Culture

University of St Andrews scientists have been awarded a three year grant to create an on-site life-saving device to help predict volcano eruption.

The work is funded by nearly £400K from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), bringing the team's recent research funding to just over £1 million, following a £700K sub-contract from ERA Technology Limited for new work on military security.

Research Scientist Arja Laitila from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has investigated the impacts of bacterial and fungal communities on barley germination and on malt properties in her PhD thesis work. She will defend her thesis "Microbes in the tailoring of barley malt properties" at the University of Helsinki on 31 August 2007.Arja Laitila

A research team has for the first time ever discovered DNA from living bacteria that are more than half a million years old. Never before has traces of still living organisms that old been found. The exceptional discovery can lead to a better understanding of the ageing of cells and might even cast light on the question of life on Mars. The discovery is being published in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America).

Good lighting and high resolution cameras in the SMART-1 satellite are making it possible to put together the story linking geological and volcanic activity on the Moon.

“Thanks to low-elevation solar illumination on these high-resolution images”, says SMART-1 Project Scientist Bernard Foing, “it is now possible to study fine, small-scale geological features that went undetected earlier.”

Sharing '1 bread, 1 wine, and 1 purse': The history of brotherment.

A compelling new study from the September issue of the Journal of Modern History reviews historical evidence, including documents and gravesites, suggesting that homosexual civil unions may have existed six centuries ago in France. The article is the latest from the ongoing “Contemporary Issues in Historical Perspective” series, which explores the intersection between historical knowledge and current affairs.

Chemical engineers have discovered a fundamental flaw in the conventional view of how liquids form bubbles that grow and turn into vapors, which takes place in everything from industrial processes to fizzing champagne.

The findings cast into doubt some aspects of a theory dating back to the 1920s that attempts to describe the underlying molecular mechanism behind a phenomenon called "homogeneous nucleation," said David S. Corti, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University.

Scientists are a step closer to understanding sunshine. A monumental experiment buried deep beneath the mountains of Italy has provided Princeton physicists with a clearer understanding of the sun's heart -- and of a mysterious class of subatomic particles born there.

Researchers at the University of Leeds and the World Land Trust have warned that growing biofuel crops to make eco-friendly car fuel could actually be harmful to the environment.

Large areas of land in the developing world are being converted to grow crops such as sugar cane and palm oil as part of the global rush to make biofuels which are widely thought to produce less carbon dioxide than conventional transport fuels.

Antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps and, in fact, may render some common antibiotics less effective, says a University of Michigan public health professor.

Earth’s surface is a very active place; its plates are forever jiggling around, rearranging themselves into new configurations. Continents collide and mountains arise, oceans slide beneath continents and volcanoes spew. As far as we know Earth’s restless surface is unique to the planets in our solar system. So what is it that keeps Earth’s plates oiled and on the move?

Men with large jaws, flaring cheeks and large eyebrows are sexy, at least in the eyes of our ancestors, researchers at the Natural History Museum have discovered. Facial attractiveness played a major role in shaping human evolution, as studies on our fossil ancestors have shown our choice of sexual partner has shaped the human face.Skeletal craniofacial variables relate to facial appearance.

Permafrost – the perpetually frozen foundation of the north – isn’t so permanent anymore, and scientists are scrambling to understand the pros and cons when terra firma goes soft.A peatland site in Alberta, Canada, that experienced permafrost collapse within the past 100 years. Credit: Merritt Turetsky, Michigan State University

A compelling new paper from the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research explores the community-supported agriculture movement and its survival in the face of economic globalization. Organic food was once an economic haven for small farms who distributed their goods predominantly through local channels such as farmers’ markets and food co-ops. In the contemporary marketplace, however, the vast majority of organic food production occurs on large-scale, industrial farms whose goods flow through global supply chains.

A remarkably simple experiment devised by scientists yields important information about the mechanical properties of thin films--nanoscopically thin layers of material that are deposited onto a metal, ceramic or semiconductor base.

The research results, funded by the National Science Foundation and performed at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, appears in the August 3, 2007, issue of Science.

An international team of astronomers using NASA’s Swift satellite and the Japanese/U.S. Suzaku X-ray observatory has discovered a new class of active galactic nuclei (AGN).

By now, you’d think that astronomers would have found all the different classes of AGN — extraordinarily energetic cores of galaxies powered by accreting supermassive black holes. AGN such as quasars, blazars, and Seyfert galaxies are among the most luminous objects in our Universe, often pouring out the energy of billions of stars from a region no larger than our solar system.