Archive by date | May 2011

Shareholders inch towards responsibility for fracking risks

Shareholders inch towards responsibility for fracking risks

A hefty minority of shareholders in a few major oil and gas companies voted yesterday in favour of better disclosing the risks of hydraulic fracturing – a practice that has been accused of releasing toxic chemicals into drinking water.

Europe’s ‘stress tests’ of nuclear power plants will exclude terrorism

Europe's 'stress tests' of nuclear power plants will exclude terrorism

The European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators’ Group (ENSREG) – made up of 27 independent national nuclear safety authorities – announced yesterday that they had agreed on the criteria for safety reviews of the 143 nuclear power reactors in the European Union and on how these will be conducted.

French lawmakers duel over human stem cell and embryo research

The French National Assembly last night voted 73 to 33 to maintain the status quo of tight restrictions on human embryonic stem-cell (ESC) and embryo research. The regulations on such research are part of an ongoing revision of the country’s bioethics laws. The bill will now go before the Senate in June, and a final decision is expected by the end of the year.

Gamma-ray burst is most distant yet seen

Gamma-ray burst is most distant yet seen

A record has been set for the most distant gamma-ray burst, astronomers announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston today. The result pushes back the time by which stars and galaxies must have formed to just 500 million years after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.  Read more

Italian seismologists to be tried for manslaughter

Posted on behalf of Nicola Nosengo Six Italian seismologists and one government official will be tried for the manslaughter of those who died in an earthquake that struck the city of L’Aquila on 6 April 2009. The seven are accused of misinforming the population about seismic risk in the days before the earthquakes, indirectly causing the death of the citizens they had reassured. The case began in June 2010, when the public prosecutor of L’Aquila pressed manslaughter charges against the participants at a meeting of the Major Risks Committee (an expert group that advises the Italian Civil Protection), held on  … Read more

Atomic agency outs Iran’s nuke warhead project

Atomic agency outs Iran's nuke warhead project

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suggests that Iran may have a programme to develop nuclear warheads capable of being deployed by missiles. The report is a little short on details, but it closely echoes a previous rumour from 2009 that suggested Iran was looking into how to build a compact weapon.  Read more

Drinking dogs are just as dainty as cats

Cats and dogs are different, right? Dogs nag you to go for a walk, cats sit curled in the sun. Dogs run in circles in excitement when you come home, cats look up disdainfully from the windowsill. Dogs slurp up their water, splashing everywhere, cats daintily lap. Wrong, according to the authors of a study published in Royal Society Biology Letters today.