New Consoles Launch Amid Poor Review Scores and Developer Pressure

By Alasdair Crews

Microsoft's Xbox One, which launched earlier this month.  Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Xbox One, which launched earlier this month. Credit: Microsoft

The successful launch of the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles has been overshadowed by poor game review scores. Both consoles launched in the U.S. earlier this month with both console producers, Microsoft and Sony, proclaiming that thier machine have sold more than one million units in North America within 24 hours of going on sale.

Unfortunately, the successful sales for both machines have been dulled by a succession of poor review scores for their flagship games. PlayStation 4 exclusives “Killzone: Shadow Fall” and “Knack” and Xbox One-only offerings “Ryse: Son of Rome” and “Zoo Tycoon” have received mixed reviews across the gaming press.

The added pressure game developers are under when working with new hardware could have contributed to the poor review scores.  An assistant producer with Ninja Theory, Colin Chang,  said: “With development of those titles having lasted at least two years and working on theoretical hardware (that changed as time went on) at the beginning of the next-gen SKUs. [It's a challenge], especially if you’re a launch title with such a constrained deadline.”

Having to develop parallel versions of games for the new consoles, as well as the consoles already being on sale, has also affected quality.  Chang said: “I can imagine this would have affected third party publishers and developers like Activision and EA the most as they would’ve shipped 4-5 SKUs of games such as Call of Duty Ghosts and Need For Speed Rivals.”

Alongside the middling review scores, technical issues have plagued both new machines. Faulty disc drives in the Xbox One have led to Microsoft offering affected customers a free game download; whilst Sony has had issues with a blue light on the PlayStation 4 causing the console to reset itself and cause other operational issues.

Both companies maintain that the issues affect less than one percent of the consoles sold so far. With both consoles expected to be top sellers this Christmas, Microsoft and Sony hope that these issues remain isolated.

Related Story: Retailers Braced For PlayStation 4 Launch

Drug Discovery Institute announced by Alzheimer’s Research UK

By Alicia Simpson

image source: reuters

The Drug Discovery Institute will develop new treatments for dementia (image source: reuters)

 

Alzheimer’s Research UK  announced a first of its kind in Europe this week with the launch of a Drug Discovery Institute to develop new treatments for dementia.

With the G8 Dementia Summit one month away, the UK’s leading dementia research charity will fund the new institute to address a gap it says the pharmaceutical industry has failed to fill. It will unite the divide between academic research, which provides much of the fundamental insight into neurodegenerative disease, and the development of new treatments.

The charity has today called  for the UK’s foremost universities to apply to host the Institute. Its work will be guided by Alzheimer’s Research UK and leading drug discovery experts from the dementia field, and is set to have its lead scientists in place by next year.

The Director of Research for Alzheimer’s Research UK, Dr Eric Karran, is launching the Drug Discovery Institute. Dr Karran said: “We currently have no treatments that act against the disease processes that cause dementia; this Institute will change that. The Institute will be the first of its kind in Europe, and will follow successful models established in other disease areas like cancer. As the population ages, numbers of people living with dementia will grow; the need for treatments that can improve quality of life or slow or stop diseases like Alzheimer’s cannot be overstated.”

Finding medicines for complex diseases such as this solicits an amalgamation of clinical expertise, pioneering basic science and patient involvement. The new Drug Discovery Institute will aim to combine all three by setting up its home with a leading academic group that has close access to clinical research units and hospitals.

Dr Karran said: “The Drug Discovery Institute is the missing link between the UK’s considerable expertise in fundamental science, and industry who can turn discoveries into benefits for people with dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK is in a unique position to bring the academic and industrial sectors together in the interests of tackling our greatest medical challenge and it is the right time to launch this drive.”

Dementia currently affects at least 35.6 million people worldwide, and the numbers are projected to almost double every 20 years, according to the World Health Organization. 60,000 deaths a year are also directly attributable to dementia.

Professor Bart de Strooper was awarded the MetLife Foundation Award for Medical Research in 2007 for his contribution to dementia research. De Strooper said: “The Drug Discovery Institute is exactly the kind of long-term thinking that we need to develop effective new treatments for people with dementia. Dementia researchers from across Europe and beyond will be watching its progress with anticipation.”

Dementia costs the UK economy £23 billion a year, which is more than both cancer and heart disease combined. It is hoped that the launch of the Drug Discovery Institute will enable reductions to the economic cost, as well as the huge personal cost, of dementia.

Rosemary Goddard is the Alzheimer’s Research UK champion. Her husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s seven years ago. Goddard said: “I’m delighted to see Alzheimer’s Research UK taking the lead in this search for more effective drugs. With the population living longer, dementia is hanging over us all like the sword of Damocles, and I have to hope that research will defeat this dreadful condition.”

Video games industry adapts as 20 more filesharing sites are blocked by courts

By Alasdair Crews

As the music industry welcomes a court ordered block of filesharing sites, the games industry is taking their own measures to deal with the problem.

The British Phonographic Industry have welcomed a court order for all internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK to block access to more than 20 filesharing sites.

The chief executive of the BPI, Geoff Taylor, stated that they felt that the block, along with those already in place for other sites will “significantly reduce” the use of the sites in the UK.

The other major entertainment industry in the UK, the video games industry, is taking a different approach.

A recent survey by Tiga, the trade industry body for video games, stated that although almost 60 percent of their members see piracy as a problem, only 10 percent see cracking down on filesharing sites as the best option.

Instead, the majority think that “new business models” are the way forward.  The “free-to-play” model – also known as F2P – where players can play a base game for free and pay money to acquire new items and progress quicker, has become the model of choice for developers, especially on mobile devices.

A look at the statistics suggest that this model is fruitful for developers – EA Games announced yesterday that their premier F2P mobile title – “The Simpsons Tapped Out” – has generated more than $100 million in revenue since it’s launch in 2012.  Estimates given this month state that “Candy Crush Saga”, made by King Games, earns over $800,000 daily.

Mobile devices are not the only place where this model has been successful.  Valve Corporation made their popular PC game “Team Fortress 2″ game free-to-play in 2011 and they estimated that their gross from the game has been “12 times more” than if the game remained a full-priced purchase.

However, not all developers are taking this action.  The CEO of Deep Silver, Dr. Klemens Kundratitz, who make the popular “Saint’s Row” series, admit that piracy is generally “ignored” in their business plan and that they just, “live with it [as it has] been part of our business for decades.”

EA Games' "The Simpsons Tapped Out" has grossed $100 million in revenue since it's launch

EA Games’ “The Simpsons Tapped Out” has grossed $100 million in revenue since it’s launch

Councillors pedalling fast to fight pollution

Gordon MacKenzie speaks to Spokes supporters at the 2012 local election hustings.

It’s campaign time  and on May the 3rd  voters will  choose the future of the city transport. 

 Transport had been in the spotlight in recent years due to the troubled tram project.  Now Edinburgh faces another challenge with European Union strict standards on air pollution.  The Green party have highlighted the deadline for the city to reach acceptable air pollution levels by 2015.  If the council do not meet these targets the taxpayer will face a heavy financial penalty.  

Spokes is an Edinburgh charity organisation that focuses on bicycle transport but also green issues.  A hustings was held on Thursday  29th  March to question the councillors responsible for this important issue.

Gene linked to life threatening flu

A lack or low content of the protein IFITM3 due to genetic mutation can change a harmless flu into a life-threatening disease. This information was announced in a collaborative study which included contributions from Edinburgh University and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute among others.

While most people recover well from a flu, some have to be hospitalized with life-threatening symptoms.”We had little idea why this small number of people was so severely affected,” says Professor Tim Walsh from the Critical Care Medicine Department at the University of Edinburgh. Previous studies showed that protein IFITM3 plays a crucial role in blocking the growth of influenza viruses. The protein, which sits in the membrane, is suspected to hinder viruses from entering cells and subsequently their replication.

The initial study was done on mice lacking the IFITM3 gene and showed that these mice were more likely to express severe symptoms of flu when exposed to the viruses. A subsequent screening of patients who had been admitted to hospital with severe flu revealed a mutation in the IFITM3 gene in some of the patients.

“Our research is important for people who have this variant as we predict their immune defences could be weakened to some virus infections. Ultimately as we learn more about the genetics of susceptibility to viruses, these people can take informed precautions, such as vaccinations to prevent infection,” says Professor Paul Kellam from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Relating the genetic composition of a person to their susceptibility to viral infections will help scientists find the best cure for patients.

Aberdeen gas leak “no problem”

An oil rig in the North Sea has been evacuated after the discovery of a gas  leak on Sunday 150 miles (240km) off the coast of Aberdeen.

Total E&P UK (TEP UK), operators of the platform, has stated that 238 people have been evacuated from the rig, and no injuries have been reported. The platform is currently unmanned and powered down. The reason for the leak is still unknown.

The Aberdeen Coastguard has confirmed that the situation is still ongoing, and that there have been reports of a sheen from a possible leaking of gas into the water around the rig. They also stated that Total is attempting to ascertain  what to do next.

“Investigations are continuing to determine the cause of the ongoing gas leak and TEP UK is monitoring the situation closely,” said a spokesman for Total.

The spokesman also said that they are “cooperating fully with all relevant authorities including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).”

The city of Aberdeen has released no warning to the public. They have said that “It is miles and miles off shore, so there is no problem. In fact it is a beautiful day for a paddle.”

10,000 to participate in Lung Cancer trial

Ten thousand smokers will participate in a new lung cancer screening trial, according to Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer.

Sir Harry Burns announced the trial will test the cost-effectiveness of EarlyCDT lung, a simple blood test used to detect the disease in its earliest stages.  Current screening methods only detect advanced lung cancer.

The trial will involve people who have smoked the equivalent of 20 cigarettes a day for 20 years.

Half the participants will receive the EarlyCDT test, while half will not be screened.  At the end of the trial, the clinical outcomes and the overall cost of care for both groups will be compared.

Sir Harry Burns said: “The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the greater the chance it can be treated successfully, and currently 85 percent of patients with lung cancer remain undiagnosed until the disease has reached an advanced stage. . . By testing those at greatest risk of developing lung cancer, and diagnosing it at its earliest possible stage, we stand a better chance of being able to treat the cancer successfully.”

According to government statistics one in five deaths in Scotland are smoking-related.  Illness associated with smoking costs NHS Scotland over 400 million annually.

EarlyCDT-Lung testing has been used in the United States for two years.  According to Oncimmune, the pharamecutical firm that developed the test, it is “performing commercially as expected” there.

Burns hopes that use of new testing procedures will help NHS Scotland increase early detection of Lung cancer by 25%.

Dr. Dance one of many to headline Edinburgh Science Festival

Dr. Dance will be exploring the psychology and the genetics of dance.
Photo: Edinburgh Science Festival

Come rain or shine, this week will see the kick off of the 25th annual Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Preparations for the March 30th opening are going “pretty good” according to Frances Sutton, PR manager for the festival, as works are continues to set up for the nearly 200 events being offered this year.

Final event speakers have been put in place,  particularly with the Edinburgh  event on March 31st, which boast a great range of 13 speakers including Suzy Glass, talking about the art of creating through trial and error, and Dr. Peter Lovatt, who will be looking at the science of dance.

“I am a Peter Lovatt fan, always have been,” said Sutton. “He is Dr. Dance, a professional dancer turned scientist. “

The Science Festival will run for two weeks and will host events for all ages to experience. The festival is one of the worlds largest celebrations of science in technology, and it aims to inspire individuals to explore the wonders around them. The events are held all across Edinburgh, and are easy to get to from any part of the city.

With everything coming into place during the last few days, there have been a few changes. NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock, who has taken many of the images from the International Space Station, has had to cancel his appearance. However, for the most part, everything is progressing  as planned, according to Sutton.

A few events have sold out, but there are still  spaces available for most ticketed events. The festival staff recommends booking in advanced to be sure that you have a place.

Bookings can be done online quick and easy at the Festival Website, but also by phone by calling the box office at 0844 557 2686, or on person at the box office on the Fringe.

“We are all very excited,” says Sutton,  “Let’s get on with it, let’s go. It is 2 years worth of work. We build it, design it, but putting it on is what we do.”

Though the festival may have to compete with the rising  warm temperatures and sunny sky’s for the opening.

“The irony is that the weather doesn’t help. We are hoping for rain.”

More on this story:

Images signal the start of Science Festival

Daylight-saving time on the proof

Every year we turn our clocks forward by an hour at the last weekend in March. This year the change to daylight-saving time, or summer time as many people call it, took place yesterday, on March the 25th.

Summer time will reduce energy costs by aligning the time we spend awake and working with daylight. Since it’s introduction in 1916 the clock change has caused many debates and has resulted in many research studies. Research teams have proposed health risks due to the change in clock time twice a year, saying it has similar repercussions to jetlag, shift work and sleep deprivation.

Imre Janszky from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in Sweden has found in a second study that the hour of clock change in the end of March has a short-term influence on the risk of suffering from an acute heart attack (also known as acute myocardial infarction). With an international team of scientists, he found that the sleep deprivation caused by the one hour of time difference resulted in a 4% increase in people admitted to the coronary care units in Sweden over a period of approximately one week. “The sleep-wake cycle appears to require several days to adjust to the official time after the shift,” he states.

The daylight-saving adjustment has also been criticized for not having a significant impact on energy consumption. Dr Simon I Hill and his team from the University of Cambridge   found that “having BST year-round would lead to energy savings on the order of at least 0.3% in the months in which the UK currently has GMT” (winter time).

This is one of the reasons for the proposed Daylight Saving Bill in the UK which received ministerial backing last autumn for a trial period of three years. The switch to the GMT+1 timezone would help aligning waking hours with daylight hours in Britain.The daylight-saving time has reportedly been found to reduce the risk of accidents. In January, however, the bill was brought to a halt due to a lack of time in the parliament and the Scottish Government has been reported to object  because of the longer duration of darkness in the morning.

The recent change of the clock is expected to raise the discussion again.

“Hibernation” Could Help Stroke Recovery

A technique which cools the human body, inducing a kind of hibernation, is to be used to see if it will help the recovery of stroke victims. The technique, which recuduces body temperature from 36.8C to between 34C and 35C has already been used to treat brain injury after cardiac arrest or birth defects.

Inducing hypothermia by use of cooling pads and intravenous fluids, the procedure has been successful in small-scale trials, but the process by which it helps is not yet fully known. Theories suggest that when cooled, the brain requires less oxygen, so giving doctors more time to help prevent damage.

The clinical trials are being run by Friedrich-Alexander-University in Germany in collaberation the University of Edinburgh and are likely to last until 2016 or 2017 . They will involve around 1500 people across Europe, with 200 from the UK.

It is hoped that if these trials are successful, the chances of a complete recovery from a stroke will be increased from 1 in 13 to 1 in 10. Currently there are few treatments available for stroke victims.

Dr Malcolm Macleod, head of experimental neuroscience at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh commented that  “every day 1,000 Europeans die from stroke – that’s one every 90 seconds – and about twice that number survive but are disabled. Our estimates are that hypothermia might improve the outcome for more than 40,000 Europeans every year.”

Currently in Scotland a third of all strokes are fatal and although survival rates have improved over the last decade they are the third highest killer after cancer and coronary heart disease.

Tea grown in panda poo most expensive worldwide

Green tea grown solely in panda excrement will command high prices worldwide.  An entrepreneur in the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu plans to charge up to £2,000 per 500 grams for his product, which he claims says will make it the world’s “most expensive tea.”

An Yanshi says he chose to grow tea in panda poo after learning of its high nutritional value. “The digestive and absorption abilities of the panda are not good. . .They are like a machine that is churning out organic fertilizer. Also, they absorb less than 30 percent of the nutrition from the food and that means more than 70 percent of the nutrients are passed out in their faeces,” he said.

Because pandas only eat wild vegetation, An also claims tea grown from panda feces is truly organic.

He also says using his unique fertilizer eliminates environmental damages caused by chemical fertilizer. He hopes to promote use of animal dung by other farmers throughout China.

Some locals have expressed cynicism at An’s high prices. “It’s sold at such a sky-high price, perhaps this is just hype. I don’t think the most expensive tea in the country is sold at such a price” said 49-year-old Li Ximing.

An defended his decision to charge high prices for his tea, saying that a portion of his profits would be set up a fund used to support environmental projects.

Prepared for Spring?

With a mild winter almost behind us, the future could hold a less than mild spring.

With the rough spring that has already battered much of the United States in the form of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, Scotland must ask the questions of what spring will bring, and how prepared we are.

According to Andrew Slorance of the Sottish Government, Scotland is a mixed bag when it comes to weather with the risk being ”not so much seasonal” but that at any point there can be any sort of weather, from snow fall to rain and high temperatures.

The threat from weather in Scotland is primarily winter weather, often with prolonged periods of low temperatures and heavy rain fall. However, that is not the extent, with high winds, fog and mist, and flooding also causing problems for citizens.

Flooding is often problematic and can occur during any season,  a lot of money has been invested in flood defence to protect low-lying land.

Scottish Government have a whole range of plans in place for the possible severe weather that could come up. They are prepared, tested and published on the website Ready Scotland, which is sponsored by the Scottish Government.

”The position we hold is ‘Hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” says Slorance. ” We try to be as prepared as possible… but hope it doesn’t happen.”

Scotland deals with instances of severe weather by devolving responsiblity to the lowest level with the local responder being the primary first responder.  The idea is that the local council, the local police, fire and medial officials know the best way to keep their area safe during sudden severe weather.

They also work closely with the Met Office, in order to give as much notification as possible to the public. The Met warning system has changed within the past year, changing to a four color warning system.  They even offer detailed suggestions for what to do during each of the warning types.

Slorance does say that  every instance is different, but keeping the public safe is a top priority.

Mild winter boosts hydro power

Scotland’s hydroelectric power stations have received a boost from a warm and wet winter. Energy production in Hydro plants was revealed to be the highest since records began in the 1930s.

This data come from energy company SSE, who run more than 50 hydroelectric schemes across the Highlands, Perth, Kinross, Argyll and Bute.

The high rainfall over winter and the rapid thaw of snow were perfect for hydroelectric production. The previous record for hydroelectric production over a year was 3,890 gigawatt hours (GWh) but the figures for 2011/12 look set to pass the 4,000 GWh mark.

The winter was especially warm; temperatures in Aberdeen airport went as high as 17.2C last Tuesday.

Paul Smith, SSE managing director for generation said that the weather conditions “ensured the continuing success of hydro power as a valued source of renewable energy.”

Michael Jackson music stolen

Sony music confirmed today that a number of Michael Jackson tracks were stolen when their website was hacked.

The security breach occurred in April last year, and Sony announced that as many as 70 million PlayStation Network users’ details may have been stolen. The theft of the Michael Jackson tracks came shortly afterwards, but was not revealed until now.

Sony will not confirm which or how many tracks were taken. The music company paid Jackson’s estate £158million for the rights to his remaining songs, some of which it released in the album Michael in December 2010.

It has not been established whether or not tracks from other artists have been affected by this hack. Two British men are due to stand trial for computer misuse in January 2013.

Free Wi-Fi in Edinburgh a possiblity.

Free wifi may be available in Edinburgh City Centre by 2015.

Free Wi-Fi for “smart device” users could cover parts of Central Edinburgh, Newtown and the Meadows by 2015.

The Urban Broadband Fund will be allocate £100m between ten UK cities to help create a number  of  super-connected cities in the UK. Four capital cities, including Edinburgh, London, Belfast and Cardiff, have already been guaranteed a sizable amount of benefits. Each city was required to bid for an amount in the shares with a detailed plan of how the funds will be used. After the money is allocated to the first four cities, six other cities will battle it out through their proposals for the remaining shares of the money.

Edinburgh City council could receive between £7 million and £10 million if their proposal is accepted. This money would then be used to install open access wireless zones covering core areas of the city. With the benefits to tourist and Edinburgh residents, the hope is that this network would help increase economic growth in the city over the next three years.

The successful cities will be announced in March, while the exact shares to be allocated will be announced in July.

Average is sexy

Many people have always believed that guys have to be not only handsome and smart but also tall to be successful in reproduction.

Average is the new Sexy

However, a new study from the Netherlands shows that it is not the tallest men that have the most children, but rather men who have an average height of about 177 cm (5 feet 9).

Gert Stulp and his team from the University of Groningen examined data from highschool-graduates from Wisconsin in the US. All people in the study had finished their ‘reproductive career’ and had graduated from school in the 1950s. They found that “average height men attained the highest reproductive success as measured by the number of children ever born”.

“Sounds right.”, says David, a 23-year old worker who wishes not to give his full name. “It’s probably due to natural selection. Women probably choose the guys on a subconscious level and like average height more.”

“Average is beautiful. I mean, most people like average faces because they have a bit of everything  and everyone in them and why should it be different for height?”, says Chris P.  a Phd student in biomedical sciences.

But it’s not just a black and white story. Tall and short men shouldn’t worry about their lack of future children just because those of average height seem to be the most reproductively successful. Education and money also influence the number of children men have and at what age they have them, say Stulp and his collegues. The more educated men are, the later they marry and have children and the fewer children they are likely to have. But the greater the income, the earlier they tend to marry and reproduce.

“Taking education into account makes it slightly more believable. I mean, I’m 28 and I’m neither married nor do I have kids and I think I’m average height. But I’m in full education and obviously don’t have an income.  That’s perhaps why.”, says Tom B. an engineering student.

But inevitably, who knows what makes women and men tick. So, don’t worry too much about finding someone to reproduce with: there’s a suitable partner out there for everyone.

Self-talk in sports helps to improve performance

Talking to yourself is not always bad,
according to a recent study.

Sports and exercise psychologist Dr David Tod, from Aberystwyth University, has found that positive self-talk has beneficial effects in sports performance.

The study suggests overcoming one’s weaker self is not always easy, even if one  regularly engages in sports. Many people often either lack motivation or tend to demotivate themselves and give up too early. Negative self-talk has always been believed to be counterproductive for motivation and success in sports. But “the existing literature suggests that negative self-talk does not impede performance,” said Tod’s report.  He claimed a little chatter with oneself during a run, combined with a bit of self-motivation can help to keep a person going when sports start to become laborious.

Performance benefits were clearly seen for positive self-talk, the team found. The study differentiated between instructional self-talk, which helped to improve technical performance, and motivational self-talk, which  increased strength and endurance. Both types of self-talk were found to positively influence performance. Talking to oneself, the study concludes, is not simply an activity that people regarded as weird do, it’s a common way to interact with oneself and keep oneself motivated.

“Novice athletes may benefit more frequently from the use of self-talk as compared with their skilled counterparts,” said the report. So the next time you’re out playing sports, try a bit of self-talk, it will help you to be more motivated and might even improve your performance.

Future energy options discussed in Madrid today

by Natalia Rodríguez Domínguez

MixGenera International Conference took place today, from 8:15 to 17:45, in Madrid, Spain. It  brought together researchers, engineers and practitioners to analyse the future of electricity supply and other alternative energy  sources.

The Conference was sponsored by IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES), CIGRÉ (International Council on Large Electric Systems), Red Eléctrica de España and Carlos III University. It presented papers with new research results on the new electricity supply equipments and methods which will converge in 2020 and 2030.

Some of the topics discussed today have been the following: Introduction and control of renewable generations; perspectives for the nuclear generation, utilisation of gas turbines, CO2 and Hydro generation capture, distributed generation, smart grids and the future of electricity markets.

More info on their website: http://electrica.uc3m.es/mixgenera/

The Language of Faces

By Sam Khan-Mcintyre

What appears to be a single face, however it is a mix of multiple different people.

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh have found that levels of facial symmetry
can show mental decline in men between the ages of 79 and 83.

Researchers have discovered that those with less symmetry in their faces are more likely to have an increased slowdown of brainpower.

Subjects’ results in reasoning and reaction time tests at the university were used alongside the Scottish Mental Health Survey from 1932.

Dr Lars Penke, who led the work, said: “This kind of research is not meant to lead to new treatments, though facial symmetry could become a diagnostic indicator in the long run.”

He added: “Facial symmetry is only an indirect indicator of insults to developmental stability that accumulated over the lifespan, so there’s no expectation that treating symmetry could ever help against mental decline.”

Developmental stability is the ability of an organism to undergo stable development of the observable characteristics (or phenotype) under given environmental conditions.

Disease (such as diabetes or high blood pressure); toxins; alcohol and illicit drugs; lack of activity (mental or physical); stress; malnutrition; or genetic mutations during development, all contribute to developmental stability and therefore mental decline.

Robin Morton, a scientist at Edinburgh University added that stresses on a mother could affect the baby while in the womb and affect symmetry. He also explained that fingerprints can also become asymmetrical in this way.

He said: “Those with higher mental ability tend to age better due to higher thinking ability. Therefore they will have less of a decline. This could help inform a patient’s clinician.”

Comparable results have not yet been found in females, but research is on-going. Dr Penke said: “We still do some work on this topic, but there are no new results worth reporting yet.”

NHS Orkney Switches Paper for iPads

iPads replace paper at NHS Orkney

NHS Orkney has provided its members with iPads for use in meetings in order to dispense with paper usage. The health board, the UK’s smallest, is the first Scottish public body to go ‘paper light.’ [Read more...]

Scottish Scientists Make Cancer Breakthrough

By Gabriel Neil

It was announced last week that scientists from the University of Dundee have made a discovery which could lead to a deeper understanding of how cancer occurs. The research team, led by Dr Joost Zomerdijk discovered a “previously hidden link” within the ways in which human cells make the structures they need to function, a process called “transcription” – specifically the way in which genes regulate ribosomes which produce proteins vital for growth. Understanding transcription is important in cancer research as when the genes controlling it fail, cells can grow out of control, creating cancers.

Dr Joost Zomerdijk

Dr Joost Zomerdijk led the study.

This breakthrough was hailed by Dr Zomerdijk, claiming that it “advances our understanding of how normal transcription is maintained in human cells” adding that this may help to discover how to reverse the damaging “deregulation” of transcription.

Dr David Wright a biologist from the University, who was not involved in the research, cautioned that this finding is “a tiny crucial cog in a complicated machine… it is not particularly important on its own” but it “ties the information that we already have about the ways in which cancer cells go wrong to our understanding of how normal cells do their jobs” which could possibly lead to new kinds of cancer therapies.

Dundee University’s College of Life Sciencesreceives over £40million of research funding annually is renowned for research into cell Biology, having recently been ranked 1st in the UK for Biological Sciences.

Famous Landmarks join ‘Earth Hour’

Edinburgh Castle turns off their lights for 'Earth Hour' Credit: WWF

By Celeste Carrigan

Dr Richard Dixon, Head of WWF Scotland, speaks to Edinburgh Napier News about Earth Hour. Not only will people have to remember to put their clock forward one hour this weekend but don’t forget to switch off your lights at 8.30-9.30pm on Saturday 26 March as part of the WWF Environmental campaign.

Across the country, people will be sitting in the dark but they won’t be alone, some of Scotland’s well-known landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle will be joining in the campaign.

Tune into Edinburgh Napier News radio bulletins at 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm to find out more about Earth Hour and click on the link below to listen to Dr Richard Dixon to hear more.

Listen Here:

Turn off your lights with WWF for ‘Earth Hour’

Source: Maverick Photo Agency

By Georgi Bomb

This Saturday, 26 March, remember to switch off your lights at 8.30-9.30pm as people around the world sit in the dark to join in the world’s biggest environmental campaign, set up by WWF.

WWF are doing their bit for climate change week with ‘Earth Hour.’ It started in Australia during 2007 and has now stretched across 35 countries.

On 26 March at 8.30pm, not only will people in their homes switch off their lights but offices, government buildings and iconic landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle will be taking part in the campaign.

Tune into Edinburgh Napier News radio for the 12:30pm and 1:30pm bulletins where they will be talking to the director of WWF Scotland, Dr. Richard Dixon.

“Holy App” mayhem for Ipad 2 release

By Celeste Carrigan

Apple's Latest Gadget the Ipad2 Source: Apple

It is a gadget filled weekend with the release of the Nintendo 3DS and the Apple Ipad 2.

Thousands of people began queuing last night to get their hands on two of the biggest gaming gadgets as they battle it out for sales. Nintendo 3DS had a midnight launch with thousands queuing outside shops nationwide.  London’s Oxford HMV store held the official launch of the Nintendo 3DS with Plan B playing for the crowds. [Read more...]

UpDate: A Gran Turismo Romance

Gran Turismo 5 was one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the 21st Century. On its release, however, it did not meet gamers’ expectations. Since then it has improved, slowly working its way into the hearts of gamers and turning into a rather good game after all.

But why when it was released was it so bad, and how has it turned itself around? Why is it now judged to be a game worth buying as opposed to other games such as Killzone 2?

The answer lies in system updates. This feature was added to the PS3 to enhance games, and this is one of the reasons gamers paid so much for the console. The enhancement meant games could be updated and new copies did not have to be bought every year to gain the latest gaming experience. [Read more...]

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