[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE - 28 OCTOBER 2006

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed Oct 25 01:46:53 CEST 2006


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE
 
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE:  28 OCTOBER 2006 (Vol. 191 No. 2575)
 
EMBARGO: THESE STORIES BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR
BROADCAST BEFORE: 04:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 26 OCTOBER 2006. 
 
INVESTIGATIVE REPORT-  SWALLOWING THE BEST ADVICE?
Are pharmaceutical companies guilty of marketing their drugs and medical
devices through prominent US patient groups, who tend to engender more
trust to the public than multinational companies? To find out how much
money patient groups are typically taking from pharmaceutical firms, and
whether it affects their behaviour, New Scientist conducted the largest
survey to date of industry donations to patient groups in the US. It
will come as no surprise that groups in our survey who received more
than 20 percent of their funding from industry were associated with
conditions that created the potential for substantial profit. But do
these donations bias a patient group's mission? Pages 18-22
 
NEWS:
 
DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN
The world's oldest storage centre for weapons-grade uranium in Oak
Ridge, Tennessee, has decaying storage facilities and doubtful security.
The dangers are revealed in a detailed study of safety at the complex
where there have been 22 fires and explosions recorded since 1997.
During these incidences workers have been injured and contaminated, but
a major fire would have catastrophic consequences for the thousands of
people living nearby. Pages 8-9
 
ALZHEIMER'S ALARM OVER ANAESTHETICS
Giving elderly patients certain general anaesthetics could increase
their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other memory and
attention problems. This is according to recent test tube and animal
studies which are beginning to show that certain anaesthetics reduce the
rate at which brain cells are born and develop, associated with normal
memory function. The research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical
School in Pennsylvania also showed that these anaesthetics could also
encourage clumping of beta amyloid protein, which is a characteristic of
Alzheimer's disease. Page 12
 
THE NEXT BEST THING TO BABEL FISH
A new translation device could translate words that you mouth, rather
than speak, into a foreign language. Speech researchers at the
University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have developed a system that
uses electrodes attached to the face and neck to interpret the unique
electrical signals as a person mouths words, and converts them into text
or synthesised speech, before translating into another language. The
device's secret is detecting not just words but the building blocks of
words. Page 32
 
ALIEN-HUNTERS TUNE IN TO ET-TV
Radio telescopes designed to study the early universe could be sensitive
enough to pick-up radio leakage from alien civilisations. Researchers
from Harvard University say that the most powerful emissions from our
own planet come from military radar, TV and FM radio transmitters. If ET
is producing similar signals, these spikes in the radio spectrum could
be detected by telescopes being built today. Page 14
 
TAME YOUR BRAIN TO COOL DOWN
Research shows you can train your brain to control emotional disorders,
which may help psychopathic criminals. German researchers showed
volunteers the activity of the region of their brain associated with
emotion, represented in real time as a thermometer. They were able to
show that the volunteers could control their emotional responses. Short
story P.17
 
CHERNOBYL REARS ITS HEAD
Tougher controls on sheep have been imposed in Norway after they were
found to be contaminated with surprisingly high levels of radioactivity
from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The sheep have been feasting on an
unusually large crop of mushrooms - which have previously been found to
take up more radioactivity from the soil than grasses or plants. Short
story Page 7
 
HUNTERS HELPED BY A NOSE FOR IRON
Our ability to detect the distinctive metallic smell left on the skin
after handling iron objects like coins, may have evolved from our
ancestors need to sniff out freshly wounded prey. An American researcher
found that fats on the skin break-down to form the strong-smelling
chemicals when they come into contact with iron - whether it's from
blood on the skin or in the environment. Short story Page 16
 
PILL OR COIL?
It's a tricky question facing millions of young women in stable
relationships - do you stay on the pill even though prolonged use
slightly increases the risk or heart disease, or switch to a less safe
method? According to researchers in London, there is an alternative.
Their study shows that the intrauterine device, or IUD, is more than 99
percent effective at preventing pregnancy and has none of the problems
that the combined pill has associated with it. Short story Page 6
 
FEATURES:
 
PROFILE OF A SEXSOMNIAC
For most of us sleep and sex don't happen at the same time. But for
those who have experienced sexsomnia, or sleep sex, it can wreck
relationships and even become a legal disaster. Due to the personal and
embarrassing nature of experiencing sexual behaviour during sleep,
little is known about the disorder, except that it has similarities to
sleepwalking. The need for clear, reliable diagnosis and treatment is
become increasingly urgent. Pages 40-43
 
THE ELEPHANT AND THE EVENT HORIZON
It may sound like a joke, but the question -what happens when you throw
an elephant into a black hole? - could have deep implications for what
we thought we knew about space and time, and could lead us to a "theory
of everything". Pages 33-35
 
RULES OF CONTAGION
Why do some viruses cause deadly worldwide pandemics while others result
in just a local crisis that eventually fizzles out? Specialists are
beginning to gain insights into the way infectious diseases emerge and
spread, and how evolution determines how virulent it will become. This
understanding will hopefully highlight the threat posed by the likes of
H5N1 and SARS, and could even turn evolution around and discourage
serious diseases from emerging. Pages 44-47
 
FOR A HANDFUL OF DUST
The lifeless dirt of Chile's Atacama desert could hold the key to life -
not on Earth, but on Mars. When NASA's Viking craft landed on Mars 30
years ago, one of the experiments on Martian soil seemed to test
positive for telltale signs of life - a result still mired in
controversy today. When scientists recently found a very similar result
in the sterile Atacama dust, they decided to design a definitive test
that they hope will establish once and for all whether there are living
microbes on the Red Planet. Page 48-52
 
-- ENDS--
 
IF REPORTING ON ANY OF THE STORIES ABOVE, PLEASE CREDIT NEW SCIENTIST AS
THE SOURCE, AND IF REPORTING ONLINE, PLEASE INCLUDE A LINK TO:
www.newscientist.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: PRIOR PERMISSION IS REQUIRED BEFORE ANY REPRODUCTION OF A
STORY IN FULL FROM OUR PRESS SITE 
 
PRESS CONTACT IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND:
If you'd like to view the above articles in full-text AND/OR for radio &
TV interviews, please contact Kitty Timpson, Media Manager Australia,
Tel: +61 (0)2 9422 2893 or email: media at newscientist.com.au
 
PRESS CONTACT IN EUROPE: 
If you'd like to register for our Online Press Site, please contact
Claire Bowles, New Scientist Press Officer Europe, Tel: +44 (0)20 7611
1210 or email: claire.bowles at rbi.co.uk
 
PRESS CONTACT IN THE US:
New Scientist Boston: Tel: +1 617 558 4939 or email:
kyre.austin at newscientist.com
 

New Scientist is the world's leading science and technology news weekly,
boasting a global circulation of 170,541 (ABC UK Jan - June '06).

For breaking science and technology stories everyday visit
www.newscientist.com

Kitty Timpson
Media Manager - Australia
New Scientist 
Tel: +61 2 9422 2893


 
This e-mail is for the use of the intended recipient(s) only.  If you have
received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender immediately and then
delete it.  If you are not the intended recipient, you must not use, disclose
or distribute this e-mail without the author's permission.  We have taken
precautions to minimise the risk of transmitting software viruses, but we
advise you to carry out your own virus checks on any attachment to this e-mail.
We cannot accept liability for any loss or damage caused by software viruses.


More information about the ASC-media mailing list