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July 1 - 7, 2009
Man’s best friend? All the latest inventions and discoveries telegraph.co.uk/science
By Kate Devlin Medical Correspondent
THE MEDITERRANEAN diet has long been hailed as the perfect recipe for a long life.
Researchers have claimed that the foods are effective against a variety of illnesses, from Alzheimer’s to cancer. But a new study suggests that not all the ingredients carry the same benefits.
Researchers found that eating large amounts of fish
and seafood or the low levels of dairy food traditionally associated with the diet did little or nothing to lengthen a subject’s lifespan.
However, drinking a glass of wine or two a day with large amounts of fruit, vegetables and olive oil, while keeping red meat consumption to a minimum did contribute towards a longer life.
The scientists behind the study claim that it is the first to identify which individual
parts of the diet might contribute the most to longevity.
Previous research has found that sticking to the diet can protect the brain against developing Alzheimer’s and other memory problems.
The variety of ingredients also reduce the chances of developing heart disease and even cut the risk of being diagnosed with cancer. The latest study, which followed 23,000 people, found that
those who adhered most closely to a typical Mediterranean diet were 14 per cent more likely still to be alive after eight years.
Prof Dimitrios Trichopoulos, from the Harvard School of Public Health, who led the study, said: “The analysis suggests that the dominant components of the Mediterranean diet are moderate consumption of alcohol, mostly in the form of
wine during meals, as is traditional in the Mediterranean countries, low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts and olive oil.”
Drinking wine was most beneficial for lifespan, followed by reducing meat consumption and eating a lot of fruit, vegetables and nuts.
There were also “clear” benefits in combining key components of the diet, such
as lots of vegetables and olive oil, the researchers found.
However, the findings, published online by the British Medical Journal, do not mean that eating fish carries few health benefits.
Previous studies have suggested that the omega three “good” fatty acids found in fish such as tuna and salmon can help protect the mind against decline and reduce the risk of prostate cancer for men.
By Louise Gray Environment Correspondent
EVERY HOME in Britain will be powered with electricity generated by 7,000 new wind turbines around the coast, under government plans.
Lord Hunt, the Energy Minister, announced proposals last week to use offshore wind farms to provide enough power for millions of homes by 2020.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change would provide £15billion to connect the new turbines to the national grid.
But Dr John Constable, Research Director at the Renewable Energy Foundation, said the grid was not designed to take so much “uncontrollable” electricity,
THECASE FOR WIND
Wind farms are capable of supplying more than 30 times the electricity consumed in Britain, scientists claim.
A network of 2.5 megawatt inshore wind turbines, operating at a fifth of their capacity and sited away from urban centres would meet electricity demands, a study by a team of scientists led by Prof Michael McElroy at Harvard University suggests.
The team worked out the potential for wind-powered electricity based on wind speed, air density, turbine spacing and the size of blades.
The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that wind farms could provide more than 40 times the world’s electricity demands.
which varied greatly with the level of wind. He said it would be impossible to get the turbines built in time because of a shortage of equipment.
Environmental groups said the grid would need to be upgraded in order to handle such a large amount of power.
Britain already has eight gigawatts of wind-powered generation capacity that is either built or in the planning stage, enough to supply up to five million homes. The plan for an extra 25GW would create enough capacity to supply every home in Britain.
The 7,000 turbines would be in addition to 210 already in place offshore and more than 2,000 on land. Last week the bidding process began for energy companies to lease sites, including Dogger Bank, in the North Sea; west of the Isle of Wight in the Channel, and the Irish Sea.
The Government said the investment would provide up to 70,000 jobs, but Dr Constable said Britain should only build enough turbines offshore to produce 10GW.
He said that for up to two thirds of the year, when the wind was not blowing, it would be necessary to have backup nuclear, coal or other renewable energy sources. He also said the industry was not value for money because subsidies were needed to get the technology off the ground.
Nick Rau, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Ministers must [develop] an offshore super grid to harness offshore wind, wave and tidal power and stabilise supply and demand by connecting us to a bigger European energy network.”
Dolphins and small whales on verge of extinction
Dolphins and smaller whales are in danger of dying out because they have not been given the same protection as great whales, according to The World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The international community has no measures in place to protect the smaller species, the charity claims. The fund is calling for protection
for the animals, not only from hunting but also from pollution, fishing equipment and loss of habitat.
Almost all great whales are protected under international treaties, but only 17 per cent of dolphin and porpoise species enjoy a similar status.
By Richard Alleyne Science Correspondent
WE MIGHT be asleep, but deep in the recesses of our mind a “memory editor” is replaying the experiences of the day and storing the highlights on our brain’s version of a video recorder, scientists believe.
Researchers have discovered that the mind keeps most memories for just a day, but at night it sifts through the “clips” before transferring the best ones to long-term storage in our own archive. They say the research has “profound implications” for the importance of sleep and its link with long-term memory.
Scientists have long suspected that there is a link between sleep and memory and have suggested that it acts like a filing system, enabling the brain to distinguish between important and useless information.
Dreams, which usually occur in light sleep, are thought to be part of the process. But, in memory tests, scientists discovered that it was more likely that deep sleep played a significant role.
The research was carried out by Professor Susuma Tonegawa at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, an offshoot of the American university MIT. Prof Tonegawa
and his team used humans and mice to show that memories are stored in the hippocampus, a part of the central brain, before being “replayed” and transferred down a circuit known as the “trisynaptic pathway” to be filed in the outer neocortex.
In experiments, volunteers were asked to memorise sets of words. Half of the volunteers were allowed to go to sleep immediately and half were kept awake. Those who slept, greatly increased their ability to recall the words up to six weeks later.
By blocking the trisynaptic pathway in mice, scientists were able to block the formation of long-term memories.
By Kate Devlin Medical Correspondent
CHEMICALS WIDELY used in shampoos, toys, hairspray and cosmetics could harm the growth of unborn babies, a study suggests.
Scientists found that the compounds were linked to low birth weight, which increased the risk of children dying in the first weeks of life and contributed to long-term health problems such as heart disease.
Researchers believe that exposure to the chemicals in the womb could inhibit the children’s growth. Previous studies have shown that the chemicals, phthalates, can also cause fertility problems in men.
The study analysed blood and other samples taken from 201 babies, 88 of whom were born weighing less than 2,500g (5.5lb).
Researchers found that more than seven in 10 had significant levels of the chemicals in their bodies. On average, all those of low birth weight had 30 more phthalates than the other children, according to the findings published in the Journal Of Paediatrics.
Although larger studies need to be carried out to verify the findings, the authors said that the results suggested that minimising exposure to the chemicals could be beneficial to unborn children.
Prof Charles Tyler, from the University of Exeter, said: “This study adds to a growing body of evidence which suggests that phthalates can have a wide range of effects on the body.”
Phthalates are found in glues and paints, and are added to plastics to make them more flexible.
In Europe, certain phthalates were banned from hairsprays and other products in 2005. telegraph.co.uk/expat
Go online for the latest celebrity picture galleries telegraph.co.uk/pictures
July 1 - 7, 2009
Truth, it is said, is stranger than fiction. When it comes to AnnaWintour, the fearsome editor-inchief of American Vogue, that is certainly the case.
We all remember The Devil Wears Prada, the movie adaptation of the novel about life at a New York fashion magazine, in which Meryl Streep played the despotic editor who reduced her staff to jelly, tears and, occasionally, nervous breakdowns. Written by Wintour’s former assistant Lauren Weisberger, everybody thought it was based on her old boss, who has been at the helm of the magazine since 1988. But nobody really believed that it was a true depiction of her. Surely Wintour – or Nuclear Wintour, as she is sometimes known – wasn’t that bad? Surely Streep’s character was just a gross Hollywood exaggeration?
It would seem not. For Wintour, 59, has taken the unusual step of allowing cameras to film a documentary about the magazine. The result is The September Issue, a riveting film that makes The Devil Wears Prada look like an episode of The Care Bears.
The cameras follow Britishborn Wintour and her army of editors for much of 2007, as they create the biggest edition of the fashion year (the September issue, which that year had 840 pages, 727 of which were adverts).
Until this week, when it premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, only a handful of fashion insiders had been allowed to watch the 88-minute documentary. All had been sworn to secrecy. For months, the internet has been awash with speculation about the documentary, which earned director RJ Cutler a grand jury nomination at this year’s Sundance festival.
It follows Wintour, OBE, around the shows – she famously once had Milan fashion week moved to fit into her schedule – and proves that she doesn’t just run a magazine: she runs all of fashion. When she meets the head designer at Yves Saint Laurent – a man we must
Anna Wintour in The September Issue and (right) the September 2008 issue, the creation of which is captured in the film
presume to be reasonably powerful – she is disparaging enough of his collection for him to rethink it; she has no qualms in asking Prada to “reinterpret” some of its designs. She does all this in her giant dark sunglasses, precision-bobbed hair and Chanel suit, a look that has not changed for years. Wintour may influence fashion, but she clearly considers herself to be above it.
Anna – or Ahhnna, as her staff refer to her – does not talk very much. There are only a few occasions when she speaks directly to camera; her permanent poker face says more about her than she ever could (tellingly, she admits in her transatlantic drawl that she admired her father, Charles, a former editor of the London Evening Standard, because he was “inscrutable”).
She throws out a shoot that cost $50,000 because she doesn’t like it. When a stylist asks why the pictures of a
model in a rubber outfit have been removed from a story about “texture”, the art director replies that for Anna rubber is not a texture. Another staff member picks out a jacket from a rail and wonders out loud if her boss would like it, before saying: “No, of course she won’t. It’s black. Icould get fired for that.”
“It’s like belonging to a church,” says Candy Pratts Price, who runs the Vogue website.
“And Anna is the high priestess?” asks the director.
“I would say she is more like the Pope.”
Despite Wintour’s dominating presence in the Vogue offices, she is surrounded by colourful characters. There is André Leon Talley, her portly editorat-large, who plays tennis in top-to-toe Louis Vuitton and bemoans “a famine of beauty”.
Then there is Grace Coddington, a former model,
20TH CENTURY FOX; AP
also from Britain, who started at the magazine the same day as Wintour and is now her number two. With wild red hair and not a scrap of make-up on her face, Coddington and Wintour could not be more different. Their relationship is intriguing. Coddington is perhaps the only person who stands up to Wintour – when one designer meets her his
hands are shaking – and Wintour clearly respects her for that. At the end of the film, she concedes that she could not live without Coddington.
The September Issue must be the only film in which Sienna Miller is reduced to a bit part. As a Hollywood A-lister and the magazine’s cover girl, you might think that the staff of Vogue would treat her with appropriate reverence, but, instead, Wintour complains that her hair is “lacklustre”, that she is too “toothy” and that you can see her fillings in the pictures.
So how on earth did director RJ Cutler get Wintour to agree to be filmed? “This will come as a shock to you,” says Cutler, “but all I had to do was ask.” Cutler produced The War Room, the 1993 documentary about Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. Who was more frightening? Neither, he says. Did she like it? “It would be fair to say that she would have made a different film to the one I did.” Did she meddle? “Of course, she did – she’s Anna Wintour. But at Sundance she said: ‘I made many suggestions to RJ – but let’s face it, it’s his film.’ Irespect her for that.”
They are still in touch. “She is astounding really,” says Cutler. “She is like a historical figure who walks among us. I always explain her this way: you can make a film without Steven Spielberg’s blessing, you can produce some software without Bill Gates’s blessing, but you can’t get into fashion without Anna Wintour’s blessing.”
Some have suggested that this may be Wintour’s last year as editor-in-chief at AmericanVogue; The September Issue would certainly serve as a supreme act of selfcommemoration. But, for a documentary about fashion, it has a surprising poignancy.
On the surface, Wintour may seem ice cool, but her demeanour is underpinned by insecurity. She says: “People are frightened of fashion – because it scares them, they put it down. They mock it because they are not part of it.” Her siblings all have serious jobs – one brother is the political editor of the Guardian – and she thinks that they are “very amused by what I do”. She looks pretty grim-faced as she says this.
At one point, we meet her charming daughter, Bee, who wants to be a lawyer, despite her mother’s keenness that she become an editor. “Some of the people in there [the Vogue office] act as if fashion is life,” says Bee to the camera. “And I know that it is really fun, and amusing. But there are other things out there.”
Deep down, her mother would probably agree.