[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE - 18 NOVEMBER 2006
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NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE - 18 NOVEMBER 2006
THIS WEEK'S MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 18 NOVEMBER 2006 (Vol. 192 No. 2578)
EMBARGO: THESE STORIES BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR
BROADCAST BEFORE:- 06:00 HRS AEST THURS 16 NOVEMBER 2006.
NEW SCIENTIST MAGAZINE CELEBRATES ITS 50TH BIRTHDAY WITH A SPECIAL
For fifty years, and counting, New Scientist has chronicled the way
science and technology has transformed our understanding of the world
and ourselves. To mark this special birthday we have asked some of the
world's brightest minds to discuss some of the biggest questions ever
asked, and to predict the biggest breakthroughs in the next fifty years.
Nobel prize-winners and other scientists give us their predications in
their fields for the next 50 years:
* The discovery of a final theory that dictates all properties of
particles & fields.
* You will be able to buy T-shirts on which are printed equations
describing the unified physical laws of our universe.
* The discovery of aliens here on Earth, or another planet such as
* The problem of obesity will have been solved.
* A device that could enable us to "understand" animals: We'd all
* The detection of dark matter.
* Millions will be centenarians.
* Severed spinal cords will heal, lost limbs will regrow.
* Discovery of how to reprogram the mechanisms of cell growth that
cause cancer and cell death that cause ageing.
* Robotic scientists will serve as companions in discovery by
* Most fossils will have been discovered, and the focus will be on
* Science will kill religion.
* We finally understand the big bang.
* Unlimited supplies of transplantable human organs.
THE BIGGEST QUESTIONS EVER ASKED
WHAT IS REALITY?
Does reality consist of the physical objects that surround us: tables,
people, animals? Or is it our own conscious experiences? Or, perhaps
reality is just a figment of our imaginations? We cannot address the
question of reality without understanding its connection with
consciousness and mathematics. Pages 32-39
Authors: Roger Penrose (author and professor of mathematics) & Nick
WHAT IS LIFE?
It will come as no surprise to learn that there are many different
definitions for this question debated within the scientific ranks, as
well as among theologians and bioethicists. How will we recognise
undiscovered alien life when we struggle to define what it is here on
Author: Robert Hazen (author and professor of earth science)
WHAT COMES AFTER HUMANS?
Will humans die-out or evolve? "Transhumanism", the idea that the human
species can transcend the limitations of our bodies and brains, has been
around for 50 years. But now with our technologically advanced society,
could this century see it become a real possibility? "Just as our
ancestors could not have foreseen our achievements, so we cannot imagine
the grandeur of a transhuman civilisation". Pages 70-72
Author: James Hughes (author and professor of bioethics)
WHAT IS CONCIOUSNESS?
"There are no souls, only stories".
What is the 'self'? Is it merely the sum of your body, brain and its
cerebral parts - memories, emotions and thoughts - with no one at the
centre? Or is the 'self' a continuous mental being transported through
memories to an anticipated future? Pages 56-61
Author: Paul Broks (author and senior lecture in psychology)
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU DIE?
There's only one way to prove if there is life after death and only a
few have been brave, or foolish, enough to attempt to find out. While
the dead-researcher method is a little extreme, a more promising
approach is a sneak preview in the form of a near-death experience. Past
experiments have involved weighing the soul with scales in the operating
theatre (apparently it weighed 20 grams). Another found that when we die
our souls go into sheep. Pages 66-69
Author: Mary Roach (author of books on the afterlife)
IN NEWS THIS WEEK:
SPECIAL REPORT : IN PLACE OF GOD
There was a lot of preaching and evangelical fervour at a gathering in
La Jolla, California last week. But this was no religious gathering -
quite the opposite. Some of the leading practitioners of modern science
came together to address three questions: Can science ever oust
religious belief? If so, what would science put in its place? And can we
be good without God? Michael Brooks provides an on the scene report of
the rise of the new religion of scientific atheism. Pages 8-11
You can find more US-focused special reports here:
CHARGE AS YOU GO, FOR LAPTOPS AND PHONES
Wouldn't it be great if your cellphone or laptop started to charge as
soon as you walked into your home or office? A phenomenon called
"evanescent coupling" could make charging your electronic gadgets this
easy. A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have carried
out computer simulations to see if the idea will work, and are now
trying to develop a prototype device. Page 28
CHINA AND ITS FRIENDS PUSH TIGER FARM IDEA
Could farming tigers prevent wild ones being hunted into extinction?
That is the claim made this week by The Liberty Institute, a free-market
think tank based in New Delhi, India. They believe that by flooding the
market with farmed-tiger products they protect the animals in the wild.
However, conservation groups fear that China is about to lift
restrictions so they can expand tiger farming and legalise the
international trade in tiger body parts - making it harder to police the
endangered tiger parts. Pages 16-17
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