New Scientist Tip Sheet for 8-29-01

30-Aug-2001 12:00 AM EDT

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NEW SCIENTIST PRESS RELEASE

EMBARGO: NOT FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE:-14:00 HRS ET US (19:00 HRS BritishSummertime) WEDNESDAY, 29 AUGUST 2001

NEWS STORIES:

GIVE UP THE WEED, DADDope-smoking dads double the risk of cot deaths, regardless of whether this was around conception, during pregnancy or after birth, according to a survey in California.Page 18

DESPERATE MEASUREFailed attempts to induce abortion with an ulcer drug called misoprostol may be causing a minor epidemic of birth defects. Women are resorting to use of the drug in countries where abortion is not freely available such as Columbia, Brazil and the Philippines. Page 18

DISCO INFERNOEcstasy not only causes a dangerous increase in body temperature to those who take the drug, but also affects the body's ability to cool itself. Australian research has shown that ecstasy causes a severe drop in blood flow to the skin - which could contribute to heatstroke. Page 19

IN THE LINE OF FIRENuclear missiles targeted at US cities and intercepted by Bush's proposed missile defence shield could still explode over Europe, Canada or middle America instead. American arms experts say that the defence system can destroy the rocket booster minutes after launch - but still leaves the warhead zinging across the sky. Page 4

NATURALLY TOXICA herbal supplement commonly used by pregnant women could be causing birth defects. American researchers have found high levels of the toxin colchicine in one brand of Ginkgo biloba, which were high enough to have harmful effects. Page 10

TERROR TRIAL RUNThe Japanese terrorist sect that killed 12 people by releasing sarin nerve gas into the Tokyo subway in 1996, had the knowledge and skills to cause an even more devastating anthrax attack, say American scientists. Page 6

STICKING POWERKeeping a baby's delicate skin mildly acidic could help prevent diaper rash, according to new American research. The study also showed that lowering the acidity disrupts the skin surface and could lead to new treatments to remove warts and calluses and even improved ways to deliver drugs through the skin. Page 16

PLAY IT, SAMIf your kids get easily bored while watching television or listening to music, a smart toy could get them interested. A British company has developed the toy, which is controlled by sound and responds to events on the TV or dances around to music. Page 23

HEAR ME ROARScientists have found two species of deer with "dropped larynxes" thought to be unique to humans. For the deer, it's all about scaring off rivals with deeper roars. So could a lowered larynx in prehistoric times have been an advantage for human males showing off to rivals? Page 12

FEATURES:

SWEET BUT DEADLYAll the low-fat ready meals in the supermarket won't save you from heart disease. Gail Vines explains why frequent snacking on high-energy foods between meals could be just as damaging as saturated fats. Pages 26-30

0UT OF THIN AIRCan you conjure up solid objects using nothing but the power of sound? It sounds crazy, but a bunch of students have shown that the idea works on a zero-gravity NASA space flight. Pages 32-35

FIGHT OF THE BLIGHTPlant diseases wipe out 10 per cent of crop yields worldwide. Yet plants have a generalised, immune system-like defence that can help combat a wide range of diseases. Researchers have found out they can use this underused weapon by giving plants a helping hand. Pages 37-39

GASSING WITH THE GODSConsidered to be the voice of the god Apollo, the Oracle of Delphi, foretold the fates of kings and nations. Rulers from Greece and the Russian Empire made the journey to the Gulf of Corinth, to seek divine guidance on everything from wars to their love lives. But now scientists believe that the mysterious pronouncements were nothing more than delirious ravings of prophets high on natural gas. Pages 40-42

INTERVIEW - NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIREFred Pearce meets Richard Peto, one of the world's leading experts on why smokers die prematurely. He thinks tobacco advertising should be banned and believes we put too much emphasis on preventing kids from starting smoking when we should be concentrating on helping adults to stop. Pages 45-47

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ISSUE DATE: 1 SEPTEMBER 2001

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