COSMIC GETAWAY
Dream escap from the solar system
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m

WEEKLY August 24 - 30, 2013

Six health myths you should ignor...
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CONTENTS

Volume 219 No 2931

This issue online
newscientist.com/issue/2931

News

News
6

UPFRONT
India’s ambitious food ...
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EDITORIAL

LOCATIONS
USA
225 Wyman Street,
Waltham, MA 02451
Tel +1 781 734 8770
Fax +1 720 356 9217

Naming the final fro...
REX/DAVID MCHUGH

UPFRONT

The fracking fracas
PROTESTS against proposed fracking
operations in England culminated this
we...
For daily news stories, visit newscientist.com/news

Cosmic name game

REUTERS/AMIT DAVE

60 SECONDS

Polio explosion
The ...
THIS WEEK

Take me to Alpha
Centauri, one day
An interstellar trip won’t happen anytime soon,
but the technology it is ins...
ADRIAN MANN

In this section
When the oceans get lost in Oz, page 10
Kicking heroin addiction, page 12
Drones play tag, pa...
STEVE PARISH/STEVE PARISH PUBLISHING/CORBIS

THIS WEEK

Australia: where
oceans go to hide
Michael Marshall

“River channe...
For daily news stories, visit newscientist.com/news

Dark energy may spring
from the Higgs boson

NASA/CXC/SAO/A.VIKHLININ...
THIS WEEK
FIELD NOTES Baja California

Can a mind-altering drug
cure heroin addiction?

“This euphoric state
brought about...
STEVE RAYMER/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

For daily news stories, visit newscientist.com/news

“Given the chance of relie...
MASSIMO BREGA/THE LIGHTHOUSE/SPL

THIS WEEK
Driest place on
Earth inhabited
millennia ago

–May be paying attention–

Meet...
Arc 1.4 /
Forever alone drone
How remote can you go?
Out now, the latest issue of Arc, Forever alone drone,
explores the t...
PLAINPICTURE

IN BRIEF
Galaxy shapes set
near cosmic dawn

Do you know the speed limit?
That barn owl does
BIRDS cannot re...
For new stories every day, visit newscientist.com/news

EYAL BARTOVE

AS ANTI-CANCER regimes go, this
one is not going to ...
For more technology stories, visit newscientist.com/technology

BRYAN DENTON/CORBIS

TECHNOLOGY

“Nanocrystals can be
spra...
TECHNOLOGY

Electric easy street
SPITTA + HELLWIG/PLAINPICTURE

Let artificial intelligence cut your energy bills and make...
For more technology stories, visit newscientist.com/technology

ONE PER CENT

THINK you’ve got game? Try this
on for size:...
TECHNOLOGY
INSIGHT Social media

–Under fire–

I predict a riot
Could the violence in Egypt have been avoided by heeding T...
Tech Trek
Powered by
APERTURE

24 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
Coldest city on Earth
NO REFRIGERATORS needed here. A fish market,
and freezing fog that the sun struggles to pierce,
bear...
OPINION

State of innovation
Forget Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. It is government that should be credited
for backing wea...
Comment on these stories at newscientist.com/opinion

One minute with...

Beth O’Leary
A bill that proposes a US national ...
OPINION INTERVIEW

I could have sworn…
From repressed memories to faulty eye-witness testimony, psychologist
Elizabeth Lof...
For more interviews and to add your comments, visit newscientist.com/opinion

Could false memories be used for therapeutic...
OPINION LETTERS
Keep it clean

Anger issues
Kill the cat?

Enigma Number 1763

Clever spells
SUSAN DENHAM
Eve said to me t...
To join the debate, visit newscientist.com/letters

Beyond doping

One tough roach
Not so natural

Twins in space

Low blo...
COVER STORY

32 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
We are constantly being bombarded with health
advice, but not all of it is based on rigorous evidence.
Caroline Williams d...
SUGAR MAKES
CHILDREN
HYPERACTIVE

A doughnut can
contain eight
teaspoons of sugar
We live in a toxic world. You’re breathi...
ANTIOXIDANT
PILLS HELP YOU
LIVE LONGER

The human
body is a
veritable
cesspit of
suspect
chemicals

PETER DAZELEY/GETTY

t...
BEING A BIT
OVERWEIGHT
MEANS YOU WILL
DIE SOONER

Let’s be clear – being seriously obese is bad for
your health. A body ma...
Fallen star?

Lonely planet?

Best of all worlds

Meet the cosmic object going from zero to
astronomical hero, says Sarah ...
BABAK TAFRESHI/TWAN/SPL; PREVIOUS PAGE, TOP AND BOTTOM: MARK GARLICK/SPL; MIDDLE: NASA/JPL-CALTECH

”After years of specul...
In the night sky, there
is roughly one brown
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TRUE COLOURS
What colour is a brown dwarf?
Well, n...
Sniffer dogs have always had a nose for trouble.
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JUSTIN PAGET/GETTY

”Good sniffer dogs are
highly motivated and
what some might call
naughty or mischievous”

>
24 August ...
GREENPEACE/JAN-JOSEPH STOK

A NOSE WITH ATTITUDE
A dog’s sensitivity to odours is
staggering. Dogs can detect
n-amyl aceta...
MIKE DEAN/EYE IMAGERY
LAURIE CAMPBELL/NATUREPL.COM

On duty: when her
yellow harness goes on,
Luna knows it is time to
see...
WIPEOUT
PIC CREDIT HERE

A huge chunk of 20th-century history
could be erased if we don’t act now.
Sarah Everts reports

P...
G

Much magnetic tape
can only be played on
obsolete equipment

>

24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 45
Tape comes in a
dizzying array of
different formats

FADING MAGNETISM
The structural base of most magnetic tape
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”In many cases, not only are the tapes
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24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 51
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  1. 1. COSMIC GETAWAY Dream escap from the solar system escapes m WEEKLY August 24 - 30, 2013 Six health myths you should ignore HALF STAR HALFof a celestial in-betweener PLANET Unlikely rise TAG, YOU’RE IT Drones hunt via spray-on signatures SMACK DOWN Kicking heroin with a hallucinogen Science and technology news www.newscientist.com US jobs in academia No2931 US$5.95 CAN$5.95 GOOD COP, BAD DOG Delinquent dogs turn eco detectives
  2. 2. Looking for Chemistry Professionals? Advertise in New Scientist magazine’s Chemistry Recruitment Feature, September 7th issue. (Booking deadline is August 28th) Plus free bonus distribution to 12,000¹ attendees at the American Chemical Society’s Fall Meeting & Expo, September 8-12, 2013, Indianapolis, IN Find out how we can help you fill your chemistry roles: 781.734.8770 nssales@newscientist.com ¹ACS National Meeting & Expo website
  3. 3. CONTENTS Volume 219 No 2931 This issue online newscientist.com/issue/2931 News News 6 UPFRONT India’s ambitious food plan. Planet names to reflect people’s choice. China to stop using inmate organs. New gender in Germany 8 THIS WEEK When the oceans got lost in Oz. Dark energy may spring from Higgs boson. The longest-lived bat. Conversations with locked-in people. Prehistoric pit stop in the Atacama desert 12 FIELD NOTES Kicking heroin addiction with a hallucinogen 16 IN BRIEF Elderly stars get booted. Birds respect road speeds. Blood test for suicide? 8 Cosmic getaway ADRIAN MANN Wanted: options for escaping the solar system Technology On the cover 32 8 37 Do not eat 19 Six health myths you should ignore 12 40 Cosmic getaway Escaping the solar system Half star, half planet Cosmic in-betweeners Tag, you’re it Drones hunt via spray-on signatures Smack down Kicking heroin with a hallucinogen Good cop, bad dog Delinquent dog detectives Cover image Ciaran Griffin/Getty Images 19 Drones play tag. AI cuts your electricity bills. Hone your basketball skills. Twitter predicts conflict in Egypt. Weather drones Aperture 24 The coldest city on Earth Opinion 26 Forget Silicon Valley Mariana Mazzucato reveals the real backers of innovation 27 One minute with… Beth O’Leary A bill in Congress may protect moon landing site 28 Did I do that? Elizabeth Loftus on the perils and potentials of false memory research 30 LETTERS Twins in space. Kill the cat? Features Features 44 32 Do not eat (see above left) 37 Half star, half planet Unlikely rise of a cosmic in-betweener 40 Good cop, bad dog Delinquent hounds turn eco detectives 44 Wiped out (see left) Wiped out The race to save our video heritage CultureLab DAVE STOCK 48 A living heart Why did the public love the Gaia theory while scientists hated it? 49 Ghost ships sail Virtual gallery proves a pleasing way to preserve old exhibitions Regulars Coming next week… 5 The clockwork brain 30 56 57 50 What really makes your thoughts go round? Heart of darkness EDITORIAL The frontier spirit has well and truly arrived in space ENIGMA FEEDBACK Real time travel update THE LAST WORD Metallergy JOBS & CAREERS Closing in on the universe’s missing matter 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 3
  4. 4. www.newscientistjobs.com
  5. 5. EDITORIAL LOCATIONS USA 225 Wyman Street, Waltham, MA 02451 Tel +1 781 734 8770 Fax +1 720 356 9217 Naming the final frontier If we need names for objects in space, why not let everyone chip in? 201 Mission Street, 26th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105 Tel +1 415 908 3348 Fax +1 415 704 3125 UK Lacon House, 84 Theobald’s Road, London WC1X 8NS Tel +44 (0) 20 7611 1200 Fax +44 (0) 20 7611 1250 Australia Tower 2, 475 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, NSW 2067 Tel +61 2 9422 8559 Fax +61 2 9422 8552 SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE For our latest subscription offers, visit newscientist.com/subscribe “Pledging to heed public opinion when naming celestial bodies is in line with the zeitgeist ” Customer and subscription services are also available by: Telephone 1-888-822-3242 Email subscribe@newscientist.com Web newscientist.com/subscribe Mail New Scientist, PO Box 3806, Chesterfield, MO 63006-9953 USA One year subscription (51 issues) $154 CONTACTS Contact us newscientist.com/contact Who’s who newscientist.com/people General & media enquiries Tel 781 734 8770 enquiries@newscientist.com Editorial Tel 781 734 8770 news@newscientist.com features@newscientist.com opinion@newscientist.com No smashing the system Picture desk Tel +44 (0) 20 7611 1268 Display advertising Tel 781 734 8770 displaysales@newscientist.com Recruitment advertising Tel 781 734 8770 nssales@newscientist.com Newsstand Tel 212 237 7987 Distributed by Time/Warner Retail Sales and Marketing, 260 Cherry Hill Road, Parsippany, NJ 07054 Syndication Tribune Media Services International Tel 213 237 7987 © 2013 Reed Business Information Ltd, England. New Scientist ISSN 0262 4079 is published weekly except for the last week in December by Reed Business Information Ltd, England. Reed Business Information, c/o Schnell Publishing Co. Inc., 360 Park Avenue South, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10010. Remember to forget Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and other mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to New Scientist, PO Box 3806, Chesterfield, MO 63006-9953, USA. Registered at the Post Office as a newspaper and printed in USA by Fry Communications Inc, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 5
  6. 6. REX/DAVID MCHUGH UPFRONT The fracking fracas PROTESTS against proposed fracking operations in England culminated this week with the arrest of Caroline Lucas (pictured), a Green Party member of parliament, for refusing to cooperate with police during a demonstration. Meanwhile, the latest geophysical research concludes that over 100 quakes were triggered in a single year of fracking-related activities in Ohio. Lucas was among a handful of demonstrators arrested during a protest at a site in West Sussex where oil and gas exploration firm Cuadrilla aims to sink a conventional oil well as a prelude to possible fracking operations. No permission has yet been given for fracking. The Ohio quakes, centred around Youngstown, were triggered by the disposal of wastewater from fracking operations in neighbouring Pennsylvania rather than by hydraulic fracturing itself. As more and more wastewater was injected into a deep well, the water pressure in the rock rose and triggered 109 small quakes between January 2011 and February 2012. The largest had a magnitude of 3.9 (Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, doi.org/nh5). Quakes are not the only reason that fracking is controversial. There are concerns that the chemicals added to fracking water may contaminate groundwater reservoirs. However, geologists at the British Geological Survey say that groundwater reservoirs usually lie thousands of metres above the rocks that are fracked in well-managed operations, making contamination unlikely. –Refusing to cooperate– Stellar legacy Organ harvest “Kepler’s bounty of star data has now given us a better way to find new Earths in the galaxy” Secret clean-up of nuclear stash IT IS always good to learn that the world has become a safer place – especially when the danger was a warren of unsecured tunnels containing enough plutonium to make dozens of nuclear bombs. The radioactive material was at Semipalatinsk in east Kazakhstan – a former nuclear test site where numerous birth defects have been reported. Credit for the 17-year clean-up goes to US and former Soviet nuclear weapons scientists 6 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 who convinced governments to back them. The US footed much of the $150 million bill, but project details were secret. The operation is described in a report released on 15 August by Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Co-author Eben Harrell suggests that cooperation between scientists could help secure other hazardous sites, such as France’s nuclear test range in the Algerian Sahara.
  7. 7. For daily news stories, visit newscientist.com/news Cosmic name game REUTERS/AMIT DAVE 60 SECONDS Polio explosion The UN has warned of an “explosive” outbreak of polio in Somalia. The alert came days after medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières said it was closing all its programmes in the country, believing it too dangerous for staff to continue their work. At least 105 cases of polio – half last year’s global tally – have been recorded in Somalia this year. “The arbiter of celestial nomenclature has given its stamp of approval for public naming contests” Hot water leak –Enough for 800 million people?– Feeding the masses Beleaguered is an understatement. Tepco, the operators of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, say some 300 tonnes of radioactive water have leaked from storage tanks. An hour’s exposure to the water would give a radiation dose of 100 millisieverts – five times the permitted annual dose for workers. Jupiter moon erupts It’s OK to be neither AP/PRESS ASSOCIATION “Critics have described the move as electioneering ahead of India’s general election next year” The most volcanically active world in the solar system just blew its top. Volcanoes erupt on Jupiter’s moon Io almost continuously, with vastly more power than those on Earth. But the explosion on 15 August was big even by its standards, with lava spouting upwards hundreds of metres. Climate leak The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that there is at least a 95-per-cent chance that humans are to blame for climate change. That’s according to the latest leak of its upcoming report, due out next month. The last report, published in 2007, cited a 90-percent or greater confidence level. Naked-eye nova It’s one level down from a supernova. On 14 August, the brightest nova seen since 2007 appeared in the constellation Delphinus, visible to the naked eye. Novae occur when hydrogen on a white dwarf’s surface explodes in a runaway fusion reaction. Unlike supernovae, the star survives. Nova Delphini 2013 may be visible from Earth for weeks to come. –Nukes detonated under here– 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 7
  8. 8. THIS WEEK Take me to Alpha Centauri, one day An interstellar trip won’t happen anytime soon, but the technology it is inspiring is useful on Earth DE-STAR/PHILIP LUBIN Anne-Marie Corley, Dallas –Laser propulsion, anyone?– 8 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 “Any single planet species is doomed to extinction – so we need ways to escape the solar system”
  9. 9. ADRIAN MANN In this section When the oceans get lost in Oz, page 10 Kicking heroin addiction, page 12 Drones play tag, page 19 Prospects for interstellar travel 10-kilogram CubeSat Pro Technology at a mature stage Con It would take 25,000 years... Beamed-light sails Pros Viable; no new physics required Con Requires huge laser array in space Spin-off applications Mars “FedEx”; vaporising asteroids and space debris “It’s our ambition to be the first spacecraft to be overtaken on the way to Alpha Centauri” Hydrogen-fuelled ramjet Pros Fast enough to carry people Cons Fusion engine required; hydrogen scoop may create drag Spin-off applications Time travel, of a sort; fusion would mean clean energy for Earthlings Warp drive, wormholes Pros Fast Cons No existing technology Spin-off applications Who’s to say? –Breathe in hydrogen - and fuse!– 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 9
  10. 10. STEVE PARISH/STEVE PARISH PUBLISHING/CORBIS THIS WEEK Australia: where oceans go to hide Michael Marshall “River channels in the east of Australia run into a low-lying desert basin, not out to sea” –I’m an ocean… get me out of here– SHEER WEIGHT OF WATER When the seas rose at the end of the last ice age, all hell broke loose. According to a new analysis, the extra weight of liquid water deformed the seabed, causing vast submarine landslides and tsunamis, perhaps even releasing extra greenhouse gases. Today’s rising seas could have similar effects, but probably not for centuries. Underwater landslides were more common in the first 5000 years after the last ice age than they are today. During that time, sea levels rose by 120 metres as melting ice sheets 10 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 poured their cargo into the ocean. Daniel Brothers of the US Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and his colleagues estimated how much stress the extra weight would have placed on the seabed. They found that faults were more likely to rupture along the Amazon and North Carolina coasts, triggering landslides (Geology, doi.org/nhq). Submarine earthquakes and landslides can cause tsunamis, so these monster waves may have been more common as sea levels rose. The changes might also have released methane, which is stored beneath the seabed in icy crystals called clathrates. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, so would have helped to warm the climate. Simon Day of University College London broadly agrees with the findings. He adds that we are unlikely to experience similar convulsions. It would take about 10 metres of sea level rise to affect the number of underwater landslides. Most predictions for this century are for a rise of about 1 metre.
  11. 11. For daily news stories, visit newscientist.com/news Dark energy may spring from the Higgs boson NASA/CXC/SAO/A.VIKHLININ ET AL. Lisa Grossman –Field test for new physics– The secret of long life that lies in bat genes NOT all small animals lead short lives, and now we know which genes may be behind a remarkable example. Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii) typically weighs 4 to 8 grams – about half the weight of a house mouse. At that weight, a well-established link between body mass and lifespan dictates that it should live no more than five years. Yet in 2005, biologists captured a Brandt’s bat in Siberia 41 years after it had first been caught. Now, analysis of the species’ genome suggests an explanation. Vadim Gladyshev at Harvard Medical School and his colleagues found key changes to genes in a hormonal system known as the “growth hormone/IGF1 axis”. These changes are not seen in other mammals except as rare mutations. Some are linked to dwarfism in animals and humans, says Gladyshev, and others are linked to ageing. He thinks that as the bat adapted to its insect-eating niche, where small size is an advantage, its genes may have changed to reduce its body size – and inadvertently increased its lifespan (Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3212). That could be a partial explanation, says Steven Austad at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, but would not account for the bat’s 41 year lifespan. In mice, changing the growth hormone axis “In 2005, biologists captured a bat in Siberia 41 years after it had first been caught” can extend lifespan by, say, 50 per cent, he adds. Gerald Wilkinson at the University of Maryland in College Park thinks other factors are also at play. For instance, Brandt’s bats hibernate, which slows down their metabolism and may help prolong lifespan, but some other bats and small animals do not. “Of course, lifestyle, hibernation, and possibly other factors also contribute to Brandt’s bats’ longevity,” says Gladyshev. “But at the molecular level, the altered growth hormone/ IGF1 axis is the strongest lead so far.” Colin Barras 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 11
  12. 12. THIS WEEK FIELD NOTES Baja California Can a mind-altering drug cure heroin addiction? “This euphoric state brought about an instant relief from the discomfort of going without heroin” A NEW ERA IN AMERICA’S WAR ON DRUGS Are prospects improving for addicts hoping to beat their habit? As well as new ways to treat addiction (see main story), the US government seems to be adopting a more nuanced take on its “war on drugs” – a policy that has seen the US imprison a higher proportion of people on drugs charges than any other nation. On 12 August, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced a plan to reduce the currently lengthy minimum sentences handed out under federal law for non-violent drug offenders. And 12 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 some states are bringing in even more significant changes. In 2007, Texas abandoned plans to spend $523 million on building prisons, and instead invested around half that on crime-reduction policies, including expanding substance-abuse treatment programmes. Crime rates in the state are now down to levels not seen since the 1960s. This bold move may not have happened had it not been for the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, which has led the way in evidence-based criminal justice. The institute conducts rigorous studies to determine whether particular policies work and whether they provide value for money. It has found that one of the most cost-effective approaches is to offer reduced sentences to convicted drug offenders if they undergo chemical-dependency treatment while in prison. Arguably, the most impressive approach is “swift and certain sanctions”. This involves probation with strict monitoring, in which any offender caught using drugs knows they will be immediately jailed – for just a few days. A trial in Hawaii found offenders enrolled into the scheme were 55 per cent less likely to be rearrested. As they involve sanctions, such approaches are acceptable to politicians who might otherwise worry about being seen as soft on crime. That means the measures are acceptable on both sides of the political spectrum, says Steven Raphael at the University of California, Berkeley. “The country seems to be ready for this change.” Peter Aldhous
  13. 13. STEVE RAYMER/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE For daily news stories, visit newscientist.com/news “Given the chance of relief from the dependence, I am free to make conscious choices again” The writer of this article wishes to remain anonymous –Kill the craving– Join now LOOK FOR YOUR HERO FOR FREE ON NEW SCIENTIST CONNECT Start your search now at: http://dating.newscientist.com 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 13
  14. 14. MASSIMO BREGA/THE LIGHTHOUSE/SPL THIS WEEK Driest place on Earth inhabited millennia ago –May be paying attention– Meeting minds with brain-injured people Sara Reardon “The method may provide a starting point for creating a gold standard for assessing consciousness” 14 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 THE heart of the Atacama desert is the driest place on Earth. But that didn’t prevent the first settlers of South America from setting up home there more than 12,000 years ago. Aside from Antarctica, South America was the last continent that modern humans colonised, says Claudio Latorre of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. The first settlers arrived from North America at least 14,000 years ago, but their route south is a mystery. Most researchers assume they travelled through fertile corridors, perhaps down the west coast where seafood was plentiful, at least until you hit the desert. “Extreme environments, such as the Atacama, were naturally assumed to be barriers,” says Latorre. “This was not the case.” Latorre and colleagues excavated a site called Quebrada Maní, which lies 85 kilometres inland and only receives rain a few times a century. Digging on a low hill surrounded by arid valleys, they found stone tools, animal bones, seashells and the remains of a fireplace (Quaternary Science Reviews, doi.org/ng8). How did these people survive in the Atacama? Most of the desert’s core was just as harsh then as it is today. But the team found the remains of plants at the site, suggesting that the valleys had seasonal marshes that acted as oases, and which have since dried up. If people did enter South America along its west coast, Quebrada Maní could have been an important pit stop for heading inland, says team member Calogero Santoro of the University of Tarapacá in Arica, Chile. “Certain features of the site seem to correspond to a base camp,” he says. “We need to think in terms of oasis-hopping,” agrees Silvia Gonzalez of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. She has found similar archaeological sites in Mexican deserts. Michael Marshall
  15. 15. Arc 1.4 / Forever alone drone How remote can you go? Out now, the latest issue of Arc, Forever alone drone, explores the technological wilderness over more than 180 pages of exciting new work from a fantastic selection of notable writers. Every three months, Arc explores the possibilities of tomorrow’s technologies and societies with unique intelligence, wit and charm, publishing work by the world’s most visionary writers and thinkers. It will make you see the future in a whole new light. “Consistently brilliant” – guardian.co.uk New science fiction from: Liz Jensen Nancy Kress Robert Reed Bruce Sterling Romie Stott Jack Womack New essays & ideas about the future from: Madeline Ashby Simon Ings Smári McCarthy Sumit Paul-Choudhury Kim Stanley Robinson Frank Swain Jon Turney Arc is designed to be read on digital devices – tablets, smartphones, Kindles, Nooks, PCs and Macs. Bu y y our copy now a t a r c f i n i t y. o r g
  16. 16. PLAINPICTURE IN BRIEF Galaxy shapes set near cosmic dawn Do you know the speed limit? That barn owl does BIRDS cannot read road signs, but they know that some roads have higher speed limits than others. They will take off further away from an approaching car on a faster road than on a slower road – regardless of the speed of the car. When Pierre Legagneux of the University of Quebec at Rimouski and Simon Ducatez of McGill University in Montreal, both in Canada, were working together in France in 2006, they began studying the birds they encountered on the drive home from the lab. They found that where there was a 50-kilometre-per-hour speed limit, birds on the road typically took off when the car was about 15 metres away, whereas on a 110-km-perhour road, they took off when a car was nearer 75 metres away. They did this even when faced with a car travelling faster on the slow road or slower on the fast road. The researchers think the birds treat cars as predators, and realise that in some parts of their environment the predators are more dangerous than in others (Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0417). “Birds are able to associate environments, like forests or roads, with risk,” says Christopher Lepczyk, an ornithologist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He thinks the work could prompt follow-up studies comparing birds in urban and rural areas, and perhaps encourage more innovative methods. “I just think it’s really cool,” he says. “We don’t do enough of this kind of work.” Aggressive bacteria have a weakness 16 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 Elderly star couple flees the galaxy
  17. 17. For new stories every day, visit newscientist.com/news EYAL BARTOVE AS ANTI-CANCER regimes go, this one is not going to get many takers. The Middle East blind mole rat (Spalax ehrenbergi) spends almost all of its 20 years of life hurrying down dark, fusty tunnels full of oxygen-deprived air. But for reasons unknown, it works: in 50 years of research on the rodents, none has ever spontaneously developed cancer. Now it turns out that even exposure to potent carcinogens does not trigger tumours in these hardy animals. Aaron Avivi of the University of Haifa in Israel exposed 20 mole rats to one of two cancer-causing chemicals – DMBA/TPA or 3-MCA. Even after three years, only one of the animals developed any tumours. By contrast, rats and mice exposed to the same chemicals developed tumours in a matter of months (BMC Biology, doi.org/nhn). “We’ve shown that whether the mole rats are young or old, it is almost impossible to induce cancer in them,” says Avivi. He is now trying to identify what substances within their cells offer such strong protection. Avivi’s team has found out that fibroblast skin cells from the armpits of the rats can kill human cancer cells in a dish. So did fluids secreted by the fibroblasts, suggesting that they contain something of great value for combatting cancer. Suicide risk could show up in a blood test GGMPLUS/CURTIN UNIVERSITY Mole rats immune to carcinogens Chimera heart springs back to life Gravity map gets more extreme WANT to lose weight fast? No need to adjust your diet – just move to higher ground. This weight change is the result of fluctuations in Earth’s gravity, which a new high-resolution map shows are greater than thought. Gravity is often assumed to be the same everywhere on Earth, but it varies because the planet is not a perfect sphere. For instance, gravity is weaker at higher altitudes, further from Earth’s centre, as seen in the section of its gravity map showing Mount Everest (large red area, above). Christian Hirt of Curtin University in Perth, Australia, and colleagues combined gravity data from satellites and topographic data to map gravity changes between latitude 60° north and latitude 60° south, covering 80 per cent of Earth’s land mass. The model pinpoints more extreme differences in gravitational acceleration than previously seen (Geophysical Research Letters, doi. org/nht). Mount Nevado Huascarán in Peru is the lowest point and the highest is in the Arctic Ocean. You would lose 1 per cent of your body weight by moving from one spot to the other, although your mass wouldn’t change. 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 17
  18. 18. For more technology stories, visit newscientist.com/technology BRYAN DENTON/CORBIS TECHNOLOGY “Nanocrystals can be sprayed by a handlaunched drone and illuminated with a laser” –Better mist than missiles– A new game of tag Using drones to label and track people or cars may offer a wiser alternative to lethal drone strikes David Hambling Many ways to make your mark TAGGING technology has moved on since the days of using water cannon with indelible dye to mark rioters. Selectamark Security Systems, a company based in London, produces a range of products containing unique synthetic DNA sequences. These include automatic sprays for marking intruders, a personal defence spray and a device similar to a paintball pistol that can tag an individual from 30 metres away. Defence giant Lockheed Martin has developed a grenade which disperses nanoparticle taggants (see main story). Standard grenade launchers can fire it at targets hundreds of metres away, marking vehicles and people over a wide radius from the point of impact. 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 19
  19. 19. TECHNOLOGY Electric easy street SPITTA + HELLWIG/PLAINPICTURE Let artificial intelligence cut your energy bills and make the grid smarter too –How do you like yours?– Hal Hodson “The system makes small adjustments to customers’ thermostats when energy suppliers need a hand” 20 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  20. 20. For more technology stories, visit newscientist.com/technology ONE PER CENT THINK you’ve got game? Try this on for size: a sensor-laden sleeve promises to improve basketball players’ shooting skills by tracking their arm movements and calculating the arc of their shots. The sleeve is equipped with accelerometers that sit over the player’s biceps, forearm and back of the hand. As they practise, the sleeve keeps track of every arm movement and compares it with an ideal model of arm motion for a basketball shot. It can either provide feedback through a series of light and sound cues from the sleeve’s sensors, or run in silent mode so the player can focus on practising. Afterwards, they can check their performance on a laptop. “We asked coaches, ‘How do you teach a shot? What do you consider good form?’ ” says Cynthia Kuo, co-founder of Vibrado in Sunnyvale, California, which developed the sleeve. “They look at things like keeping your elbow in, following through with your wrist, and keeping your arm up, but not too far up. So we created a model of the textbook shot.” The software can also calculate the arc of the ball as it leaves the hand. This could be useful as previous studies have shown that there is an ideal release angle depending on where the player is on the court. Releasing the ball at an angle of around 52 degrees gives the best chance of success for free throws, which are always taken from around 4.5 metres from the basket, for example. “Coaches can give players specific skills to work on – they can say, ‘I want you to go home and take 100 free throws’ or something – and the sleeve will help them work on their form,” Kuo says. The sleeve has been in testing over the last few months at the Top Flight Sports Academy in San Jose, “The sleeve keeps track of every arm movement and compares it with an ideal model of arm motion” California, which trains promising teenage players hoping to play at college level. An app is being developed so that players can check their performance on a smartphone. “This would be very good for teaching consistency,” says Larry Silverberg at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who studies the mechanics behind basketball shots. But he says the device’s usefulness is limited as it can’t help players with footwork, which can be crucial. A shot “starts with the feet and goes up from there”, he says. Michael Reilly GETTY Basketball sleeve helps you make the perfect shot A holy house of cards You’ll never look at a toilet roll in the same way again. Last week a “cardboard cathedral” was unveiled in Christchurch, New Zealand, replacing the building destroyed by the 2011 earthquake. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the Transitional Cathedral is made from 98 giant cardboard tubes, holds 700 people and is designed to withstand earthquakes. The tubes are coated with waterproof polyurethane and are sheltered by a polycarbonate roof that glows when the cathedral is lit at night. “We would have been bringing the future forward a year or two” Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, talks to the BBC about a bid to crowdfund the building of an Ubuntu Edge smartphone, which would be as powerful as a PC. With three days left, the firm had raised a crowdfunding record of more than $11 million - but was still short of its $32 million target. Get some balance in your life Are you politically biased? Maybe you need some balancing. A web browser widget keeps track of the political leanings of your surfing history – and suggests ways to even out your habits. The Balancer, created by Sean Munson at the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues, is an indicator in the corner of your browser window to say if your history is tilting to the left or right, with suggestions of sites to visit to get an alternative viewpoint. In tests, it pushed users towards a slightly more varied diet of news. DAN CARLSON/SPIRAL MOON MEDIA Magnetic robot goes nuclear Where humans dare not tread… a magnetic, wall-climbing robot may go instead. Designed to crawl around inside a nuclear reactor after meltdown, Gunryu was made to decommission the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. The robot, developed by Woosub Lee at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and colleagues, has a dextrous arm that lets it perform laser cutting while it sticks to the walls. –Get it right every time– 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 21
  21. 21. TECHNOLOGY INSIGHT Social media –Under fire– I predict a riot Could the violence in Egypt have been avoided by heeding Twitter? MORE than 800 people have been By tracking how the polarity of killed in Egypt since police attacked these hashtags changed, the team protesters supporting former president was able to see the level of political Mohamed Morsi, who was deposed divergence between the two main on 3 July. Could analysing Twitter groups. If secularists and Islamists were have helped to avoid the massacre? both talking about politically neutral In early 2011, when Egyptians topics like the iPhone or Justin Bieber, protested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and then polarisation was assumed to be overturned Hosni Mubarak’s regime, low. But when more secular users are social networks like Facebook and tweeting hashtags like #tamarrod, Twitter got a lot of the credit for roughly meaning “rebel”, polarity helping rebels spread their message. was judged to be high, for example. Now, just over two years later, They found that the increasing Egypt has been plunged into violence. political polarisation they measured Twitter isn’t in the spotlight in the “Increasing political same way as it was during the Arab polarisation measured Spring, but nonetheless it did show on Twitter preceded that the latest conflict was coming. Ingmar Weber and colleagues at the real-world strife” Qatar Computing Research Institute have created the Political Polarization on Twitter preceded real-world strife. Index to measure tension on Twitter. “Quite strikingly, all outbreaks of They looked at Egyptian tweets violence happened during periods between March 2012 and June 2013 where the hashtag polarity was and assigned each user a score comparatively high,” the team says. between 0 and 1 depending on It doesn’t mean Twitter can which prominent figures – Islamist or suddenly predict all events, but secular – they had retweeted. The Weber’s team hopes that such “polarity” of popular hashtags used to measures of rising tension might give group messages was then calculated governments enough foresight to by averaging their use across all steer away from violent conflict. Egyptian tweeters, taking each user’s “If governments realise that society religious preferences into account. is drifting apart, they might think of 22 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 positive countermeasures,” says Weber. In Egypt, the tension online and offline entered a “red zone” during the row over the country’s new constitution in November and December 2012, he says. That could have indicated to the Morsi government that it should reconsider its actions, especially as tension didn’t really drop again, even if the streets were quiet at the time. Weber says they might improve the system by keeping track of whether individuals have used polarising hashtags before, as a measure of whether discontent is on the rise. “If 100 users use an anti-Morsi hashtag, it might matter whether they are just ‘the regular suspects’ or are users who have not been politically active in the past but have now decided to express their frustration,” he says. Christopher Neu of Techchange in Washington DC, which trains people to use technology to drive social change, agrees that insight from social media can be useful in conflict situations, but says that it would function like a canary in a coal mine – warning people of impending crisis, but not necessarily helping them fix it. “Being able to tell that something is wrong and doing something about it are very different,” he says. Hal Hodson THERE’S a buzz in the air. A system that listens to the sound of a drone’s propellers and deduces atmospheric conditions could one day be used for measuring air pollution, and even providing weather updates. Developed by Anthony Finn and Kevin Rogers at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, the system uses an array of groundbased microphones to listen for the distinctive sound created by the propellers of a small uncrewed aircraft. Columns of air between the drone and the microphones distort the sound depending on the air temperature and how fast the air is moving. If the system knows the sound made at the source, it can analyse the distortions to work out the properties of the air. A test in St Leonards, Victoria, used five microphones and one drone to measure air temperature and wind speed up to 500 metres above ground, finding a temperature gradient that went from 21 °C at ground level to 18 °C at 500 metres. Finn says his approach could lead to mobile weather stations that can monitor large volumes of atmosphere and can move to follow weather patterns. The work will be presented at the Acoustics conference in Victor Harbor, South Australia, in November. Hal Hodson JOHNER/PLAINPICTURE MANU BRABO/AP/PA Want to know the weather? Listen to a drone
  22. 22. Tech Trek Powered by
  23. 23. APERTURE 24 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  24. 24. Coldest city on Earth NO REFRIGERATORS needed here. A fish market, and freezing fog that the sun struggles to pierce, bear witness to the ferocious chills of Yakutsk, Siberia’s largest city – and the world’s coldest. In January, when Swiss photographer Steeve Iuncker arrived in the Russian city, population 270,000, the temperature was -48 °C. “I won’t forget it,” he says. In less than a minute he lost feeling in his index finger. Then his camera froze. With an average winter temperature of -40 °C, Yakutsk isn’t quite the coldest place on Earth – that crown goes to Antarctica. Nor is it the coldest settlement; the nearby towns of Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk average -47 °C in winter. But, built on a layer of permafrost, it is the coldest city, says Anton Vaks, who studies Siberian climates at the University of Oxford. The lowest temperature ever recorded there is -64.4 °C. Siberia is so cold because it is isolated from the warming effects of oceans, says Vaks. “The Pacific Ocean to the south-east is blocked by mountain ranges, and the Atlantic is too distant to moderate the cold. The only ocean that’s relatively close is the Arctic, but it’s frozen in winter.” Back in France, the Natural History Museum in Paris has just awarded Iuncker a €10,000 prize based on these Siberian shots to create an exhibition entitled Extreme Cities. Right now, though, Yakutsk isn’t cold. Despite the permafrost, it heats up in the summer, with a record high of 38.4 °C. Andy Coghlan Photographer Steeve Iuncker/Agence Vu www.iuncker.ch 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 25
  25. 25. OPINION State of innovation Forget Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. It is government that should be credited for backing wealth-creating technology, says economist Mariana Mazzucato “Every technology that makes the iPhone a smartphone owes its vision and funding to the state” 26 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  26. 26. Comment on these stories at newscientist.com/opinion One minute with... Beth O’Leary A bill that proposes a US national park on the moon is one small step towards preservation, says the space archaeologist As longtime champion of a national park on the moon, what do you think of the bill in the US Congress that proposes to create one? I wasn’t involved in writing the bill, but I applaud those who put it forward. It is a first attempt to secure legal protection for the Apollo moon landing artefacts. Will it succeed? Probably not. But if it opens the discussion, that’s good. Is a US national park the best solution? When we say the US will make a park, people in the international community may perceive that as a claim of sovereignty. We have been very careful to talk about just the artefacts. The trick is the legality of doing this. That’s what I have struggled with for the last 14 years. I am a believer that when those first people went to the moon they didn't just represent America but humanity as a whole. Ultimately, the attempt to preserve sites has to be international. Are there any precedents? Antarctica, which we have protected by a series of treaties with different countries. The other analogy is Admiralty law, which covers the oceans. Mariana Mazzucato is an economist and professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, UK. Her latest book is The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking public vs. private sector myths. She tweets on @MazzucatoM Does other space material need protection? Vanguard 1 is a good example: it’s the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit and NASA predicts it will be there for another 600 years. Hubble is due to be retired. Is there a way to preserve these in space, put them at a Lagrangian point – where they can maintain a stable orbit – and leave them for future space tourism? Colleagues of mine were distressed when Russia's Mir space station came down in 2001. Could it have been saved? PROFILE Beth O’Leary is an archaeologist at New Mexico State University. She has created a project with NASA to make the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing site a National Historic Landmark Apart from advocating preservation, what do you do as a space archaeologist? We look at material culture left in outer space or on other celestial bodies. It is quite a recent group of artefacts and sites, but you can do archaeology in all places. This place happens to be off Earth. How can you work at such distances? A lot of archaeology is now done by remote sensing, using aerial or satellite photos. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which maps the moon, came close enough to image the Apollo 11 lander and traces of the astronauts’ presence. These are comparable to the kind of pictures we would take of the remains of ancient roads in the Chaco canyon in New Mexico, for example. How did you get interested in this field? As a girl I wanted to be an astronaut. But I chose another A-word, archaeology. In 1999, a student asked whether federal preservation law applies on the moon. You know, when you get a good question like that, you just have to go with it. Interview by Jon White 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 27 DARREN PHILLIPS Why do such remote sites need protecting? There are plans to return to the moon. There's the Google Lunar X Prize, which is a competition for a robotic mission, and eventually people are going to go back too. We have lost a lot of things on Earth by not having the protocols in place. In my deepest fears the moon becomes a marketplace. You only have to look at sites selling space memorabilia. Some of these things are very, very valuable.
  27. 27. OPINION INTERVIEW I could have sworn… From repressed memories to faulty eye-witness testimony, psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has made her name working on false memory. She tells Alison George how recollections can be conjured up, and how this process could even be used in therapy You study the fallibility of memories. Are we all prone to making things up? I hear you collect accounts of false memories. How did you study the process of creating false memories? PROFILE Elizabeth Loftus is at the University of California, Irvine. She has a PhD in cognitive psychology from Stanford University, and her publications can be found at bit.ly/15AVSW8. She was interviewed at the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, UK How does this happen? What exactly is going on when we retrieve a memory? How susceptible are people to having these types of memories implanted? Is it the power of suggestion from a therapist that creates these “memories” then? How did you end up studying false memories? Do you think it’s not possible to repress memories of traumatic events? What is the current focus of your research? You’re known for debunking the idea of repressed memories. Why focus on them? 28 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  28. 28. For more interviews and to add your comments, visit newscientist.com/opinion Could false memories be used for therapeutic purposes – like reducing alcohol consumption? Isn’t the deliberate planting of false memories entering into ethically dubious territory? “The process of calling a memory into conscious awareness can change it” JEN ROSENSTEIN How did you conduct this study of US soldiers? Is there any way to distinguish a false memory from a real one? Our brains are not like reference books, memories are fluid and changeable Could brain imaging one day be used to do this? This works with alcohol too? Do you think it’s important for people to realise how malleable their memory is? How do you plant these memories? 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 29
  29. 29. OPINION LETTERS Keep it clean Anger issues Kill the cat? Enigma Number 1763 Clever spells SUSAN DENHAM Eve said to me that she had in mind an even three-figure number that was divisible by 3. She also told me that she had spelled out the number in words and that she had counted the number of letters used. Knowing the number of letters would enable me to work out her number, she said. Oddy said to me that he had in mind an odd three-figure number divisible by 3. He told me that he, too, had written the number in words and that he had counted the number of letters used. He said that knowing the number of letters would again enable me to work out his number. Then the two of them had a little chat and announced that their numbers had no digit in common. What were their numbers? WIN £15 will be awarded to the sender of the first correct answer opened on Wednesday 18 September. The Editor’s decision is final. Please send entries to Enigma 1763, New Scientist, Lacon House, 84 Theobald’s Road, London WC1X 8NS, or to enigma@newscientist.com (please include your postal address). Answer to 1757 Power point: The five numbers are 343, 243, 256, 216 and 512 The winner Alex Maynard of Ann Arbor, Michigan, US 30 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 Stem cell debate Human factor
  30. 30. To join the debate, visit newscientist.com/letters Beyond doping One tough roach Not so natural Twins in space Low blow Anonymity must go Burning issue Letters should be sent to: Letters to the Editor, New Scientist, 84 Theobald’s Road, London WC1X 8NS Fax: +44 (0) 20 7611 1280 Email: letters@newscientist.com Include your full postal address and telephone number, and a reference (issue, page number, title) to articles. We reserve the right to edit letters. Reed Business Information reserves the right to use any submissions sent to the letters column of New Scientist magazine, in any other format. 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 31
  31. 31. COVER STORY 32 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  32. 32. We are constantly being bombarded with health advice, but not all of it is based on rigorous evidence. Caroline Williams debunks six common myths Don’t swallow them MAIN: DAVE KING/ DORLING KINDERSLEY THIS PAGE:MACIEJ TOPOROWICZ, NYC/GETTY I DRINK EIGHT EIGHT H GLASSES OF WATER PER DAY > 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 33
  33. 33. SUGAR MAKES CHILDREN HYPERACTIVE A doughnut can contain eight teaspoons of sugar We live in a toxic world. You’re breathing in lead as you read this. Your next meal will contain everything from natural poisons to pesticides and pollutants. As a result, the human body is a veritable cesspit of suspect chemicals. The last US National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals found potentially concerning levels of dozens of undesirable substances, including heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs and phthalate plasticisers, in the blood and urine of Americans. The question is, what can we do about it? According to popular wisdom, we need to “detox” to get rid of these poisons in our body, and there is no shortage of advice on the best way to accomplish this. But do any of these detox plans actually work? And is detoxing really good for us? For a start, we are already doing it all the time, with the help of our livers, kidneys and digestive systems. Most of the toxic chemicals we consume are broken down or excreted, or both, within hours. However, it can take weeks, months or even years to get rid of some substances, especially fat-soluble chemicals such as dioxins and PCBs. 34 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 OUR BODIES CAN AND SHOULD BE DETOXED If we take these in faster than our bodies can get rid of them, levels build up in our bodies. Many detox programmes promote a period of consuming only fluids and no solid food, but this will make virtually no difference to levels of chemicals that have built up over years. “For many of these it will take between six and 10 years of zero exposure to get rid of one-half of the amount stored in our fat tissues,” says Andreas Kortenkamp, a toxicologist at Brunel University in London. “That is not achievable, because, unfortunately, there is no zero exposure.” What’s more, fasting or dieting releases fat-soluble chemicals into the blood, rather than eliminating them from the body. One study found the level of organochlorines and pesticides in blood shot up by 25 to 50 per cent after people lost a lot of weight quickly (Obesity Surgery, vol 16, p 1145). Animal studies show that this increases the level of compounds in tissues like the muscles and brain, where they can do more harm than in fat. This sudden flood of chemicals could even cause the kind of problems detoxers are trying to avoid, says Margaret Sears, an environmental health researcher at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada. “These chemicals have toxic effects as endocrine disruptors that paradoxically affect energy levels and appetite, potentially contributing to yo-yo weight loss and gain,” she says. Plus there’s no guarantee that chemicals released from fat will actually leave
  34. 34. ANTIOXIDANT PILLS HELP YOU LIVE LONGER The human body is a veritable cesspit of suspect chemicals PETER DAZELEY/GETTY the body – some will end up back in storage. With chemicals that the body does eliminate rapidly, such as phthalates, a short fast will lower levels. It’s not clear that this does you any good, though. As soon as you start eating again, says Kortenkamp, levels go back to where they were. For these reasons, Sears recommends what she calls a “lifelong detox”, which involves eating as healthily as possible and avoiding chemicals in the home and workplace as much as you can. But Kortenkamp isn’t convinced that even that will help much. “Only regulatory action that reduces exposures will work. Individual avoidance strategies are but a drop in the ocean,” he says. That said, you can greatly reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals like nicotine and alcohol. There is also one way of speeding up the removal of many fat-soluble toxic chemicals that is supported by scientific evidence – producing milk (Lipids, vol 36, p 1289). While it is possible for women to induce lactation without giving birth – and even for men to lactate – the milk-yourself detox method is probably unlikely to catch on. It seems blindingly obvious. As our cells metabolise the food we eat, they produce rogue molecules called free radicals that wreak havoc. Over a lifetime, the damage they do slowly builds up and may cause all kinds of degenerative diseases. Luckily, though, many chemicals can act as antioxidants that mop up free radicals. Plus, eating vegetables rich in antioxidants seems to reduce the risk of degenerative diseases. So popping pills packed with antioxidants must surely help stave off these diseases too? That’s what some scientists started thinking from the 1970s onwards. The Nobel prizewinning chemist Linus Pauling enthusiastically promoted high doses of vitamins without waiting for the evidence, the public lapped it up and a whole new industry sprang up to meet demand. Then, in the 1990s, the results of rigorous trials of some of the most popular supplements, including beta carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C, started to come in. Study after study has found that while these substances do work as antioxidants in the test tube, popping the pills does not provide any benefit. On the contrary, some studies suggest that they are harmful. A 2007 review of nearly 70 trials involving 230,000 people concluded that not only do antioxidant supplements not increase lifespan, but that supplements of beta carotene and vitamins A and E actually seem to increase mortality (Journal of the American Medical Association, vol 297, p 842). Why? Perhaps because high levels of free radicals tell cells to ramp up their own built-in antioxidant defences, says Barry Halliwell, a biochemist at the National University of Singapore. He thinks these internal defences are far more effective than the antioxidants we get from food. So by taking supplements we may be deactivating a first-rate defence mechanism and replacing it with a poorer one (Nutrition Reviews, vol 70, p 257). “Free radicals in low amounts also play useful roles,” Halliwell says. If this is right, the benefits of vegetables may have nothing to do with antioxidants. One suggestion is that vegetables are beneficial because they are mildly poisonous – a little poison may activate protective mechanisms that ward off disease. In the meantime, the antioxidant juggernaut rolls on. No one seems keen to abandon the idea that antioxidant supplements are good for you. > 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 35
  35. 35. BEING A BIT OVERWEIGHT MEANS YOU WILL DIE SOONER Let’s be clear – being seriously obese is bad for your health. A body mass index of over 40 increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers and increases the risk of dying from any cause by up to 29 per cent. This is not a health myth. But carrying just a few extra pounds, far from being a one-way ticket to an early grave, seems to deter the grim reaper, according to a recent review of nearly a hundred studies involving nearly 3 million people. The review, led by Katherine Flegal of the US Centers for Disease Control in Hyattsville, Maryland, reported earlier this year that being “overweight” – defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29 – seems to have a protective effect, with a 6 per cent reduction in death risk compared with people with a BMI of between 18.5 and 25. Those with BMIs over 35, however, have a higher risk (JAMA, vol 309, p 71). It isn’t clear why being overweight might protect against an early death. Perhaps carrying a few extra pounds in reserve helps the body fight off illness or infection. Perhaps overweight people are more likely to receive medical attention. Or perhaps some of those counted as “normal” had lost weight due to serious illnesses. Whatever the reason, Flegal says her finding is not a green light to eat all the pies. Overweight people might be more likely to develop diseases that affect the quality of life, for instance. Even so, it seems that a little bit of flab may not be the crime against health it has always been made out to be. WE SHOULD LIVE AND EAT LIKE CAVEMEN ADRI BERGER The most searched-for diet earlier this year was “Paleo diet” Caroline Williams is a freelancer based in Surrey, UK 36 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  36. 36. Fallen star? Lonely planet? Best of all worlds Meet the cosmic object going from zero to astronomical hero, says Sarah Cruddas Impressions of brown dwarfs in all their intriguing hues A > 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 37
  37. 37. BABAK TAFRESHI/TWAN/SPL; PREVIOUS PAGE, TOP AND BOTTOM: MARK GARLICK/SPL; MIDDLE: NASA/JPL-CALTECH ”After years of speculation, the first brown dwarf might have enjoyed more fanfare, but it was overshadowed” Alien weather forecast Brown dwarfs share many traits with gas giants such as Jupiter, including their size and occasionally temperature. This means their weather could provide clues to exoplanet climates BROWN DWARF Cosmic relations Iron rain and silicate snow fall in a hot, dusty atmosphere EARTH 2100°C JUPITER SUN 38 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 Mostly clear skies Cool conditions may be perfect for water clouds 27°C
  38. 38. In the night sky, there is roughly one brown dwarf for every six stars TRUE COLOURS What colour is a brown dwarf? Well, not really brown. Brown dwarfs received their drab name to differentiate them from other celestial objects: observed with optical telescopes, blue stars tend to be hot, red stars cooler. Brown was chosen as it is a mongrel shade, which some felt appropriate given that the colours of brown dwarfs were expected to be tricky to pin down. When astronomers showcase images of brown dwarfs they use representative colours. Most brown dwarfs are observed using infrared telescopes, with various filters to record data at specific wavelengths. To produce a representative colour in a red-greenblue palette, astronomers assign the shortest wavelength filter they use to blue and the longest to red, and then stack them together. This commonly creates a magenta shade, although occasionally you get wilder colours, like green. So what would a brown dwarf look like to the naked eye? Zoom past in a spaceship and you may well fail to see it because it would produce so little visible light. Peer closer, though, and you might see a faint glow in regions where it is still hot enough to produce light – but it might be more of a very dark orange. Sarah Cruddas is a broadcaster and journalist based in London. Additional reporting by Richard Fisher 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 39
  39. 39. Sniffer dogs have always had a nose for trouble. Now they are proving invaluable for tracking and saving rare species, says Anthony King T 40 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  40. 40. JUSTIN PAGET/GETTY ”Good sniffer dogs are highly motivated and what some might call naughty or mischievous” > 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 41
  41. 41. GREENPEACE/JAN-JOSEPH STOK A NOSE WITH ATTITUDE A dog’s sensitivity to odours is staggering. Dogs can detect n-amyl acetate, which smells like apples and bananas, at just 1.1 to 1.9 parts per trillion. That is the equivalent of a pinch of sugar in a billion cups of tea. They are 100,000 times more sensitive to scents than we are. No wonder. The olfactory surface within a dog’s nose can measure more than 150 square centimetres and contain up to 300 million olfactory receptors. Breeds vary (see diagram, below) but all canine noses are impressive compared with the measly 5-square-centimetre surface area and 6 million receptors in human noses. What’s more, the olfactory area of a dog’s brain is proportionately about 40 times as big as ours, accounting for about an eighth of its total brain mass, compared with less than one-hundredth for us. Despite all this, it is not their noses that make dogs such good sniffer-animals. “The odourguided behaviour and abilities of dogs are no more extraordinary than those of a rat or a mouse,” says Paul Waggoner of the Canine Detection Research Institute at Auburn University in Alabama. “But dogs come with a unique social relationship with humans and they are amenable to do tasks that we want them to do. They want to please us.” Most dogs do not possess other qualities that mark out a prize sniffer (see main story) but all can learn to detect new smells and will improve with training. So if you want to try odour training with your pet, go ahead. Even if Fido doesn’t have a talent for it, you should both find it stimulating. Sniffer dogs are expensive but effective recruits in the fight against poaching Watching the detectives Not to be sniffed at Dog noses are between 10,000 and 100,000 times more sensitive than ours. This is partly due to the number of scent detectors they have = 1 million scent receptors Bloodhound 300m German shepherd 225m 42 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 Beagle 225m Fox terrier 147m Dachshund 125m Humans 6m
  42. 42. MIKE DEAN/EYE IMAGERY LAURIE CAMPBELL/NATUREPL.COM On duty: when her yellow harness goes on, Luna knows it is time to seek some scat Pine martens are hard to spot, but a dog can sniff out droppings to detect their presence Anthony King is a writer based in Dublin, Ireland Links to the research mentioned can be found in the online version of this article at newscientist.com/ article/dn24047 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 43
  43. 43. WIPEOUT PIC CREDIT HERE A huge chunk of 20th-century history could be erased if we don’t act now. Sarah Everts reports Photography: Dave Stock for New Scientist 44 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  44. 44. G Much magnetic tape can only be played on obsolete equipment > 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 45
  45. 45. Tape comes in a dizzying array of different formats FADING MAGNETISM The structural base of most magnetic tape is a thick layer of polyester, although in older audio tape it can be acetate, paper or polyvinyl chloride. Whatever the base, information is encoded in a thin coating of magnetic particles embedded in a polyurethane-based binder. In the earliest tapes, these particles were made of iron oxide. Other magnetic particles have since come on the scene. Barium ferrite is less rust-prone and has a smaller particle size, allowing information to be encoded more densely. Chromium dioxide is ideal when a recording has a lot of high-frequency sound. The range of frequency and volume that a tape can record, and the ease of recording and re-recording, are determined by the size of the particles, their range in size, and their orientation on the tape. Various lubricants make the tape flow smoothly through the player, plasticisers make it supple, and antifungal agents and antioxidants extend its life. There are also other ingredients whose identities are proprietary, says Eric Breitung, a conservation scientist at the US Library of Congress in Washington DC. That’s a huge problem for conservators. “There are at least 46 million magnetic tapes in the US, and 40 per cent are in unknown condition,” says Breitung. Most manufacturers won’t disclose their recipes, sometimes even decades after the tapes have become obsolete, and when they begin to degrade it is often a challenge for researchers to figure out why. Breitung is developing a method based on infrared spectroscopy to identify the tapes most at risk, in the first instance for audio tape held by the Library of Congress. Keeping it reel In 2008, a European Union-funded project asked 374 European archives and libraries how much ean l videotape of various formats their collections contained. The total came to 8.8 million hours ious ing 1000 years of view 6.6% 6 6% 1.9% 1.1% 22.6% 6% % 67.8% U-matic (¾ inch) 1971 Video8/Digital8 (8mm) mid 80s/1999 Other Betacam (½ inch) 1982 VHS/S-VHS (½ inch) 1976 SOURCE: TAPE (TRAINING FOR AUDIOVISUAL PRESERVATION IN EUROPE) 46 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  46. 46. ”In many cases, not only are the tapes degrading, but we have also lost the technical know-how to play them at all” Restored memories Sarah Everts is a writer based in Berlin, Germany 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 47
  47. 47. CULTURELAB The living heart of things Why did the public love the Gaia theory while scientists hated it? Michael Bond finds out An Alaskan river system: easy to imagine Earth as being alive PAUL ANDREW LAWRENCE/WWW.PAULCOLOR.COM The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a pagan planet by Michael Ruse, University of Chicago Press, $26 “The scientific community reacted to Gaia as though a bad smell had been let off at the vicar’s tea party” 48 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  48. 48. SCANLAB PROJECTS For more books and arts coverage and to add your comments, visit newscientist.com/culturelab The animated fly-through has a ghostly translucent quality Ghost ships set sail The virtual salvage of a bygone gallery is a pioneering way to preserve exhibitions Shaoni Bhattacharya The shipping gallery resided in one of the Science Museum’s largest halls “There are no jostling elbows to contend with: the experience is serene and informative” The animation of the immortalised shipping gallery is at bit.ly/187Sshn 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 49
  49. 49. T 50 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013
  50. 50. Colin Barras 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 51
  51. 51. JOBS IN ACADEMIA Harvard University Tenure-track Assistant Professorship in Organic Chemistry Department of Neurobiology Two Assistant Professor Positions The Department of Neurobiology, in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, seeks to recruit two new tenure-track faculty members at the level of Assistant Professor. Applicants holding a Ph.D. and/or M.D. degree and demonstrating an outstanding record of scientific achievement will be considered. We are interested in individuals whose research addresses fundamental issues in neuroscience and who show significant potential for innovation, scholarship, and commitment to excellence in research and teaching. Successful candidates will be expected to establish and maintain a high-profile research program attracting substantial extramural funding. The appointees will have access to state-of-the-art life science research support facilities and opportunities to interact with colleagues in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program consisting of over 130 faculty, the Feinberg School of Medicine, the McCormick School of Engineering, the School of Communication, as well the Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging, the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, the Institute for Complex Systems, the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the Center for Reproductive Science, the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. Applicants will submit (in PDF format) a cover letter, a CV, and a description of research plans. Applications must be submitted electronically. For details on preparing and submitting the application, please visit neurobiology.northwestern. edu/openings. Please plan to request at least three letters of recommendation. Applications received by November 1, 2013 will be ensured full consideration. All other inquiries may be directed to neurobiofacsearch@northwestern.edu. Candidates are invited to apply for a tenure-track assistant professorship in organic chemistry, broadly GHÀQHG WR LQFOXGH FKHPLFDO ELRORJ RUJDQLF VQWKHVLV RUJDQLF PDWHULDOV SKVLFDORUJDQLF FKHPLVWU organometallic chemistry, and catalysis. The appointment is expected to begin on July 1, 2014. The tenuretrack professor will be responsible for teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. We are seeking candidates who have an outstanding research record and a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching. Doctorate required by expected start date. Candidates should arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent independently and provide a curriculum vitae, statement of teaching philosophy, list of publications, and outline of their future research plans. All applications and supporting materials must be submitted via the ARIeS portal (https://academicpositions.harvard.edu/postings/4914) no later than October 15, 2013. +DUYDUGLVDQ(TXDO2SSRUWXQLW$IÀUPDWLYH$FWLRQHPSORHU Applications from women and minorities are strongly encouraged. Harvard University Tenure-track Assistant Professorship in Inorganic Chemistry DQGLGDWHVDUHLQYLWHGWRDSSOIRUDWHQXUHWUDFNDVVLVWDQWSURIHVVRUVKLSLQLQRUJDQLFFKHPLVWUEURDGOGHÀQHG to include catalysis, synthesis, mechanism, materials, and energy-related research. The appointment is expected to begin on July 1, 2014. The tenure-track professor will be responsible for teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. We are seeking candidates who have an outstanding research record and a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching. Doctorate required by expected start date. Candidates should arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent independently and provide a curriculum vitae, statement of teaching philosophy, list of publications, and outline of their future research plans. All applications and supporting materials must be submitted via the ARIeS portal (https://academicpositions.harvard.edu/postings/4913) no later than October 15, 2013. AA/EOE. Women and minority applicants are encouraged to apply. +DUYDUGLVDQ(TXDO2SSRUWXQLW$IÀUPDWLYH$FWLRQHPSORHU Applications from women and minorities are strongly encouraged. University of Pennsylvania Tenure Track Appointment in Energy Research ƌŐŽŶŶĞ EĂƟŽŶĂů ĂďŽƌĂƚŽƌLJ ŝƐ ĂĐĐĞƉƟŶŐ ĂƉƉůŝĐĂƟŽŶƐ ĨŽƌ ƚŚĞ ϮϬϭϰ EĂŵĞĚ WŽƐƚĚŽĐƚŽƌĂůĞůůŽǁƐŚŝƉ͘ƌŐŽŶŶĞĂǁĂƌĚƐƚŚĞƐĞƐƉĞĐŝĂůƉŽƐƚĚŽĐƚŽƌĂůĨĞůůŽǁƐŚŝƉƐ ŝŶƚĞƌŶĂƟŽŶĂůůLJŽŶĂŶĂŶŶƵĂůďĂƐŝƐƚŽŽƵƚƐƚĂŶĚŝŶŐĚŽĐƚŽƌĂůͲůĞǀĞůƐĐŝĞŶƟƐƚƐĂŶĚ ĞŶŐŝŶĞĞƌƐǁŚŽĂƌĞĂƚĞĂƌůLJƉŽŝŶƚƐŝŶƉƌŽŵŝƐŝŶŐĐĂƌĞĞƌƐ͘dŚĞĨĞůůŽǁƐŚŝƉƐĂƌĞ ŶĂŵĞĚĂŌĞƌƐĐŝĞŶƟĮĐĂŶĚƚĞĐŚŶŝĐĂůůƵŵŝŶĂƌŝĞƐǁŚŽŚĂǀĞďĞĞŶĂƐƐŽĐŝĂƚĞĚǁŝƚŚ ƌŐŽŶŶĞĂŶĚŝƚƐƉƌĞĚĞĐĞƐƐŽƌƐ͕ĂŶĚƚŚĞhŶŝǀĞƌƐŝƚLJŽĨŚŝĐĂŐŽ͕ƐŝŶĐĞƚŚĞϭဓϰϬ͛Ɛ͘ Argonne Postdoctoral Fellowship Programs The School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professorship in the FKHPLFDO VFLHQFHV 7KLV DSSRLQWPHQW ZLOO EH WKH ÀUVW LQ D FOXVWHU RI three hires across the natural sciences focused on energy science. The successful candidate will mount an innovative program of fundamental VFLHQWLÀF UHVHDUFK JHDUHG WRZDUG VROYLQJ VRFLHWDO HQHUJ FKDOOHQJHV The successful candidate will also forge collaborative links with Penn scientists and engineers involved in energy research and participate actively in the future recruitments as the cluster hire initiative progresses. It is anticipated that some of the candidate’s teaching will be of broad interest to students beyond chemistry in another of the natural sciences (Biology, Physics, and/or Earth and Environmental Science). 7KH8QLYHUVLWRI3HQQVOYDQLDLVDQ$IÀUPDWLYH$FWLRQ(TXDO2SSRUWXQLW (PSORHU DQG LV VWURQJO FRPPLWWHG WR HVWDEOLVKLQJ D GLYHUVH IDFXOW KWWSZZZXSHQQHGXDOPDQDFYROXPHVYQGLYHUVLWSODQKWPO Applicants must apply online at http://facultysearches.provost.upenn. edu/postings/28. Required application materials include: curriculum vitae including a list of publications, and a description of proposed research. Applicants should also submit the names and contact information of three individuals who will provide letters of recommendation. Review of applications will begin on October 14, 2013 and will continue until the SRVLWLRQLVÀOOHG 52 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 ĂŶĚŝĚĂƚĞƐ ĨŽƌ ƚŚĞƐĞ ĨĞůůŽǁƐŚŝƉƐ ŵƵƐƚ ĚŝƐƉůĂLJ ƐƵƉĞƌď ĂďŝůŝƚLJ ŝŶ ƐĐŝĞŶƟĮĐ Žƌ ĞŶŐŝŶĞĞƌŝŶŐ ƌĞƐĞĂƌĐŚ͕ ĂŶĚ ŵƵƐƚ ƐŚŽǁ ĚĞĮŶŝƚĞ ƉƌŽŵŝƐĞ ŽĨ ďĞĐŽŵŝŶŐ ŽƵƚƐƚĂŶĚŝŶŐ ůĞĂĚĞƌƐ ŝŶ ƚŚĞ ƌĞƐĞĂƌĐŚ ƚŚĞLJ ƉƵƌƐƵĞ͘ ĞůůŽǁƐŚŝƉƐ ĂƌĞ ĂǁĂƌĚĞĚ ĂŶŶƵĂůůLJĂŶĚŵĂLJďĞƌĞŶĞǁĞĚƵƉƚŽƚŚƌĞĞLJĞĂƌƐ͘dŚĞϮϬϭϰĨĞůůŽǁƐŚŝƉĐĂƌƌŝĞƐĂ ƐƟƉĞŶĚŽĨΨဒϬ͕ϬϬϬƉĞƌĂŶŶƵŵǁŝƚŚĂŶĂĚĚŝƟŽŶĂůĂůůŽĐĂƟŽŶŽĨƵƉƚŽΨϮϬ͕ϬϬϬ ƉĞƌĂŶŶƵŵĨŽƌƌĞƐĞĂƌĐŚƐƵƉƉŽƌƚĂŶĚƚƌĂǀĞů͘The deadline for submission of ĂƉƉůŝĐĂƟŽŶŵĂƚĞƌŝĂůƐŝƐKĐƚŽďĞƌϭϱ͕ϮϬϭϯ͘ ƉƉůŝĐĂŶƚƐƐŚŽƵůĚŝĚĞŶƟĨLJĂŶƌŐŽŶŶĞƐƚĂīŵĞŵďĞƌƚŽƐƉŽŶƐŽƌƚŚĞŶŽŵŝŶĂƟŽŶ͘ dŚĞƐƉŽŶƐŽƌĐŽƵůĚďĞƐŽŵĞŽŶĞǁŚŽŝƐĂůƌĞĂĚLJĨĂŵŝůŝĂƌǁŝƚŚLJŽƵƌƌĞƐĞĂƌĐŚǁŽƌŬ ĂŶĚĂĐĐŽŵƉůŝƐŚŵĞŶƚƐƚŚƌŽƵŐŚƉƌĞǀŝŽƵƐĐŽůůĂďŽƌĂƟŽŶƐŽƌƉƌŽĨĞƐƐŝŽŶĂůƐŽĐŝĞƟĞƐ͘ /ĨLJŽƵŚĂǀĞŶŽƚLJĞƚŝĚĞŶƟĮĞĚĂŶƌŐŽŶŶĞƐƉŽŶƐŽƌ͕ǀŝƐŝƚƚŚĞĚĞƚĂŝůĞĚǁĞďƐŝƚĞƐŽĨ ƚŚĞǀĂƌŝŽƵƐZĞƐĞĂƌĐŚWƌŽŐƌĂŵƐĂŶĚZĞƐĞĂƌĐŚŝǀŝƐŝŽŶƐĂƚǁǁǁ͘ĂŶů͘ŐŽǀ͘ ƉƉůŝĐĂƟŽŶƐ ŵƵƐƚ ďĞ ƐƵďŵŝƩĞĚ ŽŶůŝŶĞ ƚŚƌŽƵŐŚ͗ ǁǁǁ͘ĂŶů͘ŐŽǀͬĐĂƌĞĞƌƐ͘ ŽƌƌĞƐƉŽŶĚĞŶĐĞ ĂŶĚ ƐƵƉƉŽƌƟŶŐ ůĞƩĞƌƐ ŽĨ ƌĞĐŽŵŵĞŶĚĂƟŽŶ ƐŚŽƵůĚ ďĞ ƐƵďŵŝƩĞĚƚŽEĂŵĞĚͲWŽƐƚĚŽĐΛĂŶů͘ŐŽǀ͘ ŽƌŵŽƌĞŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƟŽŶǀŝƐŝƚƚŚĞƌŐŽŶŶĞWŽƐƚĚŽĐůŽŐĂƚďůŽŐƐ͘ĂŶů͘ŐŽǀͬƉŽƐƚĚŽĐ ŽƌĐŽŶƚĂĐƚWŽƐƚĚŽĐWƌŽŐƌĂŵŽŽƌĚŝŶĂƚŽƌ͕ƌŝƐƚĞŶĞ,ĞŶŶĞ͕ĂƚŬŚĞŶŶĞΛĂŶů͘ŐŽǀ͘ ƌŐŽŶŶĞŝƐĂŶĞƋƵĂůŽƉƉŽƌƚƵŶŝƚLJĞŵƉůŽLJĞƌĂŶĚǁĞǀĂůƵĞĚŝǀĞƌƐŝƚLJŝŶŽƵƌǁŽƌŬĨŽƌĐĞ͘ ƌŐŽŶŶĞŝƐĂh͘^͘ĞƉĂƌƚŵĞŶƚŽĨŶĞƌŐLJůĂďŽƌĂƚŽƌLJŵĂŶĂŐĞĚďLJhŚŝĐĂŐŽƌŐŽŶŶĞ͕
  52. 52. JOBS IN ACADEMIA Our Next Breakthrough In The Fight Against Cancer Might Be You. Located in Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute brings together world renowned clinicians, innovative researchers and dedicated professionals, allies in the common mission of conquering cancer, HIV/AIDS and related diseases. Combining extremely talented people with the best technologies in a genuinely positive environment, we provide compassionate and comprehensive care to patients of all ages; we conduct research that advances treatment; we educate tomorrow’s physician/researchers; we reach out to underserved members of our community; and we work with amazing partners, including other Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospitals. HIV-1 Research Fellow A postdoctoral position is available in the area of HIV vaccine immunology with the goal to modulate B cell selection and ultimately elicit high affinity, broadly neutralizing antibodies. The candidate will study the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating B cell immune responses including B cell repertoire analysis and CD4 T cell requirements in a murine model. Schedule is Monday–Friday, 9–5. A strong scientific background with emphasis on B cell and molecular immunology is required. The successful candidate must have a PhD or equivalent and be highly motivated. If interested, please send your CV, a brief summary of research experience and names of three referees to: Ellis Reinherz, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and the Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, HIM 419, Boston, MA 02115; Email: ellis_reinherz@dfci.harvard.edu Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer – committed to diversity and inclusion in our workforce Dana-FarberCareers.com FACULTY POSITION Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School The Department of Molecular Biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School (HMS) invite applications for a joint appointment at the level of Assistant Professor. The laboratory will be located in the Department of Molecular Biology at MGH (http://molbio.mgh.harvard.edu), a major research center in the Boston area and a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. The faculty appointment will be in the HMS Department of Genetics (http://genetics.med.harvard.edu). The following HMS faculty members have labs in the MGH Department of Molecular Biology: David Altshuler Frederick Ausubel Joseph Avruch Michael Blower Deborah Hung Joshua Kaplan Robert Kingston, Chair Jeannie Lee Vamsi Mootha Marjorie Oettinger Gary Ruvkun Jen Sheen Jack Szostak Applications should be submitted no earlier than September 1, 2013 and no later than November 1, 2013 at: http://molbio.mgh.harvard.edu/ facultysearch/ Please submit a curriculum vitae, statement of research plans, up to three relevant publications, and contact information for three references. Harvard University and the Massachusetts General Hospital are equal opportunity/ affirmative action employers. Applications from women and minorities are encouraged. University of Pennsylvania Tenure Track Appointment in Evolution The School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania seeks to add to the faculty of our newly formed Evolution Cluster. We invite applicants for a tenuretrack assistant professor appointment in evolution, broadly interpreted. We are interested in exceptional scientists who will establish a research program to empirically study the evolution RIGQDPLFDOSURFHVVHVXVLQJÀHOGRUODERUDWRUH[SHULPHQWV or the construction and analysis of massive data sets. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to: the evolution of neural, social, ecological or linguistic dynamics and networks; evolution of early life or exobiology; biochemical, neuronal, or cooperative interactions and exchange of information at the molecular, cellular, human, or ecosystems scales; directed evolution of organisms or processes; analyzing extant structures and networks, from molecules to populations, along with their evolutionary trajectories, including the development of new modalities to extract data from the geologic, genetic, or linguistic historical records. The successful candidate’s primary appointment will be in a single department in the natural sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science, Linguistics, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy, or Psychology. Secondary appointments in other departments can be arranged, as appropriate. The successful candidate will have a strong interest in building a program that generates interaction with researchers from other disciplines who are working within the overarching theme of evolution and will teach courses in his or her home department and participate in the development of curricula pertinent to the Evolution Cluster (See http://evolutioncluster.sas.upenn.edu for more information). 7KH8QLYHUVLWRI3HQQVOYDQLDLVDQ$IÀUPDWLYH$FWLRQ(TXDO 2SSRUWXQLW(PSORHUDQGLVVWURQJOFRPPLWWHGWRHVWDEOLVKLQJ DGLYHUVHIDFXOWKWWSZZZXSHQQHGXDOPDQDFYROXPHV YQGLYHUVLWSODQKWPO Applications should be submitted on-line at http:// facultysearches.provost.upenn.edu/postings/23 and include a curriculum vitae, a research statement that includes the FDQGLGDWH·VSHUVSHFWLYHRQKRZVKHRUKHÀWVLQWRRQHRIWKHFRUH departments, links to no more than three journal publications, and the contact information for three individuals who will provide letters of recommendation. Review of applications will begin 1 November 2013 and will continue until the position is ÀOOHG 24 August 2013 | NewScientist | 53
  53. 53. JOBS IN ACADEMIA University of Pennsylvania Tenure Track Appointment in Inorganic Chemistry The Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania plans to make a tenure track appointment in chemistry at the Assistant Professor OHYHO7KHDSSRLQWPHQWZLOOEHLQWKHEURDGOGHÀQHGDUHDRI,QRUJDQLF Chemistry. The candidate is expected to establish an externally funded UHVHDUFK SURJUDP DQG SDUWLFLSDWH LQ WKH 'HSDUWPHQW·V XQGHUJUDGXDWH DQGJUDGXDWHWHDFKLQJPLVVLRQ 7KH8QLYHUVLWRI3HQQVOYDQLDLVDQ$IÀUPDWLYH$FWLRQ(TXDO2SSRUWXQLW (PSORHU DQG LV VWURQJO FRPPLWWHG WR HVWDEOLVKLQJ D GLYHUVH IDFXOW KWWSZZZXSHQQHGXDOPDQDFYROXPHVYQGLYHUVLWSODQKWPO Applicants must apply online at http://facultysearches.provost.upenn. edu/postings/29. Required application materials include: curriculum YLWDHLQFOXGLQJDOLVWRISXEOLFDWLRQVDQGDGHVFULSWLRQRISURSRVHGUHVHDUFK Applicants should also submit the names and contact information of three individuals who will provide letters of recommendation. Review of DSSOLFDWLRQV ZLOO EHJLQ RQ October 14, 2013 and will continue until the SRVLWLRQLVÀOOHG Faculty Position in Biochemistry Department of Chemistry Purdue University The Department of Chemistry at Purdue University, West Lafayette, invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the Assistant Professor level in Biochemistry or related areas. Candidates that complement existing program strengths in cancer biology, membrane proteins, drug discovery and macromolecular structure/function, with an emphasis on disease-relevant research questions, are especially encouraged to apply. Purdue has an outstanding tradition in biochemistry and the department is looking to integrate a creative scientist into the cutting edge interdisciplinary environment provided by Purdue University. Candidates must have a PhD in Biochemistry or a related ¿HOGZLWKRXWVWDQGLQJFUHGHQWLDOVLQELRPHGLFDOUHVHDUFK an excellent track record of publications and a strong commitment to excellence in teaching. Successful candidates are expected to develop a vibrant research program supported by extramural funding and teach courses at the undergraduate and/or graduate level. Applicants should submit a letter of application with curriculum vita, a summary of planned research and a statement on teaching philosophy to: Chair, Biochemistry Faculty Search Committee, Purdue University, Department of Chemistry, 560 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 479072084. Applicants should also arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent to the same address. Applications will be reviewed beginning November 1, 2013, DQGZLOOUHPDLQLQFRQVLGHUDWLRQXQWLOWKHSRVLWLRQLV¿OOHG See http://www.chem.purdue.edu/ for further details. A background check will be required for employment in this position. Purdue University is an ADVANCE institution. 3XUGXH8QLYHUVLWLVDQ(TXDO$FFHVV(TXDO2SSRUWXQLW$I¿UPDWLYH $FWLRQ(PSORHUIXOOFRPPLWWHGWRDFKLHYLQJDGLYHUVHZRUNIRUFH :RPHQDQGLQGLYLGXDOVLQXQGHUUHSUHVHQWHGJURXSVDUHHQFRXUDJHG WRDSSO 54 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 Research Scientist or Postdoctoral Opportunity The Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Wyoming has an opening for an individual with demonstrated capabilities and productivity in aerosol physics, aerosol measurement, and in analysis of the impact of aerosol on atmospheric radiation and chemistry. The successful candidate will have an earned Ph.D. in atmospheric VFLHQFH RU D FORVHO UHODWHG ÀHOG ZLOO KDYH GHPRQVWUDWHG UHVHDUFK capabilities, and will have the potential to contribute to current stratospheric balloon-borne measurement programs at the University of Wyoming, through the collection of in situ measurements and their VFLHQWLÀFDQDOVLV Applications should include a statement of research interests, and accomplishments, curriculum vita, and the names and contact information of three references. Send an electronic copy (PDF version preferred) of your application materials to Search Committee, Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, c/o Terry Deshler: deshler@uwyo.edu. The search committee will begin reviewing applications on 1 October 2013 and will continue until the SRVLWLRQLVÀOOHG More information about this position, the University, the City of Laramie and its surroundings can be found at http://www.atmos.uwyo.edu/info/ WyoResSci/ and http://www.atmos.uwyo.edu/info/WyoPostDoc/ WK^dKdKZKt^,/W^ dŚĞ E^ WŽƐƚĚŽĐƚŽƌĂů WƌŽŐƌĂŵ ŽīĞƌƐ ƐĐŝĞŶƟƐƚƐ ĂŶĚ ĞŶŐŝŶĞĞƌƐ ƵŶŝƋƵĞ ŽƉƉŽƌƚƵŶŝƟĞƐƚŽĐŽŶĚƵĐƚƌĞƐĞĂƌĐŚŝŶƐƉĂĐĞƐĐŝĞŶĐĞ͕ĞĂƌƚŚƐĐŝĞŶĐĞ͕ĂĞƌŽŶĂƵƟĐƐ͕ ĞdžƉůŽƌĂƟŽŶƐLJƐƚĞŵƐ͕ůƵŶĂƌƐĐŝĞŶĐĞ͕ĂƐƚƌŽďŝŽůŽŐLJ͕ĂŶĚĂƐƚƌŽƉŚLJƐŝĐƐ͘h͘^͘ĐŝƟnjĞŶƐ͕ ĂǁĨƵůWĞƌŵĂŶĞŶƚZĞƐŝĚĞŶƚƐ͕ĂŶĚĨŽƌĞŝŐŶŶĂƟŽŶĂůƐĞůŝŐŝďůĞĨŽƌ:ͲϭƐƚĂƚƵƐĂƐĂ ZĞƐĞĂƌĐŚ^ĐŚŽůĂƌŵĂLJĂƉƉůLJ͘ƉƉůŝĐĂƟŽŶƐĂƌĞĂĐĐĞƉƚĞĚDĂƌĐŚϭ͕:ƵůLJϭ͕ĂŶĚ EŽǀĞŵďĞƌϭĞĂĐŚLJĞĂƌ͘^ƟƉĞŶĚƐƐƚĂƌƚĂƚΨϱϯ͕ϱϬϬƉĞƌLJĞĂƌ͕ǁŝƚŚƐƵƉƉůĞŵĞŶƚƐ ĨŽƌ ŚŝŐŚ ĐŽƐƚͲŽĨͲůŝǀŝŶŐ ĂƌĞĂƐ ĂŶĚ ĨŽƌ ĐĞƌƚĂŝŶ ĂĐĂĚĞŵŝĐ ƐƉĞĐŝĂůƟĞƐ͘ ŝŶĂŶĐŝĂů ĂƐƐŝƐƚĂŶĐĞŝƐĂǀĂŝůĂďůĞĨŽƌƌĞůŽĐĂƟŽŶĂŶĚŚĞĂůƚŚŝŶƐƵƌĂŶĐĞ͕ĂŶĚΨဒ͕ϬϬϬƉĞƌLJĞĂƌ ŝƐƉƌŽǀŝĚĞĚĨŽƌƉƌŽĨĞƐƐŝŽŶĂůƚƌĂǀĞů͘ ŽƌĨƵƌƚŚĞƌŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƟŽŶĂŶĚƚŽĂƉƉůLJ͕ǀŝƐŝƚ͗ŚƩƉ͗ͬͬŶĂƐĂ͘ŽƌĂƵ͘ŽƌŐͬƉŽƐƚĚŽĐ Master of Science in Management with specialization in Biopharmaceutical Leadership The Master of Science in Management with specialization in Biopharmaceutical Leadership allows scientists to combine critical learning in the field of biopharmaceutical leadership with the management knowledge and business skills required to be successful professionals. The program provides unique and interactive ways to enhance leadership, management and organizational skills. This master’s degree can be completed in two years of part-time study. Expected Learning Outcomes At the completion of the Master of Science in Management with specialization in Biopharmaceutical Leadership, the student will: Demonstrate a proficiency of knowledge in the areas of 1) team leadership, 2) intellectual property, 3) the pharmaceutical regulatory approval process, 4) organizational development, 5) strategy, 6) written and oral communication, 7) analysis, 8) ethics and behavioral science interventions. http://www.emmanuel.edu/GPP_Programs/Biopharmaceutical_Leadership/ Degrees_and_Certificates/Master_of_Science.html
  54. 54. JOBS IN ACADEMIA Faculty Position in Cervical Biology Wayne State University School of Medicine Wayne State University (WSU) seeks nominations and applications for a full-time faculty position focused on the study of the uterine cervix in pregnancy complications. The programmatic goal is to be a part of an exceptional unit to characterize cervical biology in normal pregnant women and those with complications. A priority is to develop an understanding of the mechanisms involved in cervical disease in pregnancy. A cervical biology unit, specific to reproduction, is in place and this recruitment is meant to strengthen the University’s impressive record of innovative discoveries and achievements in obstetrics, maternal-fetal medicine and perinatal medicine. The unit promotes collaboration among clinicians and faculty members working in reproductive immunology, genomics and computational biology. This position is part of the WSU Perinatal Initiative to create partnerships with the Perinatology Research Branch of the Division of Intramural Research, NICHD, NIH, DHHS, housed at the WSU campus. The successful candidate is expected to establish a productive and independent research program in the area of cervical biology. A Ph.D. degree or equivalent, expertise and training in the areas of extracellular matrix and collagen metabolism in the reproductive tract. The program is to examine the mechanisms of cervical remodeling in pregnancy, as well as the effect of specific drug-delivery systems on the cervix. Emphasis will be on both human and animal models. The faculty member should be able to establish a laboratory, participate in graduate and medical education, recruit and supervise laboratory staff, and lead a productive and dynamic team. WSU is committed to academic excellence and diversity within the faculty, staff and student body. WSU is interested in candidates who have demonstrated commitment to excellence in research and teaching. Some scholarly activity and service towards building an equitable and diverse scholarly environment is required. Successful candidates should possess excellent written and verbal communication skills. Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience and based on the WSU pay scale. Tenure and non-tenure track positions are available. Series of appointment, as well as a competitive start-up package, will be determined based upon the candidate’s skills, qualifications and experience. National and international applicants are welcome. Review of applications will begin immediately, and will continue until the position is filled. Interested individuals should send: x x x a curriculum vitae, a separate statement summarizing their experience and professional contributions, and a list of three references to: Sonia S. Hassan, M.D. Associate Dean for Maternal, Perinatal and Child Health Wayne State University School of Medicine mpch@med.wayne.edu Wayne State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer
  55. 55. For more feedback, visit newscientist.com/feedback PAUL MCDEVITT FEEDBACK IS THE “Internet of Things” – the computerisation of our homes heralded by futurists – really such a good idea? What happens when essential household appliances are online and vulnerable to hackers? Imagine the consequences if someone could hack into your toilet. This is not merely a theoretical vulnerability. The Japanese company Lixil has developed a high-tech toilet called Satis that aims to be comfortable, stylish and watersaving, with features that include a lid that raises and lowers automatically without being touched, and a self-cleaning spray. Two versions are available in the US for just $4200 and $5800. Unfortunately, a security firm called Trustwave Holdings has found a bug in the toilet’s computerised control system. It is set up to allow control using an app, via Bluetooth – widely used for hands-free operation of phones – hard-wired with an access code of 0000. Trustwave says it told the manufacturer about the flaw, but never received a response, so it has now issued a warning. If you happen to find yourself sitting on a toilet that flips its lid and sprays its bowl by itself, it’s not a poltergeist, it’s a prankster with an app. Simon Horton wonders whether the missing hyphen in a London Underground sign offering “Real time travel updates” should be between “real” and “time” or between “time” and “travel” 56 | NewScientist | 24 August 2013 READER Don Roworth was as puzzled as we were by a practice examination paper from CGP Books that asked for ways in which an experimenter could increase the rate of evaporation of water in a beaker, and offered as an answer “decrease the density of the water” (3 August). John Owen-Jones was just one of many readers who pointed out that “I usually reduce the density of water (and increase evaporation) by turning the ‘on’ switch on my kettle.” Yes, John, this would have that effect – but decreasing the density is not responsible for increasing the rate of evaporation. It is the heating that does both. Had this been a philosophy of science exam, it might have formed part of a discussion of causality but, as it stands, “by really wanting a nice hot cup of tea” would be an equally good answer – wouldn’t it? THE Yahoo Movies website recently ran a “stunning” clip from the new space movie Gravity. The text beneath it read: “The clip shows Sandra Bullock’s astronaut thrown into space after an explosion on a space shuttle. Watch it above, unless you’re claustrophobic.” Matt Ashmore, who noticed this, comments: “Your claustrophobia must be pretty insurmountable if you can’t stand to be in a space as small as, well, space.” You can send stories to Feedback by email at feedback@newscientist.com. Please include your home address. This week’s and past Feedbacks can be seen on our website.
  56. 56. Last words past and present at newscientist.com/topic/lastword THE LAST WORD Metallergy You recently ran a question about using silver in clothing as an antimicrobial. I used to be a consultant assisting a company that refined precious metals. One of its employees told me that his eyeballs were jet black because he had absorbed so much silver into his body. He was otherwise totally healthy. Can any reader confirm that silver can do this to humans, how it works and whether it conveys any harm to the individual? This week’s questions DOUBLE YOUR LUCK Water stones How do pebbles skim on water? Neither medium seems especially elastic, so how do the stones bounce? (Continued) “The current world record for stone skimming stands at 51 skips by Russell Byars on 19 July 2007” SHARPEN UP “We can conclude that eating from silver utensils will not lead to any significant health effects” STICK IT TO ‘EM Questions and answers should be concise. We reserve the right to edit items for clarity and style. Include a daytime telephone number and email address if you have one. Restrict questions to scientific enquiries about everyday phenomena. The writers of answers published in the magazine will receive a cheque for £25 (or US$ equivalent). Reed Business Information Ltd reserves all rights to reuse question and answer material that has been submitted by readers in any medium or in any format. New Scientist retains total editorial control over the content of The Last Word. Send questions and answers to The Last Word, New Scientist, Lacon House, 84 Theobald’s Road, London WC1X 8NS, UK, by email to lastword@newscientist.com or visit www.newscientist.com/topic/lastword (please include a postal address in order to receive payment for answers). To view unanswered questions visit www.newscientist.com/topic/lastword. Will we ever speak dolphin? The new book out now: packed d full of wit, knowledge and extraordinary discovery Available from booksellers and at newscientist.com/dolphins newscientist com/dolphin ti i
  57. 57. Indianapolis, Oct. 1-4, 2013 Join us for the Annual Conference of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE ™) Career Fair and Trade Show with more than 75 Exhibitors Professional Development Workshops Technical Sessions Industry Awards Symposiums The opportunity to interact with hundreds of leaders and decision-makers from industry, government and academia. Visit www.nobcche.org for more information or to register.

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