[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 3 JUNE 2006

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed May 31 09:40:27 EST 2006


 
NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE
 
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 3 JUNE 2006 (Vol. 190 No. 2554)
 
EMBARGO: THESE ITEMS BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR
BROADCAST BEFORE: 04:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 1ST JUNE 2006. 
 
IN NEWS THIS WEEK:
 
AN EPIDEMIC OF HOME-MADE HITS
A study published this month suggests that a growing number of people
are tampering with prescription drugs to get high - and the internet is
just making it easier for people. Websites are telling abusers how you
can use drugs recreationally: such as injecting or chewing drugs
extracted from skin patches. Yet a single patch can contain potentially
lethal painkillers. Toxicologists are calling on pharmaceutical
companies to make their drugs tamper proof. Pages 6-7
 
LETTING THEM CRY WILL END IN MORE TEARS
The hands-off approach to bawling babies could backfire. A researcher in
London suggests that comforting your baby on demand could minimise
fussing and crying, at least during the first few weeks of life. Page 17
 
THE POWER OF CHOCOLATE
UK researchers have powered a fuel-cell by feeding bacteria with
chocolate. Sugar-loving bacteria consumed chocolate-factory waste, and
produced hydrogen which powered a fuel cell. The fuel cell then
generated enough electricity to drive a small fan. The process could
provide a use for chocolate waste that would otherwise end up in a
landfill. Page 25

SOONER OR LATER, THE WATER WILL ARRIVE
Forecasters say the conditions are ripe for a major hurricane to hit the
north-east coast of America. If one hits near New York, an area of more
than 250 square kilometres could be affected by floods, forcing 2.2
million people to be evacuated from the city. Some scientists are
proposing to build a barrier system similar to, but much larger than,
the Thames barrier that protects London. It would undoubtedly be an
expensive project, but a small price tag compared to estimates of
damages from a severe hurricane ploughing through Manhatten. Pages 8-9
 
THE CODE THAT KEEPS YOUR FINGERPRINTS SECURE
It could soon become much harder for thieves to steal your digital
identity. Unlike conventional biometrics that store the raw details of a
fingerprint or iris scan, a new technique generates a unique code that
cannot be used to reconstruct the original fingerprint or scan. An
America company have created an algorithm that ensures the raw details
need never be stored - making the code useless to anyone but the owner
of the original body part. Page 28
 
'ALIEN CODE' LEADS TO FASTER VACCINES
Four years ago, researchers scared the world by making the polio virus
from scratch. Now the same team in New York are using the same method to
create weakened viruses that could speed up the development of new
vaccines. The sickly viruses would find it harder to make protein and
therefore replicate more slowly, making them less dangerous. Page 16
 
WHY WATER FREEZES FASTER AFTER HEATING
Why does hot water freeze quicker than cold water? This bizarre property
of water which has remained a mystery since the Greek philosopher
Aristotle first observed it, may at last have been solved. A US
scientist says the answer is all to do with solutes. Page 10  
 
FEATURES:
 
HOW TO LIVE TO 100...and enjoy it
Centenarians are the fastest-growing demographic in the developed world.
There haven't been any miracle anti-ageing pills...yet (see page 39), so
we must be stretching our lifespan by the way we live. New Scientist
takes a look at the emerging science of longevity to find out how we can
maximise our chances of hitting the grand old age of 100. Pages 33-43
*	Go for the burn. Many researchers believe that small doses of
"stressors" such as poisons, radiation and heat, can actually reverse
the ageing process. The idea is that stressors kick-start the body's
self-repair mechanism with enough oomph to repair unrelated damage as
well. 
*	Don't be a loner. Close relationships with friends, family or
even pets will do the trick. But research shows that the biggest
longevity boost comes from being married. 
*	Consider relocation. Some believe that your environment accounts
for up to 70 per cent of a longer life. 
*	Make a virtue out of a vice. Your best shot at becoming a
centenarian is to become a nun. But what's the point in living to 100 if
you can't have fun getting there? If you're going to have a vice, choose
carefully, and make sure you get a lot of pleasure out of it. 
*	Exercise the grey cells. Many studies have shown that mental
gymnastics - from learning a language to doing crosswords - can fend off
dementia in old age. 
*	Smile! A happier life leads to a longer one. Having a sunny
disposition can help you cope better with stress and increase your
chances of recovering from diseases. 
*	Watch what you eat. Restricting calorie intake has been proven
to extend the lives of mice by about 30 per cent. Is it likely to have
the same effect on humans? 
*	Get a life. Regular thrills and new experiences don't extend
longevity unfortunately, but they will make the years seem like they're
passing slower. 
*	Do animals hold the key? Can we learn any secrets from sea
urchins and rockfish which manage to live for 200 years? 
 
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
With over 25 million digital music tracks now online, it's not
surprising that searching for that tune takes a little time. You can
list your own collections by artist or genre, but it's not always
accurate, and searching by text can take time. Now teams are clambering
to be the first to develop software that can search for tracks online
using the music characteristics - like the instruments played, tempo or
harmony - from a sample tune on your playlist. Pages 30-32
 
FLY ANOTHER DAY
When NASA's Pioneer 10 probe disappeared in 2003, it was 400,000
kilometres off track. And now it seems its twin Pioneer 11 is about to
follow the same course. Some physicists believe that we could have
gravity all wrong.  Now several teams are about to pore through 30
years' worth of measurements about the spacecrafts' trajectories - in
what will be the very first reconstruction of a space mission - to hunt
for any anomalies. Pages 46-49
 
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Kitty Timpson
Media Manager - Australia
New Scientist 
Tel: +61 2 9422 2893

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