Latest News

Action to prevent diabetes should begin in childhood

Action to prevent non-insulin dependent diabetes and heart disease in South Asian people may need to begin during childhood, finds a study in this week’s BMJ.
Researchers in London identified 3,415 white and 227 South Asian children aged 8 to 11 years from primary schools in 10 British towns. Blood samples were taken from 1,287 white and 73 South Asian children.

An early stage in the development of diabetes and heart disease risk is insulin resistance, when insulin levels are increased.

Smooth surfaces are tacky at small scales

Spot-welds stick sliding metals

Two smooth, cold, metal surfaces are like pieces of tacky Sellotape. They form tiny spot welds that have to be broken apart before they can slide over each other. This, claim two physicists in California 1 , is another reason why metals stick as they slip if they are pressed together and pushed.

Such microscopic causes of friction and wear are increasingly important as the scale of mechanical engineering shrinks to below what&#1

Polio vaccine bites back

Weakened polio borrows genes to gain strength for outbreak

Genetic sleuthing has revealed how a dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV) can revert to the deadly poliovirus and cause an outbreak. The research highlights problems that global health organizations face completing their eradication of polio, and the urgency of that effort 1 .

“It reminds us that we need to be very careful in our development of a post-eradication policy,” says Bruce Aylward, leader of the

Light therapy could be a new approach to treating patients with pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to treat, largely because of the location of the pancreas close to major arteries and vital organs, and the effects of a poorly functioning pancreas on the rest of the body. It is one of the top 10 leading causes of death from cancer worldwide, and in the UK kills around 6500 people every year.

Doctors gave intravenous photosensitising agent (meso-tetrahydroxyphenyl chlorin) to 16 patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Three days later they ins

Possible to detect causes of autism in over a third of cases

It may be possible to find the causes for autism in over a third of cases, suggests research in the Journal of Medical Genetics. And these are likely to include a range of factors.

Autism is a chronic and severe disorder that takes the form of severely impaired language and social skills, delayed development, and repetitive behaviours. Three times as many boys as girls are affected, and three quarters of those with autism will have a mental disability. It is thought that a combination of a g

VIMOS – a Cosmology Machine for the VLT

Successful Test Observations With Powerful New Instrument at Paranal

One of the most fundamental tasks of modern astrophysics is the study of the evolution of the Universe. This is a daunting undertaking that requires extensive observations of large samples of objects in order to produce reasonably detailed maps of the distribution of galaxies in the Universe and to perform statistical analysis.

Much effort is now being put into mapping the relatively nearby space and the

Ants make web

Formidable catalogue puts army of ants online.

After four years of cooperation and tenacity worthy of their quarry, ant experts have completed Antbase, a centralized, online information resource cataloguing all 11,000 known species of ant.

Its creators hope that Antbase will one day become the ant equivalent of GenBank, the public database of genetic sequence data, and a boon not just for ant specialists, but for entomologists and ecologists of every kind.

Ant ta

Dust could settle Himalaya debates

Deserts covered Central Asia as early as 22 million years ago

The great Asian deserts developed 22 million years ago at the latest, 14 million years earlier than had been thought. So concludes a new analysis of Chinese soils, filling in another piece of the puzzle of the Himalayas’ birth.

Today, huge deserts characterize the vast landmasses inside Asia, the largest continent on Earth. Here, cut off by the Himalayas from the humidity of the Indian Ocean and far from any othe

Giant blue jet caught on film

Blue jets connect Earth’s electric circuit.

Video images captured in Puerto Rico suggest that blue flashes of light, much like lightning, feed energy from thunderstorms up into the Earth’s ionosphere – a blanket of electrically charged air some 70 kilometres above the ground 1 .

Some researchers suspect that such phenomena may also fix nitrogen for plants to use and interact with the ozone layer 2 .

The images, taken in September 2001

Stem-cell powers challenged

Fusion may explain adult stem-cell morphing.

The hyped ability of adult stem cells to sprout replacement tissue types is being called into question. They may instead be fusing with existing cells, say two new reports, creating genetically mixed-up tissues with unknown health effects.

Recent studies have shown that adult stem cells transplanted from one tissue, such as blood, can spawn the cell types of another, such as nerves. The findings have stirred intense interest in st

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Physics and Astronomy

Programmable Interaction between Quantum Magnets

Research findings to open way to new applications in quantum technology. Researchers at Heidelberg University have succeeded in their aim of not only changing the strength but also the nature…

In the quantum realm, not even time flows as you might expect

New study shows the boundary between time moving forward and backward may blur in quantum mechanics. A team of physicists at the Universities of Bristol, Vienna, the Balearic Islands and…

Hubble Spots a Swift Stellar Jet in Running Man Nebula

A jet from a newly formed star flares into the shining depths of reflection nebula NGC 1977 in this Hubble image. The jet (the orange object at the bottom center…

Life Sciences and Chemistry

Prostate cancer organoids open path to precision oncology

A multi-institutional team of investigators led by bioengineer Ankur Singh has developed research tools that shed new light on a virtually untreatable form of prostate cancer, opening a pathway that may lead…

Taking new aim at COVID-19

The coronavirus’s tangled strands of RNA could offer new ways to treat people who get infected. To the untrained eye, the loops, kinks and folds in the single strand of…

Chemists design “molecular sea of flags”

Researchers at the University of Bonn have developed a molecular structure that can cover graphite surfaces with a sea of tiny flagged “flagpoles”. The properties of this coating are highly…

Agricultural and Forestry Science

Aptasensors helpful in detection of mycotoxins

A publication saw light in Chemosensors. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi that contaminate agriculture products. Their release in the environment can cause severe damage to human health. Aptasensors are…

New model tracks carbon in agroecosystems

Solution Sets the Bar for Quantifying Carbon Budget and Credit. Carbon is everywhere. It’s in the atmosphere, in the oceans, in the soil, in our food, in our bodies. As…

Tracking future forest fires with AI

As temperatures rise, the risk of devastating forest fires is increasing. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are using artificial intelligence to estimate the long-term impact that an…

Information Technology

Enhancing the workhorse

Artificial intelligence, hardware innovations boost confocal microscope’s performance. Since artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky patented the principle of confocal microscopy in 1957, it has become the workhorse standard in life…

Human Brain Project

Researchers outline in Science how brain research makes new demands on supercomputing. In the latest issue of Science, Katrin Amunts and Thomas Lippert explain how advances in neuroscience demand high-performance…

Shifting colors for on-chip photonics

On-chip frequency shifters in the gigahertz range could be used in next generation quantum computers and networks. The ability to precisely control and change properties of a photon, including polarization,…