Tuesday 04 March 1997
This week's gene discovery: weight loss. Called UCP2, it is an "energy thief", according to Craig Warden of the University of California. UCP2 gives rise to a protein that steals some of the energy that cells generate, meaning they have to burn extra calories to make up for the loss. If it can be prodded into making more of this energy-stealing protein, cells would have to burn still more calories - and voila, weight loss. Unlike UCP1, discovered earlier in brown fat cells, UCP2 is at work in every human tissue Warden has checked, especially ordinary white fat and muscle, he said. Its protein appears to be about 20 times more abundant in the body than the protein from UCP1. The work is announced in the March issue of Nature Genetics.
Are Russia's ambitions in space dead? Nyet, to judge by the first launch scheduled for today of a military satellite from its new Svobodny cosmodrome in Siberia. The intention is to reduce Russia's dependence on the main Soviet space centre at Baikonur, which Moscow now rents from independent Kazakhstan. Colonel Sergei Gorbunov, a spokesman for Russia's Military Space Forces, said Svobodny would become the main launch site for commercial satellites which Moscow is banking on to fund its financially troubled space industry. Gorbunov said Svobodny, from which mainly solid-fuel rockets will be launched, posed no environmental dangers. But, mindful of the Mars96 failure, when a rocket went astray after launch, people who live on the nearby taiga have been warned that bits of booster rocket may fall back to earth during the launch.
Meanwhile, hopes of a relaunch of the European Space Agency's Cluster mission, which blew up directly after launch last summer, may depend on getting a cheap rocket from Russia. After Britain, France and Germany said they would not pay for replacement scientific instruments, Arianespace (whose Ariane-5 rocket blew up) offered the chance of two Soyuz launchers instead to keep the cost down to 210 million ecu. The ESA committee will consider the idea over the next month.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
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