# Monday, March 29, 2010

People who claim they are too sick to work could soon have to prove it under a new scheme. The scheme which is currently being piloted in Greater Manchester would see benefits claimants being sent to their GP for fitness tests. They would have to perform tests such as climbing stairs and picking up objects. It has already been used on some claimants and 70% have actually been deemed fit enough to work. Those who are deemed fit enough to work would lose up to £30 a week from their weekly benefits. It is hoped the scheme will help to get more people off welfare and into work.

posted on Monday, March 29, 2010 12:40:01 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

_47496661_izwflatheadedcatwiltingenOne of the smallest species of cat the flat headed cat is now at risk of extinction. The cat which lives in wetland habitats in southeast Asia is at risk because over 70% of its habitat has been converted to plantations. The cat is unusual because it has webbed feet and hunts crabs and fish. Other than that not much is known about it as it has never been properly studied but it is thought it is nocturnal and specially adapted to hunting in shallow water. It is thought that the cat is now restricted to a small area of tropical rainforests in Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia although because of the reclusive nature of the cat it is know how many might be left in the wild. In an effort to find out more about it a team of scientists is now looking at all the known information that is currently available on it to try to predict the cats current distribution and hopefully save those that remain. They might have a difficult task as the cat has only ever been photographed 17 times by camera traps.

posted on Monday, March 29, 2010 12:32:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, March 28, 2010

A British brewer has made what is thought to be the world’s most bitter beer. Peter Fowler who runs the Pitstop Brewery in Stove made the beer called The Hop after a friend challenged him to break the record. It registered 323 International Bittering Units (IBUs) beating the previous record of 200 which was held by the American beer Devil Dance Triple IPA. Mr Fowler is now waiting for the beer to be officially named the bitterest beer on the planet.

posted on Sunday, March 28, 2010 11:14:46 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, March 27, 2010

According to this article British people cook at home more often than the French. In fact a survey of 2,000 French people and 1,350 Britons found that 72% of the British cook at home every day compared with just 59% of French people. The poll was carried out by the BBC food magazine Olive and the French magazine Madame Le Figaro and has surprised the French who traditionally feel they are culinary masters. The poll also found that British cooks spend more than 30 minutes preparing a meal whilst the French only spend half that amount of time. In addition 4% of the French polled said they never cook more than four times as many as the British questioned. The results have upset the French, with television station TF1 saying: "They trounced us at Trafalgar. They whipped us at Waterloo. Now the English have scored their ultimate victory: they are better at cooking than us we, the self-proclaimed kings of nosh."

posted on Saturday, March 27, 2010 11:41:57 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article wine from Uruguay is becoming more popular with its Tannat wines putting it on the map. Uruguay is currently the fourth most important wine producing country in South America but it is fast gaining recognition for the quality of its wines. Uruguay has around 1,800 wine producers and has been exporting wine throughout Lain America and the US since the 1990, however, you don’t see much of it around in the UK. I wonder where I can pick up a bottle of Tannat.

posted on Saturday, March 27, 2010 11:38:43 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, March 26, 2010

According to this article more and more people are buying what has been termed “lazy foods”. By that it means items such as grated cheese or prepared vegetables which could easily be prepared at home. It seems many people are simply too busy to cut up a carrot or grate some cheese and would rather pay a premium price for ready prepared ingredients. Figures show that Waitrose has seen an increase of 40% in the sales of peeled potatoes compared to a year ago and other prepared vegetables have seen a 17% rise. Whilst I can see the need for some prepared products, for example for elderly people who might be unable to prepare some thing from scratch, it does seem ludicrous that people without this excuse would buy them. How much longer does it really take to peel a carrot or grate some cheese? It also strikes me that prepared products tend to lack the freshness that you get with those you prepare at home yourself.

posted on Friday, March 26, 2010 10:48:34 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article a number of bee hotels have been built in parts of Gloucestershire. The hotels which are built from recycled materials and sustainable timber can house hundreds of bees at a time. They have been placed on land around a new supermarket in Dursley and the surrounding landscape has been planted to give a rich a supply of pollen. The hotels are aimed not an honeybees but more at solitary bees which it is hoped will travel widely and pollinate fruit and vegetable crops. Similar projects set up in other areas have seen dramatic increases in bee populations within a three year period.

posted on Friday, March 26, 2010 10:31:21 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

_47483747_dogfootballxrayA Labrador called Bracken is lucky to be alive after he swallowed a football. The football which measured 12cm became lodged next to the dogs heart and it was only when the  dog developed a cough that he was given an x-ray to determine what was wrong. The ball was successfully removed after an operation and the dog appears to be no worse for wear after his ordeal.


posted on Friday, March 26, 2010 10:26:28 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, March 25, 2010

_47500994_orchid A plant called the ghost orchid has recently been reclassified as critically endangered after one was found in Hertfordshire. It was thought that the plant was extinct with the last one being seen in 1986 in Buckinghamshire. It now appears that is not the case. The location of the plant is currently being kept a secret.

posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010 9:13:47 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Environmental groups looking to make bluefin tuna a protected species have been disappointed as the UN has failed to add it to a list of protected species. Recent talks have rejected calls to a ban in international trade raising fears about the future of fish stocks. The proposal met with much resistance from countries such as Japan which opposed it fearing it would hit fishing communities. It makes you wonder, however, what will happen to those same communities when they are no more of the fish left to catch. In all 72 out of 129 members voted against the trade ban and 43 voted in favour, with 14 abstentions.

posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010 9:11:57 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I love cheese so was interested to find out that a restaurant has opened in London that serves just cheese based dishes. The restaurant called L’Art Du Fromage has a range of nearly 100 different cheeses and serves dishes such as fondues, raclettes and cheese ice cream. It certainly looks interesting and it gets some quite good reviews, I think I might pay a visit next time I am in London.

posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:02:10 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article prices of fruit and vegetables are soaring due to record rainfall in Spain. It seems that we import a large amount of our produce from Spain and so are likely to be paying higher prices in the supermarket. According to the article oranges are 25% more expensive than they were a year ago, avocados are 17% more expensive and cherry tomatoes are up 10%. The problem is down to the recent heavy rainfall in the Spanish growing region of Andalucia which has wiped out large areas of crops and hit exports. Prices are likely to remain high until British crops come into season later in the year.

posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 8:58:23 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article watermelon juice could be a new source for making ethanol. It seems there is a great deal of waste within the watermelon industry with around a fifth of odd shaped or scarred fruit being left on the vine. When you take into account that each field contains between 60 to 100 tons of watermelons that’s obviously a fair amount of wasted watermelons. Researchers have been busy experimenting by brewing batches of surgery fluids from the fruit and have found that they can produce around 23 gallons (87 litres) of ethanol from an acres worth of fruit.  This could potentially be used in the farms own production process or sold as an additional product for larger farms. The only problem seems to be that it doesn’t make economic sense to take the unwanted watermelons to a processing facility rather it is easier to have a mobile processing unit that could go from farm to farm. Still, it seems like a good way to make something out of what is otherwise a waste product.

posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 8:54:20 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This article is interesting, it suggests that in bee colonies there are certain bees that use their bodies to provide heat for the colony. The bees have been dubbed “heater bees” due to the function they perform. Thermal imaging research for a TV series found that heater bees maintain the temperature in the hive where the young bees grow. The young bees called pupae are sealed inside wax cells whilst they grow into adults. Heater bees keep the temperature at 35C for those pupae which will become forager bees and 34C for bees that will be house keepers. The heater bees creep into empty wax cells and transmit heat to around 70 pupae at any time. In this way they can ensure that there are always enough of each type of bee to maintain the hive.

posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 9:18:12 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

If you want to get paid to be a couch potato then you might be interested in this article. It highlights a job vacancy for a Professional Couch Potato. The successful applicant will get paid a salary of £24,000 a year to do nothing more than eat 400 extra calories a day and introduce a supplement into their diet. They will have their weight monitored over the course of the experiment which is to test a weight loss product called Proactol. So far 1,023 people have applied for the position which appears to be getting a lot of interest, I wonder why.

posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 9:15:52 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, March 22, 2010

According to this article scientists have identified a gene that prevents regeneration. It is thought that by switching off this gene may one day enable mammals to regrow lost limbs. Trials have been conducted on mice where the p21 gene was switched off. The mice lacking the gene were then able to gain the ability to regenerate lost and damaged tissues. They do this by forming a blastema, a structure which is associated with rapid cell growth and causes the cells to behave more like embryonic stem cells than normal mammal cells. Scientists hope that they might one day be able to accelerate healing in humans by switching off this gene temporarily.

posted on Monday, March 22, 2010 11:12:46 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

pg-16-salamander_337080t The Kaiser’s spotted newt could be the first creatures to have the dubious honour of becoming extinct because of e-commerce. That’s according to this article which highlights the threat the creature is under from internet trading.

The rare newt which is found only in Iran is highly sought after by amphibian enthusiasts who are willing to pay as much as £200 for one. An investigation into the sale of the newts has been monitoring at least 10 websites which stock them, one of which has sold more than 200 wild caught newts in a year. This may seem a small amount but when it is estimated that only 1,000 mature individuals remain it is a large portion of the remaining population.

Conservationists are now pushing for trade in wild caught Kaiser’s spotted newts to be made illegal. There are also numerous websites which offer captive bred newts from £40 each, some of which have been breeding them since 2008. As always though it’s hard to know which ones are wild caught and which are not.

posted on Monday, March 22, 2010 11:06:22 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback