Science

Gideon Rachman

The news that a patient with the Ebola virus is receiving treatment in an American hospital is making headlines in the US. But, even before the Dallas case was revealed, there was growing alarm in western capitals, about the implications of the virus for Africa.

When President Obama gave his speech to the UN last week, it was his remarks about war in the Middle East that made the news. But what the president had to say about Ebola was also striking. He warned that it was a disease that “could kill hundreds of thousands, inflict horrific suffering, destablise economies.” 

Ebola virus (Getty)   © Getty

By Clive Cookson
Research into Ebola drugs and vaccines had been chugging along at a fairly leisurely pace for a decade or more – helped by some funding from the US government’s biodefence programme but not a priority for medical research in the public or private sector – until this year’s explosive Ebola epidemic in west Africa. 

By Clive Cookson

The release on Thursday of a stunning map of the oldest light in the universe will almost certainly be the event of the year for cosmologists.

The European Space Agency’s “cosmic microwave background” image, compiled from Planck satellite observations, will remind people that there are two complementary ways of gathering evidence to help scientists understand the universe at the most fundamental level.

One is to create extreme conditions – ultra-small versions of the Big Bang that created the universe 13.8bn years ago – on Earth, by smashing together subatomic particles at almost the speed of light. That’s how physicists used the Large Hadron Collider at Cern last year to discover the Higgs boson

A meteorite trail above a residential apartment block in Chelyabinsk (Getty)

Russia sent thousands of rescue workers to help the people injured by a meteorite that shot across central Russia today. The fireballs crashed to the ground just as people were heading to work, but luckily, fears about the behavior of psychotic Russian drivers means there was no shortage of video footage to capture the moment that it landed.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a large body of rock has made a dramatic entrance into our atmosphere. 

These are the pieces that interested and amused us today:

We’ve got some gripping reads for you today, from our own pages and elsewhere:

Esther Bintliff

Let me get this straight, did they just find God in a particle? Not exactly. But yesterday’s announcement that physicists at Cern, the European nuclear research centre, have glimpsed what seems to be the Higgs boson is nevertheless very exciting. Here’s why…