17-21 Feb Weekly News


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Scientists start huge search for ET

Is there life on other planets? Are we alone? These are two of the biggest questions humans have been asking for centuries. Now, scientists have launched a new search to find out if there is... anybody... out there. The researchers are from the SETI Institute in California. SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The mission of SETI is, "to explore, understand and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and the evolution of intelligence". SETI scientists will use new technologies to scan the heavens for signs of alien life. They will share their data with the public. SETI hopes that by sharing data, "citizen scientists" could spot things missed by scientists.

SETI's astronomers will use 28 giant radio telescopes in their search for alien life. The telescopes are located all around the world. It will be the first time that a project will search the entire sky for signs of alien life. The signs they are looking for are called "techno-signatures". These include things like alien chemicals, large amounts of oxygen, non-natural structures, and light from lasers. Astronomer Dr Tony Beasley said: "Determining whether we are alone in the universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science." Another scientist, Jill Tarter, said we are getting closer to finding out if alien life exists. She said this science is now no longer fiction, but "almost mainstream".


Illegal teeth whitening could damage health

Everyone wants shiny, pearly white teeth. The perfect smile has created a multi-billion-dollar industry, but not all is shiny in this business. The BBC stated that illegal teeth whitening is putting people at risk of health problems, including burnt gums and lips, blisters and lost teeth. The BBC reported a 26 per cent increase in complaints last year from people with problems from teeth whitening. Many of those doing the whitening were unqualified.

The UK's teeth-whitening industry is regulated. Only registered professionals can do it. Two BBC researchers went undercover and found "thousands" of non-qualified teeth-whitening practitioners. They attended a five-hour teeth-whitening course at a London beauty college. The researchers got a certificate and were told they could earn $100 an hour to treat customers. Setting up their own business would be illegal. They would have a criminal record.


Criminals have smaller brain size, says study

A new study has found that antisocial people are more likely to have smaller areas of their brain. Researchers said criminals' brains had a different structure to the brains of people who followed the law. The study is published in the journal "Lancet Psychiatry". Researchers used data from 672 people born in 1972-73. They looked at records of the people's antisocial behaviour between the ages of seven and 26. At the age of 45, the researchers scanned the people's brains. Eighty of the people had a history of criminal and antisocial behaviour from being early teenagers. Researchers found that the areas of the brain linked to emotions, motivation and behaviour control were smaller in the long-term criminals' brains.

Professor Terrie Moffitt, a co-author of the research, said the research could help doctors understand what is behind long-term antisocial behaviour. She said the antisocial people in the study may have behaved badly because of their brain structure. She said: "They are actually operating under some [disability] at the level of the brain." She added that because of this, we needed to care for these people in a kinder way. Lead author, Dr Christina Carlisi, said: "Differences in brain structure might make it difficult for people to develop social skills. This may prevent them from engaging in antisocial behaviour. These people could benefit from more support throughout their lives."



The US is poised to dial back its military presence in Afghanistan as part of a negotiation with the Taliban to reduce violence in the country. However, Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the exact date of the deal is still in flux. Some Afghan officials have serious questions as to how the deal will work and how the Taliban will be kept in check. US officials have reportedly reassured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his team that the US will hold the Taliban to their end of the deal and will stick with Afghanistan to ensure a more long-term, Afghan-led peace process.



The world could see a 60% increase in the number of cancer cases over the next few decades, according to the World Health Organization. And the WHO predicts the increase in deaths and the burden of cancer treatments will be higher in poorer countries. One reason for the inequality is the number of people exposed to cancer risk factors. For example, low-income countries tend to have higher rates of cancers related to infection, such as cervical cancer from HPV, than high-income countries. Poorer countries also tend to have higher rates of smoking and other lifestyle choices that put people at risk. However, the WHO says millions of lives could be saved if governments make even minimal investments in cancer resources.


Germany shooting

At least 10 people are dead after shootings in the German city of Hanau, about 16 miles east of Frankfurt.  Authorities believe a 43-year-old man went on a rampage yesterday at multiple locations in the city, including two shisha bars, before returning home and shooting himself. Hee was found dead in his apartment early this morning along with his 72-year-old mother. Both died from gunshot wounds, an official said. The suspect is believed to have a far-right background, prosecutors said. Police are also investigating whether he owned guns legally. Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.


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