MAGAZINE ISSUE DATE: 18 OCTOBER 2003, Vol. 180 No. 2416

BANNING GM CROPS IS NOT ENOUGH TO SAVE WILDLIFEThe use of genetically modified crops in the UK rests with the results of farm-scale trials to be announced this week. But banning GM crops is unlikely to make much difference to the environment. That's because herbicide use in the UK is already soaring and farmers may turn to non-GM crops bred to be resistant to herbicides. Both could have a worse impact on farmland wildlife in Europe than weedkiller-resistant GM crops. Pages 8-9

PASSING STOP SIGN CURES GENE DISEASESimply popping a pill could overcome some genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. American researchers have designed a drug that (in pre-clinical tests) can restore the production of a working protein by reading through stop-signals on the defective gene. Page 16

THE WHOLE SHOOTING MATCHEver attempted to make a panorama of your favourite holiday scene by taking photos at different angles, only to find the photos don't quite fit together when you get them developed? New software developed in Canada, can now hunt through a collection of photos, recognise similar images and then match and stitch the pictures together for you. Page 25

THREE CLONED EMBRYOS BETTER THAN ONECombining two or three cloned embryos to make a single one greatly improves the chances of a live animal being born. By adding more cells to cloned mouse embryos, an American team found that the number of pregnancies from resulting implantations was greater than if single-clone embryos had been used. Page 19

LOST WITHOUT A MOBILE PHONEA cellphone positioning system to be enforced across Europe and the US could save lives. Cellphone networks will soon be required to provide emergency services with any location information they have about where calls were made - so that an emergency call from your mobile phone can always be traced, even if you can't speak when you make the call. Page 26

SUPER-EFFICIENT FUEL HITS THE ROADA British firm claims to have found a fuel additive that makes diesel burn more efficiently, runs cleaner engines and produces less pollution. And the UK's largest bus operator is putting it to the test in 1000 of its diesel-fuelled buses. Page 24

STARLESS GALAXY HIDES IN THE DARKTwo million light years away, American astronomers have found the first "dark galaxy" without any stars. The team argue that the dark cloud of hydrogen gas they observed must be at least 80 per cent dark matter. If they are right, it could resolve a problem in dark matter theory. Page 18

FAME OF WORLD WAR "ACE" PILOTSA theory of fame developed by American statisticians suggests that most people remain unrecognised while only a few become more famous than they actually deserve. An analysis of WW1 fighter pilots showed that fame (measured by the number of Google hits on a pilot's name) was not directly proportional to achievement (the number of planes a pilot shot down). The fame increased exponentially with achievement showing that fame is not fairly distributed. Page 17

MARKET MODEL PREDICTS CRASHESA model that simulates the activities of traders and investors is coming strikingly close to predicting stock market crashes. And according to the American researchers, we should look out for the next crash in spring 2004. Page 18


TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORTMost experts agree that the offspring of closely related individuals are at a disadvantage. But how close is too close? A British Zoologist has been using genetic markers to see just how serious the inbreeding situation is. If it's as worrying as he thinks, the implications are far-reaching - we should change the way we protect endangered species and stop rehabilitating sick animals if they are genetically weak. Pages 38-41

ON THE TRAIL OF A KILLERAt the turn of the 1920s a bizarre neurological illness swept the globe killing an estimated 100,000 and leaving as many again paralysed or in semi-comatose states in asylums or hospitals. No cause or cure was ever found for this "sleepy sickness" , but the 1918 flu pandemic was always suspected. 80 years on, a British virologist is determined to solve this murder mystery. Pages 35-37

3D TV AS YOU'VE NEVER SEEN ITAt last engineers have the software to deliver three-dimensional television " and there's no need to wear those clumsy specs anymore. The software will enable you to adjust your screen to transform real movie stars or game characters from 2D images to 3D images that leap out of the screen. 3D TV is the ultimate goal, but experts say consumers will first be able to buy 3D computer screens, mobile phones and computer games. Pages 28-31

SPEED FREAKSCan information travel faster than the speed of light? To answer this question, you need to be able to define the speed of information " so physicists set an experiment to measure it.Pages 42-45


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New Scientist (18-Oct-2003)