Periodic table

Physics in the forest

DR RONNIE Milne, from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, in Edinburgh, will be discussing "Forests and Physics - The Earth's Delicate Balance" when he gives a talk to the west Scotland branch of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The free lecture is on Tuesday 20 November at 7pm in the Glasgow Science Centre. Dr Milne will examine how physics can help environmentalists and scientists to understand forest ecosystems. The talk is also supported by the Institute of Physics. More details at

Innovation awards

THE 2008 Biggart Baillie Innovation Awards have been launched. Inventors have until 18 January 2008 to submit their ideas for new products and services. The winners will receive 1,000 and practical support towards bringing their ideas to fruition. The awards have three categories: one open to anyone over 18 years old; one for Scotland's top female inventor; and one for Scotland's leading student inventor. The awards are sponsored by law firm Biggart Baillie and supported by ITI Techmedia. Last year's winner was Fraser Doherty, who recently signed contracts to sell his SuperJam in Tesco and Waitrose. Launching this year's competition, Mr Doherty said: "Winning the award last year was a real mental boost. It added credibility to my idea and also helped to confirm that what I have developed is really innovative and new."

Divers and scoters

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A NEW special protection area (SPA) and site of special scientific interest (SSSI) could be designated in the Highlands. The proposed dual designation would include Lochs Affric, Cluanie, Loyne (including Lochan Bad an Loisguinn), Garry (including part of the River Garry and Loch Poulary), Lundie and Blair, plus part of the lochs' shoreline. It would cover an area of 2,975 hectares. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is conducting a consultation. The SPA and SSSI would help to protect black-throated divers and common scoters (species of duck that breed on the lochs).

Cash for Dundee

DUNDEE University has been awarded more than 6 million in grants from the Wellcome Trust to establish a new research centre in its college of life sciences and add infrastructure to its drug discovery unit. The bulk of the funding is a 5 million award to Professor Angus Lamond to establish the Wellcome Trust Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression at the university. The award covers a five-year period, and includes funding for ten posts and for the purchase of new equipment. The Wellcome Trust's research centres are centres of excellence.

Shooting through

ROSETTA, the European Space Agency's comet chasing probe, flew close to the Earth this week in a slingshot manoeuvre. The probe sped past the Earth at 45,000 km/hour relative to the planet, passing 5,301 kilometres above the Pacific Ocean, to the south west of Chile. Rosetta will pass through the asteroid belt with a flyby of asteroid Steins in September 2008. Rosetta will then return for a final flyby of Earth in November 2009 before a flyby of asteroid Lutetia in July 2010. The final rendezvous and landing with the comet Churyumov Gerasimenko will take place in 2014.

White-tail swoops in

VISITORS and staff at the Argaty Red Kites project are used to big birds: their red kites have a five-foot wingspan. But even they were surprised by the size of the "flying barn door" that paid them a visit this week. A white-tailed eagle - one of 15 released in Fife three months ago as part of a re-introduction project - was mobbed by the resident kites. White-tailed eagles, also known as sea eagles, have an eight-foot wingspan. The bird seen at the project, near Doune, Perthshire, which is run in partnership with the RSPB, is known as "T" and has also been spotted over the Firth of Tay.

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