Get the Genesis
of Eden AV-CD by secure
internet order >> CLICK_HERE
Windows / Mac Compatible. Includes live video seminars, enchanting renewal songs and a thousand page illustrated codex.
Mahogany Seized 2001
BRASILIA Brazil's environmental agency, lbama, has seized 20,438 sq m of mahogany and is floating the wood down the rivers of the Amazon jungle as part of its biggest operation to hit illegal loggers. Helped by the-Army and local police, Ibama officials recoved the wood deep m the Amazon at a site where they found 28 trucks, two tractors and two planes used by the gang of illegal loggers who cut down the mahogany for its high value. lbama said the wood so far recovered is worth $US25 million ($60.19 million) and is the first fmd of its "Operation Rescue" launched this month to chase smugglers shipping mahogany abroad and recover the wood. The heads of the logging operation have been taken to court and will face fines but it is unlikely they will be jailed.
Mahogany is the tnost expenisive wood in Brazil and, can fetch up to $US1500 a square metre when shipped abroad for hefty profits in markets such as the United States, Great Britain and Japan. It is!used mainly for expensive ftimiture. The clampdown has led to death threats by loggers against environmental activists. Brazil banned mahogany logging in October, fearing that at current rates of deforestation the Brazilian Amazon's mahogany reserves could disappear in eight years. The recovered wood is being floated hundreds of kilometres down rivers to the town of Altamira in the Amazon state of Para where it will be given to social projects such as housing for the poor. lbama hopes to recover another 30,657 sq m of mahogany, much of which was felled on Indian land.
Couples queue for designer Babies
LONDON Six more. couples plan to apply for permission to have a designer baby to save a sibling's Iffe. The Human Fertilisation a nd Embryology Authority Britain's fertility watchdog insisted that it had not opened the floodgates after Raj and Shahana Hashmi got the goahead for embryo selection last weekend. The couple at the centre of the medical row say they are not "playing God" by creating a child to save the life of their terminally ill son. Dr Simon Fishel, who is treating the Hashmis, said he had six othtr patients who were eager to -go ahead. "I would be very surprised if I haven't put in another application within three months," he said. "I think it is a beneficial procedure and it wffl be used carefully, guardedly." The six couples all have seriously ill children whose only chance of survival is the birth of a sibling who is a perfect genetic match. None of the six couples has found matching donors for their children. The six are registered with the Park Hospital Centre for Assisted Reproduction in Nottingham, which is treating the Hashmis. The couples are at the beginning of the process with no guarantee they will all proceed. Fishel said the process the Hashmis went through included extensive medical and scientific consWtation. Their son Zain has the rare blood disease beta thalassaemia major. Fishel, director of the Park Hospital clinic, said the way had now been cleared for other parents. "It was an ethical precedent, and the authority has for the first time set the strict criteria by which other cases will be considered." Under the treatment agreed by the authority, embryos created through the Hashmis' IVF treat ment will be screened to ensure they are the same tissue type as Zain before being put back in the womb. When the baby is born, blood from its umbilical cord will be used to try to cure the 3-year-old. REUTERS, PA
Global Warming Disaster ahead say scientists 2002
LONDON Experts have seriously underestimated the amount by which sea levels are expected to rise by end the century, scientists say. New evidence suggests melting glaciers could increase global sea levels by 20cm or mor-e over the next 100 years nearly double the previous worst-case prediction. Added to an estimated rise of up to 42cm due 16 other processes such as ocean warming, sea levels could be 60cm higher.
Researchers at Boulder, collected raw data showing that the
rate of ice loss from the world's glaciers and ice caps had more
Glaciers around the world are now smaller than they had been for several thousand years. The new information revealed that previous sea-rise predictions by the 'lntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had probably underestimated the effect of melting glaciers. In particular, when the earlier forecasts were made little data was available about the fate of huge gliders on the west coast of Alaska around northem Canada which were wasting away rapidly. A sea-level rise of just lm would submerge half of Bangladesh, displacing more than 100 million people. Island nations such as Kiribati in the Pacific were equally vulnerable. Long before this critical point is reached, low-lying local coastlines would be inundated including some large cities such as Houston, Texas. PA
GM spray rids mouth of damaging
BOSTON A genetically modified mouthwash has been developed which could effectively eliminate tooth decay.
The mouth rinse contains a friendlier GM version of the bug that rots the teeth, Streptococcus mutatis. But unlike their cousins, these bacteria do not produce enamel-eroding acid.
When the solution is squirted into the mouth, the good bugi take over from the bad ones and prevent them from returning. According to the researchers, a single five-minute treatment costing less than $US100 ($239) would last a lifetime.
Professor Jeffrey Hillman, from the University of Florida, said: "If this approach works as well as we hope, it has the potential to eliminate the majority of tooth decay." It is often thought that sugar causes tooth decay,.but the real culprits are the bacteria which break down sugars to produce lactic'acid. Hillman said: "Based on this accepted theory of the decay process, we eliminated the gene responsible for lactic acid production from a strain of Streptococcus mutatis. "The new strain will not produce lactic acid and, therefore, will not cause decay."
The new strain appears to stay permanently on the teeth, preventing other bugs from gaining a foothold. He hopes to start clinical trials this year.
The mouthwash would be most ideally suited to infants cutting their first teeth.
Dr Dennis Mangan, chief of the infectious diseases branch of the United States National Institutes of Health, said the approach showed great promise.
But he stressed that toothbrushes should never be thrown away. pA.
Red clover helps treat prostate cancer
An extract of the ancient grazing crop red clover has been used to successfully treat prostate cancer m tests conducted by Melbourne researcher-s. A study conducted at Monash University's Centre for Urological Research found that the prostate cancer cells in 38 men who took red clover mflavone supplements died at a high rate. The data, presented to the Third World Congress on the Ageing Male, held in Germany last week, found the cancer cells in the men taking the supplement died in numbers five times greater than in an untreated group. Study investigator Professor Gail
Risbridger said the findings supported the long-held belief that dietary isoflavones could be used to treat cancer. Isoflavones are found in many plants, including soy and red clover, and are chemically similar to oestrogen. In the 19th century, red clover was popular with herbalists as a blood purifier. Chinese physicians and Russian folk healers aLqo used it to treat respiratory problems. The red clover contains four isoflavones common in the Asian diet, thought to be the reason why Asian men have a lower incidence of prostate cancer. In China, 1.5 per cent of men develop prostate cancer compared with 5.3 per cent of males in the United States. Men in Asia and men in the West had a similar number of cancer cells in their prostates, but their cancer was latent or dormant," Professor Risbridger said. "But in Westem men, the number with cancers requiring treatment is 30 times higher than m Asian men. "A link between diet and cancer is known from epidemiological studies that showed when Asian men move to Western countries they develop cancer at the same rate as the Western population." Professor Risbridger said ftu-ther study was needed mto the effectiveness of red clover supplements.
African Global Warning
LIYASONGORO When Wilbert Minja talks, people listen. In the Tanzanian village of Liyasongoro, 1700m up the south slope of Kilimanjaro, his neighbours call him Mzee Swahili for "wise old man". Minja has lived there for more than 60 years, a long life by African standards, and lately he talks about how worried he is. The weather is all wrong, he says. "Rain falls when it should not, and does not come when it should." He recalls how settlers used to flock to the mountainside, lured by its rich soil and abundant water. Now they are abandoning their failed homesteads. The mountain streams are running dry and the dusty ground has turned barren. "I see many changes," says Minja. "And niany of them are bad." Ask about global warming, and he says he does not understand. But he and the million other inhabitants of Kflimanjaro's flanks are getting a firsthand education in its impact. Government water experts say the mountain's annual rainfall has declined every year since 1984. Two years ago, the drought got so bad that Miwa's crops failed. For the first tune in his life, he had to buy food to live. Last year's crop was better but still thin. Farther uphill, past the far-rns and villages, the rainforest covering the mountain's midsection is receding, consumed by illegal logging and wildfires. And above it all, at the top of Africa's highest peak, the snows of Kilimanjaro are vanishing. It is happening at a frightening rate, as Dave Sprissler and David Luber found for themselves last year when they set out for the 6000m summit with a three-year-old map. The two Americans planned to climb the southern route by hiking up the Helm Glacier. It turned out to be impossible. In the time since the map was drawn, the glacier had shrunk by half. Its leading edge had broken off and melted, leaving a towering wall of ice blocking the way. That kind of thing happens a lot lately, says Thomas Meela, a professional guide who has been to the top more fi= loo times. Every time he goes up, he finds less ice and more bare rock. "I'm not sure I believed in global warming before I came here," he says. "I do now." Lonnie Thompson is another believer. The Ohio State University geology professor has been studying glaciers and climate change for more than 20 years. Last year, he published the findings from research he has done on Kilimanjaro. He says about 30 per cent of the mountain's icecap has disappeared since 1979. Eighty-two per cent has melted since the glacier was first mapped in 1912. "If the glacier continues to melt at its current rate, it wiu have completely disappeared by 2020 and that's a conservative estimate." The rainforest is in similarly desperate shape. Here, scientists cannot distinguish the effects 'of global warming from the damage directly caused by humans. That is a problem because rainforests generate most of their own rain. When large areas are clearcut or burned, what is left becomes drier and more susceptible to fire. When rain does fall, it tends to run downhill rather than soak into the soil or evaporate to make clouds. During the drought of 2000, wildfires claimed roughly 5000ha nearly 5 per cent of the remaining rainforest. That could mean more runoff for the farms downhill but the water is not finding its way to Minja's village. "Our irrigation channels have dried tip," he says. "And now we have the mosquito disease here," He means malaria. The weather at this altitude used to be too cool for the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite. It is a different story on the far side of the mountain. The rains have dried up there, too, but water is plentiful anyway. No one seems to know why, but the melting glaciers and the sur-feice runoff seem to flow just one way' out of Tanzania. Kenya's Ambosel' National Park, north of Kilimanjaro, is fuming into a swamp. Elephant conservationist Cynthia Moss has spent 29 years there. The advancing wetlands have repeatedly forced her to move her base cainp to higher ground. Some animals, such as giraffes, impala and the lesser kudu, have left, the park because their hooves are not adapted for running on marshy ground. Elephants and many bird'; species are thriving; they love the', water. Flamingos, unheard of l0 years ago, are common now. But Moss worries that the lush times will end before long. "If the glacier is on the verge of disappearing, that means the flow of water will also stop. If that happens, we'll be in a lot of trouble." Trouble has already arrived in Minja's village. "I do not worry for myself, because I will soon be dead" he says. "But for the sake of my children and my tribe, I worry greatly..", The threat goes far beyond the immediate neighbourhood.
IVF babies at risk of defects
by Steve Connor in London
Babies bom after in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are three times more likely to develop neurological disorders including cerebral palsy than children conceived naturally, a study has found. Scientists believe the findings could be explained by the complications that often arise when two or more IVF embryos share the same womb, rather than because of the IVF techniques themselves. Dr Bo Stromberg, who led the investigation at the University Children's Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden, said the findings supported the view that only one IVF embryo should be implanted into a woman rather am the two or more routinely used in many countries.
"We think that IVF is a good treatment and a vital option for couples who can't have babies naturally, but we have to think of a baby's future life, and not just that of the couple," Stromberg said. The study, which used Sweden's extensive health records, compared 5680 IVF children aged between 18 months and 14 years with 11,360 youngsters of the same age who were conceived naturally. Stromberg also compared twin births with single births. IVF in Sweden produces a relatively high number of twins because two embryos are routinely implanted into patients to raise the chances of a successful pregnancy. The scientists say in their report, published in The Lancet "Our findings show that children bom after IVF have an increased risk of needing treatment in a childhood disability centre. Our results can largely be, though not solely, explained by the high frequency of twins bom, and by low birthweight and low gestational age, but an effect on the IVF procedure per se or other factors not a(busted for cannot be excluded." Twenty-three years have passed since the first test-tube baby was born. Worldwide, there are about 50,000 IVF children bom a year, yet next to nothing is known of any possible long-term effects on their health. The Swedish study was not big enough to discern any inherent problems with the IVF techniques used, such as the direct injection of a single sperm into an unfertilised egg, or the effects of inducing the production of eggs in a woman. INDEPENDENT
Cells used to make blood vessels
WASHINGTON Scientists seeking new ways to repair damaged arteries and ailing hearts have coaxed stem cells from a human embryo into forming tiny blood vessels. It is the first time human embryonic stem cells have been nurtured to the -point where they will organise into blood vessels that could nourish the body, says Robert Langer, leader of a laboratory team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But it is unlikely to be the last, as scientists pursue research into uses for stem cells despite debate over the ethics of using them. Doctor John Gearhart of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said the research showed how the cells could serve as a source of various types of tissue, in case for blood vessels, and he expected a lot more similar research. Langer said that if the technique were refined, scientists might eventually be able to niake m the laboratory blood vessels that coidd be used to replace diseased arteries. "There are thousands of operations a year now where doctors take vessels from one part of the body and transplant them to another," said Langer. The processed stem cells may also be used to repair damage caused by heart attacks. Embryonic stem cells are the ancestral cells of every cell in the body. In a developing embryo, they turn into cells that make up the organs, bone, skin and other tissues. Researchers hope to use the trans formation of such cells to treat defects in hearts, livers, brains and other organs. The area is controversial because extracting the, cells kills a living human embryo. The Massachusetts research was paid for by a private grant, and the stem cells came from Israel. AP
Population explosion might become a whimper 2002
NEW YORK In a major shift that has stunned demographers, fertility rates in much of Asia, Africa and Latin America have begun dropping, easing fears of a future global population explosion. While fertility rates have been falling in the West for the past 30 years, demographers until now assumed fertility would remain high in many of the world's most populous developing nations, maintaining the overall growth trend over the long term, the population experts.said yesterday. Demographers now "see fertility coming down to lower levels than we have ever anticipated," said John Caldwell, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. "For the fint time, we think it possible that within a hundred years or so, we will have a world declining , say, 10 billion people. We may some day pass our present level on the way down again," Caldwell said at a weeklong United Nations,conference on demography. The world population is now about 6.1 billion, according to UN estimates. Experts were divided on the reasons behind the shift Caldwell said the popular explanation was that women in developing nations were now striving to join the workforce and simply lacked the titne to care for children as they received little help from their husbands or their Governments. Alaka Basu, a professor at the Harvard University Centre for Popu lotion and Development Studies, in Boston, blamed consumerism stoked by radio and television advertising. "You are getting to know about the wonderftil world of goods outside before you are in a position to afford all these goods," she said. "And you are discovering that, given that your income is not growing that fast, you had better cut down on something, and it makes sense to cut down on children." A fertility rate that fell below roughly two children per woman would mean a country's population had stopped replacing itself and would begin shrinking, and a rate above two would mean the population would be growing. Caldwell identified 13 countries in the category he said now appeared likely to slip soon below the replacement level. They were Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico in Latin America; Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, on the African continent; and Indonesia, Iran, the Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam, in Asi&. He said that two other huge countries in the group, India @d Bangladesh, might also slip below replacement fertility levels. He also noted that the 15 natiom accounted for nearly half of the POPUlotion of the entire developing world. REUTERS
Bin Laden's Four Wives
LONDON Osama bin Laden was irritable, lonely and in pain in the period before the September 11 attacks in the United States, says one of his four wives. In an interview with this week's edition of the London al-Majallah weekly magazine, the wife, identified only by th initials 'AS', said the Saudi-born Islamic militant had kidney "and stomach pains, and told her he wanted to die in Afghanistan. "In the last period ... he appeared tired and fatigued and he was awake to the extent that most days he took sedatives and medicine to help him sleep," she was quoted as saying. "'The last time I saw him, he told me it was necessary for him to move to another place and that we wouldn't hear anything from him for a long time." "AS" said she had not heard from her husband since September 11, when she was holed up in caves in southern Afghanistan before being moved to a secret location in Pakistan by one of bin Laden's sons. The woman said bin Laden, who is Washington's chief suspect for the attacks on New York and Washington, had claimed ownersh' of a "big plan" to confront the United States.
In a rare insight into the personal life of the world's most wanted man, the woman said that bin Laden had two wives in Kandahar, a third in Kabul and another in Tora Bora. He did not sleep more than two or three hours a night, liked eating bread, yoghurt, honey and figs and had educated his children privately after the Taleban banned all but religious schools.
Natural defence against cancer The chemical is found in grapes A natural substance found in red wine, mulberries, peanuts and beansprouts may help prevent cancer.Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 18:11 GMT BBC
The molecule - called resveratrol - helps to fight the fungus that can blight many crops.
But researchers have discovered that it is also converted in the body to a known anti-cancer agent that can selectively target and destroy cancer cells.
Studies have suggested before that resveratrol might be cancer preventing - but this is the first time that scientists have gained a deeper insight into the underlying mechanism.
The research was carried out by Professor Gerry Potter and his team from Leicester's De Montfort University.
Professor Potter said: "Learning from nature in this way will help in our work to design drugs which are selectively activated in a tumour and can form the basis of anti cancer-treatments.
"Resveratrol is a defensive molecule against fungus in grapes and other crops, and is found at higher levels in those which have not been treated with man-made fungicides."
The researchers found that resveratrol is processed by an enzyme called CYP1B1, which is found on a variety of different types of tumours.
This converts resveratol into a toxic product called piceatannol.
Previous research by the Leicester team has shown that this process is restricted to the tumour itself, limiting the toxicity to the cancer cells and serving to selectively destroy them.
Scientists previously believed that CYP1B1 was a cause of cancer, because it is only found in tumours and not in healthy tissue.
Far from causing cancer, they think the enzyme is there to fight it and the team is continuing research into ways to assist it in its work.
Professor Potter said: "The belief that CYP1B1 is a cause of cancer is like blaming police for a crime just because they are on the scene.
"We suspected this natural product might be beneficial for health and have cancer preventative properties.
"This research shows just how it could prevent tumours developing by producing these anti-cancer molecules within the cancer cells themselves."
Sir Paul Nurse, Joint Director General of Cancer Research UK said: "Specifically targeting cancer cells in order to destroy them is an important area of investigation which could ultimately lead to more effective drugs with fewer side effects."
The research is published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Scientists have new insight into how a natural anti-fungal agent in grapes and other crops can help to prevent cancer. Researchers report in the British Journal of Cancer that resveratrol is coverted in the body to a known antir agent which can selectively target and destroy cancer cells. Although previous studies have suggested that plant-oestrogen may prevent cancer, it is said to be the first time, that scientists have gained an idsight into the underlying mechanism, of the chemical's anti-cancer properties. Team leader Professor Potter said: "Resveratrol is a defensive molecule against fungus in grapes and other crops, and is found at higher levels in those which have not been sprayed. The researchers foupd that resveratrol is p by the enzyme CYPlBl, which is found In tvariety of different tumours. This converts resveratrol into piceatannol, a closely related plant-oestrogen with known anticancer activity. Previous research by the team has shown that this process is restricted to the tumour itself, limiting the toxicity to the cancer cells and serving to destroy them selectively. Scientists previously believed that CYPlBl was a cause of cancer, because it is found only in tumours and not in healthy tissue. They now think the enzyme is there to fight it and the team is researching ways to help it in its work. Professor Potter said: "The belief that CYPlBl is a cause of cancer is like blaming police for a crime just because they are on the scene. "We suspected this natural product might be beneficial for health and have cancer preventative properties. This research shows just how it could prevent tumours developing producing these anti-cancer molecules within the cancer cells themselves." ' The team is also looking into the beneficial effects of vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage that contain a molecule which activates the same enzyme.
Hopes grow for anti-ageing drug
Scientists have rejuvenated ageing rats by giving them a cocktail of dietary supplements.
Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 00:09 GMT BBC
The breakthrough raises hopes that it might one day be possible to develop an anti-ageing drug for humans.
The researchers gave a combination of two natural chemicals available in health food stores to the animals - which were in the rat equivalent of their seventies.
Lead researcher Dr Bruce Ames, of the University of California at Berkeley, said the results were astonishing.
He said: "With the two supplements together, these old rats got up and did the Macarena.
"The brain looks better, they are full of energy - everything we looked at looks more like a young animal."
The animals' memories were also significantly improved.
The researchers estimate that the effect on the rats was the equivalent making a 75 to 80-year-old person act middle-aged.
Found in the body
The chemicals used in the experiment were acetyle-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid, both of which are normally found in the body's cells.
Acetyle-L-carnitine is sold as an energy-booster and alpha-lipoic acid as an antioxidant with anti-ageing effects.
The combination of the two chemicals has now been patented by the University of California.
A company set up to exploit the patent, Juvenon, is already conducting human clinical trials.
Three research papers on different animal studies of the chemicals have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The studies probed the biochemical action of the supplements, compared the behaviour of old and young rats, and tested the memory of animals fed the compounds.
Cell power house
The researchers found that the two chemicals in combination have a positive impact on mini-organs within the body's cells called mitochondria.
Mitochondria generate energy within the cells, and research has suggested that their deterioration is an important cause of ageing.
The problem seems to be that the very process of creating energy generates molecules called free radicals, which have a deeply destructive effect on the way cells work.
The supplement combination was found to mop up the free radicals in mitochondria.
It also boosts the activity of an enzyme fundamental to the energy-creating process.
The research also showed that mitochondria in brain cells important to memory were less damaged by radicals in animals fed the supplements.
Caroline Bradley, of the charity Research into Ageing, told BBC News Online that the study was clearly important.
She said: "The big step forward is that they have found a way of getting anti-oxidant into the mitochondria itself.
"Getting past the mitochondrial membrane has been the main challenge."
She added that it was early days for the research but that it was the first step towards improving human health in later life.
Asteroid comes out of sun Feb 02
An asteroid large enough to demolish a medium-sized city passed within 463,000km of Earth without being noticed by astron- omers until four days later. The asteroid, about 50M across, came from the directiion of the sun, making it difficult for astronomers to spot. It passed by Earth on March 9 (NZ time) but was not seen until March 13 as it hurtled away. Gareth Williams of the Interna- tional Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, helped spot the aster- oid after it passed by. It was a close call in space terms. The moon is only 402,000 km away. ... Me key is to detect these objects before they come out of the [sun's directionl," Williams said. That way, astronomers can quickly determine an asteroid's orbit and predict whether it wffi hit the Earth. An object of siinilar size flattened a 32km-wide patch of Siberian forest in 1908. - AP
UK Pill 'may blunt sexual urge'
Smell is thought to play an important role in sexual attraction Women taking the contraceptive pill may find themselves less responsive to the very smells which attract them to men, say researchers.
Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 23:09 GMT 00:09
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, measured the ability of women to detect distinctive smells such as musk - while taking and not taking the Pill.
They found that women who were not taking the Pill experienced rises and falls in their ability to sense smells, corresponding to particular stages in their monthly cycles.
Their sense of smell was found - in common with other studies - to peak around the time of ovulation, when a woman releases an egg and can conceive a baby.
It has long been thought that this increase in sense of smell may be linked to libido, helping increase it at the point of the cycle in which fertilisation is possible.
However, when the women took the contraceptive pill, which uses hormones to artificially control the cycle, their sense of smell was altered throughout.
Instead of the fluctuation between different phases of the cycle, the women tested had no change day to day.
Their general level of smell perception matched that experienced by women not taking contraceptives who were in the pre-menstrual, or luteal phase, just before a woman begins her period.
Whether this blunting of sense of smell has a direct effect on libido is not known.
In all the researchers looked at 60 women aged 18 to 40, and asked them to try to identify six distinctive substances - anise, musk-ketone, clove, pyridine, citrus and ammonia.
The team, from University of Catania in Italy, was led by Professor Salvatore Caruso, who said that further investigations were needed.
He said: "Our data seem to show that iatrogenic steroids - such as those contained in oral contraceptives - may affect changes in smell sensitivity.
"Biologically, odours probably influence reproductive processes in humans and perhaps the notion of concealed ovulation in humans needs rethinking.
"Although our data have confirmd the existence of changes in olfactory sensitivity during oral contraceptive use with respect to non-using time, we need to carry out further studies to investigate ways in which smell variations could vary a woman's sexual life."
Not so lone planet Apr 2002
by Steve Connor in London
The chances of an Earth-like planet circling a distant star are far higher than previously thought, astronomers say. They have calculated that more than one billion habitable planets could exist in dhr own galaxy, each with a sufficiently stable orbit around a nearby sun to support the evolutl&i of life. Two astronomers from Britain's Open University have estimated the chances of an Earth-like planet existirig in the critical habitable region froni a star where the temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold. This so-called "Goldilocks zone" is,critical to ensure that water exists irtliquid form. Barrie Jones and Nick Sleep concentrated on a nearby star, called 47 Ursae Majores, which is known to have two giant planets in orbit and is the most similar to our solar system. Professor Jones said: "Although we do not yet have the capability to detect 'fiddlers' like the Earth, we can establish theoretically which ... systems are most likely to have an 'Earth'. "We've been playing numerical games with these exoplanets. We took a known ... system and put an Earth-like planet in it to see if it would survive. "The good news for those who want to find life in the cosmos is that Earth-like planets would survive in these extrasolar systems. "There could be at least a billion 'Earths' in the Milky Way and lots more if we find systems like ours." INDEPENDENT