Archive by date | March 2010

New ‘affordable rocket’ could fly lunar missions

New ‘affordable rocket’ could fly lunar missions

A new “affordable rocket” has been announced by Lockheed Martin and Alliant Techsystems. The companies say their new line of Athena rockets will be able to carry satellites of up to 1,712 kg into low Earth orbit or even make “missions to the Moon” and will fill a “critical niche in affordable rockets” (press release). They don’t say just what ‘affordable’ means in this context, but space amateurs may be better off sticking to the weather balloons for now. Lockheed and Alliant’s rocket is a next generation of their Athena rockets, one of which is still the only commercial vehicle  … Read more

On Nature News

Cheaper catalyst cleans diesel-car fumes

Platinum-free material means fuel-efficient engines at lower cost.

Nobelists defend actions of sacked dean

Grant committee deny dean had any influence on grant decisions.

Maths behind Internet encryption wins top award

Abel prize awarded to number theorist John Tate.

Russia and US close to arms control deal

Russia and the US have agreed to further reductions in their nuclear arsenals as the two nations’ presidents, Dmitri Medvedev and Barack Obama, aim to sign the deal on 8 April in the Czech Republic (New York Times, Wall St. Journal). The deal would reduce the number of warheads on each side from 2,200 to as low as 1,500, and would also cut the number of air, sea and land launchers in half, from 1,600 to 800. The agreement represents a renewal of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or Start. Arms control proponents at the Center for American Progress hailed the agreement as a “historic achievement”. But to enter into force in the US, the treaty will require the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, where Republicans have already voiced their opposition.  Read more

Climate change stops fighting between India and Bangladesh

Climate change stops fighting between India and Bangladesh

A simmering row between India and Bangladesh has been cooled down by global warming.

The two countries were at loggerheads over a pile of mud in the Bay of Bengal, called New Moore Island by India and South Talpatti by Bangladesh. Both claimed the island after it appeared in the 1970s.

Quotes of the day

“This monkey is not outsmarting us. This monkey is getting away based on its athletic ability developed over years and years of evolution.”

Gary Morse, of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, comments on internet sensation ‘the mystery monkey of Tampa Bay’ and his/her continued dodging of the long arm of the animal law (Christian Science Monitor).

“I think what FDA really needs is a 5- to 10-year building effort/re-building effort. And it’s not just rebuilding to what it was. I think it’s being a part of building the science of the future.”

Jesse Goodman, chief scientist at the FDA, tells American lawmakers the agency might need a decade to rebuild (The Pink Sheet, via Pharmalot).

“The RealClimate commentary reads like a distorted fairground mirror of the Guardian investigation – one that highlights the uncomfortable bits but blurs the rest.”

James Randerson, of the Guardian newspaper, defends his paper against the attacks of the Real Climate blog.

Clinical trial reporting ‘below an acceptable level’

Some of the world’s leading medical journals are trying to drive up standards in the reporting of clinical trials as a new analysis shows they are still not up to scratch.

Publications including the Lancet, the BMJ and PLOS Medicine have unveiled a new version of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) in a renewed attempt to deal with this problem.

On Nature News

Maths behind Internet encryption wins top award

Abel prize awarded to number theorist John Tate.

How 1918 flu antibodies fend off swine flu

Structural similarities reveal why some elderly people were spared in the recent pandemic.

Fossil finger points to new human species

DNA analysis reveals lost relative from 40,000 years ago.

Methane-eating microbes make their own oxygen

Bacteria may have survived on Earth without plants, thanks to unique metabolism.

Soils emitting more carbon dioxide

Trend could exacerbate global warming.