Short Science, December 23, 2012

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2012, 6:11am

The pine tree bugs dying for Christmas

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." Er, not quite. Get a magnifying glass and take a close look at your Christmas tree, says a scientist. In all likelihood, it is harbouring thousands of bugs. Bark lice, mites, moths and the odd spider are among the tiny creatures that live on pine trees and find themselves dragged into homes when Christmas comes around, said Bjarte Jordal at Norway's University Museum of Bergen. He adds, though: "As they cannot feed on the limited plants found in most households, the bugs will quickly dry out and die." AFP


CERN experts set to confirm Higgs boson

Scientists at Europe's CERN research centre said they may be able to definitively announce in March that they have discovered the elusive Higgs boson. But they dismissed suggestions on blogs and in some science journals that they might have found a pair of the particle types instead of just one. CERN experts said in July they had found what appeared to be the particle that gives mass to matter, but stopped short of stating it was the Higgs boson, pending further research. Reuters


Cancer patients get new online resource

Cancer patients looking for clinical trials of oncology therapies and information to help them understand the disease and its treatments have a new online resource at The site has more than 230,000 registered users and aims to educate patients and the public about trials and diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's. AFP


Works of sci-fi author Clarke go electronic

The science fiction of Arthur C. Clarke has finally reached the next dimension in the United States - e-books. The late author's estate has agreed with digital publisher RosettaBooks to release 2001: A Space Odyssey and 34 other works. Clarke died in 2008 at the age of 90. AP