Short items

Cabbage chit chat

Scientists at Exeter University, UK, have visually shown the communication between cabbages. When a cabbage is injured (for example its leaves are cut) it releases ethyl jasmonate, which in turn prompts other cabbages to do the same - spreading news of a threat. For a new BBC series, the team made cabbages that fluoresced at the same time as releasing ethyl jasmonate by adding the gene for luciferase to cabbages. 
The Times, 8 February 2012 

How to stir your martini

We all know that 007 should stir, rather than shake, his vodka martinis, but what should the super spy use? Readers of the magazine New Scientist have put their minds to it and suggest that he should avoid metal spoons as these might warm his martini up too much. Instead, wood should be used, perhaps one of the stirrers available with take away coffee. Or, in an emergency, a pencil. 
Daily Mail, 27 January 2012 

New breed of nuclear reactor

Fast reactors fed on Britain’s nuclear waste stockpile could power the country for more than 500 years, according to figures calculated for The Guardian and confirmed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). However, although talks are ongoing with a firm offering to provide an integral fast reactor, DECC is said to prefer a mixed oxide (Mox) fuelled plant.  
The Guardian, 3 February 2012 

Not so ethical Olympics?

One of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s ’ethical tsars’ has quit over Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the Olympics Stadium. Meredith Alexander accuses the Olympics organisers and the 2012 ethical watchdog of acting as apologists for Dow, who now own Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). In 1984 one of UCCs subsiduries was responsible for a gas disaster in Bhopal, India, that killed 25,000 people.  
The Independent, 26 January 2012