Today’s physics news: Mars rover finds Mars soil is similar to the sand of Hawaii; British Medical Journal have a bold new campaign
Here is our physics news roundup for Thursday 1 November 2012.
Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover find soil similar to volcanic sands of Hawaii
In the first inventory of minerals on another planet, Nasa‘s Mars rover has found soil that bears a striking resemblance to the weathered, volcanic sand of Hawaii, say scientists. The rover, named Curiosity, uses an x-ray imager to reveal the atomic structures of crystals in the Martian soil. It was the first time the technology, known as x-ray diffraction, was used to analyse soil not on Earth.
How a pond skater can walk on water: It’s all down to hairy legs and swirling vortices, reveal scientists
In November’s issue of Physics World, science writer Stephen Ornes reveals how pond skaters use their legs as ‘oars’ to row across a body of water. Ornes reports on work undertaken by David Hu who spent four years at MIT studying pond skaters with high-speed cameras as they moved across water filled with colourful particles, which helped identify swirling vortices that were created.
BMJ to reject papers unless trial findings open for all
The British Medical Journal will refuse to publish research papers unless all the clinical trial data is made available for independent scrutiny, it was announced last night. The journal said that its new policy would come into effect for all clinical trials of drugs and medical devices from January. The move, announced via an online comment, is the boldest yet in a campaign to make pharmaceutical companies to publish the results of all trials, even when there has been an adverse outcome.
The Times (Subscription only)
Willetts hands-on in the speech that never was
David Willetts put science and future technology at the heart of his vision of markets created by “strong and effective government” – in a speech that was never delivered. The universities and science minister had been scheduled to give the annual J.D. Bernal Lecture at Birkbeck, University of London on 18 October. But it was cancelled because of suggestions that students planned to disrupt the lecture in protest against the government’s higher education policies. The Conservative minister’s involvement in the lecture – which tackles the social role of science – also sparked controversy as it is named after John Desmond Bernal, the physicist and Marxist.