[ASC-media] Media Release 1 MAY 2004

Sapier, Jeff (RBI - AUS) Jeff at NewScientist.com.au
Fri Apr 30 14:26:27 EST 2004


STORIES FROM 1 MAY 2004 ISSUE


CONTROLLING PAIN BY WATCHING YOUR BRAIN A small US study suggests you can
teach people to suppress their own pain by showing them the activity of the
pain control region of their brain. Volunteers were able to vary their brain
activity level while enduring painful heat on their hand, and thus develop
control over their pain sensations. This biofeedback technique could also
turn out to be useful in treating illnesses, such as depression, where brain
activity is altered. Page 9

GET READY FOR INVASION OF THE TRAFFIC CONES Get ready for herds of robotic
road markers, closing down lanes and slowing traffic. US designers say their
self-propelled markers can open and close traffic lanes faster and more
safely than humans. The deployment of a fleet of these robots would be
controlled through a laptop which can send GPS coordinates to the lead
marker of where the cones should be positioned. Page 25

POPEYE CURE FOR BLINDNESS American researchers are exploring the
possibilities of using light-absorbing pigments from spinach as a treatment
for some forms of blindness. When added to human retinal cells the pigments
are capable of making the nerve cells fire when struck by light. The
researchers believe the technique would provide better resolution than
retinal implants. Page 8

SINGLE TEST REVEALS HOW FAST HIV IS SPREADING The US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention has developed a test that can not only tell if
someone is HIV positive, but also reveals how fast the virus is spreading
and in which groups. The tracking method will help health workers to focus
AIDS prevention programs on the places where infection is highest. Pages
14-15

GPS ECHOES HELP MONITOR EARTH The Earth is now bathed with signals from
Global Positioning System satellites. US scientists are proposing a further
network of inexpensive satellites to monitor the echoes these signals
generate. Among other things, they could be used to measure soil moisture,
ocean salinity and currents, and wind speeds. Page 23

FLOWER POWER A breakthrough in the mystery of how plants derive energy from
sunlight could hold the key to solving the world's energy problems.
Researchers are coming closer to being able to mimic the water-splitting
reaction in photosynthesis. Achieve artificial photosynthesis and you have
an unlimited supply of cheap, clean energy. Pages 28-31

AUSTRALIA FEELS THE HEAT Rising greenhouse gas emissions could mean
intensifying droughts in Australia and possibly worsening bushfires. Climate
researchers say there has been an increase in the country's temperature by
0.174 ºC per decade over the past 50 years. Page 4

THE ANATOMY OF DESPAIR American researchers have found that the brains of
clinically depressed people have a much smaller hippocampus than normal.
This could lead to more effective treatments. Pages 43-45

ANTIPODES: CHEWING THE FAT Ian Lowe looks at health promotion in Australia
and New Zealand, and considers some healthy statistics on Australian
research. Page 49

DENTAL X-RAYS LINKED TO SMALL BABIES Women who have a dental x-ray during
pregnancy are three times more likely to give birth to a low birthweight
baby, a US study has found. See also... Space station wobbles; Quantum
finance; American cicada plague. New Scientist's free public website at
http://www.newscientist.com <http://www.newscientist.com> 

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