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Milk may help prevent potentially dangerous bacteria like Staphylococcus from being killed by antibiotics used to treat animals, scientists heard today at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.

Bacteria sometimes form structures called biofilms that protect them against antibiotics and the body's natural defences. Now scientists have discovered that one of the most important micro-organisms that causes mastitis in cows and sheep, called Staphylococcus, can evade the animal's defences and veterinary medicines by forming these protective biofilms. Mastitis is an infection of the udder in cattle and sheep. It is often a painful condition for the cows and can even cause death.

Much has been said about the situation of the glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, but less is known about those in the high mountain areas of the Iberian Peninsula. A Spanish research study states that active glaciers in the Pyrenees, which they say have seen a steady increase in temperature (0.9°C since 1890), will disappear before 2050.

Researchers from the University of Cantabria, the Autonomous University of Madrid and Valladolid have produced a summary on the current situation of the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada and Picos de Europa. They based their work on how climate change has affected the glaciers since the 'Little Ice Age' (from 1300 to 1860) to conclude that only the Pyrenees has active glaciers left.

This work, recently published in The Holocene, compiled data from current and historic glacier studies, as well as information from Spain’s ERHIN Programme, to present the first global study on three glaciated high mountain areas in the Iberian Peninsula in historic times and the evolution of the deglaciation process to date.


An international team of scientists has come up with either a surprising or unsurprising finding about whether air pollution increases or decreases rainfall. Their conclusion: a rather frustrating both, depending on local environmental conditions.

In an era of climate change, understanding how rain is impacted by pollution has significant consequences and in an article appearing in Science, the scientific team has published the results of its research untangling the contradictions surrounding the conundrum. They do this by following the energy flow through the atmosphere and the ways it is influenced by aerosol (airborne) particles. This allows the development of more exact predictions of how air pollution affects weather, water resources and future climates.


Even closely related plants produce their own natural chemical cocktails, each set uniquely adapted to the individual plant's specific habitat. Comparing anti-fungals produced by tobacco and henbane, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered that only a few mutations in a key enzyme are enough to shift the whole output to an entirely new product mixture. Making fewer changes led to a mixture of henbane and tobacco-specific molecules and even so-called "chemical hybrids," explaining how plants can tinker with their natural chemical factories and adjust their product line to a changing environment without shutting down intracellular chemical factories completely.

The findings not only gave the Salk scientists a glimpse of the plants' evolutionary past, but may help them fine-tune the production of natural and environmentally friendly fungicides and pesticides as well as new flavors and fragrances by turning "enzymatic knobs" in the right direction.


People are more frugal when paying cash than using credit cards or gift certificates. They also spend less when they have to estimate expenses.

The conclusion that cash discourages spending while credit and gift cards encourage it arises from four studies that examined two factors in purchasing behavior: when consumers part with their money (cash versus credit) and the form of payment (cash, cash-like scrip, gift certificate or credit card). The results, wrote the authors: "The more transparent the payment outflow, the greater the aversion to spending, or higher the 'pain of paying.'"

Cash is viewed as the most transparent form of payment.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (The IPCC and Al Gore were joint winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize) is calling on individuals to cut their carbon footprints by transforming their diets at a lecture hosted by Compassion in World Farming lecture in London tomorrow (Monday 8 September 2008).

Current global animal production is responsible for 18 per cent of all human-induced Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, he says, with more than 60 billion farm animals reared each year. Th IPCC projects that figure will double by 2050.

An average household would reduce the impact of their greenhouse gas emissions by more if they halved their meat consumption than if they halved their car usage, he says.