[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 28 APRIL 2007

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Thu Apr 26 02:36:02 CEST 2007


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 28 APRIL 2007


 


MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE:  28 APRIL 2007 (Vol. 194 No's 2601)


 


EMBARGO: 


THESE STORIES BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST
BEFORE:- 03:00 HRS AEST THURS 26 APRIL 2007. 


 

BABIES OVERFED TO MEET FLAWED IDEAL

For decades, outdated charts used to assess the growth of a new infant
could have put healthy babies on the path to obesity. What is now being
realised is that these charts, introduced in the 1970s, were based on
atypically large babies i.e. bottle-fed, white, middle-class US families
- and therefore encouraged mothers to overfeed their child. A researcher
in Germany has now shown that babies fed high-protein formula milk put
on weight far faster and more extensively than those fed breast milk or
low-protein formula milk. Discussions are already underway to discuss
whether to adopt new charts. Pages 6-7

 

GECKO POWER COULD TURN YOU INTO A SPIDER

Imagine owning your own Spiderman suit that allows you to climb walls
with your sticky gloves and boots. Researchers are a step closer to
reality thanks to research based on mimicking how geckos' feet stick to
surfaces. Previous attempts at creating sticky nanotube structures have
been unable to scale up to human size. But researchers in Italy say the
secret to a successful adhesive suit which would be strong and flexible
enough is to develop the nanotubes in a "hierarchical structure". Page
26

 

BUILDINGS SAVE ENERGY BY SMARTENING UP

Smart buildings that monitor the movements of people inside it can
improve the energy efficiency and safety of the building without
"spying" on the activities of individuals.  For example, the system can
use knowledge of where groups congregate to turn down the air
conditioning in one part of the building, or, in an emergency,
electronic signs could direct people to the nearest available escape
route when one becomes congested.  The system, developed in Cambridge,
US, uses a network of "dumb" infrared motion sensors, rather than
cameras, to avoid invading privacy.  Page 26

 

MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT CIRCUMCISION

Does circumcision harm your sex life? Two new studies show that this
question is still proving hard to resolve. The first study, in Canada,
which tested the sensitivity of intact and circumcised penises, found no
difference in penile sensation between circumcised and uncircumcised
men. However, the second larger study carried out in the US which used a
similar method found that the most sensitive points were all in portions
of the penis that are routinely removed by circumcision. 

Short story Page 17

 

CHEMICAL WEAPONS STILL CAUSING CONCERN

As the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) celebrates its 10th birthday
this week, the threat of chemical weapons still lives on. Chlorine gas
is being used as a weapon in Iraq, while a new generation of chemicals
threatens to undermine the CWC. While most nations continue to support
the treaty, those that declared stockpiles of chemical weapons including
the US and Russia have yet to destroy them all. Page 14

 

A GOOD HOME MAKES BIRDS MORE OPTIMISTIC

A study on starlings reveals how animals change their behaviour
according to their environment, which could improve our understanding of
animal welfare. The team in the UK investigated how starlings respond to
different living conditions, by giving them choices designed to asses
whether their outlook was "pessimistic" or "optimistic". They found that
the birds kept in nicer "enriched" cages were more optimistic than those
kept in smaller standard cages. Page 15

 

The following stories are not available on the press site. For full text
articles please contact Nicole Scott at media at newscientist.com.au.

 


THE HANDY GUIDE TO SHARK BODY LANGUAGE
If you are going to jump into the sea with sharks, it's probably best to
have some understanding of how they behave. A study of possible threat
displays in 23 shark species could make it easier to read the signs. By
far the most common display - and one that every diver should know about
- is pointing the pectoral fins downward. It was first described in grey
reef sharks in 1973. This has been seen in all of the 23 species
studied, including great white, tiger and bull sharks, which pose the
biggest danger to humans. Pages 12-13


 


THE UNIVERSE BEFORE OURS

How did our universe begin? We all know about the Big Bang, but we're
still not clear about what conditions were like at the time of the bang,
and why it happened in the first place. Perhaps the universe emerged
from a dense sea of microscopic black holes, or was the result of a
collision between two membranes floating in higher dimensional space. Or
is there a 'mother' universe out there that spawned our own? With the
emergence of new technologies, we may soon find the answer. 

Pages 28-33

 

THE NEW COASTGUARDS

The next wave of terrorist attacks may not come from the air but through
the water, attacking targets such refineries, cruise liners or
underwater pipelines. In response, security services are developing new
underwater weaponry, including some that can deter or even disable
intruders with powerful bursts of sonar. But what impact will this new
technology have on marine life, and do we risk creating enormous no-go
zones for wildlife? Pages 34-37

 

BREATH OF LIFE

What one thing has played a greater role in driving evolutionary change
than meteor impacts, volcanic eruptions or ice ages? The answer is
oxygen. The rise and fall of oxygen levels throughout the Earth's
history has energised life to make great leaps in development - such as
the rise of the dinosaurs - but equally forced life into retreat. Some
scientists now believe body plans evolve not to improve movement but to
maximise our respiratory efficiency. Pages 38-41

 

ROCK STEADY

California and Nevada are the most earthquake-prone states in the US,
yet their desert landscapes are littered with enormous,
precariously-balanced boulders, some of which have been in place for up
to 30,000 years. Two geologists set out to discover why these boulders
hadn't been toppled by quakes. Their research has revealed that current
earthquake hazard maps appear to seriously overestimate the area's
seismic activity. Pages 42-45

 

 

 

- ENDS -

 

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NOTES TO EDITOR:

*	New Scientist magazine is the world's leading science and
technology news weekly, boasting a worldwide circulation of over 175,000
(ABC Audit March 2007). 

 

*	The magazine is complimented by NewScientist.com, your ultimate
science and technology website. It includes breaking news updated
throughout the day by our global network of specialist correspondents
providing comprehensive coverage of science and technology news. 

 

*	New Scientist offers a syndication service. If you are
interested in reproducing any of our full-text articles or graphics,
please email your details and the article in question to:
claire.bowles at rbi.co.uk. 

 

 

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 Nicole Scott, Marketing and PR Coordinator
-  Australia, Tel: 61 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
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For breaking science and technology stories everyday visit
www.newscientist.com <http://www.newscientist.com/> 

 

Nicole Scott

Marketing and PR Coordinator - Australia

New Scientist 

Tel: 61 2 9422 2893

Email: media at newscientist.com.au

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