[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 5 NOVEMBER 2005

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed Nov 2 11:19:14 EST 2005


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE
 
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 5 NOVEMBER 2005 (Vol. 187 No 2524)
 
EMBARGO: 
THESE ITEMS BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE:- 04:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 3 NOVEMBER 2005 
 
NEWS:
 
MARAUDERS OF THE HIGH SEAS
Efforts to conserve the biodiversity of the oceans are making very little progress, according to two new reports. The first, presented at an international conference in Australia, reported that the plans to set up marine protected areas are proceeding very slowly. Meanwhile a second on illegal fishing (co-commissioned by the Australian government) suggests that the practice is thriving, in spite of international commitments to improve regulation. Pages 12-13
 
VICTIMS OF GENETIC DISCRIMINATION SPEAK-UP
Evidence is growing that employers and insurers are discriminating against people whose genes predispose them to serious disease. Initial results from a survey in Australia showed that around 1 in 12 people who have taken a genetic test have suffered specific instances of negative treatment - for example, by being denied appropriate life insurance. Page 7
 
TRACING DAD ONLINE
A teenager has managed to track down his genetic father using a swab of his own saliva, an online genealogical service and some internet searches. This case has serious implications for men who have donated sperm in the past with promises of anonymity. With the explosion of information about genetic inheritance online, any man who has donated sperm could potentially be found by his biological offspring. Pages 6-7
 
STAY AWAY FROM THE KERBS FOR HEALTHIER LUNGS
People should stay away from the kerb to reduce exposure to car exhaust pollution. Researchers kitted out volunteers with pumps that sucked in air as they walked the streets of London. They found that people walking nearer the kerb were exposed to up to 10 per cent more ultrafine polluting particles, than those walking closer to buildings. Page 16
 
EASY ANIMATION FOR NOVICES
New software could help ordinary computer users draw animations. The software, called K-Sketch, invented in the US, allows unskilled users to sketch out a rough scene on a tablet PC. Using a stylus, parts of the drawing are simply dragged in any direction using a motion such as a sweep or loop. The software then records the movements and plays them back as an animation. Page 26
 
CHEAP, RAPID HAND-HELD CHECK FOR HIV
Doctors in poorer countries could soon be able to use a cheap, hand-held device that can check the health of a patient with HIV in seconds, rather than weeks. Scientists from two New York universities have made a sensor that can measure the quantity of key immune cells called CD4+ cells. Doctors rely on a patient's CD4+ count to decide when to start drug treatments and to indicate whether a patient is responding to them. Page 26
 
MIT PROFESSOR SACKED FOR FABRICATING DATA
A high-flying researcher has been fired from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, US, for fabricating data. A New Scientist investigation can, however, reveal that serious doubts are also being expressed over the accuracy of data published by the same researcher much earlier in his career. www.NewScientist.com
Read the full story here: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8230
 
FEATURES:
 
BLAST FROM THE PAST
400 years on from when Guy Fawkes almost blew up the English parliament, scientists are only just starting to uncover the secrets of gunpowder's explosive power. The most critical ingredient of medieval gunpowder is saltpetre, and at the time of the plot to blow up parliament, it was made from purified dung. Pages 33-35
 
ON THE OTHER HAND
One scientist thinks we have been looking at "handedness" in the wrong way. Rather than thinking of ourselves as either left-handed or right-handed, we should be classified as either strong-handed or mixed-handed. Do you use your left hand to write but your weaker hand to throw a ball? Or do you use your right hand for everything? Even more controversially, he believes that the differences could be explained by variations in a part of our brains, and be linked to certain behaviour. Pages 36-39
 
BRAIN BOX
Computer researchers are hoping to build a robot that emulates the structure and function of a living brain. A computer program simulates neural networks to teach the robot things like what to like and dislike, and how to navigate. The dream is that robotic bodies with these new brains will go to a level beyond today's artificial intelligence systems, with the ability to explore and learn in the constantly changing real world. Pages 28-32
 
MONKEY BUSINESS
It seems that capuchin monkeys make economic decisions just as wisely as we do. What's more, it is possible that a better understanding of how our primate cousins behave could help us manage our finances more effectively. Pages 40-42
 
Don't miss out
New Scientist is broadcasting 9 weekly podcasts packed full of topical news stories, interviews and competitions - starting this week. Listen in from Friday at: www.newscientist.com/podcast
  
- ENDS -
 
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New Scientist is the world's leading science and technology news weekly, boasting a global circulation of 161,506 (ABC UK Jan-June '05).
 
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Kitty Timpson 
Media Manager Australia 
New Scientist 
 
Tel: +61 2 9422 2893 
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