Obese pets, reverse ageing and heat stress…

Tim’s blog

This week on radio, Tim Thwaites is talking about obese pets; reversing ageing; how your mother is to blame for your sense of taste; the peril of heat stress; and more…

Heat stress in a warming world—As the world’s nations meet in Cancun to wrestle with climate change yet again, a group of researchers in Australia are suggesting that the most dangerous consequence of climate change may be simple heat stress—our inability to function properly at high temperatures.—Australasian Science.

This story can be found in the December issue of Australasian Science.

Reversing the ageing processPremature ageing in mice can be reversed by activating an enzyme that protects the tips of chromosomes, American researchers have shown. Their results bear out the suggestions of Australian-born Nobel Prize winner, Elizabeth Blackburn, who discovered the enzyme in question, telomerase.—Nature

A Nature report can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101128/full/news.2010.635.html

Anti-HIV pill protects against AIDS An anti-HIV drug can help keep uninfected people from contracting the AIDS virus through sex, an American study has demonstrated. The researchers showed that a drug which has already been approved cuts the rate of transmission in half. But their findings raise lots of complicated issues about how the drug could be prescribed and distributed.—New England Journal of Medicine

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/11/hiv-prevent-treat.html?ref=hp

Papal advisers urge support for modified cropsScientists have both the right and a moral duty to be “stewards of God” by genetically modifying crops to help the world’s poor, scientific advisers to the Vatican said this week. Their statement condemned opposition to GM crops in rich countries as unjustified.—New Biotechnology

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19787-vatican-scientists-urge-support-for-engineered-crops.html

Police radar guns could help identify suicide bombersRadar guns used to detect speeding motorists could be modified to identify would-be suicide bombers in a crowd, US researchers have found. The technology would pick up the wiring in the vests bombers tend to wear.—Journal of Defense Modelling and Simulation

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19775-police-radar-guns-could-help-identify-suicide-bombers.html

Lab animals and pets are also facing obesityA US statistical analysis of more than 20,000 animals suggests the obesity epidemic is spreading to family pets, wild animals living in close proximity to humans, and animals housed in research centres. This may indicate that environmental factors could at least be partly to blame.—Proceedings of the Royal Society B

A Nature report can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101124/full/news.2010.628.html

Odour exposure in the womb primes the palateResearchers have found that the offspring of pregnant mice fed a diet enhanced with cherry and mint flavours during pregnancy continue to prefer these flavours into adulthood. It is likely that all mammals, including humans develop their sense of taste in the same way, the researchers say.—Proceedings of the Royal Society B

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/11/scienceshot-odor-exposure-in-the.html?ref=hp

Why mammals grew big—and then stopped—The demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago triggered an increase in size of mammals, an international team including an Australian has found.  They grew from tiny shrew-like animals of less than 100 g to much larger creatures. But they never became larger than 15 tonnes, probably due to the problem of dissipating heat.—Science

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19771-why-mammals-grew-big–and-then-stopped.html

Crime scene blood could identify the age of a criminalBlood shed at a crime scene could be used to estimate the age of a perpetrator, thanks to a new DNA test. Dutch researchers say the test can be used to predict someone’s age to within 20 years, thus narrowing the range of suspects.—Current Biology

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827883.800-crime-scene-blood-could-identify-age-of-criminal.html

Daylight savings hurts test scoresThe body clock disorder caused by starting and ending daylight saving can lower test scores by about two per cent, according to American researchers. That could be a real worry for students sitting exams in spring and autumn.—Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/11/scienceshot-daylight-savings.html?ref=hp

Smartphone app monitors your every moveUS researchers have developed a smartphone app which can figure out what you are doing and inform your friends. It monitors your phone’s microphone, GPS and accelerometer for patterns characteristic of routine activities.—New Scientist

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827885.300-smartphone-app-monitors-your-every-move.html

Skin patch could offer pain relief with every flinch—A skin patch developed by South Korean pharmacologists could provide efficient pain relief whenever you flex your sore muscles. It synchronises the release of pain relieving drugs with the movement of underlying inflamed tissue.—Angewandte Chemie

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827885.400-skin-patch-could-offer-pain-relief-with-every-flinch.html