theoretically...

Genes beat experience in determining your brainpower late in life, according to studies of Swedish twins by British scientists. A team led by Robert Plomin of the Institute of Psychiatry in London studied pairs of identical and fraternal twins aged over 80 in Sweden. (Identical twins have identical genes, while fraternal twins have only half their genes in common.) Even at that age, 62 per cent of the twins' cognitive abilities - such as spatial ability or memory - could be attributed to genetic influences, which is roughly the same percentage as for adolescents. The results appeared in the journal Science.

Ice on the Moon? It seems not, according to radar studies. Last November, hopes were raised that there might be a huge frozen lake covering up to 135 square kilometres at the Moon's south pole.

Such a theory was based on interpretations of data from the Clementine spacecraft. The presence of such a lake, in turn, would make it much easier to establish a permanent station on our satellite - rather than shipping oxygen out there on a rocket, it could be extracted from the water by solar-powered electrolysis.

However, observations made by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico suggest that what Nasa's excitable scientists interpreted as ice is actually just the rough surfaces of asteroid impact craters. "There is still the possibility that there are ice deposits in the bottom of deep craters," added one researcher. It looks like they'll just have to go and look properly.

US scientists have discovered a bacterium in sewer sludge that "breathes in" toxins from polluted groundwater and gives back a harmless gas. Known as coccoid Strain 195, the bacterium was isolated from sludge at a sewage treatment plant in Ithaca, New York, built in the days when toxic dry- cleaning solvents and industrial degreasing agents were simply flushed down the drain. Strain 195 breaks down two specific pollutants - tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene, both thought to be carcinogens - into non-toxic ethene. More studies are planned. "I'd like to know what kind of diet it likes," said one researcher. "It's used to having a lot of other organisms around it. The more we purified it, the harder it was to grow because it didn't have its friends around."

With another Earth Summit approaching, the World Bank last week urged the world's richest countries to provide about pounds 7.5m to help finance the phase-out of production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in Russia by 2000. Though domestic production was meant to have stopped in 1996, Russia - a major black-market source of CFCs - said it couldn't meet the deadline because it was too costly to replace the CFCs, which are used as coolants. CFCs destroy the ozone layer, increasing the amount of ultraviolet reaching Earth and heightening the risk of skin cancers. According to United Nations figures, Russia produced about 18,000 tonnes of CFCs in 1996. Developing countries have until 2010 to phase out their use.

The "science vs creationism" trial in Australia ended in an effective defeat for Australian geologist Ian Plimer last week after the judge dismissed his main complaint against a fundamentalist, Allen Roberts, who claimed to have found scientific evidence of the remains of Noah's Ark. The judge rejected the complaint of Plimer and his American co-applicant David Fasold that Roberts had acted in trade or commerce and illegally misled those who had financially backed him. But he did uphold a claim of copyright infringement against Roberts. Afterwards, Roberts claimed the verdict "preserved free speech" while Plimer argued that it had been inhibited. Plimer may be bankrupted by the legal costs of losing the action.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Class 2 HGV Driver - with CPC

£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence