Published: Saturday 31 May 2003

Cloning constraint: The cloning of humans and other primates may not be possible with current techniques, indicates an experiment. Normally, during the natural division of healthy cells, chromosomes duplicate and line up on a structure in the cell known as the 'spindle'. This structure pulls the opposite ends of the mother cell apart and ensures that it splits into two identical and complete daughter cells. Researchers from the US-based University of Pittsburgh found 'chaotic structures' in place of an orderly spindle in the cells of cloned monkeys. The resulting embryos had inadequate numbers of chromosomes.

baby boon: Milk teeth, which children begin losing around their sixth birthday, contain a rich supply of stem cells in their dental pulp. Researchers from the US-based National Institute of Health say that these stem cells are far better than those of adults. They grow rapidly and, with careful prompting in the laboratory, have the potential to induce formation of specialised dentin, bone and neuronal cells, which prove extremely useful in research.

myth exploded: Major earthquakes may be far less destructive than believed. Data from the best-measured quake to date shows that the more the ground moves, the less vibration it generates, says Emily Brodsky, a geophysicist at the University of California, USA. The find means that well-constructed buildings have a good chance of surviving a large quake.

what's cooking?: From your office, you can now command your oven to cook the chicken, and then refrigerate it. A US company called Tonight's Menu Intelligent Ovens has developed a refrigerated microwave that can be controlled over the Internet. The microwave uses a Peltier cooling device, which has two metal plates that either heat or cool when a current is passed. It also utilises the embedded technology that allows web access without a built-in computer.

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