[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 19 APRIL 2008

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Wed Apr 16 01:18:13 CEST 2008


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE 19 APRIL 2008

MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE:  19 APRIL 2008 (Vol. 198 No. 2652)
 
EMBARGO: 
THESE STORIES BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST
BEFORE:- 04:00 HRS AEST THU 17 APRIL 2008. 

All FULL-TEXT articles together with artwork, photos and graphics are
not to be reproduced without prior permission from New Scientist. The
articles are distributed in advance of publication to those authorised
media who may wish to report on our stories, quoting extracts as part of
fair dealing with this copyrighted material.  Please remember to credit
New Scientist Magazine - thank you.
 
EVOLUTION - A GUIDE FOR THE NOT-YET PERPLEXED
Since the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, evidence for
evolutionary theory has been overwhelming and remains the foundation for
biology. But most people around the world are not taught the truth about
evolution. And even among those who do accept it as reality, confusion
abounds and alternatives appear convincing. So New Scientist has put
together a guide to a few common myths and misconceptions about
evolution, including: 
-     Contrary to popular belief, not all characteristics are as a
result of natural selection - such as male nipples and ostrich wings. 
-     It seems that nature is limitlessly inventive, but evolution does
have its limits - such as flying plants.
-     Natural selection doesn't always lead to greater complexity, or
perfection. 
-     Not all change is as a result of natural selection. Many features
are the result of random genetic drift. 
COVER FEATURE Pages 24-33(Graphics available)
 
PLANS DRAWN UP FOR A WAR ON DRINK
A global strategy against alcohol plans to match the health successes of
international controls on tobacco which prevent harm to non-smokers from
passive smoking. The strategy is in light of a growing realisation of
the scale of damage caused to non-drinkers as a result of other people
drinking. According to an institute on alcohol abuse in the US, "Of
people killed in alcohol-related car crashes in the US, nearly half are
people other than the drinking driver". The World Health Organisation
will complete a draft plan of their global strategy by 2010. Pages 6-7

DIRTY, SEXY MONEY
Carbon trading is catching on in a big way, attracting major financial
companies. In 2007, the value of deals done in carbon credits reached an
estimated $60 billion. Fred Pearce asks the critical question: Does this
activity actually keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere? There are
widespread fears that it does not. FEATURE Pages 38-41 (Graphics
available)

MOON'S BIRTH PUT EARTH IN A SPIN
The collision which formed our moon may also have set the direction of
Earth's spin and its speed. US researchers built a computer model to
simulate the collision. They found that prior to the impact the Earth's
axis of rotation was steeply tilted, and the planet would have spun
faster, with a day lasting just 4 hours. Page 14

'BOUNCING' SOLAR SYSTEM SHAKES UP COMETS
As our solar system oscillates up and down as it orbits the Milky Way,
it may be regularly nudging comets our way. Researchers in the UK, who
built a computer model of this motion, think this may explain periodic
meteor showers on Earth. Page 10

HOW AN EPIDEMIC OF WARNINGS ON 'SUICIDAL THINKING' SPREAD
First it was antidepressants, now everything from epilepsy drugs to
quit-smoking drugs have been linked with suicidal thinking, leading to
warnings being placed on drugs. What's going on? A group commissioned by
the US Food and Drug Administration have devised a formula that allows
them to reclassify data about suicidal thinking, which has prompted the
suicide alerts. Page 11

CURRENTS PAINT OUR OCEANS WITH STRIPES
Oceanographers have revealed a mysterious striped pattern of currents
flowing across every ocean. Nobody has noticed them before and their
cause is still a mystery. A team in the US had been analysing satellite
data from ocean buoys when they noticed that something other than
currents, wind and temperature were influencing the buoys' paths. To
their amazement they discovered striped flows of parallel currents
running eastwards or westwards. The 150-kilometre wide bands have
boundaries alternating in peaks and troughs and extend right down to the
ocean floor. Page 10(Graphics available)
   
SITES THAT GROW TO LOOK THE WAY YOU LIKE
Sites that evolve as if they are living organisms are making their way
onto the internet. Engineers in the US have designed evolutionary
software that can vary characteristics on the site, such as colour and
font, after evaluating users' traits. The evolving pages can result in
designs that are more user friendly than anything a human is likely to
have come up with. Page 22
 
A WEBSITE TO DESIGN A PRESIDENT
What kind of person do you want to see running America for the next four
years? A website called WikiCandidate challenges the public to create
the ideal candidate from scratch. Users can change a make-believe
candidate's name, characteristics and political agenda. The site's
creators are interested in whether users will express an interest in
issues that the real candidates themselves are ignoring. Page 22
 
GENES LOAD CANCER DICE AGAINST BLACK PEOPLE
Up until now, socioeconomic factors have been blamed for the fact that
prostate and breast cancers are more deadly for African Americans than
for whites. Now, the activities of key genes are implicated. In studies
of cancer tissue, US researchers found significantly different levels of
gene activity between the tumours removed from the black and white
patients. Page 8
 
ENDS

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Nicole Scott
Marketing and PR Manager - Australia/NZ
New Scientist 
Tel: 61 2 9422 2893
Email: media at newscientist.com.au

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