Steve Connor: Green issues have never been so racy

Science Notebook: Avoid accelerating up hills, and lift your foot off the throttle before you reach the top
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The Independent Online

Move over, Jeremy Clarkson. You're not the only one to be invited to drive around Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, where everything from armoured personnel carriers to the latest sports cars are tested for roadworthiness.

Last week, I found myself driving rather sedately around the 10-mile course, designed to simulate a range of road conditions, from alpine tracks to congested city streets. The high-speed, circular drag was especially intriguing – although I was not allowed to move into the outer lane where 100mph seemed to be a minimum speed limit.

The aim of the jaunt was to enhance my fuel-saving performance. In other words, rather than burning rubber in true Clarkson fashion, I was meant to be learning how not to burn petrol. A computer monitored my performance before and after instruction. I managed an 11 per cent increase in fuel efficiency, largely because, second time around, I stuck to 70mph on the motorway bit of the course.

The secret seems to be to think ahead and predict when to lift your foot off the throttle to allow controlled deceleration, instead of pumping the brakes. Avoid accelerating up hills, and lift your foot off the throttle before you reach the top to allow the vehicle's momentum to take you over the peak. If only Jeremy would drive that way.

Hard to swallow

The British Medical Journal is full of letters this week from distinguished doctors complaining about the decision of the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to award the first licence to a homeopathic product – Arnica 30C pills.

Professor David Colquhoun of University College London said the decision makes a mockery of the aims of the agency because the pills contain no trace of the ingredient on the label. It's like selling a product labelled "strawberry jam" without any strawberries in it, he says.

Strong and sweet

The image of a lion's rotting corpse swarming with what look like flies (but are actually bees) on the green-and-gold tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup has not changed in a century. It is certainly one of my earliest visual memories from childhood.

Now the Royal Society of Chemistry has honoured the seemingly stomach-churning image with a one-off food award for the company's loyalty to a picture that depicts a Biblical reference to Samson's Riddle: "Out of the eater comes something to eat, and out of the strong comes forth sweetness." I remember my deeply religious grandmother once explaining to me what it meant – not often today you get a morality tale on a supermarket product.