A drug to slow down Alzheimer’s relentless attack on the brain could be available in five years, experts said last night. Read more >>
VOCABULARY The noun wonder is sometimes used, as here, as a modifier, meaning 'exciting by virtue of spectacular results achieved, feats performed, etc'. E.g., 'a wonder horse'. See here for more on noun modifiers.
The white stuff in between your Oreo cookies may be a "cream" filling, but new research suggests it might as well be cocaine. According to a new study from Connecticut College students and a professor of neuroscience, Oreo cookies (given to lab rats) are just as addictive as cocaine. And yes, just like most of us, lab rats went for the middle first. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Randy Bish shows two laboratory rats eating Oreos in their cage. One says to the other, "Dude .... I hope this experiment never ends."
COMMENT The cartoon shouldn't need any explanation once you know the background story.
VOCABULARY 1. An experiment is a scientific test that is done in order to study what happens and to gain new knowledge. • Many people do not like the idea of experiments on animals. 2. Dude is a slang word for man in American English. • Hey, dude, what's up? According the the Urban Dictionary, the term is particularly prevalent among 'stoners, surfers and skaters', which is why the stoned (= under the influence of drugs) lab rat uses it. The archetypal stoner dude was the Jeff Bridges character in the 1998 comedy film The Big Lebowski.
A vaccine against malaria could be introduced in the world's worst-hit countries in 2015, after the latest trial of a treatment produced by Britain's biggest drug company reduced the number of cases of the disease experienced by babies. Full story >>
VOCABULARY Malaria is a disease that causes fever and shivering (= shaking of the body) caused by the bite of some types of mosquito. • Health chiefs warned of the dangers of malaria today after figures showed that 13 Londoners have died from the disease in the last four years.
Three-year-old Grayson Clamp twists in surprise after hearing his father's voice for the first time - a moment made possible by auditory implant placed on his brain stem. Deborah Gembara reports.
Grayson Clamp was born deaf, missing a choclear nerve. A new technology, however has changed that, making it possible for him to hear his father's voice for the first time. This moment was the result of a microchip placed in the three-year-old's brain by doctors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Because Grayson doesn't have a cochlear nerve for an implant to attach to, the implant was positioned on his brain stem. Grayson - the first child in the United States to receive the brain implant - will require several years of therapy to improve his hearing and speech.
BACKGROUND A simple twice-a-day do-it-yourself test to monitor high blood pressure at home could save thousands of lives each year. The new self-monitoring system helps patients dramatically improve their condition by allowing them to record and send regular readings directly to medical staff.
Doctors and nurses can then access these at the surgery and check the figures, contacting the patient if necessary to discuss their health and medication. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Paul Thomas from The Daily Express shows a man in his kitchen using the new device to take his blood pressure. His face is red, and steam is coming out of his ears. His wife tells him, "Don't take it [i.e., your blood pressure] while you're reading stories about the E.U. [i.e., European Union]".
EXPLANATION Steam coming from the ears is a common cartoon device used to show anger, frustration, or exasperation. We are meant to assume that the man is angry because he is reading a story about the latest E.U. disaster or cock-up. This is causing his blood pressure to rise, hence his wife's warning. The Daily Express is famously anti-EU, so this cartoon will appeal to its readers.
VOCABULARY D.I.Y. is an abbreviation for 'do-it-yourself'. D.I.Y. (or DIY) usually relates to the activity of making or repairing things yourself, especially in your home, but can also be used as an adjective to describe things you do yourself. • Council officials have ordered concerned parents to remove DIY road safety signs near a school.
IDIOMS Here are a couple of idioms connecting blood with anger: • It makes my blood boil to think of the amount of food that gets wasted around here. • My blood pressure is going to go through the roof if things don't change!
BACKGROUND This cartoon by Mac from The Daily Mail relates to news that scientists have extracted stem cells from human embryos created in a laboratory.
The breakthrough could lead to customised cells to help treat and even cure a range of diseases, from Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis.
However, it also raises the spectre of babies being cloned in laboratories. Full story >>
THE CARTOON A man is lying on the sofa reading the newspaper, which has a front page story about the "Cloned Babies Breakthrough". We are meant to deduce that his wife, who is surrounded by dozens of little clones of herself, has just come back from the cloning clinic. She must have just told her husband about the procedure because he replies, without looking at her, "Go on. They took a sliver of your skin and put it in a test tube - then what?"
VOCABULARY 1. A sliver of something is a small thin piece or amount of it. 2. A breakthrough is an important development or achievement. 3. A clone is an animal or plant that has been produced artificially, for example in a laboratory, from the cells of another animal or plant. A clone is exactly the same as the original animal or plant.
Space tourist and multimillionaire entrepreneur Dennis Tito unveils plans to send a couple to Mars in January 2018. Deborah Gembara reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Middle-aged couples in search of adventure may want to pay close attention. Millionaire space tourist Dennis Tito is setting his sites on the red planet, announcing on Wednesday plans to send two people, a male and a female, near Mars in 2018. Tito made history in 2001 as the first person to fund his own trip to the International Space Station. DENNIS TITO, CHAIRMAN OF INSPIRATION MARS FOUNDATION: "We fly within a hundred miles of Mars. I mean that is essentially being there. Swing by, use the gravitational shift of Mars and come back to earth, just like a boomerang, you don't need to have any propulsive maneuvers." REPORTER: Because the couple won't actually be landing on the red planet, Tito's team won't have to worry about undocking or redocking or the do-or-die engine burn from the return from Mars. A middle-aged couple, well past their childbearing years would be the ideal crew members to make the trip says Tito because of the limited space inside the capsule. Jayne Poynter is the President of Paragon Space Development. JANE POYNTER: "It's a really long road trip. You are jammed into an RV that goes the equivalent of 32,000 times around the earth, and you can't get out for about a year and a half." REPORTER: While Tito is confident in the mission, he says the planets will have to be in perfect alignment. He finally decided on 2018 because it looked better than 2031, the next ideal window.
Scientists discuss the possibility of cloning Neanderthals and the obstacles that will probably prevent any such attempts. Adam Brauner reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: It might soon be possible to clone Neanderthals, our closest extinct relatives. Geneticist George Church says it is more than theoretically possible to make a clone from extracted old DNA. He theorizes that studying cloned Neanderthals can help scientists better understand the human mind, but he does not intend to try. Scientists have already extracted DNA from Neanderthal bones, but the community thinks ethical issues will be the biggest obstacle. GEORGE CHURCH, PROFESSOR OF GENETICS AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: "Maybe we don't have to accept global warming as a truth in the 1850's, but we should be able to detect that nobody is actually working on cloning Neanderthals in 2013." REPORTER: Dr. Rob Desalle, of the American Museum of Natural History, agrees. ROB DESALLE, AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, CURATOR, SACKLER INSTITUTE OF COMPARATIVE GENOMICS: "I think the likelihood of seeing a Neanderthal clone is the same as seeing a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Central Park actually. And that's because there are so many ethical issues involved." REPORTER: Church plans to continue speaking publicy about his research, which focuses on using genes to treat and prevent disease.
Scientists are a step closer to creating a pill that will reverse ageing, claims the Express. Full story >>
VOCABULARY If you reverse something, such as a decision, judgment, or process, you change it so that it is the opposite of what it was before. • More changes are required to reverse the trend towards centralised power.
The Daily Telegraph says Britain could become the first country in the world to legalise the creation of IVF babies with three biological parents. Full story >>
VOCABULARY IVF is an abbreviation for 'in vitro fertilization', a method of helping a woman to have a baby in which an egg is removed from one of her ovaries, fertilized outside her body, and then replaced in her womb. • Since the successful birth of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown in 1978 in England, IVF treatments have provided millions of couples struggling to have children the chance to build families of their own.
EXPLANATION The cartoonist uses a well-known idiom as the basis for this cartoon. If you say that trying to find something is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it means that it is very difficult, if not impossible to find among everything around it. • Finding parking in downtown Watertown these days is a lot like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. The image is easy enough to understand: a needle is small, and a haystack is big. So the cartoonist is emphasizing the fact that the chances of scientists finding the Higgs boson were very small indeed. By the way, the implement sticking out of the haystack is a pitchfork.
Ever since the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) went online in 2008, physicists have been conducting experiments, hoping to finally prove or disprove the existence of The God Particle, otherwise known as the Higgs Boson. Yesterday, researchers working at CERN (which operates the LHC) announced that they think they’ve finally found it. In this video, Daniel Whiteson, a physics professor at UC Irvine, gives us a fuller explanation of the Higgs Boson and the LHC experiments that were used to confirm it. (via Open Culture)
Scientists at the CERN research centre have found a new subatomic particle that could be the Higgs boson, the basic building block of the universe. Sarah Sheffer reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Scientists at Europe's CERN research centre believe they have found one of the basic building blocks of the universe -- a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. The Director General of CERN told an audience of scientists that the discovery is a milestone in mankind's understanding of nature and has opened up exciting prospects for further revelations in the field. Peter Higgs, the British physicist who proposed the existence of the boson which bears his name in the 1960s, was at CERN to welcome the news. The Higgs theory explains how particles clumped together to form stars, planets and life itself. Without the Higgs particle, the particles that make up the universe would have remained a formless soup, the theory goes. What scientists do not yet know from the latest findings is whether the particle they have discovered is in fact the Higgs boson. BRITISH SCIENTIST, EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF THEORETICAL PHYSICS AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE, TOM KIBBLE, SAYING: "They have certainly discovered a particle which looks similar to the expected Higgs particle, but there is a lot of work to be done to be sure that it has all the right properties.'' REPORTER: It could also be a variant of the Higgs idea or an entirely new subatomic particle that could force a rethink on the fundamental structure of matter. Sarah Sheffer, Reuters.