Scientists in the United States say they have taken an important step on a decades-old quest to harness nuclear fusion to generate nearly inexhaustible energy. For the first time, two nuclear fusion experiments succeeded in producing more energy than was used to trigger the reaction, the journal Nature reports :: Read the full article »»»»
The country’s first moon rover “could not be restored to full function”, the state-owned China News Service said in a brief report, after the landmark mission ran into mechanical problems last month.
The Jade Rabbit, or Yutu in Chinese, was deployed on the moon’s surface on December 15 and was a huge source of pride in China – only the third country to complete a lunar rover mission after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
The landing was a key step forward in Beijing’s ambitious military-run space program, which include plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually sending a human to the moon.
The rover experienced a “mechanical control abnormality” in late January due to “the complicated lunar surface environment”, according to the official Xinhua news agency, and was unable to function since then :: Read the full article »»»»
Palaeontologists have verified a 200-year old hunch about an African fish and, in the process, showed how the first land animals developed the ability to breathe.
The scientists found the polypterus, a bony fish species, receives most of its oxygen not through gills but primitive nostrils on the top of its head.
Scientists had previously noticed similar holes, known as spiracles, in fossils of much more ancient species which are today regarded as the ancestors of modern land animals. Those species include the gogonasus, which inhabited the oceans 380 million years ago and was first identified by Flinders University palaeontologist Professor John Long.
His new research, in conjunction with a team based at the Scripps Research Institute in the US, has now been published in the journal Nature Communications. The discovery marks the first step in the evolutionary transition of similar ancient fishes to the land as tetrapods, or four-legged animals :: Read the full article »»»»
It’s well known that sunshine is our major source of vitamin D, the lack of rays has been associated with forms of depression and osteoporosis. Too much is the main cause of skin cancer, it’s a tricky business this sunshine thing, even in Australia where we have a pretty steady flow of the stuff.
New research out of the UK suggests that short bursts of sunlight could help lower blood pressure. According to British scientist, Professor Martin Feelisch from the University of Southampton, sunlight triggers natural stores of nitric oxide in the skin that dilate the small blood vessels.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation, and high blood pressure is one of the main associated risk factors. Although Professor Feelisch admits the study was small, he’s confident the results would be replicated with a larger group :: Read the full article »»»»
In Australia the war on obesity is heating up, three major health organisations want a sugar tax on all sweetened beverages – not just soft drinks, but products like flavoured milk and sports drinks – to limit consumption and curb what is shaping up to be the nations biggest health problem.
However, Australia’s Food and Grocery Council – the body representing the food and beverage industry – is hitting back against health campaigns aimed at reducing sugar consumption, prompting critics to compare the industry’s position to that of tobacco companies fight against smoking decades ago.
In the UK a similar campaign ‘Action on Sugar’ has just launched, in the hope of reversing the obesity epidemic by targeting the “huge and unnecessary amounts of sugar that are currently being added to our food and soft drinks”. The campaign’s expert advisors include heavyweights from the scientific and medical community.
Last month leaked draft guidelines from the World Health Organisation – WHO – suggested the organisation is considering halving the recommended daily intake of sugar from ten teaspoons to five. WHO’s “global strategy on diet” also says an unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for chronic disease and recommends reducing sugar intake to help prevent conditions like type 2 diabetes and dental problems :: Read the full article »»»»
The Tasmanian Government has extended indefinitely the state’s moratorium on genetically modified crops and animals. Tasmania is the only Australian state to have to a blanket ban on GMOs, genetically modified organisms :: Read the full article »»»»
Australia has just sweltered through its hottest year on record, according to the nation’s Bureau of Meteorology. Average temperatures were 1.20 degrees Celsius above the long-term average of 21.8C, breaking the previous record set in 2005, the bureau says in its Annual Climate Statement.
The country recorded its hottest day on January 7 – a month which also saw the hottest week and hottest month since records began in 1910. A new record was set for the number of consecutive days the national average temperature exceeded 39C – seven days between January 2 and 8, 2013, almost doubling the previous record of four consecutive days in 1973 :: Read the full article »»»»