Short items

Paint to mop up chemical attacks

Researchers at the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have developed a camouflage coating for military vehicles that can be applied with a normal spray-gun and easily peeled off by hand after use. The team hopes to develop coatings that absorb and possibly even neutralise chemical warfare agents, protecting vehicles and personnel and making decontamination quicker and easier.  
BBC News 26 October 2009 

British Gas from cattle manure 

Centrica, owner of British Gas, is considering a biogas plant to produce methane that could be injected directly into existing gas networks. The plant could process food and abbatoir waste as well as manure, but will only become economically viable next year after the UK government brings in subsidies under the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.  
The Times,  16 October 2009

Cap on university fees is harming UK science 

John Holman, director of the UK National Science Learning Centre has said that the quality of science courses will be difficult to maintain without raising the cap on tuition fees (currently ?3245 per year). Speaking at the launch of a report on improving science teaching, Holman dismissed the idea of a ’free for all’ on fees but said a more economic approach was needed to retain the country’s world-class reputation in science subjects.  
Independent, 20 October 2009 

Harrods enters gold market 

The exclusive department store in London, UK, has teamed up with a Swiss refiner to sell gold bullion. Traditionally a relatively safe investment, the price of gold has risen to record highs in recent months. Customers will be able to buy ingots from 1g to 12.5kg (worth about ?286,000) as well as a selection of coins such as British Sovereigns and American Eagles.  
The Times, 16 October 2009