Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Exercising for 15 minutes a day not only enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health, it also can extend lifespan by an average three years, a new study indicates.

Normally, doctors say exercising for at least half an hour a day will help a person prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss and stave off some diseases.

In fact, regular physical activity — ranging from gym workouts to vigorous walking — can help a person prevent or manage a wide range of health problems, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls, and decreases unhealthy triglycerides.

Although the World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a week to stay fit, a new study by Taiwanese researchers has found that smaller bursts of exercise can have a number of health benefits.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Taiwan Department of Health, the Clinical Trial and Research Center of Excellence and National Health Research Institutes.

About 35 per cent of U.S. adults exercise for at least 150 minutes a week or about 30 minutes a day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Still, one-third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children and teens are obese, which can increase the risk for diabetes, cancer, stroke and other illnesses.

In many countries, physical activity often takes a nosedive during adulthood, according to researchers. In addition, a sizable number of people in chronically inactive populations work office jobs that have them hunched over a desk for at least eight hours a day or more.

“The 30 minutes a day for five or more days a week has been the golden rule for the last 15 years, but now we found even half that amount could be very beneficial,” lead author Chi-Pang Wen told ABC News. “As we all feel, finding a slot of 15 minutes is much easier than finding a 30-minute slot in most days of the week.”

The study focused on how much exercise was undertaken over eight years period by more than 400,000 people in Taiwan. The study results showed that even a little exercise can go a long way.

Researchers categorized participants as “inactive” ranging to “very high” based on their level of physical activity so they could directly compare health benefits and exercise levels. The study, however, found that more than half of those surveyed were classified as “inactive.”

Participants who exercise for an average of 92 minutes per week — about 15 minutes a day — had a reduced risk of mortality as well as a 10 percent reduced risk for cancer compared to the inactive group. Every additional 15 minutes of exercise reduced the risk of death by 4 percent and lowered the risk for cancer by 1 percent.

“These benefits were applicable to all age groups and both sexes, and to those with cardiovascular disease risks,” wrote the researchers. “Individuals who were inactive had a 17 percent increased risk of mortality compared with individuals in the low-volume group.”

If the minimum exercise requirement of 15 minutes a day were followed, one in six deaths in Taiwan could be postponed, about the same reduction in mortality that experts believe could occur if the general population stopped smoking cigarettes, the researchers suggested.

“This low volume of physical activity could play a central part in the global war against non-communicable diseases, reducing medical costs and health disparities,” the authors wrote.

In addition, the researchers found that the participants who exercise at an average of 30 minutes a day can live four years longer than those who do less than one hour of moderate activity per week. The study was published in the journal The Lancet.

Additionally, physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave a person feeling happier and more relaxed, which can boost their confidence and improve self-esteem. Regular physical activity, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to tissues, can improve muscle strength and boost endurance. It can also help a person to sleep faster and deepen the sleep when exercised much earlier to bedtime.

(Source: International Business Times)

GENEVA — A flowering plant has been found at an altitude of above 4,505 metres (14,780 feet) on the central Swiss alps — a European record, Basel University, said Tuesday.

“It is almost a miracle, but at 4,505 metres, at 40 metres below the Dom peak in the canton of Valais, the … Saxifraga oppositifolia has been recently discovered,” said the university in a statement.

Purple Mountain Saxifrage

“It is the highest elevation flowering plant that has ever been documented in Europe, and the location is probably the coldest point in the world where a flowering plant has been found,” it added.

The plant, also known as the purple mountain saxifrage, is common in mountainous areas.

But it was found for the first time at such high altitude between solid rock by botanist Christian Koerner.

Scientists said that at such an altitude, the plant regularly has to endure night-time temperatures of below zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and winter temperatures that plunge as low as -20.9 degrees Celsius.

In summer temperatures reach a maximum of 18.1 degrees Celsius.

(Source: AFP)

Photo: Purple Mountain Saxifrage/ Flickr

Sugarcane grown to power Brazil’s cars and trucks as an alternative to climate-warming fossil fuels has a beneficial side effect: it also cools the local air temperature, scientists reported Sunday.

Researchers warned that this does not mean replacing Amazon forest or other natural vegetation with sugarcane fields. The benefit comes when sugarcane is introduced into existing agriculture, replacing pasture land or crops like soybeans.

Sugarcane manages this win-win feat by its ability to reflect sunlight and to “sweat” out cooling moisture into the air, said lead researcher Scott Loarie of the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Plants draw moisture from the soil and emit it into the air in the process of photosynthesis, Loarie said by telephone, and sugarcane is particularly efficient at making this transfer of cooling moisture.

“We showed that with sugarcane, it was these evaporative cooling effects that were much more significant than the albedo (reflectivity),” he said, speaking of research published online in Nature Climate Change.

Sugarcane is used in biofuel that powers about a quarter of the motor vehicles in Brazil, and in that way, it helps to keep some of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which affects global climate.

However, because of its efficiency at emitting cool moisture, it also can push down local temperatures by 1.67 degrees F (0.93 degrees C) compared to other crops or pasture.

Planting sugarcane still does not cool down the air as much as other crops and pasture warm it when they replace natural vegetation. The researchers found this local warming effect was 2.79 degrees F (1.55 degrees C).

One advantage of sugarcane planting for biofuels in Brazil is that it shortens what is known as the carbon payback time.

This is a way of calculating how long it will take to get excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere after it is emitted, Loarie said.

“If we cut down a hectare of Amazon forest, how much carbon are we releasing into the atmosphere and how much time is it going to take before we take that carbon out of the atmosphere?” he said. “How long will it take us to make that back, to substitute fossil fuels with the renewable fuels we’re going to grow?”

In places like the Amazon, he said, the carbon payback times can stretch to 60 years. But in much of Brazil, because sugarcane is such a productive form of energy, the carbon payback times are “only a couple of years,” he said.

There are caveats to using sugarcane as fuel, even in Brazil. Growing sugarcane does not address questions of waning biodiversity or possible water scarcity, and would not necessarily be able to stretch across the country’s central cerrado, or savanna, without irrigation.

The researchers stressed that sugarcane’s benefits are contingent on planting it on land that is already being used for farming, not in places converted from natural vegetation.

(Source: Reuters)

There are several mysteries in the world which are yet to be resolved and the question of birth, death, life after birth, rebirth are a few which have been posing a challenge to man for the time immemorial. In India several saints have found their own answers for these things which are beyond the reach of common man, rather, man is so busy in his day-to-day life that he hardly finds time to think about such things.

Today, I read a report where a 23-year-old man came back to life 30 minutes after doctors pronounced him dead. It was called as a rare example of a phenomenon known as Lazarus Syndrome. Doctors at the Royal Preston Hospital declared Michael Wilkinson dead on February 1. However, half-an-hour later, doctors realised that his pulse had returned. Wilkinson survived for two days before being pronounced dead a second time. An inquest heard that his return to life was known as Lazarus syndrome — the spontaneous return of circulation after attempts to resuscitate fail.

There have only ever been 38 cases recorded worldwide.

The syndrome takes its name from the biblical story of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus.

John Whittaker, a consultant at the Royal Preston’s accident and emergency department, said it was “not a small thing” to pronounce a patient dead. “You make absolutely certain,” he added.

Michael Wilkinson died of a previously undiagnosed heart condition. But 30 minutes after he was pronounced dead, medics found a pulse

Michael Wilkinson died of a previously undiagnosed heart condition. But 30 minutes after he was pronounced dead, medics found a pulse

Wilkinson had collapsed after an evening in which he had enjoyed a number of drinks with his family. However, tests showed that alcohol played no part in the incident. A post mortem conducted at the Royal Blackburn Hospital found that he had an undiagnosed heart condition in which his left ventricle had become abnormally thickened.

Lazarus Syndrome

Lazarus syndrome is the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation. Also called Lazarus phenomenon, it takes its name from the biblical story of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus.

Occurrences of the syndrome are rare and the causes are not well understood. One theory for the phenomenon is that a chief factor (though not the only one) is the build-up of pressure in the chest as a result of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The relaxation of pressure after resuscitation efforts have ended is thought to allow the heart to expand, triggering the heart’s electrical impulses and restarting the heartbeat. Other possible factors are hyperkalaemia or high doses of adrenaline.

One example is a 61-year-old woman from Delaware, USA, who was given “multiple medicines and synchronized shocks”, but never regained a pulse. She was declared dead but was discovered in the morgue to be alive and breathing. She sued the medical centre where it happened for damages due to physical and neurological problems stemming from the event.
Another case is a 66-year-old man suffering from a suspected abdominal aneurysm. During treatment for this condition, the patient suffered cardiac arrest and received chest compressions and defibrillation shocks for 17 minutes. Vital signs did not return; the patient was declared dead and resuscitation efforts ended. Ten minutes later, the surgeon felt a pulse. The aneurysm was successfully treated and the patient fully recovered with no lasting physical or neurological problems.

A 27-year-old man in the UK went into cardiac arrest following recreational use of heroin and ecstasy. After 25 minutes of resuscitation efforts, the patient was verbally declared dead. About a minute after resuscitation ended, a nurse noticed a rhythm on the heart monitor and resuscitation was resumed. The patient recovered fully.

An 18-year-old girl in Missouri, USA, committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping medication. Resuscitation was attempted, but with no luck. She was declared dead. Seven minutes later, her heart started beating and she started breathing on her own again, though she was comatose. The girl regained consciousness five days later and was oblivious to what had happened. Nurses were horrified to hear screams coming from the room, and found her alive and wide awake.

Today, Charan sent a mail on mobile phone and said feel free to try and pass on. There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:

The Emergency Number worldwide for  Mobile  is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

Have you locked your keys in the car?
Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile phone from your cell phone.
Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to
drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other ‘remote’ for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

Hidden battery power
Imagine your mobile battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your mobile will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your mobile next time.

How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #
A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

ATM – PIN number reversal
If you should ever be forced by a robber to withdraw money from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your PIN # in reverse. For example, if your pin number is 1234, then you would put in 4321. The ATM system recognizes that your PIN number is backwards from the ATM card you placed in the machine. The machine will still give you the money you requested, but unknown to the robber, the police will be immediately dispatched to the location. This information was recently broadcast on CTV by Crime Stoppers however it is seldom used because people just don’t know about it.

Last Sunday, we had gone to one our friends’ house and saw a bonsai there. A little tree in small pot, like a dwarf in the healthy environment. Bonsai is an art of shrinking healthy trees and shrubs into miniaturised dwarfs! Small is beautiful and small trees look pretty. But it is not an easy task.


These small trees are often considered to be priceless objects, as it takes time, labour and a lot of patience. Ficus, tamarind, guva, pine, chikoo, peepal, banyan trees are some which are mainly miniaturised. People say that the art of dwarfing trees started in Japan, or in China. (They were also the first ones to put iron boots on their women to keep their feet from growing!).


It is not that we can turn our overgrown guava tree into midgets by trimming, pruning, uprooting and placing them in the redundant fancy ashtrays dotting the drawing room. Though may look simple enough on paper, in practice it is quite difficult. Training a bonsai takes at least 3-4 years. A full grown peepal may take 10 years to complete.

There are several techniques to stunt a tree and make it a bonsai. One of them is leaf trimming. It is selective removal of leaves from a bonsai’s trunk and branches. Leaves are cut to expose the tree’s branches and bark. Other than leaf trimming, people do pruning to get the small size of the tree. They prune the trunk, branches and roots. Improper pruning can weaken or even kill trees and careful pruning throughout the tree’s life is very necessary. People also do wiring to stunt the growth of trees. Wrapping a copper or an aluminium wire around the branches and trunks allows the bonsai designer to create the desired general form and make detailed branch and leaf placements. When wire is used on new branches or shoots, it holds the branches in place till they convert into wood, which usually takes place between six and nine months or even more, depending on the growth of the tree. Bonsai designers also use clamping for trees with stiffer wood. They use mechanical devices to shape the trunks and branches. The most common are screw-based clamps, which can straighten or bend a part of tree. To prevent damage to the tree, the clamps are tightened a little at a time and make their changes over a period of months or years. Trees are also defoliated. In defoliating a healthy tree, most or all of the leaves are removed by clipping partway along each leaf. the leaves later dry up and drop off or are manually removed once dry. The tree responds by producing a fresh crop of leaves. The new leaves are generally much smaller than those from the first crop, sometimes as small as half the length and width. People do defoliation once in two years, as defoliation weakens the tree. Bonsai growers also use deadwood techniques to simulate age and maturity in a bonsai. They remove the bark from an entire branch and create the impression of a snag of deadwood. And also, they strip the bark from areas of the trunk to simulate natural scarring from a broken limb or lightning strike. In addition to stripping bark, this technique also involves the use of tools to scar the deadwood or to raise its grain, and the application of chemicals to bleach and preserve the exposed deadwood. Watering is very important, as heat and wind exposure can dry bonsai to the extent of drought in a very short period of time. While some trees can handle periods of relative dryness, others require near-constant moisture. Watering too frequently, or allowing the soil to remain soggy, can lead to fungal infections and root rot. So, designers use free draining soil to prevent water logging.

Bonsai trees are repotted and root-pruned at intervals depending on the age of each tree. They are often repotted while in development and less often as they become more mature. First they use a larger box called as growing boxes which allow the roots to grow more freely and increase the energy of the tree. In the second stage, they replant the tree in a training box which is often smaller and helps to create a smaller dense root mass which can be more easily moved into a final presentation pot. Unlike common plant containers, bonsai pots have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain. Growers usually cover the holes with a plastic screen or mesh to prevent soil from escaping and pests from entering the pots from below.

Most bonsai trees range from 5 cm or 2 inches to 1 mt or 3.33 ft in height. With good care, a bonsai tree can live for over 100 years, and bonsai lovers pass them down from generation to generation. They are admired for their age.

Here are a few easy steps I got to know about bonsai cultivation.
1. Select a tree. Start with common garden plants like gardenia, hibiscus, holly, juniper, pyracantha and rhaphiolepis. Look for the shrubs with branches that either grow upward or hang facing down, whichever you prefer.
2. Using pruners, make an initial pruning of the plant while it is in the original nursery container. Find its central trunk and remove enough growth until you plainly see the structure of the front or the side that will be displayed.
3. Remove the plant from its container and place the root ball in a bucket of water. This will make it easier to reduce the soil around the roots for fitting into a bonsai container.
4. Remove as much of the soil around the root ball as possible to fit the plant into a shallow decorative container.
5. Trim the roots till they are reduced to 2/3 of their original size. You will have a shallow root ball when you are finished pruning.
6. Place a piece of plastic window screen over the container’s drain holes to prevent the soil mix from washing out as you water. The screen will also prevent insects from entering through the holes.
7. Add a one inch layer of potting soil mix to the bottom of the container.
8. Place the plant in the container, spread the roots out over the layer of soil and cover them with more soil. Make sure you leave at least one inch of space below the rim of the container so you can water.
9. Finish pruning the remaining foliage. Trim away stems and branches in such a way that the remaining growth has the branch structure of a tree. Keep in mind that once you cut something off, you can’t put it back.
10. Water the tree well to soak the soil thoroughly.
11. Cover the surface of the soil with aquarium gravel for a finished appearance.
12. Feed with small amounts of fertiliser at frequent intervals, or choose a slow-release fertiliser. Fish emulsion or cottonseed meal are recommended sources of nutrients.

Talking cars

Posted: February 14, 2009 in science
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How often people might have dreamt of having talking cars after watching Bond movies?
Well, they could soon be a reality, for scientists have reportedly developed a radio-based technology that allows cars to “talk” to each other, analyzing potential accidents and advising the driver.
A team in Australia has developed the radio technology which will provide warnings to drivers of potential intersection crashes, rear-end collisions and lane drift. Moreover, it could be available in everyday vehicles as soon as 2012, means within three years!
According to scientists, the technology will also enable traffic flow management and optimize selection of route for drivers, reducing the costs of traffic congestion as well as greenhouse emissions.
Reports say that scientist Prof Alex Grant of UniSA Institute for Telecommunications Research says the radio technology combines GPS and Wi-Fi like communications to enable vehicles to talk to each other effectively. On board processing units assess the risk of an accident and provide advice to the driver. This technology equips vehicles with the ability to see around corners and to predict and avoid dangerous situations.

Skin specialist at home

Posted: February 8, 2009 in beauty, science
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Though it looks like a thorny cactus, aloe vera belongs to the family of onion/lily. Distinguished by its thick fleshy lance-shaped leaves, this green plant is supposed to have mystical properties. Its botanical name is Aloe barbadensis miller. People even call it as the fragrant desert lily.


If we go by an Egyptian lore, then the gel from the aloe vera leaves was the secret ingredient that Cleopatra used for her skin and not the much-touted milk. In fact, the Egyptians use aloe vera for their embalming process since times immemorial.

The juice of the plant is sold across the world in health stores in the form of capsules and gels. The gel has 20 amino acids which the body needs as supplement for its wear and tear.

According to sources, eight of these amino acids have to be ingested and are not produced by the body itself. The gel oozes from the leaf when it is cut. As a beauty aid, the gel is used in lotions and creams for its moisturising and soothing effect. It is also used to treat burns and wounds. It has effectively been used internationally for radiation burns also. The natural gel is, in fact, the most effective and provides faster relief since the polysaccarides are destroyed during processing when heat is applied and enzymes are added in order to stabilise it. The gel also has amazing anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It is said to aid the immune system, cure constipation and also has its positive effect on the texture of the skin. The local practioners of Ayurvedic medicine use the yellow sap of the aloe as a cure for constipation. T aloe vera gel can also be used to ward off mosquitoes/insect bites by applying it on the skin, besides relieving sunburns and minor kitchen burns.

Use of the gel on the skin restores its elasticity to a great extent by its immense moisturising effect and rejuvenates the skin. When the flesh of the aloe is applied to the scalp, it deters hair loss and decreases dandruff.

Bee dance

Posted: January 7, 2009 in science
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Food Dance Gets New Life When Bees Get Cocaine

Published: January 5, 2009 NYT

Buzz has a whole new meaning now that scientists are giving bees cocaine.
To learn more about the biochemistry of addiction, scientists in Australia dropped liquefied freebase cocaine on bees’ backs, so it entered the circulatory system and brain.

The scientists found that bees react much like humans do: cocaine alters their judgment, stimulates their behavior and makes them exaggeratedly enthusiastic about things that might not otherwise excite them.

What’s more, bees exhibit withdrawal symptoms. When a coked-up bee has to stop cold turkey, its score on a standard test of bee performance (learning to associate an odor with sugary syrup) plummets.

“What we have in the bee is a wonderfully simple system to see how brains react to a drug of abuse,” said Andrew B. Barron, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Australia and a co-leader in the bees-on-cocaine studies. “It may be that when we know that, we’ll be able to stop a brain reacting to a drug of abuse, and then we may be able to discover new ways to prevent abuse in humans.”

The research, published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, advances the knowledge of reward systems in insects, and aims to “use the honeybee as a model to study the molecular basis of addiction,” said Gene E. Robinson, director of the neuroscience program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a co-author with Dr. Barron, and Ryszard Maleszka and Paul G. Helliwell at Australian National University.

The researchers looked at honeybees whose job is finding food — flying to flowers, discovering nectar, and if their discovery is important enough, doing a waggle dance on a special “dance floor” to help hive mates learn the location.

“Many times they don’t dance,” Professor Robinson said. “They only dance if the food is of sufficient quality and if they assess the colony needs the food.”

On cocaine the bees “danced more frequently and more vigorously for the same quality food,” Dr. Barron said. “They were about twice as likely to dance” as undrugged bees, and they circled “about 25 percent faster.”

The bees did not dance at the wrong time or place. Cocaine only made them more excited about the food they found. That’s like “when a human takes cocaine at a low dose,” Dr. Barron said. “They find many stimuli, but particularly, rewarding stimuli, to be more rewarding than they actually are.”

Now, scientists are studying whether bees begin to crave cocaine and need more for the same effect, like humans.

The testing occurred in Australia, and, Dr. Barron said, “my dean got extremely twitchy about holding cocaine on campus. It’s in a safe bolted to a concrete floor within a locked cupboard in a locked room in a locked building with a combination code not known even to me. A technician from the ethics department has to walk across campus to supervise the release of the cocaine.”

That, Dr. Barron said, for a bee-size supply of “one gram, which has lasted me two years. One gram, a human would go through in one night. I’m not like the local drug lord.”


Posted: January 7, 2009 in science
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British Gray Suqirrel

British Gray Suqirrel

Saving a Squirrel by Eating One

Published: January 6, 2009 NYT

 RARE roast beef splashed with meaty jus, pork enrobed in luscious crackling fat, perhaps a juicy, plump chicken … these are feasts that come to mind when one thinks of quintessential British food. Lately, however, a new meat is gracing the British table: squirrel.

Though squirrel has appeared occasionally in British cookery, history doesn’t deem it a dining favorite. Even during World War II and the period of austerity that followed, the Ministry of Food valiantly promoted the joys of squirrel soup and pie. British carnivores replied, “No, thank you.”

These days, however, in farmers’ markets, butcher shops, village pubs and elegant restaurants, squirrel is selling as fast as gamekeepers and hunters can bring it in.

“Part of the interest is curiosity and novelty,” said Barry Shaw of Shaw Meats, who sells squirrel meat at the Wirral Farmers Market near Liverpool. “It’s a great conversation starter for dinner parties.”

While some have difficulty with the cuteness versus deliciousness ratio — that adorable little face, those itty-bitty claws — many feel that eating squirrel is a way to do something good for the environment while enjoying a unique gastronomical experience.

With literally millions of squirrels rampaging throughout England, Scotland and Wales at any given time, squirrels need to be controlled by culls. This means that hunters, gamekeepers, trappers and the Forestry Commission (the British equivalent of forest rangers) provide a regular supply of the meat to British butchers, restaurants, pâté and pasty makers and so forth.

The situation is more than simply a matter of having too many squirrels. In fact, there is a war raging in Squirreltown: invading interlopers (gray squirrels introduced from North America over the past century or more) are crowding out a British icon, the indigenous red squirrel immortalized by Beatrix Potter and cherished by generations since. The grays take over the reds’ habitat, eat voraciously and harbor a virus named squirrel parapox (harmless to humans) that does not harm grays but can devastate reds. (Reports indicate, though, that the reds are developing resistance.)

“When the grays show up, it puts the reds out of business,” said Rufus Carter, managing director of the Patchwork Traditional Food Company, a company based in Wales that plans to offer squirrel and hazelnut pâté on its British Web site,

Enter the “Save Our Squirrels” campaign begun in 2006 to rescue Britain’s red squirrels by piquing the nation’s appetite for their marauding North American cousins. With a rallying motto of “Save a red, eat a gray!” the campaign created a market for culled squirrel meat.

British bon vivants suddenly couldn’t get enough squirrel. Television chefs were preparing it, cookbooks were extolling it, farmers’ markets were selling out of it and restaurants in many places were offering it on the menu.

Meanwhile gamekeepers, hunters and trappers were happy to know that the meat was being eaten, not wasted. “My lads don’t like to kill an animal if it’s not going to be eaten,” Mr. Shaw said of the hunters who bring him game.

Many enjoy squirrel, however, simply because they like its taste. Mr. Carter said he didn’t know what he was eating when he tried it. But, he said, “at first bite, I thought it delicious.” Patchwork will send squirrel pâté, by the way, in return for a donation to “Save Our Squirrels” — but only within Britain.

Mark Holdstock, a writer and broadcaster specializing in countryside matters, is less enthusiastic, having recently eaten squirrel on the air on “Farming Today,” BBC Radio 4’s iconic program devoted to rural issues. “It’s fair to say I didn’t dislike it,” he said.

Nichola Fletcher, a food writer and co-owner of a venison farm, held a squirrel tasting for Britain’s Guild of Food Writers, finding “their lovely flavor tasted of the nuts they nibbled.” At a later event, however, she found the flavor disappointing, with “a greasy texture and unpleasant taste,” presumably reflecting these squirrels’ diet.

Though squirrel has been promoted as a low-fat food, Ms. Fletcher said that in her experience, “the quality and amount of fat varied from no visible fat to about 30 percent, depending on the season, their age and, especially, diet.”

Fergus Henderson, the chef and co-owner of St. John restaurant in London, offers squirrel on the menu “seasonally.” Though the meat is available all year long, it is in the spring, when hunting season is over, that country folk can focus their attentions on controlling the squirrel population. That’s when squirrel appears on St. John’s menu.

Mr. Henderson, who cooks with both poetry and passion, sometimes prepares his squirrels “to recreate the bosky woods they come from,” braising them with bacon, “pig’s trotter, porcini and whole peeled shallots to recreate the forest floor.” He serves it with wilted watercress “to evoke the treetops.”

Other chefs may be less lyrical, but they are no less enthusiastic. The Famous Wild Boar Hotel in Britain’s Lake District serves squirrel Peking-duck style; at Matfen Hall, a grand country house hotel, it is layered with hazelnuts into a terrine; in Cornwall, it can be found baked into the iconic meat pie known as a pasty.

If you want to grab your shotgun, make sure you have very good aim — squirrels must be shot in the head; a body shot renders them impossible to skin or eat. (You want to get rid of the head in any event, as squirrel brains have been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease.)

Skinning a squirrel is “difficult and unpleasant,” the food writer Leslie Mackley said, adding, “You have to fight to rip the skin from the flesh.”

A. H. Griffiths, who sells squirrel for the equivalent of about $3 per squirrel at the butcher shop in Shropshire that bears his name, added that it is “best left to the professionals.”

“Each squirrel skinned makes the next one easier,” he added. “When you’ve skinned as many as I have, you find the best way.”

Mr. Griffiths is a fan of the meat, likening it to a slightly oily rabbit. “We started selling squirrel a few years ago, after the owner of our local pub bragged about winning a squirrel-eating contest,” he said. Then, he said, the owner “caught a squirrel, casseroled it up, and we liked it so much Griffiths has been selling it ever since.”

One might think that because of easy availability, squirrel would be the perfect meal-stretcher for these economically challenged times, but it takes a lot of work to get the meat off even the plumpest squirrel. (One would make a good main course.) Combined with the aforementioned difficulty in skinning, Mr. Carter said, many otherwise enthusiastic hunters, gamekeepers and chefs “can’t be bothered with it.”

red squirrel

red squirrel