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Brown reveals road pricing, emissions plans

The UK will be the first country in the world to have legally binding emissions targets under the Climate Change Bill announced today in the Queen's Speech. The bill sets out plans to reduce carbon emissions in the UK by 60 per cent by 2050. It also has an interim target of at least 26 per cent by 2020, and will allow five-year …
Lucy Sherriff, 06 Nov 2007
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Brain gene map: a route to Alzheimer's cure?

A new catalogue of genes, and the proteins they trigger in the brain, could help scientists develop new treatments for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. The database has been created by researchers at UCL and the University of Miami, who have spent years mapping the expression of genes in the brain. Professor John Hardy …
Lucy Sherriff, 06 Nov 2007
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China goes lunar

China's lunar probe has arrived in orbit around the moon after a twelve day journey. It slotted into place yesterday, after receiving orders to slow down some 200km from its destination. It will spend the next year scanning the surface and reporting back, with images and data, to mission control. The satellite, dubbed Chang'e I …
Lucy Sherriff, 06 Nov 2007
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Shuttle crew completes daring wing repair

The space shuttle Discovery has uncoupled from the International Space Station and is heading back to Earth, after an eventful 11 day stay in orbit. The shuttle's journey home will take two days, and it is scheduled to land back at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on Wednesday afternoon. The crew of Discovery spent time this …
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Nov 2007
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Petty crimes, 150,000 kids and a million new records

Have you ever used one of those machines at a fairground or on a seaside pier? You know, the ones that stretch a penny out, imprinting it with a touristy message and the date of your holiday? Well, get yourself down to the local nick and hand over your fingerprints and a DNA sample immediately, because defacing a coin is one of …
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Nov 2007
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Shampoo boffins decode dandruff fungus' DNA

Researchers working for the maker of Head and Shoulders anti-dandruff shampoo have mapped out the genome of the microbe that causes the pesky condition. The news is being hailed as a breakthrough that could put millions of snowy-shouldered people out of their misery, according to a report in The Sunday Times newspaper. Dandruff …
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Nov 2007
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Mac users get a new OS, and a Trojan for good measure

Before we begin with the round up of this week's news, can we politely direct your attention to the eSymposium we're hosting? It will take you on a journey from the desktop to the data centre, and is to be hosted by our lovely (and very clean shaven) US editor Ashlee Vance. You might like to sign up. Elsewhere, news happened. …
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Nov 2007
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Star formation? All a bit of a wind up

UK astronomers have discovered that the material flowing out of newborn stars contains a coiled, spring-shaped magnetic field. The discovery, reported in the 1 November edition of Nature helps to explain why new stars are able to form as they condense from spinning clouds of interstellar gas. "Astronomers know that stars form …
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Nov 2007
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Biofuels make poor people even poorer

European targets for use of biofuels will make life worse for some of the poorest people on the planet, according to a report from charity Oxfam. In January, the European Commission issued guidelines suggesting that member states should use biofuels for 10 per cent of their transport fuel "budget" by 2020. Oxfam argues that if …
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Nov 2007
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USPTO shake-up derailed by injunction

New rules proposed by the US Patent Office have been blocked after pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline won a preliminary injunction against the proposed changes. The firm said it did not believe the US Patent and Trademark Office had the legal authority to redefine procedures like this. The changes would have limited both the …
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Nov 2007
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UK boffins ID three new exo-planets

Planet-hunting boffins based in the UK have announced the discovery of three more spinning globes to add to the more than 200 extrasolar planets already known to science. The planets turned up during the Wide Area Search for Planets (WASP). All are gas giants, roughly the size of Jupiter, and are orbiting their parent stars so …
Lucy Sherriff, 31 Oct 2007
hands waving dollar bills in the air

US tech industry backs Buffalo in Wi-Fi patent spat

America's computing industry are lining up behind Buffalo Technology to support its appeal against a US import ban of its 802.11a and 802.11g kit. In June, a US court stepped in to stop the sale of Wi-Fi equipment from Buffalo Technology based on technology that infringes patents held by the Australia-based Commonwealth …
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Oct 2007
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Europe delays accidental ban on MRI scans

The European Commission has suggested that it should delay implementing legislation that would have imposed serious limits on when and where MRI scans could be used. The draft legislation covering workers' exposure to electromagnetic fields will now be sent back to the drawing board for a further four years. Meanwhile, the …
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Oct 2007

OLPC wants $200 for its $100 laptop, please

The $100 laptop, designed to save the children of developing countries from a world without technology, might have to be rebranded. The machine's price tag has now hit the $200 mark. Anyone feeling altruistic can purchase the machines in lots of 10,000 and say where they'd like them to be sent. Smaller donations can also be made …
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Oct 2007
Pirates ahoy!

TV-Links man: 'I'm no master criminal'

The man arrested as part of the investigation into the TV-Links website has spoken to his local newspaper about his arrest. In a story from thisisgloucestershire.co.uk, David Rock, a 26-year-old computer engineer from Cheltenham, says he didn't think what he was doing was illegal. Rock was arrested just over a week ago in …
Lucy Sherriff, 29 Oct 2007
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Europe grows more (and more) GM crops

Just days after the European Commission gave its stamp of approval to four new GM plants, a report has revealed that the area of Europe's arable land devoted to genetically modified crops has risen by 77 per cent in the last year. The total area of GM cultivation is now 1,000 square kilometres*. The only widely planted GM crop, …
Lucy Sherriff, 29 Oct 2007
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MPs call for climate change minister

A parliamentary committee has recommended that the government appoint a minister specifically to deal with climate change, after its review of government policy revealed that departments are not coordinating properly to deal with the issue. The Environmental Audit Committee said there had been a "decade of failure" to tackle …
Lucy Sherriff, 29 Oct 2007
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Astronauts complete spacewalk two

The astronauts of the space shuttle Discovery have completed the second spacewalk of the two-week mission to the International Space Station (ISS), and are preparing for the third. During the spacewalk, one of the crew discovered metal shavings inside a rotary joint on a solar array. The joint is needed to allow the panels to …
Lucy Sherriff, 29 Oct 2007
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Boffins dredge up oldest living animal

Scientists have dredged up the oldest known living creature and have called it Ming. According to reports, the 405-year-old clam (for it is that kind of mollusc) has not been named for the ex-leader of the Liberal Democrats, but for the Ming Dynasty which ruled China when it was young. The clam is so old that during its youth …
Lucy Sherriff, 29 Oct 2007
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Boffins uncover ginger gene in neanderthal DNA

The continuing analysis of samples of neanderthal DNA have revealed that some of them had ginger hair. Researchers from the University of Barcelona identified a mutation on the gene MC1R that, in modern humans, causes hair to tend to the titian, and skin to tend to the pale. All humans carry a version of MC1R, but the redhead …
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Oct 2007
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Astronauts ride robotic arms into space

The crew of the space shuttle Discovery have wasted no time and are already hard at work extending the International Space Station (ISS). An astronaut on the end of a robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV An astronaut on the end of a robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV Mission specialists Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock started the first …
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Oct 2007
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A fine week for MS, Intel and Vonage

Unappealing prospects Microsoft has finally blinked in its three year stare-out contest with the European Commission. This week the firm said it would not launch another appeal against the landmark €497m anti-trust fine slapped on it in 2004. Accordingly, it'll now have to open up access to APIs to let other developers, …
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Oct 2007
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Scottish poll probe: e-counting gets 'hold off until safe' verdict

Investigators looking into the cock-up that was the May elections in Scotland have issued their final report. Looking at the media coverage, you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd given the whole thing a clean bill of health. Headlines proclaim the report's conclusion that the electronic counting process was not to blame for the …
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Oct 2007
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EC sidesteps dithering states to approve four new GMOs

The European Commission has waved through four new genetically modified organisms (GMO) for consumption in the European Union. This means that 15 GMOs have been allowed in to the EU since the region lifted its outright ban on the crops in 2004. Member states couldn't agree on whether or not to allow the crops to be imported, so …
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Oct 2007
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Cassini team spies moonlets in Saturn's A ring

Many years ago, a comet strike or a wandering asteroid passing through Saturn's moon system, crashed into one of the orbiting bodies, shattering it and sending fragments the size of sports stadia whirling along its orbital path. Moonlets orbiting Saturn. Credit: NASA Moonlets orbiting Saturn. Credit: NASA New images from NASA …
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Oct 2007

Intel pays $250m to end Transmeta patent fight

Intel has agreed to stump up $250m to Transmeta to settle the patent dispute case between the firms without battling through the courts. Intel will pay its rival $150m in a lump sum, plus an annual license fee of $20m for the next five years. Transmeta sued Intel back in October 2006, alleging that the chip giant infringed ten …
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Oct 2007
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NASA lights blue touchpaper on Discovery

Discovery waits for launch. Credit: NASA Discovery waits for launch. Credit: NASA The space shuttle Discovery is set to blast off from Florida on its journey to the International Space Station later today, with the launch slated for 11:38am, Eastern Time. Weather forecasts don't look fantastic, with only a 40 per cent chance …
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Oct 2007
clock teaser

ODF calls time on da Vinci coding

The Open Document Foundation (ODF) has quietly ended all work on its da Vinci project after failing to secure approval from the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). The da Vinci project was to develop a class of plug-ins that would allow users "to create and edit CDF (compound document …
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Oct 2007
Recycle sign

Government plots escape from renewable energy targets

Government ministers are trying to find a way to wriggle out of the Britain's commitment to derive a significant portion of its energy from renewable sources, according to The Guardian. The newspaper cites a "leaked report", which The Register has not seen, in which trade minister John Hutton advises the Prime Minister on how …
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Oct 2007
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TV-Links man was arrested under trademark laws

Gloucestershire police have confirmed that a 26-year-old Cheltenham man at the centre of an investigation into the website TV-Links was arrested under section 92 of the Trade Mark Act, on suspicion of supplying property with a registered trademark, without permission. The man was taken into custody on Thursday last week after …
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Oct 2007
Handcuffs

Cops pull plugs on TV-links, claim 'facilitation of infringement'

Last week's arrest of a 26-year-old Cheltenham man, and the related closure of the TV-links website, has prompted a flurry of speculation that the very foundations of the internet (linking to stuff) might be under threat. Although this might be a worry too far, legal eagles at Pinsent Masons say that it could be an important …
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Oct 2007

Orange UK's chief exec gets shuffled

Bernard Ghillebaert, chief executive of Orange UK, is to step down from his post after a management shake-up by parent firm France Telecom. France Telecom announced today that Tom Alexander, a Brit from outside the group, will take over. Ghillebaert meanwhile will "be fulfilling a new group level role as executive vice …
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Oct 2007
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Science facing funding crisis, MPs warn

Educational science centres are facing a funding crisis, a group of MPs has warned in a new report. The Science and Technology Select Committee (STSC) is calling on the government to intervene and provide centres with a short-term cash boost to keep them going. It also suggests that "steps are taken" to reduce the tax burden …
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Oct 2007
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Northern ocean filling up with CO2

A decade-long study of the oceans has shown they are soaking up less and less carbon dioxide. The oceans' ability to absorb the greenhouse gas halved between the mid 90s and the first five years of this century, scientists said. The team of researchers, based at the University of East Anglia, carried out the study using …
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Oct 2007
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Safe drinking guidelines 'plucked out of the air'

The UK government's guidelines on how much it is safe to drink are based on numbers "plucked out of the air" by a committee that met in 1987. According to The Times newspaper, the limits are not based on any science whatsoever, rather "a feeling that you had to say something" about what would be a safe drinking level. This is …
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Oct 2007
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Watson suspended by research lab after race row

James Watson, the Nobel prize-winning scientist who caused an uproar earlier this week with his comments to a Sunday newspaper has been suspended by his research laboratory. The Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York issued a statement saying that it had taken the action "pending further deliberation by the board". Watson …
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Oct 2007
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Ships pollute more than planes

Ships pump out twice as much carbon dioxide as planes, according to new figures from the maritime industry body Intertanko. The body also warns that the industry should brace itself for the attentions of various governments. Bill Box, from Intertanko, told the Independent newspaper: "Shipping has not yet been regulated and for …
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Oct 2007
BT

BT blows £250m on wind power

BT is investing a whopping £250m in a series of wind farms that will generate 25 per cent of the firm's energy requirements by 2016. BT currently accounts for almost one per cent (0.7 per cent) of the UK's entire energy consumption, making it the biggest single consumer of power we have. The move has been welcomed by the …
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Oct 2007
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Neanderthals had key speech gene, researchers say

Neanderthals may have a reputation in popular culture as a lumbering, grunting people, but researchers have discovered that they did have a gene thought to play a key role in speech. Samples of DNA were retrieved from two Neanderthal fossils found in a cave in northern Spain. Careful examination revealed that the pair both had …
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Oct 2007
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North American cities go green under LED street lights

A city near Detroit is replacing all the bulbs in its street lighting with LEDs, following similar moves by a town in North Carolina and even Toronto. The move will bring in savings of $100,000 per year, Ann Arbour city officials said, meaning the investment will pay itself off inside four years. Mayor John Hieftje told the …
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Oct 2007
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Supersized stellar blackhole prompts model rewrite

Researchers have located the most massive stellar black hole ever discovered, just three million light-years away in a nearby galaxy. The stellar remnant is in a binary system known as M33, orbiting a huge companion star. The researchers say the find is "intriguing", because of what it suggests about stellar evolution. …
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Oct 2007
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Museum drops Watson talk in race row

The science museum has cancelled a talk by Nobel prize winner James Watson after the scientist, who won the gong for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, said that black people are less intelligent than white people. The museum said that it does not shy away from discussing difficult topics, but that "James Watson's …
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Oct 2007
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Dino-boffins unearth another new gigantic species

Yet another giant dinosaur has been dug out of the ancient rock of this fair planet. Clearly unwilling to be outdone by American or Japanese duck-billed dinosaur discoveries, Argentine and Brazilian palaeontologists have announced the discovery of Futalognkosaurus dukei, a massive plant-eating beast. According to the BBC, the …
Lucy Sherriff, 16 Oct 2007
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Quantum scientist wins Euro computing prize

A quantum physicist has scooped a major prize for computing for his work on the edge of both disciplines. The Royal Society said it had chosen to bestow the €250,000 Royal Society and Académie des Sciences Microsoft European Science award on Professor Giorgio Parisi, professor of quantum theories at the University of Rome La …
Lucy Sherriff, 16 Oct 2007
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Alien attack? Yes, we're ready for anything

Rudy Giuliani, US presidential hopeful and ex-hardline-Mayor of New York, says that under his command, the US will be prepared for anything, up to and including an alien attack. He made the rather unlikely claim at a public conference, when a young lad in the audience piped up with the following: "If (there's) something living …
Lucy Sherriff, 16 Oct 2007

Dodgy wet wiring caused ISS computer crash

The guidance computers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) did not fail because of the newly-installed power systems, as initially supposed. It was actually a single corroded connection and "shocking" circuit design that caused the control systems to power down back in June. Writing for the IEEE publication Spectrum, …
Lucy Sherriff, 16 Oct 2007
Microsoft

Microsoft patents brain-computer link

Microsoft has sent in a patent application where no patent application has gone before. It wants to own the rights to read your mind. More specifically, the firm says it wants to understand human computer interaction better, and has opted to read our minds. The psychic approach is the best option, the firm says, because …
Lucy Sherriff, 16 Oct 2007
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Mars rovers can keep on rovin'

Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity have been given the green light to keep on roving, possibly through to the end of 2009. The rovers' continued good health is the only limit mentioned in NASA's announcement of the mission extension. The twin rovers landed on Mars in 2004. The original mission called for the pair to spend three …
Lucy Sherriff, 16 Oct 2007
channel

HPA outlines plans to measure Wi-Fi exposure

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is to spend £250,000 on a two year research project to quantify everyday exposure to electromagnetic fields from Wi-Fi. The agency reckons this will give it some ammunition to reassure people that their kids are safe if their school chooses to use a wireless internet connection. The reaction …
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Oct 2007
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MIT boffins plan for asteroidal doom

Researchers at MIT say they know what the near-Earth asteroid Apophis is made of, information that could be vital if we need to divert or pulverise the space-rock in 2036. By analysing its spectrum and comparing it with meteorites that have already landed on Earth, the team has "nailed" its composition, says Richard Binzel, …
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Oct 2007