Climate change

Short Science, January 6, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 January, 2013, 4:57am

El Nino not linked to climate change

The frequency and volatility of El Nino, a weather pattern that hammers the tropical Pacific Ocean every five years or so, does not seem linked to climate change, US research shows. The study involved measuring the monthly growth of ancient coral fossils found on two tropical Pacific islands to determine what, if any, impact the warming climate had on the weather phenomenon. By reconstructing temperatures and rainfall over the millenniums, the study compared it to the frequency and intensity of El Nino and found the latter had become more intense in the 20th century. But although the increase was statistically significant and could be linked to climate change, the historic record provided by the coral fossils allowed researchers to determine that El Nino has also had large natural variations in past centuries. AFP


It tastes better in the right coloured cup

European scientists say they have found further evidence that how you serve food and drink matters hugely in the perception of taste. Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Oxford recruited 57 volunteers and asked them to taste hot chocolate served in plastic cups with four different colours - white, cream, red and orange with white on the inside. The chocolate was the same in all the samples, but the volunteers found that the flavour was better when the drink was served in the orange or cream-coloured cups. The findings could be beneficial to chefs and many food manufacturers. AFP


Armstrong wasn't speaking off the cuff

Astronaut Neil Armstrong may not have been speaking entirely off the cuff when he delivered the most iconic quote in the history of manned space flight. Armstrong wrote out the sentence, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," before blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in July 1969, his brother now says, according to the transcripts of a documentary recently aired on BBC Two. Armstrong, who died in August at the age of 82, had always maintained he composed the words after touching down on the moon on July 20, 1969, while he waited to leave the Eagle lunar lander. But Armstrong's younger brother Dean, speaking in an interview, said that was not entirely accurate. "Dean told me that Neil shared the words with him shortly before he left for the Cape, so maybe a couple weeks before the mission," producer Chris Riley said. Reuters


HIV smokers lose more years of life to tobacco

HIV patients who get good treatment but who smoke lose more years of life to tobacco than to the virus, a Danish study has found. The study, which looked at nearly 3,000 Danish HIV patients from 1995 - the year antiretroviral triple therapy became standard - to 2010, was published online last month by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. A 35-year-old HIV patient who did not smoke was likely to live to 78, while one who smoked was likely to die before 63, it found. The risk of early death from cancer or heart disease was higher among infected smokers. Smoking was more closely linked to early death than obesity, excess drinking or baseline viral load (the sickness of a patient at diagnosis). NYT