The top science stories this monthby Anjana Ahuja / December 16, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
Cardiff has become the epicentre of an outbreak of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu, with three patients at the University Hospital of Wales reported to have caught the bug from two others. The human-to-human transmission of a resistant strain is an important step in the evolution of the pandemic, but doctors are not panicking—yet. The sufferers all had serious underlying health problems and the flu epidemic may already have peaked in the northern hemisphere.
Evolution will be a compulsory subject in primary schools from 2011, following a letter from 25 scientists to Ed Balls. Faith schools must also comply, although they can put it “in a context that reflects the school’s ethos.” That, say secularists, is a cop-out.
A birth control pill for men could be on the cards, say researchers at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh, who have found a way of switching off production of the male hormone, androgen. The hormone is needed to make sperm in the testes; by knocking out a particular gene, the scientists were able to disrupt sperm production and cause infertility. Happily, the research could also be used to rev up a low sperm count.