MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 18 JUNE 2005 (Vol. 186 No 2504)


NO PARADOX FOR TIME TRAVELLERSThe laws of physics seem to permit space travel, and with it, paradoxical situations like travellers being able to go back in time to prevent their own birth. But now physicists have shown that the most basic features of quantum theory may ensure that time travellers could never alter the past. Page 15

SPECIAL REPORT: WHALE HUNTNext week, the International Whaling Commission meets in South Korea. Pro-whaling nations such as Japan, Norway and Iceland, will be pushing for an end to the moratorium that has banned the killing of whales for profit since 1986. Could a return to commercial whaling be possible without risking a conservation disaster? For sustainable hunting to work, wildlife managers would need to know roughly how many animals there are " no easy task with whales. Pages 6-8

TECH SHORT: Astronauts get an upgradeAstronauts will no longer need to be trained in geology. Instead a new system involving a camera connected to a wearable computer would analyse rocks in an astronaut's field of vision, and flag up anything a geologist might find interesting. Page 27

TECH SHORT: Talking heads replace textsInstead of sending a text message, why not send a talking photo of yourself. A Russian company has devised a way to allow phone users to take a picture of themselves using a cellphone camera, and then attach a voice message to it. Software is then used to match the message to mouth and eye movements, so that the person receiving the message gets an animated picture of the message. Page 27

BIG ENOUGH TO SNAP A GALAXYGaia, a satellite mission due for launch in 2011, has been given the go ahead to build the biggest digital space camera ever carried on a spacecraft. Gaia will spend five years mapping in great detail and colour billions of stars and any extrasolar planets in the Milky Way. (You can view this story in full on

TAKING A TRIP DOWN MEMORY-CHIP LANESpectrums and Commodores are cool again. But the renewed interest in old-school computers is more than retro-chic nostalgia. These simple machines are our technological heritage and are offering computer buffs a unique chance in understanding how today's computer systems work. Pages 28-29

DESPERATE MEASURESIn the 19th century Sweden's alcohol consumption was huge, and the country was dotted with distilleries. They made their vodka from barley, potatoes or rye. But in 1867, the entire country's crops failed, and there was nothing left to distil. Well almost nothing. A professor of chemistry started to experiment with something Sweden had in plenty, and was free: lichens.HISTORIES Pages 52-53


AUTISTIC AND PROUDMany autistic people argue that autism is not a disease that needs to be cured or treated but just a normal part of human diversity. This week sees the first ever annual Autistic Pride Day to persuade society to "accept not cure" . But for many parents of autistic children, who need round-the-clock attention, the movement will never catch on. Pages 36-40

VIRTUAL AIRWAYSPilots may never need to look out the windscreen again. The ultimate in flight simulation can show pilots a highly detailed, unclouded view on the world outside. The digital screen is based on the largest, most detailed map ever created, providing a photorealistic 3D map of most of the world. With this system an aircraft can be guided onto runways, avoid any potential hazards, and have a perfect view through storms. Pages 46-47

THE LITTLE TROUBLEMAKEREight months after the discovery of the "hobbit" on the Indonesian island of Flores and scientists are still wrangling over what to make of the extraordinary discovery. There still seems to be plenty of scope for different interpretations of the findings, and to ever knowing exactly who Flo was. Pages 41-45

DOUBLE JEOPARDYOver the past decade, physicists doing experiments in quantum theory have shown many times that quantum entanglement is real (the idea that two particles can be invisibly linked even if they become separated). But if quantum theory is right, then basic logic says there is something fundamentally wrong with our view of the universe, including Einstein's famous description of space and time. Or maybe there's a way out of the paradox? Pages 32-35


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