Published: Friday 15 April 2005

lake on mars: Claims that life exists on Mars were boosted when scientists recently declared they saw the remains of a frozen sea on the planet's surface and speculated the ice may hold preserved organisms.

Planetary geologists led by John Murray of Britain's Open University said the evidence comes from pictures sent by the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. High resolution, stereoscopic images reveal a flat, "plate-like terrain" in the region of southern Elysium Planitia, near the Martian equator, that appears remarkably like fields of pack ice on Earth, they say.

air pollution: Fine particles present in polluted air damage not only the lungs but can also affect the inner lining of arteries, according to a team of researchers from the Univeristy of Southern California, USA's Keck School of Medicine, headed by Nino Kunzli. Their paper provides the first epidemiologic evidence linking arteriosclerosis -- abnormal thickening and hardening of arteries -- with air pollution. It also adds to the growing evidence linking particulate matter with cardiovascular damage of many types.

dna barcode: The Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) has launched an initiative to create a database that will enable identification of all plant and animal species based on their DNA.

Dubbed 'DNA Barcoding', the process uses a DNA sequence from an agreed-upon location in the genome to characterise species of organisms. Less than a fifth of the planet's estimated 10 million plant and animal species have been named. The initiative, begun in February, will help speed up the discovery of new species.

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