Sidelines

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    On the Record

    “All I can say is ‘shucks’. We ran out of gas.”

    Wayne Hale, deputy manager of the US space shuttle programme, reacts to the postponement of the shuttle's launch due to a faulty fuel sensor.

    Scorecard

    Big spender

    Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich joins the biotech bandwagon with a decision to spend $10 million on stem-cell research.

    Fight club

    Thai officials plan ‘passports’ for fighting cocks in effort to track bird flu's spread through pugilistic poultry.

    Where's the beef?

    Reality bites for Canadian cows as a court ruling overturns objections to US plan to import beef from up north.

    Number Crunch

    898 miles

    How far the average UK resident drives every year to shop for food.

    19 million tonnes

    The amount of carbon dioxide emitted in Britain in 2002 transporting food to the dinner table.

    $15.5 billion

    The minimum annual cost to Britain of these ‘food miles’.

    Source: UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

    Overhyped

    Alcoholism treatments

    ‘Talk’ therapies, such as the 12-step programme, are commonly used to help alcoholics give up their vice — but do they really work? A 1997 study suggested that they offered unequivocal benefits, but a reanalysis of the original data is casting a somewhat different light.

    Although alcoholics who finished a course of treatment did well, those who dropped out of the course before it started were almost as successful at curing their cravings. Those who did worst were those who quit therapy after a single session, suggesting that secret to success is more will power than therapy.

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    Sidelines. Nature 436, 315 (2005) doi:10.1038/436315b

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