News

It will be difficult – but not impossible – to detect the chemical breakdown products of any nerve agents that may have been used in the Damascus attack, but access to the victims could be critical in proving the illicit use of chemical weapons.

A dose of belief

Medical science finds the placebo hard to swallow. But researchers have plenty of evidence for the mind's beneficial effect on real physical symptoms.

Feel it in your bone cells

Bones, it turns out, are rather like brains: their cells signal to each other to tell them when to grow. This could be good news for osteoporos is sufferers, writes Simon Hadlington

Clocks call time on Britain's Indian summer

Charge up your Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps, stock up on anti-freeze and warm your socks, for the end of the Indian Summer is nigh. Winter is upon us, with its associations of crumpets by the fire but also the threat of SAD and the dreaded countdown to Christmas.

Obituaries: Mark Efimovitch Vol'pin

Mark Efimovitch Vol'pin was a chemist of genius and one of Russia's leading scientists. He started his career as an organic chemist, then moved into organometallic chemistry, and ended it in bio-organic chemistry. From 1988 he was the director of the A.N. Nesmeyanov Institute of Organo- element Compounds (INEOS) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

SCIENCE: HOLDING BACK THE YEARS (MAYBE)

Gene therapy could one day provide a treatment for cancer, or even halt the human ageing process, claim those who are developing this fledgeling science. But in America John Hands discovers commercial interests and intellectual rivalries are causing dissent

Obituary: Professor Thomas ap Rees

Thomas ap Rees, Professor of Botany and Head of Plant Sciences at Cambridge, was killed on 3 October cycling the six or so miles home from work - something he did almost every night of his life in Cambridge.

Books: Something nasty in the cistern

What if Hitler hadn't been born? Hugo Barnacle investigates; Making History by Stephen Fry Hutchinson, pounds 15.99

A lost mother, a lost world; BOOK REVIEW

The Scent of Dried Roses Tim Lott Viking, pounds 16

OBITUARY : Norman Aldridge

Norman Aldridge was regarded by his peers as one of the most thoughtful and influential toxicologists of our time.

Obituary: A. G. Ogston

Alexander George ("Sandy") Ogston had a gentle but critical mind. He conveyed to his Oxford undergraduate students, of whom I was one, the need to keep in mind a simple question that is still relevant after half a century - "Is the conclusion sensible?"; or, as he would have put it, "Is it thermodynamically reasonable?"

Letter: Germ war

The arrogance of the Darwinian doctors never ceases to amaze me. For the past few decades, they have supported a system of medicine based largely on drug suppression of symptoms, and totally derided everything else. Now, according to Kenan Malik ("Why illness means health", Review, 23 June), they claim credit for common-sense ideas one can read any day in journals sympathetic to alternative and complementary medicine.

The mystery unfolds ...

Cracking the 'folding' code of protein molecules could help us to tackle such diseases as Alzheimer's, says Simon Hadlington

obituaries: Professor Geoffrey Dawes

May I add briefly to the obituaries of Professor Geoffrey Dawes [by Professor C.W.G. Redman and Dr John Walker, 16 May]? writes Professor Gustav Born.

How in-laws could save your life

Asha was successful. She had everything. Why then would she try to commit suicide?

OBITUARY : Brun Straub

Brun Straub was one of the most familiar public faces of science in Hungary for over 30 years. But few of his compatriots would have expected that he would also play a walk-on part in Hungary's turbulent political history. He did so briefly when he took on the almost entirely ceremonial post of head of state in 1988 in the twilight era of Hungarian Communism. An amateur politician, he was at the time the only non-Communist president in Eastern Europe.
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own