[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 28 JULY 2007
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NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 28 JULY 2007
MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 28 JULY 2007 (Vol. 195 No's 2614)
These articles below are distributed in advance of publication to those authorised media who may wish to quote extracts as part of fair dealing with this copyrighted material. If reporting on any of the stories below please credit New Scientist Magazine.
THESE STORIES BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST BEFORE:- 03:00 HRS AEST THURS 26 JULY 2007.
TESTS TO USE HUMAN NOT ANIMAL SKIN
A new safety test for cosmetics using reconstructed human skin has been approved for testing. It is the first complete replacement for animal testing. Tests with Episkin have shown it was able to predict more accurately how a person was able to react to products than animal tests, say developers at L'Oréal's Labs in France. The team has also created a spectrum of skin cells from women of different ethnicities to measure the efficiency of sun block on different skin tones. Page 14
http://media.newscientist.com/data/pdf/press/2614/261414.pdf (GRAPHICS AVAILABLE)
EMBRYOS GET BETTER START WITH IVF ON A CHIP
Can conception be replaced by an automated artificial uterus? Researchers in Japan are building a tiny womb-on-a-chip in which an egg and sperm are fed in at one end and an early embryo comes out the other, ready to implant in a real mother. The device mimics the environment of the body using endometrial cells which line the womb. The researchers hope the chip could eventually be used to improve the success rate of IVF. Page 28
A BABY BROTHER FOR THE MILKY WAY'S BLACK HOLE
Is a second black hole lurking at the heart of the Milky Way? We know there is one colossal black hole at the centre of the galaxy, but so far no one has managed to verify the existence of a second. Now, an astrophysicist at the University if California says a simple test could answer the question. Look for a pair of hypervelocity stars hurtling out from the centre of the galaxy at breakneck speed, and this would be "definitive evidence" of the existence of two large black holes at the centre of the galaxy. Page 15
DARWIN AND THE GENERATION GAME
Traditional methods of design could be replaced with super-fast computers that can now outperform the best a human can come up with. Evolutionary algorithms (EAs) are used to mimic the process of natural selection by "breeding" and re-breeding possible designs to produce the fittest one. By running EAs on these powerful computers, designs can be evolved in days rather than months or years. However, critics argue that the technique may lead to designs that cannot be properly evaluated because no human understands where trade-offs were made in the automated evolutionary process. Pages 26-27
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR NUCLEAR POWER PLANT?
This month it was reported that an earthquake in the city of Kashiwazaki in Japan shook the largest nuclear power plant in the world and caused it to leak 1300 litres of radioactive coolant into the Sea of Japan. With Japan's 56 reactor sites in what is a quake-prone country, New Scientist asks if we are losing the sight of the importance of choosing the right place to build them. Page 17
OPALS INSPIRE SHAMELESS SHEEN-STEALING
Banknotes could be harder to forge thanks to a new iridescent film that changes colour when you turn or twist it. The polymer film, created by a collaboration of teams in the UK and Germany, mimics the structure of naturally occurring opals. As well as deterring bank forgers, the film could also be used on food packaging that changes colour if its contents spoil. Page 28
The following four stories are not available on the press site. For full text articles please contact Nicole Scott at media at newscientist.com.au.
SEABIRDS NEEDN'T DIE IN VAIN
You've heard of offsetting carbon. Well how about offsetting dead seabirds? Many seabird populations are threatened because the birds end up as by-catch in commercial fishing nets but 2 Australian ecologists have come up with a plan. Charge a levy on by-catch and use that money for conservation efforts. SHORT STORY Page 6
In contrast to accusations that climate scientists over-dramatise global warming to boost their funding, one scientist believes the opposite is in fact happening. NASA physicist James Hansen argues some scientists are reluctant to speak out about the dangers of global warming because those who downplay the situation seem to fare better in the funding stakes. While scepticism is a cornerstone of the scientific method, Hansen says scientific reticence on issues such as sea level rise can be dangerous and hinder communication with the public about the perils of climate change. And when it comes to sea level rise, taking a 'business-as-usual' approach will be disastrous. Pages 30-34
When some of us struggle to jog 100 metres without stopping for breath, why is it that others can perform apparently superhuman feats of strength and endurance, such as running 50 marathons in 50 days or scaling high-altitude peaks? One possibility is that some people are simply natural born superhumans, blessed with incredibly efficient cellular mechanisms for producing energy. However this ability comes at a cost. Individuals with this genetic advantage are obligated by those same genes to do regular exercise, or face an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer. Page 35-41
WHAT FLOWS BENEATH
Decades of modelling and remote sensing suggest Mars has a vast store of water locked away as ground ice, just under the surface of its polar ice caps. A new NASA mission to the red planet will give researchers their first opportunity to actually touch this hidden water store. The Phoenix mission heads to Mars next month and is scheduled to touch down above the Martian artic circle in May or June 2008. Using a robot arm to scrape away the desert dust, Phoenix will hopefully strike the Martian permafrost, and provide some answers to the mystery of Mars' water. Page 42-44
- ENDS -
IF REPORTING ON ANY OF THESE STORIES, PLEASE CREDIT NEW SCIENTIST AS THE SOURCE, AND IF REPORTING ONLINE, PLEASE INCLUDE A LINK TO: www.newscientist.com.
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).
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