Breakthroughs, tips and trends: October 25th

( I've chosen my favourite three! - there are others: follow the link)

Everything you need to know about the latest research, the newest discoveries and the strangest science

Healed by eel
ELECTRIC eels could offer a new way to power medical implants, say American scientists who have found how to build a body battery based on a blueprint of the creature's shocking secret.

Researchers based at Yale University say that they have created a natural cell that copies and improves on the original: it can generate 28 per cent more electricity than the eel's electrocyte battery. And it is nearly a third more efficient at converting chemical energy (derived from the eel's food) into electricity.

David LaVan, one of the team, says that four of the cells would be sufficient to power a medical device. The natural, non-toxic battery would be less than 1cm thick, and may use glucose from a patient's blood as fuel.

Stronger swan
WANT to get super-fit? Taking to your toes and learning ballet will get you far more toned than swimming at the highest competitive levels, according to a study by Hertfordshire University.

The report compared members of the Royal Ballet with a squad of British national and international swimmers, including members of the Olympic squad.

The dancers scored higher than the swimmers in seven out of ten crucial areas of fitness, including strength, endurance, psychological state, flexibility and balance. The ballet dancers were predictably better in the balance tests, but they also scored 25 per cent stronger when tested for grip strength, says Professor Tim Watson, who revealed the results at Hertfordshire University's Health and Human Sciences Research Institute Showcase this week.

Beer therapy
BEER drinkers could get many of the health benefits that wine sippers enjoy, thanks to genetic-engineering students at Rice University, Texas.

They are adding genes to brewer's yeast, so that during the brewing process the fungi should produce resveratrol, the chemical in wine that has been shown to reduce cancer and heart disease in lab tests.

The “BioBeer” is an entrant in the International Genetically Engineered Machine Prize in Massachusetts next month. A few problems need to be ironed before the beer is delicious as well as healthy - it contains some unappetising chemical additives. But that doesn't bother the student team: most aren't legally old enough to drink in America.

Source - Times