Comment »Posted on Sunday 28 September 2008 at 6:02 pm by Jacob Aron
In Biology, Space & Astronomy, Weekly Roundup

In “bad thing turns out to be good, but only in small amounts” news

Chocolate lovers rejoice; new research shows that eating 6.7 grams of dark (not milk, sorry Cadburys) chocolate a day could help protect against heart disease. A joint study by the Research Laboratories of the Catholic University in Campobasso and the National Cancer Institute of Milan investigated the link between the levels of C reactive protein in the blood and a persons chocolate intake. The amount of the protein in the body increases during inflammation, which is a risk factor for heart disease amongst other conditions. The researchers hypothesised that antioxidants in cocoa seeds could help fight inflammation:

“We started from the hypothesis,” says Romina di Giuseppe, lead author of the study “that high amounts of antioxidants contained in the cocoa seeds, in particular flavonoids and other kinds of polyphenols, might have beneficial effects on the inflammatory state. Our results have been absolutely encouraging: people having moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly have significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood. In other words, their inflammatory state is considerably reduced.”

Unfortunately this isn’t an excuse to pig out just yet: 6.7 grams a day works out to a small square two or three times a week. Sorry!

Turns out, he couldn’t actually see the Great Wall

China conducted its first spacewalk over the weekend, in only the country’s third manned space mission. The honour fell to Zhai Zhigang, who’s words of welcome were broadcast live: “I am here greeting the Chinese people and the people of the world.”

Just three nations have demonstrated the ability to launch people in to space: the US, Russia (and the USSR before it) and China, who first sent a man into space five years ago. It seems that we have the beginning of another space race on our hands, with both China and the US aiming to send manned missions to the Moon by 2020. The last space race, although militaristic in origin, brought with it many technological marvels that still benefit us to this day such as frozen food and GPS tracking systems. Bring it on, I say!


An artist's impression of Dasornis, a gigantic bird which once flew over Britain.

Britain was once home to birds that were nearly the size of a small plane, a newly discovered fossil skull has shown. The species has been known for nearly 150 years, but the skull found on the Isle of Sheppey is one of the best preserved examples of Dasornis. This bird lived 50 million years ago and ith a 16 ft wingspan and a beak full of sharp teeth, it’s slightly more intimidating than its modern-day relatives of ducks and geese.

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