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In 2007, Arctic summer sea ice reached its lowest extent on record - nearly 25% less than the previous low set in 2005. At the end of each summer, the sea ice cover reaches its minimum extent and what is left is what is called the perennial ice cover which consists mainly of thick multi-year ice floes.

The area of the perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since the satellite record began in 1979, at a rate of about 10% per decade. But the 2007 minimum, reached on September 14, is far below the previous record made in 2005 and is about 38% lower than the climatological average. Such a dramatic loss has implications for ecology, climate and industry as new shipping lanes open.

This visualization shows the annual Arctic sea ice minimum from 1979 to 2007.

The discovery of a relationship between two cell enzymes and their role in keeping the cell’s energy generating machinery working smoothly could provide a new target for development of therapies for Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Research led by Dr L.Miguel Martins of the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester and Dr Julian Downward of the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute has shown that the products of two genes called HtrA2 and PINK1 co-operate in preventing breakdown of cell function that could otherwise lead to Parkinson’s symptoms. The research is published online in Nature Cell Biology.

Dr Martins explained: ‘‘It is already known that mutations in genes linked to the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, can make a person susceptible to PD.

Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to a study of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Hopkins researchers found that the impact of TV viewing on a child’s behavior and social skills varied by the age at which the viewing occurred. More importantly, heavy television viewing that decreased over time was not associated with behavior or social problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 watch no television while children age 2 and older are limited to no more than two hours of daily viewing. The study is published in the October 2007 issue of Pediatrics.

It sounds creepy but fetal microchimerism, fetal cells that persist in a woman’s body long after pregnancy, may reduce the woman’s risk of breast cancer, say researchers at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Their findings are presented in the October 1 issue of Cancer Research.

The ability of cells from a growing fetus to take up long-term residence within its mother has been implicated as a mechanism of autoimmune disease but the researchers say it may also benefit mothers by putting the immune system on alert for malignant cells to destroy.

It used to be common to hear criticism about the FDA not approving new drugs fast enough, usually something that had been 'used in Europe' without issue.

That changed in 2004 with the Clinical Trials Directive, which came into force in May of that year in order to create a harmonized framework for clinical drug research across Europe, and some academics say it will make European schools also-rans in the research community.

Many sponsor organisations, commercial and non-commercial alike, have criticised the Directive for the enormous increase in administrative burdens and cost that complying with it imposes.

Sociology studies often contend that crime rate and budget alone do not account for the size of an area’s police force.

Police forces tend to be larger in areas where blacks comprise a larger percentage, and many sociologists have attributed this to racial attitudes, specifically the white population’s perceptions of threat.

A new study attempts to empirically examine this premise and concluded that while direct measures of anti-black prejudice are not correlated to police size, whites’ fear of crime and perceived economic threat still somehow account for more than one-third of the effect of the proportion of black residents on police force size. No evidence but they are still sure it must be true?

Welcome to modern sociology.