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Global News: Science

Read the best science news from around the world this week


Artificial backpack lungs designed

A team at the University of Pittsburgh have developed an artificial lung machine that is small and light enough to be carried in a backpack, allowing patients more freedom. The machine is designed for people with lung failure, who are often waiting for lung transplants, which can take years. Previous machines require complex gas exchangers that are too large to carry, and confine patients to bed. The new device has been successfully tested on sheep, working for up to 5 days without the need for intervention. Instead of using large oxygen tanks, future design alterations hope that the device will run off air in the room, allowing people to continue with their normal lives whilst waiting for transplants.

Soviet nuclear cover-up exposed

A nuclear disaster, predicted to be four times worse than Chernobyl in terms of the number of people harmed, has been uncovered in Kazakhstan. The nuclear weapons testing in Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, which occurred in 1956 and left more than 600 people in hospital, has long been known. However, a new report has uncovered that the radioactive contamination and radiation sickness was much more widespread and damaging than previously thought. Nearly half a century after the last tests occurred, many people in the region are still suffering the consequences of radiation exposure.

Living in the countryside reduces chances of obesity and depression

A new report from the Institute for European Environmental Policy has shown that people living in close proximity to trees and open green spaces are less likely to be obese and require anti-depressants later in life. One example from Scotland showed that middle-aged men were found to have a 16 per cent lower death rate, whilst pregnant women also had lower blood pressures and healthier babies. The report claims that “nature is an under-recognised healer.” But in other parts of the world, it has been recognised. Planting an extra 10 trees in Toronto city blocks provided health benefits to residents that were equated to a $10,000 increase in annual income or feeling ‘7 years younger’.

‘Miracle’ device makes any cheap wine taste good

The VelvWine Oxygenator device has been heralded for making any cheap wine taste expensive (even Blossom Hill), and will be available in the UK in the near future. The handheld machine works by pushing oxygen into the wine to soften tastes and open aromas, creating better quality wine in only a few minutes. In addition, the device removes tannins and sulphites, which are often added to increase the shelf lives of mass-produced wines. However, these preservatives are also thought the be the reason that cheaper wines can cause such bad hangovers.