Theoretically...

The health benefits of red wine could be made available to teetotallers and white wine drinkers by an alcohol-free powdered extract. It has been known for a while that a daily glass (only one, though) of red wine lowers the risk of heart attack. Polyphenols, chemicals found in red but not white wines, are believed to stop the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which are a cause of furring arteries, and so heart attacks. New Scientist reports that a team at Papworth Hospital found, in a trial of 20 men aged 35-65, that extract of polyphenols taken daily lowers the levels of oxidised LDLs in the blood. More trials are needed, though, to show whether that translates into a long-term health benefit.

Plants talk to each other chemically to warn of attacks by organisms such as viruses, according to a team at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Tobacco plants infected with the tobacco mosaic virus release a gas, methyl salicylate, that seems to help neighbouring, uninfected plants to resist the virus. The result came while the team was investigating the role of salicylic acid - the active ingredient of aspirin - in virus resistance. As reported in the latest Nature, Ilya Raskin and colleagues separated infected and uninfected plants by airways, and found that uninfected plants were resistant to the virus even without inoculation, where they had had air contact with an infected plant. Raskin said this was the first instance of a sick plant signalling in a way that can confer resistance.

Brain damage? Keep cool, says a team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Victims of severe brain injuries can recover more quickly and perhaps more fully if their bodies are chilled to below 31.1 C for a day, according to a study of 82 patients who were in comas after various traumas. Half were cooled for 24 hours, starting on average 10 hours after the injury, from the normal body temperature of 37 C. The treatment, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, did not help those who were almost brain dead, but patients who already moved their limbs in response to pain during their comas did benefit. Six months later, 73 per cent of those who had been cooled were able to live independently, against 35 per cent of the others.

Notice that unusual smell when you walk into a room? Why, then, can't you notice it 10 minutes later? According to a team drawn from Japan and Italy, the "adaptation" to an unusual odour takes place at the level of a single sensory receptor, which controls the passage of charged chloride ions. In Nature, the team explains that at the basic, biochemical level, the receptor is turned on by a substance called cyclic AMP binding to it, and begins signalling odour detection. That causes calcium ions to accumulate in the receptor's cell. But the level of the receptor's output is reduced by its cell's internal calcium concentration - an effective feedback loop that allows a rapid response to a new smell, but switches it off after a few minutes.

Forget Mars. The really interesting place to go to look for extraterrestrial life right now in our solar system is Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter, according to a team of geologists and exobiologists. "If I really had to choose a place to look, and it was between going to Mars or to Europa, I would say Europa," says Professor Eugene Shoemaker, of comet-spotting (but also geology) fame. Planetary scientists at Last week's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) agreed that, though life may once have existed on Mars, it is now most likely to exist in volcanic vents at the bottom of a water ocean, below an ice crust 10 kilometres thick. Last week the Galileo spacecraft passed into Europa's atmosphere, beginning a four-day fly-past to take detailed pictures of Europa's surface and study the atmosphere - known to contain small amounts of oxygen - and ionosphere. The results will take up to a month to arrive back on Earth, but could be useful in planning a mission to study Europa in detail

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea