UK physics conference to reveal breakthrough isolating stem cells from blood

April 10, 2005

A major breakthrough in stem-cell research; the world's most sensitive test for cancer; and a new understanding of the critical role black holes played in the evolution of the universe will be among the latest research being presented by the world's top scientists at the Institute of Physics conference Physics 2005 in Warwick next week (10-14th April 2005).

Highlights of new research being presented include:

Breakthrough isolating embryo-quality stem cells from blood (embargoed)
A major breakthrough in stem cell research - a new tool that could allow scientists to harvest stem cells ethically - will be announced on Tuesday. Professor Josef Käs and Dr Jochen Guck from the University of Leipzig have developed a procedure that can extract and isolate embryo-quality stem cells from adult blood for the first time. This new technique could unlock the stem cell revolution and stimulate a boom in medical research using stem cells.

Optical computer made from frozen light (embargoed)
Scientists at Harvard University have shown how ultra-cold atoms can be used to freeze and control light to form the "core" - or central processing unit - of an optical computer. Optical computers would transport information ten times faster than traditional electronic devices, smashing the intrinsic speed limit of silicon technology.

"Einstein would side with opponents of the War on Terror", says expert
Famous physicist Albert Einstein would stand "side by side" with those opposed to Bush and Blair's war on terror, according to the world's leading Einstein expert Professor John Stachel. In a public lecture in honour of Einstein Year on Wednesday 13th April, he will explain how Einstein's experience as a witness to Germany's growing militarism during the First and Second World Wars led him to predict with "uncanny accuracy" the contemporary situation in the US and in Britain.

Scientists announce world's most sensitive cancer test (embargoed)
Speaking at the Institute of Physics conference Physics 2005 in Warwick today (Tuesday 12th April), scientists will reveal a new test for cancer, more sensitive than any existing technique and capable of predicting for the first time whether a tumour has spread.

Was the Universe once full of black holes? (embargoed)
A research group at Cambridge think that the universe might once have been full of tiny black holes. Dr Martin Haehnelt, a researcher in the group led by Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, will present new evidence to support this controversial idea. Most cosmologists believe that supermassive black holes grew up in big galaxies, accumulating mass as time went on. But Haehnelt says there is increasing evidence for a different view - that small black holes grew independently and merged to produce the giants which exist today.

"Enzymes could solve energy crisis", says Nobel laureate (embargoed)
Nobel laureate Steven Chu will reveal how enzymes could solve the world's energy crisis. In a plea for the development of carbon-neutral energy sources, he will urge scientists to exploit aeons of evolutionary experience to face this and other technological problems. For over a billion years, life on earth has turned the sun's rays into stored chemical energy, and used enzymes to manipulate that energy into useful forms. Global agriculture can already feed the world's population and though there is a serious distribution problem, the excess capacity could yet be diverted to harvest energy. This low-grade energy in the form of cellulose could be converted into useful forms like ethanol, as part of a carbon-neutral energy cycle.

Sacred constant might be changing (embargoed)
Physical constants are one of the cornerstones of physics - sacred numbers which we know to be fixed - but what if some of these constants are changing? Dr Michael Murphy of Cambridge University will discuss the "fine structure constant" - one of the critical numbers in the universe which seems to be precisely tuned for life to exist - and suggest that it might not be constant after all. Dr Murphy has used the largest optical telescope in the world, the Keck telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, to study light from distant quasars. This light has been travelling across the universe for billions of years, and seems to show that the fine structure constant, often known as "alpha", may be varying over time.
Notes to editors:

Physics 2005 Newsroom & Media Registration
Media representatives are invited to register free of charge. The newsroom will provide computer access, phone lines, areas for private interviews and refreshments. To register for the Physics 2005 Newsroom please email: or call 020 7470 4864.

News Releases & Press Pack
A press pack containing embargoed news stories will be available from 5th April. During the week before and the week of the conference we expect to issue a series of news releases on stories and major breakthroughs from the research fields being presented at the conference. Releases will also be posted on EurekAlert.

Physics 2005 Programme
The conference begins at 9am on Monday 10th April and ends at 12.30pm on Thursday 14th April. The latest programme, timings, information on the four themes of the conference and social events can be found at:

All research being presented at Physics 2005 is embargoed until 0.01hrs in the morning on the day of delivery. There will be embargoed stories for every day of the conference - Monday to Thursday inclusive.

Contacts (for further information, registration or general enquiries):

Physics 2005 Newsroom Team:

David Reid, Press Officer, Institute of Physics & Physics 2005, +44(0)20 7470 4815 or +44(0)7946 321473.

Dr Alex Seeley, Physics 2005 Newsroom, Institute of Physics, Tel: +44 (0)20 7470 4964, Mob: +44 (0)7967 326646.

Einstein Year is a year-long celebration of physics and its relevance to all our lives. Marking the centenary of Einstein's three ground-breaking ideas it communicates the vital role physics plays in developing new technologies such as cancer screening equipment and mobile phones, whilst addressing big questions like how the Universe was created and how climate change can be addressed. Einstein Year will inspire and inform the next generation of physicists as well as those who are just curious about the world around them. Einstein Year is the UK and Ireland's contribution to International Year of Physics, a UN-sponsored project to promote physics in 2005.

Einstein Year is here - be inspired by physics in 2005

The Institute of Physics is a leading international professional body and learned society with over 37,000 members, which promotes the advancement and dissemination of a knowledge of and education in the science of physics, pure and applied. It has a world-wide membership and is a major international player in:
  • scientific publishing and electronic dissemination of physics;
  • setting professional standards for physicists and awarding professional qualifications;
  • promoting physics through scientific conferences, education and science policy advice

    The Institute is a member of the Science Council, and a nominated body of the Engineering Council. The Institute works in collaboration with national physical societies and plays an important role in transnational societies such as the European Physical Society and represents British and Irish physicists in international organisations. In Great Britain and Ireland the Institute is active in providing support for physicists in all professions and careers, encouraging physics research and its applications, providing support for physics in schools, colleges and universities, influencing government and informing public debate.

    IOP Publishing

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