[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE - 4 NOVEMBER 2006

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed Nov 1 00:01:00 CET 2006


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE
 
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE:  4 NOVEMBER 2006 (Vol. 192 No. 2576)
 
EMBARGO: THESE STORIES BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR
BROADCAST BEFORE: 06:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2006. 
 
INVESTIGATIVE REPORT - STATE OF DENIAL
A bitter battle is brewing between mainstream American climate
scientists and the minority who deny that human activity is causing
global climate change. Every time a report by the UN's Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is released, some of the American
scientists who have played a part in producing it become the targets of
concerted attacks apparently designed to bring down their reputations
and careers. If the acrimony were to become so intense that American
scientists were forced to stop helping in the preparation of the reports
it could seriously dent the organisation and rob the world of some
significant voices in the climate change debate. When the next IPCC
report is released early next year, who will be the targets and why? New
Scientist spoke to researchers on both sides of the climate divide and
it became clear that they are ready for a showdown. Pages 18-21
 
NEWS:
 
A FLY'S-EYE VIEW FOR SPIES IN THE SKY
When autonomous aircraft start buzzing over our heads like giant
insects, they could be fitted with video cameras that give them
wide-angle vision to rival that of insects themselves. Previous attempts
to achieve this have worked well for spotting movement but have not been
so good at picking out individual objects from a complicated scene.
Researchers in Sydney and Pennsylvania have come up with an alternative
approach using mirrors and lenses that will be able to get closer to a
bluebottle's ability to view its surroundings. Page 32

NO NEW ICE AGE FOR WESTERN EUROPE
Fears that a shutdown of ocean currents is about to plunge Europe into a
mini ice age receded last week. Currents in the North Atlantic carry
warm water north from the tropics towards Europe. During the winter,
this water warms the westerly winds travelling from America, keeping the
climate in western Europe milder than it would otherwise be. New
measurements have failed to show clear evidence that the current is
weakening, though not everyone is convinced. Page 13
 
LESSONS IN THE ART OF SPECIES SURVIVAL
Good news for conservationists. The first detailed study of rare mammals
in North America has shown that rarity alone does not doom a species to
extinction. What matters more for survival is the extent of its range
and how its population fluctuates over time. The study shows that rare
mammals have survived much longer than you would expect had their fate
depended purely on random fluctuations in a single population. Page 14
 
COULD SURGEONS USE HEADLIGHTS IN PLACE OF LASER LIGHT?
Researchers in Israel have developed a device that uses light from a
cheap but ultra-bright xenon lamp, of the kind used in some car
headlights, to perform surgical procedures such as zapping tumours. The
device has shown to be just as effective at destroying liver and kidney
tissue as expensive lasers, at a fraction of the cost. Page 32
  
WHY NESSIE IS NO PLESIOSAUR
The plesiosaur, a marine reptile that lived 160 million years ago has
been described as a snake threaded through the body of a turtle, and
some imaginative people think there's one living in Loch Ness. The
plesiosaur had a neck that was 2 metres long, the length of the body and
tail combined. They used their necks to reach down and feed on soft
bodied animals living on the sea floor, but researchers have found that
it would not have been able to lift its head up swan-like out of the
water, ruling the reptile out as a candidate for the Loch Ness Monster.
SHORT STORY Page 17

NASA TO SAVE HUBBLE, TO ASTRONOMERS DELIGHT
The space agency's most famous observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope,
will get a much anticipated life extension after all. NASA boss Michael
Griffin has just announced that a space shuttle will be sent to upgrade
the venerable queen of the heavens. It should add another five years of
ground-breaking science to the telescope's impressive body of work. From
www.NewScientistSpace.com Read the full story here:
http://email.newscientist.com/cgi-bin1/DM/y/exFe0MVWlE0VlY0DVJ20Ak
 
FEATURES:
 
SUPERSIZE SURPRISE
Ask anyone why there is an obesity epidemic and they will tell you that
it's all down to eating too much and exercising too little. That is
undoubtedly true. Calorific food is plentiful and our lifestyles are
increasingly sedentary. Yet obesity researchers are increasingly
dissatisfied with this explanation, many believe that something else
must have changed in our environment to cause such dramatic rises in
obesity. Pages 34-38 
 
TRESSED TO IMPRESS
Having a bad hair day? While the fur of other mammals just grows to the
required length and then stops, the hair on our heads stick around for
years getting longer and longer. Just what is it with human hair that
means we need to spend so much time in the salon, asks New Scientist.
Pages 39-41
 
DOWN IN FLAMES
Fire investigation has always been more art than science. Until a couple
of decades ago, there had been no studies of accidental fires, so there
was nothing with which to compare suspected arson fires. A fire research
laboratory in Maryland is carrying out full-scale fire simulations that
represent a new systematic approach to arson investigations and
re-enactments - one that relies on scientific evidence rather than
assumptions. Studies have revealed, surprisingly, that most of what used
to pass as evidence of arson is anything but. Pages 42-45 
 
WHEN GOD PLAYS DICE
Next year a machine that promises to change forever our understanding of
matter will be started up. Particle physicists are hoping that it will
reveal the origin of mass, uncover the first evidence of supersymmetry
and even expose the nature of dark matter. There's just one fly in the
ointment.... these new processes will leave calling cards that are
similar to run-of-the-mill processes and the maths isn't up to
distinguishing between them. Extra dimensions and mini black holes might
be forming under researchers' noses without anyone noticing. However, an
old theory could come to the rescue. Pages 46-49 
 
INTERVIEW: TONY BLAIR
On the eve of delivering a lecture on the future of British Science, the
prime minister Tony Blaire talks to New Scientist about why he thinks
science is so crucial to the UK's economy, what he learned from the rows
over GM crops and the MMR vaccine, and why he thinks scientists should
get more involved in public debate over controversial issues. Page 51
An extended version of this interview will be available as a podcast on
our website from 12.00 HRS GMT Thursday 2 November 2006
(www.newscientist.com/podcast.ns) 
 
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Kitty Timpson
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New Scientist 
Tel: +61 2 9422 2893

 
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