This week's UK news: 7 September 2014
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7 September 2014


Water shortage solves Stonehenge mystery

Stonehenge, the UK's famous stone circle, attracts people from around the world (including US President Barack Obama this week). But archeologists still argue about what the circle orginally looked like and what it was for.

Some of the mystery may have been solved because of a short hosepipe. Tim Daw, who looks after the site, noticed that brown patches were appearing on the grass after a long period with no rain. The rest of the site was being watered with a hose, but it was not long enough to reach all of the stones.

Mr Daw said he was thinking that they needed a longer hosepipe - but then he realised the brown patches were where stones would have been if the circle was complete. He called the archeologists and they quickly took photographs from a plane before it rained. The discovery has been described as "really significant" by senior staff researching Stonehenge.

English now the language of flowers

Until now, plants have all been given Latin names to escribe what they are and what plant family they come from. Now a change in the rules means plants can instead be given an English name.

The change comes because the International Botanical Congress voted to allow English descriptions of species for the first time. The change will not yet apply to animals. One botanist said that Latin had become increasingly difficult to use.

Sick child's parents arrested

One of the biggest news stories this week has been about five year old Ashya King. The little boy has had an operation for a brain tumour at a UK hospital, but then the medical staff and his parents disagreed about what treatment should follow the operation.

The parents wanted Ashya to have something called proton beam therapy, which is not generally available in the UK for children with this form of cancer. When the doctors disagreed, the parents took Ashya to Spain, where they won a house. They wanted to sell the house to pay for proton beam treatment for Ashya in the Czech Republic.

But this did not go to plan because the hospital said Ashya's feeding machine would stop working and the family must be found within hours. Police were involved, and Ashya's parents were arrested in Spain. This caused an outcry because they were in prison and could not be with their sick boy in hospital. The UK prime minister intervened and now the parents are freed and Ashya is going to get the treatment they wanted. 

Drink tea not coffee to live longer

Researchers in France compared death rates among people who drink tea and people who live coffee. They found the tea drinkers had death rates 34 per cent lower than coffee. The researchers said some of the difference was because the coffee drinkers were more likely to smoke.

However, they said tea had chemicals in it which might help health, and tea drinkers tended to have healthier lifestyles. They said it was impossible to say whether it was the tea itself which helped health, or the tea-drinkers' lifestyle - but recommended drinking tea anyway while scientists looked for answers to that question. 
 
 
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