[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 12 AUGUST 2006

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed Aug 9 01:42:13 CEST 2006


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE
 
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 12 AUGUST 2006 (Vol. 191 No. 2564)
 
EMBARGO: THESE ITEMS BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST BEFORE: 04:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 10 AUGUST 2006. 
 
UNDERSTANDING HOW HUMANS WALK UPRIGHT
Research involving remote-controlling people through Sydney's Botanic Gardens; shows that the brain uses precise information about head movement and orientation to control walking direction and balance. The work could lead to new treatments for motion sickness and balance disorders, and it also supports fossil evidence that the ability to sense movement accurately - rather than simply responding to gravity - was an important stage in enabling humans to walk on just two feet. Full Story on www.newscientist.com http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9692-understanding-how-humans-walk-upright.html

WHAT DOES FUTURE HOLD FOR DRUG TRIAL VICTIMS?
Recent headlines and reports in the papers predicted the fate confronting six men who took part in the catastrophic trial of the drug TGN1412. Not only did the volunteers suffer adverse reactions that put them in hospital for months, four of them have now been told they are at risk of cancer and serious autoimmune disease. However, just as it is still unclear exactly why the men reacted so badly to the drug, their prognosis is less certain than the headlines suggest. NEWS Page 10 
 
FROM SNAPSHOT TO COVER MODEL IN A SINGLE CLICK
We all know that pictures of models and celebrities are given a little digital enhancement before they appear on magazine covers. Well now you too could enjoy such treatment thanks to an algorithm that has been developed by researchers in Tel Aviv. Photographs of human faces are morphed into subtly more attractive versions of themselves in just a few minutes without significantly altering the person's appearance. NEWS Page 26
 
THE LAST TABOO
Vets must mention the unmentionable, and confront the issue of people who sexually abuse animals. Sexual abuse is a serious issue in animal welfare and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, London says it urges vets who suspect abuse to report it. NEWS Page 6
 
BRAIN GROWTH LINK TO SCHIZOPHRENIA
A gene mutation that alters the shape of the brain in some people with schizophrenia could help explain why the disease often strikes at adolescence. Researchers in London tested people with schizophrenia for a specific gene mutation. Those with mutations had abnormal brain volume and shape. The gene plays a role in cell division, which in the brain occurs more actively at adolescence - an age at which schizophrenia is commonly diagnosed. SHORT NEWS STORY Page 14
 
FRUITY HITCHHIKERS LEAVE YOU HEAVING
Beware the mild-mannered melon. Researchers in the US have found that the cantaloupe melon has been responsible for outbreaks of food poisoning in the US and Canada that have left more than 1600 people ill and at least two dead.  The problem with the cantaloupe is their rough skin, which can be hard to clean. When they are cut open, bacteria on the skin can contaminate the flesh. SHORT NEWS STORY Page 16
 
BIG CRUNCHES WIPE THE SLATE CLEAN
There is no such thing as karma, at least not for stars and galaxies in a universe cycling through a series of big bangs and big crunches. Researchers in New York have looked at quantum fluctuations in the early universe that cosmologists believe gave rise to structures such as galaxies. The team showed that during a big crunch event, quantum fluctuations are amplified, while any matter is squelched. The result is that while any structure is destroyed the quantum fluctuations survive through to a new universe, ready to give rise to a new generation of stars and galaxies. NEWS Page 12

ESCAPED GOLF GRASS FREES GENE GENIE IN THE US
A genetically modified form of a grass commonly grown on golf courses has escaped into the wild in the US. The grass carries a gene that makes it immune to a potent herbicide and is worrying the US department of Agriculture enough that it is running its first full environmental impact assessment of a GM plant. NEWS Page 9

BANG BANG, AND THE WORLD WARMS
The "glorious 12th" falls this weekend. It is the start of the UK's grouse-shooting season, attracting the rich and famous from around the world. But the country will be getting a bigger bang than it bargained for. Attempts to breed more grouse on the moors to meet rising demand are boosting the UK's contribution to global warming. Gamekeepers are burning the moors at an unprecedented rate to encourage the growth of heather, a prime habitat for grouse. The burning threatens to release billions of tonnes of carbon locked in the peat bogs underpinning the moors into the atmosphere adding to the carbon-dioxide burden and contributing to global warming. NEWS Page 14

OUT OF THE VOID
Theoretical physicists in Ontario have pulled off one of the greatest tricks imaginable. Starting from nothing more than Einstein's theory of relativity, they have conjured up the universe. It is an impressive feat. Not only does it tell us about the origins of space and matter it might help us understand where the laws of the universe come from. This promising approach is based on a collection of theories called loop quantum gravity, an attempt to merge general relativity and quantum mechanics into a single consistent theory. FEATURE Pages 28-31
 
SUB-ZERO SURVIVORS
Life forms that could survive astonishing extremes of cold used to be seen as freaks of nature but biologists are starting to realise that these cold-loving bugs may not be so unusual after all. According to new research, some species of bacteria can survive being plunged into liquid nitrogen, a temperature of minus 196°C, their metabolism slows but apart from that they are fine. What is more, these microbes that eke out an existence in the extreme cold are practically immortal. This is an exciting finding about life on Earth but it may also increase the chances of finding life on other worlds. The frigid wastes of the solar system have never looked so hospitable. FEATURE Pages 32-36
 
WRESTLE A ROBOT
Who would win an arm-wrestling contest between a robot and a human? That's easy, after all, machines can move boulders and crush steel. But in 2005 three robot arms were spectacularly defeated in an arm wrestling contest by a 17-year old girl. The catch was they had to use artificial muscle technology to move their joints. Artificial muscles have been around for decades but the problem has been how to power them and control them precisely enough to do anything useful, until now. Using human muscles as inspiration researchers from Texas may have hit upon a solution. FEATURE Pages 39-41
 
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
China's booming economy and construction industry have fuelled an illegal timber trail that is devastating Russia's far east and been linked to human rights abuses. In Russia and elsewhere, Chinese demand for forest products is leading to rapid deforestation which is likely to have catastrophic consequences not just for forests and wildlife, but for millions of people who depend on them for their survival. New Scientist reports FEATURE Pages 42- 45
 
- ENDS-
 
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New Scientist is the world's leading science and technology news weekly, boasting a global circulation of 163,724 (ABC UK July-Dec '05).

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Kitty Timpson
Media Manager - Australia
New Scientist 
Tel: +61 2 9422 2893


 
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