[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE - 30 SEPTEMBER 2006

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed Sep 27 01:27:41 CEST 2006


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE
 
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 30 SEPTEMBER 2006 (Vol. 191 No. 2571)
 
EMBARGO: THESE STORIES BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR
BROADCAST BEFORE: 04:00 HRS AEST THURSDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2006.

EDITOR'S NOTE: PRIOR PERMISSION IS REQUIRED BEFORE ANY REPRODUCTION OF A
STORY IN FULL FROM OUR PRESS SITE
 
NEWS:
 
DISTRACTION TACTIC WIPES OUT ALLERGIES
A Swiss biotech company say allergies could be wiped out with their new
drug which can trick the immune system into changing its tactics. The
drug works by fooling the body into thinking its being attacked by
mycobacteria - a class of bacteria not seen much nowadays in our modern
"hygienic" lives. The body switches its response by issuing an immune
reaction to larger threats rather than to harmless things such as grass
pollen. Preliminary results from a trial on 10 people with hay fever
suggests that after a six-week course of injections, their symptoms were
completely eliminated for up to eight months after the therapy. Page 14

IMPRESSIONS OF A STRANGE LAND
Scientists are only now beginning to make sense of the strange and
unique flora of Western Australia, and help has come from an unlikely
source - artist Holly Story. Story's work explores how different ways of
representing the natural world affect our understanding of it. Her
exhibition is currently on show at the Span Gallery in Melbourne. Page
57

NEEDLE-FREE 'BIOPSY'
Brain tumours could soon be diagnosed without the need for inserting
unpleasant and dangerous biopsy needles in the brain. Certain chemicals
are found in much higher levels in tumours than in normal tissue. A new
technique, developed in the UK, uses these chemical "fingerprints" to
diagnose a variety of brain tumours and establish the best way to treat
them. Page 19
 
BOY OR GIRL? EMBRYO TESTS GIVE PARENTS THE CHOICE
A survey of fertility clinics in the US suggests that 40 per cent are
allowing couples to choose the sex of their child using the testing
method, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). The survey found that
two thirds of PGD procedures were used to test for embryos at risk of
birth defects. However, it also showed that PGD was being widely used to
reveal the baby's sex, as well as for diagnosing late-onset diseases
such as Alzheimer's. The use of PGD for non-medical sex selection is not
currently permitted in the UK. Page 15
 
SWARM OF SUBS TO UNCOVER THE OCEAN'S MYSTERIES
The US wants to see a fleet of 100 self-sustaining robotic submarines to
fan out across unexplored stretches of the world's seafloor to help
unlock their mysteries. And with only 5 per cent of the ocean's floor
having been explored in detail so far, there may be numerous new species
to be discovered as well as underwater volcanoes. Page 32
...AND plankton could provide their power.
If these autonomous subs are going to undertake such lengthy missions
they are going to need a new fuel source. Roboticists in the UK might
have the answer. They are developing an underwater fuel cell that gets
its power from oxygen and plankton harvested from the ocean. Page 32
 
THE BOSS IS WATCHING YOUR EVERY CLICK...
Hundreds of employers are routinely spying on their employees - tracking
all activity online from emails and web usage, to what blogs you create
or sign into.  But there are laws to prevent employers listening to
personal phone calls made at work, so why not similar protection for
personal emails? With no regulations, there is a growing industry for
spy software. Just as worryingly, online monitoring is going on to check
out potential employees even before they get hired. Pages 30-31
 
WILL US AND CHINA BE FRIENDS IN SPACE?
This week could be a turning point in relations between the US and China
in space, as NASA's chief Mike Griffin makes the first official visit to
China by a serving head of the agency.
NASA's long-term goals of new spacecraft, launchers and a return to the
moon, make the US an attractive partner to China. The country has only
two human space flights under its belt but has plans as grand as any
NASA have conjured up. Pages 16-17
 
FEATURES:

WHAT'S YOUR POISON?
Australian researcher Bryan Grieg Fry has been on a dangerous mission to
catch and milk venom from as many snake species as possible. Despite
getting bitten many times, he succeeded in creating a snake evolutionary
tree, which was published earlier this year. His work has shown that the
vast majority of snakes on the planet are venomous - even some commonly
kept as pets. Pages 51-53
 
WHAT'S DONE IS DONE...ISN'T IT?
Wouldn't it be nice if you could reach back and change certain things in
the past - like that voicemail you left late last night? But by changing
the past, you could affect the present with disastrous outcomes. So
researchers are on the verge of experiments to test for this sort of
retrocausal influence both forwards and backwards. And there isn't a
black hole or wormhole in sight - just a state-of-the-art optics
workbench. Pages 36-39
 
LEGALLY HIGH
A new generation of powerful mind-altering drugs have never been more
popular. Not only are these psychoactive pills, potions and herbs widely
available around the world, but they are entirely legal. But does that
mean they're safe? Proponents say that legal highs are "harmless fun"
without any of the dangers of street drugs such as addiction or
criminality. Others say they are too powerful, that the risks of taking
them are too great, and they need proper researching. Pages 40-45
 
ENOUGH ALREADY
Across the developed world, the so-called "baby gap", or "birth dearth"
and associated population slump has been known to whip politicians into
a panic. But Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 classic The Population
Bomb, is now far more optimistic about our future. He says that it's
obvious that civilisation cannot keep growing with our already strained
resources, and that the baby gap is the first sign we're moving in the
right direction. Pages 47-50
 
 
- 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