[ASC-media] 15 NOVEMBER 2003 - Media Release

Sapier, Jeff (RBI - AUS) Jeff at NewScientist.com.au
Wed Nov 12 14:59:40 EST 2003


THE STRANGER WITHIN When Jane's family underwent blood tests to see if any
of them were suitable kidney donors for her - she didn't expect such bizarre
test results. She was told that two of her sons couldn't possibly be related
to her, even though all her children were conceived naturally. Researchers
around the world were scratching their heads with bewilderment - until an
explanation was found. Jane was in fact a chimera, a mixture of two
different people. Jane's mother conceived non-identical twin girls, who
fused during pregnancy to form a single embryo. And there are some
researchers who believe that there's a little bit of chimera in all of us.
Pages 34-37
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT Is it really safe to halve the vertical distance
separating planes flying over Europe? The warning comes from a German
computer scientist who says that the reduced separation between air lines,
introduced in January 2002, means this could put the plane on a collision
course with a third aircraft much sooner than it has in the past. Page 23
(MRE) is a new painless way of pinpointing precisely which areas of deep
muscle are causing pain or stiffness. MRE measures the wavelength of
vibrations sent through the muscle fibres by a vibrating metal plate placed
on the skin. The American team predict that MRE will benefit athletes,
people recovering from injuries, as well as stroke victims and people with
cerebral palsy. Page 25
RED TAPE IS KILLING GREEN PESTICIDES Harsh regulations are depriving farmers
in Europe of eco-friendly "biopesticides". According to one UK biopesticide
company, farmers who want to apply for the use of a biopesticide are faced
with an application procedure that is slow and expensive. And yet
biopesticides are flourishing in the US due to a new fast-tracking approval
system. Page 10
CANCER OBEYS LAW A Universal law that describes the growth of animals also
seems to describe the growth of tumours, say American and Italian
researchers. Although in its early stages, the research will be able to
provide important new insights into the biology of cancer. Page 14
PUNCTURE REPAIR KIT Before NASA can allow its three surviving shuttles back
into service, they must solve the problem that led to the shuttle Columbia's
catastrophe on 1 February this year. It must work out how to detect and fix
any future hole in the shuttle's heat shield during a flight. James Oberg
learnt that pink goop may come in handy. Pages 28-31
LIFE'S LITTLE BUILDERS You've heard of natural selection, but how about
niche construction? Kevin Laland and John Odling-Smee say that niche
construction - where organisms shape their environments - should be
recognised as a significant cause of evolution, on a par with natural
selection. Pages 43-45

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