[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 11 MARCH 2006

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Wed Mar 8 09:29:51 EST 2006


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE

MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 11 MARCH 2006 (Vol. 189 No. 2542)


EMBARGO: THESE ITEMS BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR
BROADCAST BEFORE:- 04:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 9 MARCH 2006 

 
NEWS THIS WEEK:

 
THREE COSMIC ENIGMAS, ONE AUDACIOUS ANSWER

One single radical idea could do away with black holes and explain the
two greatest mysteries confronting physicists: dark matter and dark
energy. Last week at a meeting in California, physicists suggested that
objects that until now have been thought of as black holes could in fact
be dead stars that form as a result of a bizarre quantum phenomenon. And
these stars could explain both dark energy and dark matter. Pages 8-9

 

HIDDEN GARDEN OF EDEN WILTS

The paradise world of undiscovered species discovered last month in the
mountains of New Guinea is threatened by soaring temperatures. This is
according to a climate scientist who has unearthed previously
unpublished meteorological data from the region. He says that global
warming is happening 20 times faster there than previously thought -
putting it at the fastest rate of change in the world. Page 17

 

VACCINE COULD STOP MS IN ITS TRACKS

This month sees the beginning of a key trial of a personalised vaccine
for multiple sclerosis. The very white blood cells that attack the
myelin cells lining the nerves and brain of a person with MS will be
turned into a weapon against the disease. The part of white blood cells
that binds to myelin cells is extracted and weakened before being
re-injected into the patient. The patient's own immune system then
recognises the cells as damaged and attacks them, slowing or even
stopping the disease. Page 12

 

GENES, MONEY AND THE AMERICAN QUEST FOR IDENTITY

With America's complex history, there's a growing desire among the
people to find out where their ancestors came from. And there are an
increasing number of companies offering to help Americans uncover their
ancestry through DNA testing. This is important to African Americans
whose countries of origin cannot be found through paper records. And
there is a cultural significance for those who want to prove they have a
Native American lineage. However, there is a worry that customers are
not fully aware of uncertainties with genetic testing, and that there
may be emotional and financial consequences down the line. Pages 10-11

 

STAR SHADE WILL LET ALIEN PLANETS SHINE

As budget cuts force NASA to shelve plans for its Terrestrial Planet
Finder mission to search for Earth-like planets, a new scheme has
emerged that could achieve the same goal at a fraction of the cost. The
proposal is to fly a flower-shaped disc in front of the James Webb
Telescope - which is to replace Hubble in 2013. A professor at the
University of Colorado has shown that the disc would be capable of
spotting "exo-Earths" by blocking the bright light of nearby stars
whilst minimising the problem of scattering light. Page 14

 

A TOAST TO DISTANT LOVERS

Researchers at MIT's Media Lab in Boston have come up with hi-tech wine
glasses for lovebirds in long-distance relationships who want to get
that intimate feeling of sharing a drink. When one person picks up a
Wi-Fi glass, sensors make the other partner's glass glow warmly (using
red LEDs). Page 25

 

'HUNCH ENGINE' SHARPENS UP YOUR IDEAS

A novel piece of software that can generate company names for you and
search for perfect pictures on the web can do the donkey work for you
while you have all the fun. The "hunch engine", developed by researchers
in the US, uses a genetic algorithm to find solutions to a problem. Page
28

 

FEATURES:

 

IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM

A space trip to Mars would mean excitement and fame for the crew, but
would also mean enormous psychological stress. Six months on the journey
to Mars - cooped up in a metal box with five annoying housemates, seeing
the Earth disappear from your view, and knowing you won't see your loved
ones for possibly another 2 years - is likely to leave astronauts
feeling isolated, unsupported and pretty depressed. Psychologists have
spent years observing how people behave during long periods in space so
they can learn how to cope with any potential crises that might crop up
on a marathon mission to Mars. Pages 34-37

 

EVOLUTION AND US

Are humans still evolving? Some argue that natural selection stopped
dead 50,000 years ago or more, and is no longer important to humans.
Survival no longer depends of genes, but on technology and medicine to
help us adapt to different environments. But with the discovery last
year of two genes involved in brain development that have emerged in
recent history, others are convinced that evolution is still going on
faster than ever. Pages 30-33

 

MIRACLE POSTPONED

In the light of the Hwang scandal, there has been an unprecedented media
spotlight on stem cell research. Many of the big claims now look shaky,
being based on results that can't be replicated. But many scientists
still believe the field holds immense promise. So what's going on? Peter
Aldhous investigates. Pages 38-41

 

HOLLYWOOD: THE REVENGE

Over the next few months the entertainment industry is about to launch
their latest plot to beat the pirates and hackers. Renewable copy
protection is a piece of technology designed to accompany the new
high-definition blue-laser discs. When you play the disc it will update
anti-piracy software, with no need for internet or phone line. If it
works, hackers will be beaten, but if something goes wrong it could be
the innocent consumers that suffer. Pages 42-45

 

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For breaking science and technology stories everyday visit
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New Scientist 

Tel: +61 2 9422 2737

 

 

 

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