Short items, February 2010

US says goodbye to smog 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed improved standards to force down the amount of smog - ground-level ozone - in the country’s air. The current allowed level of 75ppb is believed to not be protective enough of human health, and under the new rules would be reduced to between 60 and 70ppb. 

UK ban for ’legal high’ 

A synthetic cannabis mimic, JWH-018, found in the incense Spice, has now been banned in the UK. Smoking this so-called ’legal high’ gained popularity globally in 2008, while analytical labs struggled to immediately identify the compound responsible for the marijuana-like high (see Chemistry World, February 2009, p8). Sale of this compound has already been banned in countries including Germany and the Netherlands. 

Elitist PhD funding suggested for UK 

The UK government should only fund PhDs at top institutes, say the heads of the country’s most internationally renowned research-intensive universities. As part of a review being undertaken by business secretary Lord Mandelson, the 1994 Group’s report said that Hefce (Higher Education Funding Council for England)’s funding should become more focused on top universities, to provide best value for money in terms of output. 

Go Figure 

350 years old   

The age of the UK Royal Society, one of the world’s oldest scientific academies. The society has been responsible for many step changes in scientific history, including introducing scientific publishing. Celebrations taking place during 2010 include exhibitions, lectures, conferences and a science festival.