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"I think animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers."

A Bit of Fry and Laurie - UK TV


French born Jeane Louise Calment is the (posthumous) title holder of the longest recorded lifetime of a human. 122 years and 164 days from February 1875 'til 1997.

The Tongan royal family owned the world's oldest tortoise. It died in 1965, 188 years after Captain Cook gave it to their ancestors as a present.

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The following is an article taken from Choices Magazine after a visit to the Mystery Shopping Club.

"Wanted: Shopaholic nosey parker with excellent observational skills, a good ear and flexible attitude to part-time work. Anyone can apply. Work available in all areas. Must be prepared to eat free meals, enjoy shopping discounts and visit pubs - and be paid for it."

Believe it or not, the above job advertisement is not as far fetched as it sounds. If you love shopping, you'll be pleased to hear that it's possible to shop for a living. In fact, it's a multi-million pound industry for market research companies who employ "mystery shoppers" to shop up and down the country - all in the name of customer service and research.

There are a number of mystery shopping companies who organise whole armies of professional shoppers on behalf of retailers, pubs, restaurants, banks and other service industries. Their mission? To mingle in, look inconspicuous and file a report on anything from customer service to cleanliness in the restrooms.

If you visit one or two pubs in a night, you'll get your food and drink paid for, travel expenses and you'll be paid anything from £6.00 to £8.00 up for each visit.

But there is one problem with mystery shopping: truly dedicated shoppers never switch off from their work. You'll find yourself compulsively evaluating service and checking ceilings for cobwebs even when you're not on duty. It eventually becomes a part of your life.

To find out more about casual employment opportunities in the "Secret Shopper" industry, please visit's sister site:

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Is it a three wheeler?

Archived Biology Related Articles in the Media

Mass Extinction Not Inevitable. Two recent studies suggest that the Earth is experiencing its sixth great extinction. Although that's a bad thing, it's not a done deal. A Q&A with conservation biologist Stuart Pimm by Stephen Leahy ...More from Wired News

Species at risk of extinction growing. The number of species close to extinction has been increased by 124 in the 2002 update the "Red List", the International Union for Conservation of Nature's catalogue of threatened species ...More from

Putting Darwin in his place: Using his quiet country estate as headquarters, the great naturalist was a reclusive revolutionary. After years of immersion in Charles Darwin's 14,000 letters at the Cambridge Library, Janet Browne--an editor of the Darwin correspondence project--has published the second half of her sprawling, magnificent biography ...More from Scientific American

Professor of international nutrition Andrew Prentice says infant obesity is changing human evolution. "Today's children will have a lower life expectancy than their parents unless the worldwide epidemic of obesity is brought under control," reports The Financial Times ...More from What The Papers Say

Biology Professor Stephen Harris claims study shows that hunting does not reduce fox population. Bristol University's Professor Harris studied fox numbers before and after last year's hunting ban due to foot-and-mouth disease, reports The Independent. Finding there was no difference in the fox population, he concludes: "These results add weight to the argument that foxes regulate their own numbers and that all forms of fox culling are less important than hitherto believed" ...More from What The Papers Say

A theory of evolution, for robots. Creating a robot that can fly like an insect or a bird is beyond the reach of technology right now. But building a bot that can teach itself to fly - now that's a real possibility. Lakshmi Sandhana reports from Chennai, India ...More from Wired News

RIP: Alba, the Glowing Bunny. Is the world's most famous glowing bunny dead? And did it ever really glow at all? The scientist and artist who collaborated on the project aren't clear on the issue ...More from Wired News

Scientists identify 'the spark of life'. British scientists have discovered the gene that provides the spark of life in research that promises dramatic advances in fertility treatment and stem cell experiments ...More from the Times

Skull find is "earliest human yet". A skull discovered in Central Africa belongs to the earliest member of the human family found so far -- a "small nuclear bomb" among students of human evolution ...More from Wired News

Genetic heritage: The 'Lost Tribe' of Appalachia. DNA can reveal a lot about a person, but does it hold the key to a people's heritage? An ethnic sub-population in Appalachia -- with no firm idea where they came from -- hopes so ...More from Wired News

Skeleton Keys. Museum of Natural History specialist Karin Bruwelheide and anthropologists David Hunt and Doug Owsley often help police investigate modern-day mysteries. The bone guys read skeletons like intricate topological maps. Sometimes they can make identification from a skull fragment the size of a quarter ...More from Washington Post

The Whole Critter Catalog. A group of tech gurus and scientists have launched an ambitious project to catalog every living species on Earth in the next 25 years ...More from Wired News

A Little Neanderthal in All of Us. A scientist re-analyzes DNA samples and concludes that humans interbred with other populations hundreds of thousands of years ago ...More from Wired News

The Art of the Meal. A gigantic simulacrum of the human digestive system eats, digests and expels two meals a day. The creator says it's all about art, not about science. Heather Sparks reports from the New Museum in New York ...More from Wired News

Panel: Some Cloning Techniques OK. A report written by California scientists, lawyers and ethicists, which will be presented to the state legislature, recommends a ban on human reproductive cloning, but urges research on other cloning methods that could benefit medical research ...More from Wired News

Japan scientists 'grow artificial eyeball'. Japanese scientists have succeeded in growing artificial eyeballs for the first time in the world. The Kyodo news agency said a group of researchers led by Makoto Asashima, biology professor at Tokyo University, succeeded in growing eyeballs in tadpoles using cells taken from frog embryos ...More from CNN

Dolly the Sheep's Arthritis Triggers Cloning Concerns. Dolly the sheep, the world's first mammalian clone, has developed arthritis in early middle age, reigniting smoldering scientific concerns that clones may not be as normal as they appear ...More from the International Herald Tribune

Why Goldfish Might Turn Blue. Through genetic manipulation, scientists are hoping to breed fish that will change color as a warning that their water is polluted ...More from Wired News

First cloned human embryos generated. Scientists at an American company have cloned the first human embryos in a move acclaimed as an important step forward in the use of cloning as a therapeutic technique ...More from the Times

The Way to a Teen's Brain Is Through His Stomach. Scott will eat anything that's not chained to the floor. A boy who ate only tomatoes, potatoes, peas and cheese turned into a teenager who eats anything, anytime, anywhere. If he spent half as much time studying biology as he does pillaging the kitchen, he'd be Louis Pasteur ...More from the Washington Post

Alabama keeps evolution warning on books. There was plenty of debate when Alabama began putting stickers in its students' biology textbooks warning that evolution is a "controversial theory". That was in 1996 ...More from CNN

DNA researchers grow plants that light up when they are under threat. The UK team, based at the University of Leeds in the used the DNA from a small white-flowered plant called thale cress and bonded it with that of a firefly, says The Telegraph. The resulting plants "glow faintly whenever stressed, such as in poor light or with too much heat" ...More from What The Papers Say

Cell division discoveries get Nobel prize. The 2001 Nobel prize for physiology or medicine has been awarded for research on the molecular elements that control cell division. "These fundamental discoveries have a great impact on all aspects of cell growth" and "may in the long term open new possibilities for cancer treatment," said the prize citation ...More from the New Scientist

First Language Gene Found. The first gene for human language may have been identified by a team of British scientists. But some scientists argue that complex behavior like language can't be reduced to individual genes ...More from Wired News

Black Death's Gene Code Cracked. Scientists decode the genome of the bubonic plague bacterium, paving the way for development of vaccine and treatments for the disease it causes ...More from Wired News

The little screensaver that could. IBM is building the world's fastest supercomputer to simulate one of the great mysteries in biology: how proteins assemble themselves. But a modest screensaver running on ordinary PCs has beaten them to it ...More from Wired News

Fossil hunters announce discovery of carnivorous, land-dwelling ancestor of the whale. "For decades, the puzzle has been over what kind of animals first went back to the water", writes Tim Radford in the Guardian. "In a find that matches the discovery of archaeopteryx - one of the great missing links of evolution - researchers have unearthed many of the bones of the 50m-year-old Pakicetus attocki, a land-dwelling, estuary-wading, meat-eating ancestor of the whale" ...More from What The Papers Say

She Makes Genes Cool for School. Science can be daunting for the disinclined, but a molecular biology professor says learning about your DNA is not only smart, but fun ...More from Wired News

Geneticist claims humans are 'easier to clone than sheep or mice'. "The researchers found that, unlike sheep, cattle, pigs and mice, where cloning results in a high number of foetal deformities and birth defects, humans possess an unusual genetic trait that mostly protects them from this risk", claims Dr Keith Killian in the Independent. However, critics argue that "the procedure is far too unsafe given the high proportion of cloned animals that are born defective" ...More from What The Papers Say

American clinic selects babies' sex to order. Scientists have revealed that nearly 200 couples, including one from Britain, have had babies whose sex was chosen for purely social reasons ...More from the Times

Building a Database of Specimens. More than 3 billion animals and insects are sitting around the world in jars of alcohol, and soon there will be an online database to account for them all ...More from Wired News

An Assembly Line For Drug Discovery. The landmark mapping of the human genetic code has set off a race to decipher the role of individual genes in disease and to use that information to design new drugs. Scientists are combining expertise in biology, laboratory automation and information technology to build a system to accelerate this process. Just as Henry Ford created the first assembly line to build automobiles, Aptus scientists are designing a system to analyze genes and discover new drugs on an industrial scale ...More from the Washington Post

Founding fathers. Less than 50 people founded the entire population of Europe, according to a new way of reading history from the genome ...More from the New Scientist

Genetically altered babies born. Scientists have confirmed that the first genetically altered humans have been born and are healthy. Up to 30 such children have been born, 15 of them as a result of one experimental programme at a US laboratory ...More from the BBC

Data-Mining of the 'Biobibliome'. Biologists in Norway have used a computer program to "read" the scientific literature and successfully predict gene interactions. This data-mining of the "biobibliome" provides a way of dealing with the ever-increasing torrent of biological data - millions of papers a year. But even more impressively, the completely automated process can make new genetic discoveries - essentially free research. ...More from the New Scientist

The biotech debate: The monarch butterfly. Entomologist John Losey could hardly have imagined the furore that would ensue when he happened to wonder, during a field trip one summer, whether dustings of pollen on milkweed growing in a Bt-cornfield might harm the monarch butterfly ...More from the BBC

Feathered dinosaur linked to first birds. The first complete fossil of a feathered dinosaur has been found in China, providing strong evidence that birds evolved from them ...More from the Times

Small Tribe Founded Europe. New genetics research claims Europeans are much more recently descended from a small band of Africans than previously believed. ...More from Wired News

Biology Yearns to Be Free. Should big companies have the exclusive ability to look at the molecular machinery that makes us tick? Scientists at the Molecular Science Laboratory in Berkeley ponder possible answers ...More from Wired News

Bio Teacher Cells Out for Prize. A Massachusetts computer teacher wins an award for his biology website that is used in classrooms around the globe ...More from Wired News Radio (10 min.)

The Meaning of Life and Microbes. NASA's new Astrobiology Institute will study the origin, evolution and future of life on Earth and in the universe. Hey, if they can land a man on the moon ...More from Wired News

'Flat Face' forces a new look at how we evolved. A new proto-human being from Kenya with a flat face and small teeth has thrown the story of human evolution into confusion.... More from the Times

Gene Project Nears Finish Line. One of the big "other" collaborative projects in genomics is ahead of schedule and under budget. The SNP Consortium is close to identifying the tiny differences in individual genes, which could lead to personalized medicines... More from Wired News

NASA says bugs from Mars travelled to Earth 13,000 years ago. "Bugs existed at the bottom of shallow pools and lakes on the Red Planet," reports The Star. The bacteria-like fossils have been found on a Martian meteorite being studied at the Johnson Space Center... More from What The Papers Say

Gene Map: Help or Hype? The culmination of 10 years of research and billions of dollars are published in the two most prestigious academic publications in the world. Why is one researcher calling it hogwash?... More from Wired News

Gene Scientists Publish "Book of Life". "The book of humankind - the entire 3bn-letter genetic code of a representative human - is revealed by two competing journals," reports The Guardian. And it comes as some surprise to find that the human chromosome carries only about 30,000 genes rather than the 100,000 genetic scientists had originally predicted.

Science publishes the map compiled by US biotech company Celera Genomics, while Nature publishes the map compiled by the Human Genome Project, a collaboration of researchers from six countries funded by the Wellcome Trust. Britain's contribution comes primarily from the Sanger Centre near Cambridge. The map itself is so big that it may never be printed in full.

"For the first time, scientists will be able to scan the overall map of the human genome," explains Steve Connor, science editor of The Independent. "This promises to revolutionise medicine in the 21st century and tell us more about the evolutionary history, and possible future destiny, of humankind".

"We share many genes with humble organisms," says Roger Highfield in The Telegraph. "About half with the fruitfly and the nematode worm, and about a fifth with yeast. All that distinguishes an Inuit from a Cockney or an Aborigine, even Britney Spears from Diana Ross, are variations in 300,000 letters in a three billion letter sequence"... More from the Guardian and What The Papers Say

Kamikaze Cells Could Save Lives. Cells are programmed to die, but those that don't can cause problems. A biotech company has been granted exclusive rights to a patent of technology that could make even the most stubborn succumb... More from Wired News

In Search of the Youth Fountain. A University of Texas researcher is looking at whether part of a human being's DNA contains a component that sacrifices itself to preserve the rest of the cell. The work could offer insights into the aging process... More from Wired News

Protein and the Lean Machines. Now that the human genome is deciphered, researchers have a new new thing: proteomics, the study of proteins. But it's about 1,000 times more complicated, and new tools for analysis are a must... More from Wired News

University of Saskatchewan, Canada develops the "triffid" - a plant which cannot be killed. "Prof McHughen, who claims his creation was named after an astronomical nebula and not Wyndham's horrifying plant, concedes that his triffid is also designed to be tapped for its oil, though he does not expect it to walk or eat people." - The Guardian... More from What The Papers Say

Biology Sites

  • Access Excellence
  • Advanced Genetic Analysis Center University of Minnesota
  • A-Level Biology Notes UK
  • American Institute of Biological Sciences
  • Animal Genome Mapping Discussion Group
  • Bank of Digital Resources for Teaching Biology University of Ottawa Canada
  • Bats, Bats Everywhere
  • Beginners guide to molecular biology, DNA proteins and molecular engineering
  • Bio Online
  • BioChemLinks
  • Biodidac: A bank of digital resources for teaching biology
  • Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Biological Control
  • Biology teaching resources and lesson plans
  • Biosphere 2 Center
  • - The Encyclopedia of Plants
  • BovBase Cattle Gene Mapping Project Roslin Institute UK
  • Carbon Cycle
  • Cattle Genome Mapping Project US
  • Cells Alive
  • Center for Conservation Biology Network
  • Cincinnati Zoo
  • Clinical Biochemistry lecture notes and monthly MCQ
  • Clone World
  • Cloning of Dolly the Sheep
  • Coral Reef Fishes
  • Cornell Community Conference on Biological Control
  • Dictionary of Cell Biology
  • Discovery Scope
  • Dog Genome Project at Berkeley
  • Dolly - Cloning
  • EE-Link
  • Elefant-Konsult
  • Encyclopedia of Desalination and Water Resources
  • Encyclopedia of E. Coli Genes and Metabolism
  • Encyclopedia of Haemophilus Influenzae Genes and Metabolism
  • Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems
  • Experimenting with Mendel's Pea
  • Freeserve A-level revision includes biology exam revision UK
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genetic Engineering News
  • Hawai’i Coral Reef Network
  • Heart: An Online Exploration
  • Herbal Encyclopedia
  • HMS Beagle - BioMedNet Magazine
  • Human Anatomy On-line
  • Interactive Frog Dissection >
  • Interactive Pea Experiment
  • Introduction to Mitosis
  • Irving Forest Discovery Network
  • Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies
  • Jurassic Reef Park
  • Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes
  • Life Sciences Data Archive
  • Life, the Universe, and Everything
  • Louisville Zoo
  • MAD Scientist Network
  • Marine Biological Laboratory
  • Meiosis and Mendelian Genetics
  • Mendelian Genetics
  • MendelWeb - The First Geneticist
  • Museum of Health and Medical Science
  • Mutant Fruit Flies
  • Myrmecology: The Science about Ants
  • Natural History Museums
  • New England Aquarium
  • Nudibranch and Coral Reef Gallery
  • Primer on Molecular Genetics - DNA, genes and chromosomes
  • Primer on Molecular Genetics
  • Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank
  • Roslin Institute Online
  • San Diego Zoo
  • School of Biological and Medical Sciences St. Andrews UK
  • Scientific American - A Clone in Sheep's Clothing
  • Sea and Sky: The Sea
  • Skowronski's Science Connection
  • Structure and Function of Organelles
  • The Bear Den
  • The Biology Project - Arizona
  • Tiger Information Center
  • Time-Life Plant Encyclopedia
  • Turtle Trax
  • UC Museum of Paleontology
  • Virtual Fly Lab
  • Virtual Frog Dissection Kit
  • Virtual Galapagos
  • Virtual Meiosis
  • Virtual Mitosis
  • Virtual Punnet Square
  • Virtual Zoo
  • WebPath: The Internet Pathology Laboratory for Medical Education
  • World Wide Web Journal of Biology
  • Yuckiest Site on the Internet
  • Zoo in the Wild


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