Weekly round-up of newspaper articles that may be of iinterest.
Ministers are backing a multibillion-pound plan to build another large-scale nuclear power plant in Britain to ease pressure on electricity supplies as the country moves towards net zero. The government is in discussions with the American nuclear reactor manufacturer Westinghouse about a proposal to develop a new plant on Anglesey in Wales. The project would be in addition to a second nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, which is under construction, and a proposal for a new reactor at Sizewell, Suffolk, that is at an advanced stage of planning.
Women should avoid taking paracetamol during pregnancy whenever possible, because it increases the risk of the child developing health problems in later life, according to experts. The common form of pain relief is taken by more than half of pregnant women worldwide to relieve mild pain and also reduce fever. However, some studies have claimed previously that it can cause infertility, undescended testicles, ADHD and a lower IQ in the foetus.
A global climate strike by youth protesters on Friday will hit more than 1,400 locations with a message that “change is coming – from the streets”. The strike is the first such worldwide action since the coronavirus pandemic hit, and is taking place just weeks before the vital Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday the world was “seemingly light years away from reaching our targets”.
A number of experts believe the Earth is rapidly approaching its 'tipping point' for reversing climate change, but researchers at Canada's University of Waterloo are creating artificial intelligence that could act as an 'early warning system' against a runway threat to the planet. The deep learning algorithm was created to better predict the tipping points, while also understanding what happens after they have been reached, the study's co-author, Chris Bauch, a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo, said.
An artificial intelligence system cannot be named as an inventor on UK patent applications because it is not a person, a London court has ruled in a landmark decision. Stephen Thaler, a US-based AI expert, brought a legal challenge against the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) after it rejected two patent applications that named his artificial intelligence (AI) machine Dabus as the inventor of a food container capable of changing shape and a flashing light.
Leaked plans for future iPhone handsets showed that alongside monitoring users’ mobility and sleep pattern, researchers hope that analysing how users type could reveal insights into their mental health, according to documents seen by The Wall Street Journal. The features are still in the planning stage but are likely to be part of the company’s collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which is studying stress, anxiety and depression, and the pharmaceutical company Biogen Inc, which is studying mild cognitive impairment.
A new type of battery for electric vehicles that can be charged in the same time it takes to fill a car with petrol will be unveiled on Thursday. If the technology proves viable, it could eventually eliminate the long waits to recharge that have proved a major deterrent for many car buyers. Northampton-based Mahle Powertrain, which traces its roots to engine builder Cosworth, and Woking-based battery technology firm Allotrope Energy say their new lithium carbon batteries have the potential to combine the characteristics of fast-charging capacitors with those of traditional lithium-ion power packs.
Blood, sweat and tears from astronauts has been used to make a new 'space concrete' that could aid construction on Mars. Scientists from the University of Manchester created the concrete-like material, which also contains space dust. According to the experts, it could cost around $2million (£1.5million) to transport a single standard brick to Mars. This is why lots of scientists are looking into more cost-effective and sustainable ways to build in space.
Scientists have successfully used artificial intelligence to create a new drug regime for children with a deadly form of brain cancer that has not seen survival rates improve for more than half a century. The breakthrough, revealed in the journal Cancer Discovery, is set to usher in an “exciting” new era where AI can be harnessed to invent and develop new treatments for all types of cancer, experts say. “The use of AI promises to have a transformative effect on drug discovery,” said Prof Kristian Helin, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, where a team of scientists, doctors and data analysts made the discovery.
A microchip the size of a grain of sand is the smallest human-made flying structure ever created, according to its developers, who say it could track airborne disease. Scientists say the 'microfliers' could also be used to monitor air pollution and environmental contamination at scales not previously possible. There is no motor involved - the tiny device works like the propeller seeds of a maple tree, catching the wind to slow its fall as it glides towards the ground.
The prospect of a new blockbuster drug from AstraZeneca after “unprecedented” data for a treatment for advanced breast cancer lifted the company’s shares yesterday. The pharmaceutical group was among the largest risers on the FTSE 100, rallying more than 6 per cent, as investors welcomed “ground-breaking” phase III trial results for Enhertu, which were presented at a large European medical oncology conference over the weekend.
It’s lunchtime at a workplace cafeteria in Birmingham, and employees returning to work after months away during the coronavirus pandemic are noticing something has changed. Next to the sandwiches and hot and cold dishes is a small globe symbol, coloured green, orange or red with a letter in the centre from A to E. “Meet our new eco-labels”, a sign reads. Researchers at Oxford University have analysed the ingredients in every food item on the menu and given the dishes an environmental impact score, vegetable soup (an A) to the lemon, spring onion, cheese and tuna bagel (an E).
Students in Cambodia have designed a prototype manned drone from a rather unexpected piece of furniture - a school chair. The youngsters at the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia (NPIC) spent $20,000 (£14,000) transforming the school chair into a drone, equipping it with eight propellers that allow it to fly to heights of around 13.1 feet (four metres). In the future, the team hopes to improve the design to carry more weight and fly even higher, and believes the drone could even be used by firefighters to access fires on upper floors of buildings one day.
All schools and colleges in Cornwall are being given litter pickers made from old hospital masks. The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro says reusing some of its surgical masks helps reduce plastic pollution. Health, Science and Environment Reporter Laura Foster has been to see how the hospital's on-site machine works and what the children make of it.
Millions of households face higher gas and electricity prices after the government said that it would not bail out energy companies on the brink of going into administration. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said that there was “absolutely no question of the lights going out” but insisted that there would be “no rewards for failure or mismanagement”. Ministers are instead considering underwriting billions of pounds in loans to cover the cost of companies taking customers from those that go bust.
Two thirds of autism cases could be prevented by treating babies with a simple video intervention, new research shows. In a landmark study, scientists from the University of Manchester and the University of Western Australia found that they could reduce the number of children being diagnosed with autism at the age of three, from 20.5 per cent per cent to 6.7 per cent. The intervention involved videoing at-risk babies as they interacted with a parent, before a therapist showed how the child was trying to communicate, so that the parent could respond.
The four citizen astronauts comprising the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission safely splashed down in the Atlantic on Saturday. The landing off Florida's coast completed a three-day flight of the first all-civilian crew ever sent into Earth orbit. The successful launch and return of the mission, the latest in a recent string of rocket-powered expeditions bankrolled by their billionaire passengers, marked another milestone in the fledgling space tourism industry.
The world’s biggest tech companies are coming out with bold commitments to tackle their climate impact but when it comes to using their corporate muscle to advocate for stronger climate policies, their engagement is almost nonexistent, according to a new report. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook and Microsoft poured about $65m into lobbying in 2020, but an average of only 6% of their lobbying activity between July 2020 and June 2021 was related to climate policy, according to an analysis from the thinktank InfluenceMap, which tracked companies’ self-reported lobbying on federal legislation
Mars once had flowing liquid water, but is now a dry desert landscape - and this could be because it is too small to retain moisture, according to planetary scientists. About half the size of Earth, Mars is the second smallest planet in the solar system, sitting at the very outer edge of the habitable zone where liquid water 'could flow'. There is 'irrefutable evidence' that the Red Planet once had flowing liquid water, including in the Jezero crater where the NASA Perseverance rover is currently searching for ancient signs of life, but this study suggests it didn't last long.
Supermarket chains are trying to secure supplies of carbon dioxide after government talks with a big producer of the gas ended last night without a solution. Worries about empty shelves are increasing after operations at two fertiliser factories in northern England, which play a key role in the production of CO2, were shut last week because of the rising price of natural gas. Carbon dioxide is used to stun animals for slaughter and in the food packaging process. Its solid form is dry ice, which is used by supermarkets in chilled food deliveries.
Folic acid will be added to flour in Britain to help prevent dangerous spinal conditions in babies, following a two-year consultation, the Government has announced. About 1,000 babies are born each year in the UK with neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida and anencephaly, but supplementation could prevent around 200 cases annually. Some 80 countries around the world, including Australia, Canada and the US, have already implemented the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid, which has brought reductions of between 16 and 58 per cent of annual cases of neural tube defects, with no known adverse effects.
A single bitcoin transaction generates the same amount of electronic waste as throwing two iPhones in the bin, according to a new analysis by economists from the Dutch central bank and MIT. While the carbon footprint of bitcoin is well studied, less attention has been paid to the vast churn in computer hardware that the cryptocurrency incentivises. Specialised computer chips called ASICs are sold with no other purpose than to run the algorithms that secure the bitcoin network, a process called mining that rewards those who partake with bitcoin payouts.
Facebook has released its first ever pair of smart glasses, created in partnership with luxury sunglasses maker Ray-Ban – and they're priced at a rather hefty £299. Facebook Ray-Ban Stories, as they're called, are about £30 cheaper than those offered by Snap Inc, the company behind Snapchat. Packed with dual integrated five megapixel cameras, a three microphone array and discreet open-ear speakers, they let wearers secretly snap photos and video on the go and have control over some apps hands-free.
Telegram has exploded as a hub for cybercriminals looking to buy, sell and share stolen data and hacking tools, new research shows, as the messaging app emerges as an alternative to the dark web. An investigation by cyber intelligence group Cyberint, together with the Financial Times, found a ballooning network of hackers sharing data leaks on the popular messaging platform, sometimes in channels with tens of thousands of subscribers, lured by its ease of use and light-touch moderation.