What's the buzz

What's the buzz

New tech to end liquid restrictions on planes

A new bottle-scanning system may put an end to bottle-dumping at airport security by April next year and allow aircraft passengers to carry liquid items over 100ml once more, researchers say.

Cobalt Light Systems of the UK has asserted that its explosives detector, which is currently under trial, has received approval from European civil aviation and can analyse bottles for explosives in less than 5 seconds. The ban on carrying no bottles greater than 100 millilitres on aircraft was introduced following a foiled 2006 attempt by 17 would-be terrorists to blow up planes using hydrogen peroxide-based liquid explosives hidden in drink bottles.

Cobalt Light Systems - a spin-off from the Central Laser Facility in Harwell, UK - uses a microwave oven-sized machine that uses a near-infrared laser to interrogate the liquid, powder or gel molecules in a bottle and reveal what they are chemically, New Scientist reported.

A small amount of the light reflected back at each point is shifted in wavelength by the energy levels in the liquid molecules, and this small shift discloses what the substance is.

According to CEO Paul Leoffen, the new technology essentially has a low rate of false alarms - it gives less than 0.5 per cent false positives - and reveals the seemingly innocent precursor chemicals that could be mixed inflight to create a potent explosive.

Genes responsible for 40 pc of lifetime intelligence

We inherit 40 percent of our lifetime intelligence while the environment we grow up in impacts the rest 60 percent, researchers say. Scientists at University of Queensland, Australia studied a unique group of nearly 2000 unrelated people in Scotland who were tested for their intelligence, using the same test, at age 11 and again at age 65, 70 or 79 years.

 Most people who began life with above average intelligence were above average when they were older, while others who had below average intelligence tended to stay below average, English.news.cn reported. However, the researchers did notice that there were some whose intelligence improved and some whose got worse compared to others.

 They also took genetic samples and quantified the role genes play in determining how much transformation there is in intelligence as we age.

 “We estimate roughly a quarter to a third of that change is genetic,” Professor Peter Visscher, said. “Measuring detailed environmental factors over a person’s entire life course is very difficult.”

 The study revealed that overall, environment contributes more than genes to determining intelligence, although, both play an important role.

Gold coils could be used to fight prostate cancer

Doctors led by one of Indian-origin are arming themselves with a precious new weapon in the fight against prostate cancer – gold coils.

Gold coils are being used to target radiotherapy more accurately, intensifying the effect of the treatment on the prostate and preventing damage to nearby organs such as the bowel or bladder.

Around six of the coils, which are 1cm to 2cm long and cost 80-100 pounds each, are inserted in the prostate prior to treatment.  Gold is used because it shows up on scans and few people are allergic to it. Once fitted, the coils stay in the prostate for life. Amit Bahl, lead doctor at the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre oncology, said that in radiotherapy on the prostate, radiographers try to minimise the target area for radiation.

 “So far 14 men have had the gold coils inserted into their prostates prior to radiotherapy and the hospital is intending to use the precious metal on a further six patients,” he said.