UPDATE: 26th June 2011 My old Spotlight column, resurrected as an archive on https://sciencespot.co.uk and also acting as host to media releases by yours truly for Inderscience Publishers.
These are the last physical sciences news headlines I’ll publish for the Intute (previously PSIgate) site. I’ve written for the organisation on a pretty much monthly basis for the last decade, first as PSIgate Spotlight, then as Hot Topics on Intute. But, July 2010 is the last issues as Intute goes into statis for a year as of next month because of funding cuts instigated last year. My Spotlight column of physical science news is now archived on ScienceSpot.co.uk
I will, of course, continue to provide cutting-edge science news for a wide range of other outlets including SpectroscopyNOW, Materials Today, the recently launched ChemistryViews, etc and on the Sciencebase site and social media itself:
- Nitrogen-fixing aliens – Scientists hope that Titan, a moon of Saturn, with its nitrogen-rich atmosphere, could act as a model system for terrestrial chemistry before life began on our planet. Now, another step towards that goal has emerged as researchers at the University of Arizona have incorporated atmospheric nitrogen into organic macromolecules under conditions resembling those on Titan.
- How low can you go? – We’re repeatedly advised to switch off electrical devices, like TVs and DVD players at the mains outlet rather than leaving them in standby mode, to turn to compact fluorescent bulbs and to turn them off when illumination is no longer necessary, to do our laundry at lower temperatures, to run the dishwasher only when it’s full, and to avoid using energy-hungry power showers. All those kilowatts add up to a lot of power wasted if we don’t.
- Energy, all at sea – Floating wind turbines could capture the energy of higher wind speeds further out to see and address some of the noise and unsightliness complained about by those with turbines closer to home.
- Antioxidants and ageing – Want to slow the ageing process? New research suggests that will take a lot more than popping a few antioxidants each day. Am I surprised by this finding? No, aren’t natural oxidising agents the first line of defence against pathogens? Why would trying to reduce levels of those agents be beneficial in the long run? Our cells have myriad repair mechanisms to cope with the oxidants that are produced through normal metabolism.
- Mars Close to Earth (Again) – In August, the Red Planet, Mars, will not come so close to the Earth that it will appear as big as the moon in the night sky. This urban legend has been around for almost a decade and seemingly has its origins in the actual “close encounter” we had in August 2003 when the planet was a “mere” 56 million kilometres away, the closest it had been for 60000 years.