Whales with sunburn, are pets good and other stories

Niall’s stories standing in for Tim on radio this week

Your bad habits could affect your unborn grandchildren.

More scary news on how the environment in which we live can leave a mark on our genes. This work in mice showed poor diet and parental neglect changed gene activity for three generations.

(From New Scientist)


Is living with pets really good for our health

An American researcher has published a book called, “ Some We Love, Some We Hate, So We Eat” about our relationship with animals.

He’s reviewed the studies suggesting that living with pets is good for our health. And he’s sceptical. He says that for every study saying it is, there are many studies that find no difference.

(From New Scientist)

http://halherzog.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/Some-We-Love-Hate-Eat/dp/0061730866 and

Whales get sunburnt too
UK scientists have found acute sun-related skin damage in blue, fin and sperm whales. Sun-related lesions and protective cellular responses increased in time, implying that the thinning ozone layer might pose a risk to the health of our oceans’ whales.

(from Royal Society B: Biological Sciences)

More at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/11/whales-get-sunburns-too.html?ref=hp

Probiotics shorten diarrhoea episodes

A new review of evidence from the UK shows that probiotic bacteria given as therapies for diarrhoea reduce the length of time sufferers are affected and lessen the chance of episodes continuing for more than four days.

(Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010)

More at http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-probiotics-shorten-diarrhea-episodes.html

Thirty years of Australia China collaboration

Next week Australia and China will celebrate 30 years of partnership in science.

During the past three decades Australian and Chinese researchers have worked together on projects to reduce child mortality rates, treat eye and skin disease using lasers and captured solar energy.

For example the world’s largest maker of silcon solar panels uses Australian technology. The company was founded by Australian/Chinese engineer Zhengrong Shi who is now one of the richest people in China. He says that in a few years solar electricity will be as cheap as coal.


And next week I’ll report to you from the Prime Ministers Prizes for Science dinner in Canberra. The PM will honour three scientists and two science teachers and I can tell you that one of them is a local.