[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE - 27 MAY 2006

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed May 24 10:12:07 EST 2006


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE
 
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 27 MAY 2006 (Vol. 190 No. 2553)
 
EMBARGO: THESE ITEMS BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST
BEFORE: - 04:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 25 MAY 2006. 
 
IN NEWS THIS WEEK:
 
SLEEP YOUR WAY TO A SLIMMER BODY
Forget that crash diet this summer - all you need is more sleep. That's the
message from an American study of more than 68,000 women, which found that
those who sleep less than 5 hours a night gain more weight over time than
those who sleep 7 hours a night. Page 21

THE NEXT GENERATION OF PROSTHETIC ARMS
The huge number of soldier amputees following the two conflicts in Iraq and
Afghanistan has led to a surge in prosthetics research. The US Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is launching two projects to
develop new prosthetic arms that will transform the lives of injured
veterans, as well as people who lose limbs in accidents and terrorist
attacks. Pages 28-29
 
DOUBLE RETHINK ON PRION DISEASES
It is widely known that diseases such as BSE can be contracted by eating
brain tissue from an infected animal. But it is a mystery how similar
diseases like scrapie can spread between sheep that just graze on grass, and
wild animals like elk. Now, a US study has shown that prions injected into
hamster brains fanned out through facial nerves to reach the nose and
tongue. This then raises the question of whether scrapie can be spread in
saliva when animals lick each other during grooming. Page 18
 
THE KINK AT THE EDGE OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
The outer boundary of the solar system is distorted as though it has been
punched from below. The evidence comes from NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft,
which is about to cross the inner boundary of the Heliosphere. Voyager 2 is
1.3 kilometres closer to the sun than its twin, Voyager 1, was when it
crossed the same boundary in 2004. This suggests the termination shock
(where the solar wind slams into slower interstellar wind) has been
deflected inward in the southern hemisphere. Page 12
  
LET CHATBOT HELP YOU QUIT
Want to give up smoking, but too embarrassed or haven't got the money to
visit a counsellor? A female chatbot offering round-the-clock, free advice
and exercises could help you kick the habit - and all under the anonymity of
your computer. The team from the Netherlands who developed the anti-smoking
virtual coach, say if it's successful they will consider similar coaches for
alcoholics and for overcoming phobias. Page 27
 
PHISHERS COULD START USING THE PERSONAL TOUCH
"Phishing" attempts, where email users are tricked into giving out passwords
and bank details, could get worse, according to American researchers. They
have found a way in which phishers can send an email appearing to come from
your own bank - asking for your personal sensitive information. The flaw was
discovered because of the way websites talk to browsers. Page 30
 
SPOTTING THE QUANTUM TRACKS OF GRAVITY WAVES
So far, the ripples in space-time called gravitational waves have been
notoriously difficult to detect. Now researchers in Singapore say that the
spooky link between two "entangled" quantum particles could provide a way to
detect gravity waves. Page 10
 
SPIDER MONKEYS ON THE WARPATH
Warfare tactics have been observed for the first time in a non-ape - the
spider monkey. Spider monkeys, which usually spend all their time in trees,
have been spotted by a team of British researchers creeping silently in
single file on the ground, looking like they were planning an attack on
neighbouring monkeys. Page 14
 
FEATURES:
 
EARTH, FIRE AND FURY
If the changes in the global climate continue, never mind the increase in
temperature, we can expect a geologically turbulent future. Looking at
previous periods of warming in the Earth's history, evidence shows increased
volcanic activity as melting ice-caps reduce the pressure on magma chambers
below. And there have been similar implications for where melting glaciers
meet active fault lines. We can also see past evidence of where melting ice
and rising sea-levels have added extra loads of water on to seabed faults -
setting off major landslides. So could all this happen again? The general
consensus is that we are heading for a very warm and shaky future. Pages
30-34
 
DAWN OF THE ZOMBIES
Research groups around the world are working towards building different
parts of the body on a chip, with the ultimate aim of building the entire
human body on a chip. These are 3D miniscule chambers filled with live,
interconnecting tissues. In a few years, labs might be filled with these
"zombie" chips for studying diseases or to test out human drugs for
toxicity. They could even potentially reduce the need for animals. Pages
40-43
 
TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
In each solar cell now in use - every incoming photon of sunlight
contributes at the most one electron to the electric current it produces.
Now, physicists have shown that if you shrink the elements of a solar cell
down to the size of a molecule, each captured photon can be made to generate
two or even more charge carriers. If harnessed, the effect could be
revolutionary - making solar power far more efficient and economical. Pages
44-47
 
SMARTER THAN THE AVERAGE BUG
The Portia genus of jumping spider reveals clever cognitive skills that are
supposed to be way beyond such tiny creepy-crawlies. Portia eats other
spiders, and their carefully planned, dynamic attacks on their prey leave
animal researchers wondering if they may have some inkling of a mind. Pages
37-39
 
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Kitty Timpson
Media Manager - Australia
New Scientist 
Tel: +61 2 9422 2893


 



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