[ASC-media] New Scientist Press Release - 19th August 2006

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed Aug 16 01:29:47 CEST 2006


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE
 
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 19 AUGUST 2006 (Vol. 191 No. 2565)
 
EMBARGO: THESE ITEMS BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST BEFORE: 04:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 17 AUGUST 2006. 
 
NEWS

POLYGAMOUS POSSUMS SETTLE DOWN
Mountain brushtail possums in Australia are classic polygamists, pairing up only to mate. However, human intervention seems to have led them to change their social behaviour and become faithful to one mate only. An Australian researcher studied possums living in densely forested habitats and in logged forests that had been cleared for timber. She found that the possums living in the logged forests were strongly monogamous, unlike those animals in untouched forest. Page 15
 
SCOFF PROTEIN WITH YOUR WORKOUT
Bodybuilders who consume sports supplements to build more muscle should think about precisely when they take them. An Australian study has found that consuming protein supplements immediately before and after weight training builds more muscle compared with taking them at other times. Page 16

THE KEY TO THE PIONEER ANOMALY
The unexplained changes in acceleration in NASA's Pioneer 10 and 11 probes in the 1980s and 90s, could be related to similar odd shifts in speed in other more recent probes. NASA's Galileo, NEAR and ESA's Rosetta all showed unexpected boosts in speed when they flew past Earth. A team in California who have been looking at all these anomalies think there is a single cause, and that it may require new physics to explain it. Page 13
  
URCHIN AUCTION
You can buy anything on eBay these days - even a new species of marine life. When zoological experts were asked to identify sea urchin shells and spines which collectors had been buying and selling on eBay, they were surprised to find that they were looking at an entirely new species. SHORT STORY Page 6
 
FEATURES:
 
ALL ABOUT ME
New Scientist special report on the developments in the study of individuality:
If you are looking for deeper knowledge about why we turn out the way we do, we should look no further than our genomes. Craig Venter predicts that once thousands or even millions of entire human genomes are compared, we will have a clearer picture of the effect our genome has on personality traits and what makes us individuals. But can personal genomics actually affect the way people turn out? 
 
The most obvious benefit of having your personal genomic knowledge is being able to predict when you are likely to succumb to illnesses. Armed with this information, you could decide to take preventative medicine. The genome could also be a useful tool for teachers, who could tailor a child's education based on genetic forecasting about their talents or deficits. For example, if you find out a child has a "musicality" gene, teachers or parents could encourage music lessons.
 
Of course there are other ways to gain some insights to your character. Brain imaging can gauge emotional responses; measuring your fingers can tell you a lot about your sexuality; while there is no shortage of personality tests to "reveal" whether you are an introvert or extrovert. Pages 29-36
  
LAST LINE OF DEFENCE
Every day officers scan hundreds of sea containers that come in to ports bound for every corner of the US. These officers are the last line of defence against nuclear smugglers, and in preventing a national disaster. Current scanning systems rely heavily on the judgement of its operators, but now advanced technology is in the pipeline which will provide more automated and precise ways to spot smuggled nuclear materials. Pages 41-43
 
PATH OF NO RESISTANCE
Superconductors carry electricity without resistance and are the key to many high-tech, eco-friendly marvels such as maglev trains and electrically propelled ships. However, these "high-temperature" semiconductors fail to work above -135°C, and rely on expensive liquid nitrogen to keep them refrigerated. But an innocuous looking brown powder could be the key to the next generation of room-temperature superconductors. Pages 37-39
 
- ENDS-
 
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Kitty Timpson
Media Manager - Australia
New Scientist 
Tel: +61 2 9422 2893
 
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