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Sample Science News Digest
the BA Science News Digest – 26/03

This week, experts predict an end to deaths from heart-disease, a Scottish hotel does its best to defy this and… at last a PR coup for Dasani bottled water?
Deaths from heart disease in people under 65 will virtually disappear within 10 years in England, Government experts predicted this week. Progress in treating heart disease had advanced so much in the last four years that, by or, premature deaths, before retirement age, will have fallen to “a handful” who have rare or symptom-free heart conditions.

Of course, that prediction was made without knowledge of the latest delicacy from Scotland… Chocoholics seeking to indulge their passion this Easter will appreciate a hotel chain’s diet-busting chocolate sandwich which boasts the added attraction of being dipped in batter and deep-fried.

In other health-related news this week…
British scientists will lead the biggest-ever international effort to develop a new class of drugs which could curb the spread of HIV. The EU has awarded more than £7.4m to a project to develop new microbicides, drugs which can prevent the transmission of HIV during intercourse.

Urgent action is needed to tackle the increase in the number of children being struck down with the hospital “superbug” MRSA, researchers said. Hospital-acquired infections strike about 100,000 people a year in England, costing £1 billion and resulting in an estimated 5,000 deaths.

Traditional Chinese medicines should be classified as drugs and sold through licensed pharmacies, according to scientists. At present, the medicines are regulated as foods and sold in health food shops, but chemists are concerned that, unless they are properly tested and controlled, the herbal remedies may pose dangers to those using them.

Almost three-quarters of people (73%) who responded to a BBC survey want a ban on smoking in all public places as a way to cut tobacco-related illness. More than 9,000 people were polled for their views on public health issues. There was also strong support (81%) for a ban on fast food and sweet adverts on television when children are watching.

European scientists have identified a new way to stop malaria in its tracks. Instead of preventing the malaria parasite from infecting humans, they could instead stop the parasite from infecting the mosquito that spreads the lethal disease.

Bad news this week for anyone hoping for a repeat of last year’s summer sunshine…
Summer will be a washout, weather experts said. Bookies are offering odds on a repeat of last year’s record heatwave. But forecasters fear the worst and say it will be wet and miserable until at least the end of July. The few bright spots include a warmer-than-expected Easter and a hot spell at the end of May.
In other news this week…
A plea by developed countries to be allowed to go on using a gas that destroys ozone is being debated at an international meeting in Canada. They want the meeting of signatories to the ozone protection treaty, the Montreal Protocol, to allow continued use of methyl bromide. The gas, a pesticide for fumigating crops, damages the ozone layer.

Television executives are considering dropping the Royal Institution Christmas lectures from the seasonal television schedules, casting doubt on the future of the world famous science presentations, which have been screened since. The current contract with Channel 4 to show them expires at the end of this year and it has not yet agreed a new deal. A spokesperson for Channel 4 admitted that this year’s series on science and Antarctica could be the last to be shown.

Mars may once have been washed by salty seas. The Nasa rover Opportunity has uncovered evidence that rocks near its landing site were not only once wet but were probably formed at the bottom of a body of gently flowing saltwater. The discovery that there may have been a permanent body of water implies the existence, billions of years ago of a warmer, denser atmosphere. This would raise new questions about the possibility of life on Mars.

And finally, in the week that Coca-Cola announced it would not be reintroducing its disastrous Dasani brand of bottled water to the UK… The Coca-Cola-sponsored Real Rover has discovered evidence that the surface of Mars was once partially covered by free-flowing Dasani, scientists at NASA ’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Monday. “The Real Rover’s instruments found signs that cool, refreshing Dasani once drenched the surface of the Red Planet,” said Dr. Marvin Chen, NASA space-science administrator and temporary liaison to Coca-Cola.