European Science Correspondent
Chris's Feed
Nov 7, 2012

ABB hails breakthrough for green power grids

ZURICH/LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) – Swiss firm ABB
announced a breakthrough in technology to carry electricity over
long distances, making desert solar plants and ocean wind farms
much more viable.

Its new circuit breaker makes it easier to send electricity
through high-voltage direct-current (DC) lines into the grids
that link power stations to consumers, the engineering company
said on Wednesday.

Nov 7, 2012

Death of the cassette tape much exaggerated

LONDON (Reuters) – The widening gap between the amount of data the world produces and our capacity to store it is giving a new lease of life to the humble cassette tape.

Although consumers have abandoned the audio cassette in favor of the ubiquitous iPod, organizations with large amounts of data, from patient records to capacity-hungry video archives, have continued to use tape as a cheap and secure storage medium.

Nov 2, 2012

Pressure builds for better oil spill clean-up technology

LONDON (Reuters) – With oil becoming scarcer and more expensive, the economics of the industry may finally tip in favor of one of the most neglected areas of its business – the technology for cleaning up oil spills.

Despite efforts by scientists to find new and more effective ways to deal with spilt oil, there has been little fundamental change in the technology in the two decades since the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster that spilled 750,000 barrels of oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska.

Oct 30, 2012

Breast-cancer checks save lives despite over diagnosis

LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Breast-cancer screening saves
lives even though it also picks up cases in some women that
would never have caused them a problem, according to a review
published in The Lancet medical journal.

The independent review, commissioned by the charity Cancer
Research UK (CRUK) and Britain’s Department of Health, follows
fierce international debate about the benefits of routine
screening and recent research that has argued it does more harm
than good.

Oct 28, 2012

New test to improve HIV diagnosis in poor countries

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have come up with a test for the virus that causes AIDS that is ten times more sensitive and a fraction of the cost of existing methods, offering the promise of better diagnosis and treatment in the developing world.

The test uses nanotechnology to give a result that can be seen with the naked eye by turning a sample red or blue, according to research from scientists at Imperial College in London published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Oct 22, 2012

Italian court ruling sends chill through science community

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists reacted with alarm to the manslaughter conviction of six earthquake experts in Italy for failing to give adequate warning of the 2009 earthquake in the city of L’Aquila that killed 308 people.

Scientists warned that researchers in areas involving unpredictable natural threats, like volcanology and even meteorology, will now be more reluctant to offer advice and insight to the public.

Oct 18, 2012

Search for alien life about to step up a gear

LONDON (Reuters) – It remains in the realm of science fiction for now but the discovery of a new planet just four light years away will reignite a race to find a twin of planet Earth that may host extraterrestrial life.

The step change comes as the most powerful telescopes ever built are about to enter into service and as ideas about where life could exist are being turned on their head. At the same time, scientific discussion about the possible existence of alien life is becoming more mainstream.

Oct 18, 2012

Call for tighter standards to combat tide of science misconduct

LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) – False claims from scientific
research have prompted health scares and unjustified product
bans, and a report this week from the world’s national science
academies predicts misconduct is set to rise.

One of the highest-profile cases in recent years was
triggered by a 1998 study suggesting a link between the MMR
vaccine and autism, which caused vaccination rates in Britain to
plummet and the number of measles cases to rise.

Oct 17, 2012

New planet discovered in Earth’s back yard

LONDON/CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – Astronomers have found a new planet, the closest yet outside our solar system and just an astronomical stone’s throw away at four light years, raising the chances of finding a habitable planet in Earth’s neighborhood.

Researchers say the new planet is too close to its sun to support known forms of life, with a surface temperature estimated at 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,192 Fahrenheit). But previous studies suggest that when one planet is discovered orbiting a sun, there are usually others in the same system.

Oct 15, 2012

A diamond bigger than Earth?

LONDON (Reuters) – Forget the diamond as big as the Ritz. This one’s bigger than planet Earth.

Orbiting a star that is visible to the naked eye, astronomers have discovered a planet twice the size of our own made largely out of diamond.