[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE - ISSUE 12 JULY 08

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed Jul 9 01:29:11 CEST 2008


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE FOR MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 12 JULY 2008 (Vol.
199 No. 2664)

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SPECIAL REPORT: TEACHING EVOLUTION
On the 28 June, The Science Education Act was passed as law in the State
of Louisiana.
This piece of legislature now allows teachers in this US state to
present non-scientific alternatives to evolution, global warming and
cloning - including ideas related to intelligent design. Opponents fear
that Louisiana teachers are now free to present evolution and other
targeted topics as matters of debate rather than broadly accepted
science, and could have national implications. Pages 8-9

TEN PEOPLE FELLED BY NEW CJD-LIKE DISEASE
A new form of fatal dementia, which resembles Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease,
has been discovered in 16 Americans, 10 of whom have already died from
the disease. Like CJD and BSE, the brain tissue of victims is full of
tiny holes, thought to be caused by the accumulation of prions. However,
the new disease also has features that are different from known forms of
CJD. No one yet knows how the disease originates, how it might spread,
or even how many people have the condition. Page 13

CHELATION HEART TRIAL UNDER SPOTLIGHT
Why is the world's leading biomedical research agency backing a
controversial alternative therapy, involving some physicians with
criminal records and others who have been disciplined by state medical
boards? The row involves chelation therapy, generally used to remove
toxic metals from the body. The US National Institutes of Health is
running a trial to test a claim that chelation therapy works for heart
disease. The trial progressed without much debate until the records of
some of the researchers involved came to light in May this year. Page 17


SPINAL IMPLANT THAT'S AHEAD OF THE CURVE
A new spinal implant is under development to correct the condition
scoliosis - which causes the spine to curve. Unlike existing corrective
techniques, the new implant could be fitted to relatively young children
and "grows" with the child. The device, developed by experts in Spain
and France, uses a hydraulic piston to apply a force between two points
along the spine, gradually correcting its curvature. Page 26

ASTEROID THREAT GETS HARDER TO PIN DOWN
You'd think by now we'd know the exact trajectory of an asteroid with a
slim chance of ending up on a collision course with Earth. But in fact
we now have less of an understanding of how much of a risk the asteroid
Apophis is to Earth. The computed probability of a collision is now
unclear thanks to minute effects the calculations didn't take into
account. What's more, budget cuts could shut down the telescope which
could have clarified the situation. Page 12

TO PUT UP AN OIL RIG, FOLLOW THAT CLAM
When razor clams are threatened they dig themselves rapidly into the
gravelly sand with little effort. Researchers in the US have built a
"roboclam" that is able to mimic a clam's burrowing action - which now
has the attention of the oil industry. If the roboclam can replicate the
clam's technique mechanically, it could be ideal for anchoring offshore
rigs in the soft seabed. Page 26

VOLCANO SPEWS LETHAL ACID BREW
A group of geologists have just pieced together what happened when a
mysterious catastrophe wiped out plants and fish near a volcano in
Alaska in July 2005. A torrent of sulphurous liquid and a lethal acidic
mist is now known to have burst from the Chiginagak volcano after ice
inside its crater melted. The acidic meltwater killed all plants over 30
square kilometres and turned local lakes as acidic as lemon juice. Page
14

WINNING FORMULA?
Breast is best. Yet despite the list of proven benefits and public
health campaigns, just 11 per cent of US babies are exclusively
breastfed up to the age of six months, while in the UK the figure is
just 3 per cent. So given that there are tens of millions of babies
worldwide being raised on infant formula, shouldn't we be doing
everything possible to make it more like the real thing? FEATURE Pages
38-41 (Graphics available)

STRANGE INHERITANCE
When Jean-Baptiste Lamarck outlined his non-genetic theory of evolution,
before Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, he was largely ignored. But
over the past decade it has become increasingly clear that offspring can
acquire characteristics through environmental factors, such as diet or
stress, without a single change to their genetic make up. So could a
"new Lamarckism" be about to rewrite modern evolutionary theory?
FEATURE Pages 29-33

THE MOONBOTS HAVE LANDED
Not a single spacecraft has landed intact on the moon for 30 years, and
there is still so much we don't know about our nearest neighbour. But
this could all change with NASA's proposal for a new International Lunar
Network - a new generation of moon missions that will link up uncrewed
spacecraft from all nations to deepen our understanding of the moon.
FEATURE Pages 34-37 (Graphics available)

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