Why does it hurt when I pee? (or extracting the urine)

That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. But it seems appropriate to introduce a report of research carried out by aquatic scientists in Switzerland into the possibility of extracting useful nutrients from pee. The basic idea, according to Tove Larsen and her colleagues at EAWAG in Dübendorf, is simple: urine accounts for only 1% of […]

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Stop shopping and start living

With politicians and business leaders informing me through my aged television and steam-powered wireless that it is my patriotic duty to visit the shops and buy stuff, you can guarantee that my reaction is a single-digit salute. Today is Buy Nothing Day in North America. For those of us who dwell in the rest of […]

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Is temperature the best measure of climate change?

Climate change is most often expressed in numbers as the change in global mean surface temperature. Taking the average temperature of the entire planet is a something of a challenge, relying as it does on consistent measurements combined with statistical analysis of the data. It can be done, however, and the final figures are credible. […]

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Nanosilver fad could rot the brain

SAFENANO editor Bryony Ross points to an article in Saturday’s Scotsman newspaper on the potential health risks associated with silver nanoparticles contained in over-the-counter health products. The article is in my view a fair representation of expert opinion on the subject. Silver is a powerful antibacterial agent that has been used for many centuries. In […]

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EU member jails academic for comments on economy

Via Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorship I learn from Latvian telecoms journalist Juris Kaža that his country’s security police recently detained accountancy lecturer Dmitrijs Smirnovs for making negative comments about the Latvian economy. In a panel discussion Smirnovs said that excessive credit had created an economic crisis, and that Latvia’s central bank was failing […]

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A new picture of Beta Pictoris

Following on from recent reports of visible-light images of planets outside our solar system, a team of astronomers led by Anne-Marie Lagrange at the Observatoire de Grenoble has reanalysed infrared observations of the dusty disk surrounding the young star Beta Pictoris, and found what they say is very likely to be a massive planet orbiting […]

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BBC misses opportunity to strengthen local media

Those of us who have followed the BBC proposal to launch a network of local news websites with video content saw this coming, but it is nonetheless disappointing to hear that the BBC Trust has rejected the plan following fierce opposition from commercial newspaper publishers. The only substantial opposition has come from broadcasting regulator Ofcom, […]

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Cannabis good for the brain?

Contrary to the widely held belief that smoking dope makes you forget stuff, scientists in the US say that specific elements of cannabis can be good for the ageing brain by reducing inflammation and even stimulating the formation of new brain cells. Researchers led by Gary Wenk, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University, […]

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Graphene shows promise for high-capacity energy storage

Most of us are familiar with rechargeable batteries. So much so, in fact, that many non-experts can convincingly argue the merits of particular battery technologies at a fairly technical level. Today’s mobile electronic equipment is powered by low-cost rechargeable cells, and their energy capacity and performance is increasing rapidly with our understanding of the materials […]

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Don’t squash the nanotubes

Researchers at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, have found that the electronic behaviour of double-walled carbon nanotubes can change drastically when they are squashed or twisted. Among other things, his will have serious implications for the use of nanotubes as interconnects in microchips. Under normal circumstances double-walled nanotubes are metallic, and engineers are […]

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