV), preduced a more effective immune response in more people. The new double-strain polio vaccine was found to be more effective ...

Dementia patients to escape anti-psychotic drug sedation

by Brian Turner
Forty-four healthcare bodies have signed up to a pledge to seek to approve the quality of life for dementia patients, and avoid the over-use of drugs to sedate them. It comes after a government report criticised the practice of prescription drugs being used as a "chemical cosh" to subdue patients suffering from dementia. Groups that have signed up to develop a charter ...

Paul the Psychic Octopus dies

by Brian Turner
Paul the Psychic Octopus, who correctly predicted a string of football results at the South Africa World Cup earlier this year, has died. Paul become a sensation when keepers provided him with the option of two national flags for each of Germany's games, only to find Paul correctly selecting the winner each time. Despite the ...