Short items

Big Brother gets infectious

A Big Brother-style clinical trial could help solve the 200 year-old debate about how the flu virus is spread. Retroscreen Virology is looking for 200 volunteers to put themselves at risk of infection by a mild seasonal flu virus while scientists video their every move. Volunteers will be paid ?3000 each, so if you’re strapped for cash after Christmas it may be worth entering the house. 
Financial Times, 1 December 2008 

Polar melting slows warming 

The increasing speed at which the Antarctic ice sheets are melting may actually help stem the tide of global warming. As the ice melts it provides nutrients upon which plankton can grow - removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Current melting levels help plankton remove an amount of CO2 equivalent to the annual pollution form Japan and India. 
The Guardian, 7 December 2008 

Vitamins no antidote to ageing 

The much hyped notion that antioxidants such as vitamin C and E protect against ageing has been debunked by a group at the University College London. The idea was based on the belief that the vitamins mop up reactive superoxide species that damage cells. But the group has shown that superoxide defence levels have no effect on ageing. 
The Guardian, 1 December 2008  

Spain’s solar cemetery 

A Spanish city near Barcelona has found an unusual, and somewhat creepy, place to generate energy - the local cemetery. By placing solar cells on the top of mausoleums the city is already generating enough electricity to power 60 homes. 
BBC News, 24 November 2008. 

Irish pigs fed plastic bags? 

In the wake of Irish pork being found to contain unsafe levels of cancer-causing dioxins, a farm supplier is being investigated for allegedly feeding pigs stale bread still wrapped in plastic bags.  
The Times  , 8 December 2008.