[ASC-media] NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE - ISSUE 20 SEPT 08

RBI - NewScientist - Media (RBI - AUS) media at newscientist.com.au
Wed Sep 17 01:39:57 CEST 2008


NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE FOR MAGAZINE ISSUE:  20 SEPTEMBER 2008 (Vol.
199 No. 2674)

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EMBARGO: 
THESE STORIES BELOW ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST
BEFORE:- 04:00 HRS AEST THU 18 SEPTEMBER 2008. 

READ MY LIPS...AND MY VOICE, AND MY FACE
How are we to know whether politicians mean what they are saying?
Software programs that can analyse a person's speech, voice or facial
expressions can now make it easier for us to distinguish straight talk
from spin. One researcher has used his software to analyse speeches of
John McCain, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton - and found Obama's
speeches to contain higher spin than either McCain or Clinton. While
another study which analysed the candidate's voices, found that McCain's
voice profile "looked like that of someone who is clinically depressed".
Pages 22-23 (Graphics available)

ONLINE GAMERS ARE FITTER THAN YOU THINK
A US study could change the stereotype we have of online gaming addicts
being overweight couch potatoes. Researchers, who quizzed players of the
game EverQuest II, found adult gamers to be in better physical condition
than the average American. The downside, however, was the gamers
reported more cases of depression and substance abuse than their
compatriots. Page 24 

WHY BAD ART REALLY IS A PAIN
Looking at a beautiful painting can help reduce physical pain. Italian
researchers asked men and women to contemplate beautiful and ugly
paintings whist zapping their hands with a laser pulse. The subjects
rated the pain as a third less intense when viewing the beautiful
paintings, compared with looking at ugly paintings or blank walls.
Researchers think that hospitals should take into account their
aesthetic aspects to help reduce pain in hospital patients. Page 14
(SHORT STORY)

SMELL ALERTS RATS TO INDIVIDUAL CATS
In the cartoon world, Jerry got to know Tom very well. Now it seems that
in the real world, rodents can recognise the new predators in the
neighbourhood - on an individual basis. This is the first time this has
been observed in a prey animal. An Australian study confirmed that rats
react differently to the smell of individual cats - depending on whether
they were familiar to them or new. Page 15 (SHORT STORY)

THE FUTURE CAR
The era of petrol vehicles is winding down. With oil prices still
rising, and reducing C02 emissions being top of the political agenda,
the sales of gas-guzzlers are falling dramatically. Car
manufacturers are finally waking up to the message that quieter, greener
cars are what people want. So the race is on to find the technology that
can provide the lowest-emission vehicles. A few years ago the new fuel
looked to be hydrogen, but now it looks as though electricity is set to
become the new king of transportation. New Scientist investigates the
future of the car. 
FEATURES Pages 26-33 (Graphics available)

BIRD FLU IS STILL OUT THERE AND BIDING ITS TIME
While bird flu may have faded from the headlines, governments and
scientists are as concerned as ever about the dangers it poses. This
week, scientists are flocking to a conference in Portugal to discuss the
problem. But H5N1 isn't the only threat. The H9 flu virus common in
poultry across Eurasia now carries several of the same genes that make
H5N1 so deadly. A few more mutations and H9 could become a killer too.
Meanwhile, one strain of ordinary human flu has developed near-total
resistance to the antiviral drug Tamiflu. Page 8

THE ABUSE GOES ON
The banning of the practice of genital mutilation in young girls six
years ago in Egypt has had little effect. In a study of 3730 Egyptian
girls aged 10-14, eighty-five per cent said they'd undergone female
genital mutilation since it was outlawed. Experts say counselling
parents and religious leaders is the only way to eradicate FGM in Egypt.
Page 4

WHO'S THE DADDY IN COSMIC HIT-AND-RUN?
The discovery of an exoplanet spinning in a strange cock-eyed orbit
suggests it was shunted out of place billions of years ago by another
monster planet. Researchers in France have observed planet XO-3b
orbiting at a steep angle of 70 degrees around its star. If confirmed it
could be the first planet of this type. Page 8 (Graphics available)

WELCOME TO MY WORLD
Could autism be explained by a hyperactive brain? According to Swiss
neuroscientists, all of autism's baffling features, and sometimes
dazzling abilities - can be explained by an over-performing brain that
makes ordinary, everyday sensory experiences utterly overwhelming. 
FEATURES Pages 34-37

US SPECIAL REPORT ON HEALTHCARE: CONDITION CRITICAL
Does the next US president have a solution to the nation's healthcare
crisis? This isn't simply that 75 million Americans have little or no
access to medical coverage. Equally damaging is the nation's addiction
to new, expensive medical devices and drugs. Often there is no evidence
that they deliver better results, and in some cases excessive medical
care might actually make people sicker. Pages 10-12
 (Graphics available)

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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