New Scientist Magazine - Issue 22-Oct-2005

Article ID: 515427

Released: 19-Oct-2005 8:50 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: New Scientist

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MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 22 OCTOBER 2005 (Vol. 187 No 2522)


STOPPING NUCLEAR SMUGGLERSShould terrorists ever get their hands on nuclear material, the US remains vulnerable because the current technologies used at US ports for detecting smuggled nuclear material are failing, according to experts. So the US Department of Homeland Security is investing in a new generation of screening technologies that can identify explosives and nuclear material, even through lead containers. Pages 30-31

INDIA'S ORGAN TRADE FAILUREIllegal trade in human organs in India is flourishing, but the legislation designed to prevent it is failing, according to the first investigation into why the policy doesn't work. The researchers from India and Australia suggest that legalising the trade should be considered. That would mean the government acting as a go-between, with set payments to organ donors and enforcing third-party tissue testing to ensure a good match. Page 20

RACE IS ON TO MAKE BIRD FLU DRUGSThis week, in a dramatic turnaround, Roche said it would not oppose other countries making the antiviral drug Tamiflu - the best hope for saving lives if an H5N1 pandemic strikes soon. The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, who hold the patent on Tamiflu, are currently the only company who make the drug. Now Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer Cipla says it will begin marketing a generic version of the drug by December. Page 14

ASIA BLAZES TRAIL TO THE FINAL FRONTIERWith China's second successful manned space mission, Asia is now emerging as a force to be reckoned with in space. But experts contacted by New Scientist see it differently. The three main players in Asia " China, Japan and India " are all driven by very different aims, and it is only the Chinese, experts say, who have the political will and technological might to support a permanent presence in space. But what really separates China from other aspiring Asian space powers is its determined pursuit of human space flight. Pages 8-10

MUSIC FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD ITA cochlear implant being developed in the UK will enable deaf people to hear music. The prototype implant will give people the ability to hear sounds over a wide range of frequencies, unlike conventional hearing aids which only concentrate on human speech and are not good for listening to music. Page 32

WIRED REEF TO SPOT POLLUTERSAn ambitious project for a network of sensors to map pollution and its effects on Australia's Great Barrier Reef will be launched within the next few months. It could provide evidence that will finally settle controversy about the effect of pollution on the reef. Page 29

'AXIS OF EVIL' WARPS COSMIC BACKGROUNDA mysterious pattern seen in the map of the cosmic microwave background " showing the afterglow of the big bang " left some physicists wondering whether there may be something wrong with the big bang model. But the alignment of the pattern " dubbed the "axis of evil" " could be caused by the gravity of an enormous group of galaxies in our cosmic backyard, according to an American cosmologist. Page 19

DON'T MENTION THE SYNDROMEA medical disorder "Reiter's syndrome" , named after a Nazi war criminal, is being slowly written out of the medical record. A campaign to abandon the term because of the association with Nazi crimes is paying off according to an analysis of online medical journals. Page 6


THE NEW IRON AGEThe green car of the future could run on a tankful of metal, which would please both drivers and environmentalists. Researchers calculate that on average a vehicle fuelled with metal (such as iron or aluminium) could travel three times as far as the equivalent petrol-powered vehicle. Better still, it is almost completely non-polluting, producing no carbon dioxide, no dust, soot or even nitrogen oxides. Pages 34-37

SWEPT AWAYIn October 1755, the Portuguese capital of Lisbon was flattened by the most destructive earthquake Europe has ever recorded. Those who survived the quake, which occurred under the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred kilometres from the capital, drowned in a series of tsunamis that followed. With this devastating example, and the Indian Ocean tsunami still very fresh in people's minds, all eyes are on a repeat performance in the Atlantic. Pages 39-42

A LANGUAGE IS BORNHome-grown sign languages invented by deaf people are popping up all over the place, and are starting to attract the notice of linguists. Because the new languages are developing in total isolation, free of any outside help, they are offering a rare insight into whether the rules of language are hard-wired into our brains. Pages 44-47

THE SALE OF THE LONESOME PINEConservationists have turned to commercialisation to help save a rare prehistoric tree. The Wollemi pine, discovered near Sydney only a decade ago, is one of the world's oldest trees. But there are fewer than 100 left in the wild. So the plan is to propagate the pines and sell them to garden centres around the globe, with funds helping to preserve the trees and their habitats. But if you have to have a "first generation" Wollemi, get yourself to Sotheby's. Pages 41-43


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