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Radio Extra Stories From 31 May 2003 Issue

Radio Extra Stories From 31 May 2003 Issue

THE GEIGER COUNTER WITHIN US Testing the damage caused by different kinds of radiation exposure has been difficult-up until now. American scientists have devised a technique, which involves "painting" bands of chromosomes to reveal changes. They found certain kinds of radiation leave a distinctive pattern of damage in our cells, making it easier to measure lifetime exposure. Page 16

GLOVES OFF IN WAR ON SHARPS Plain latex gloves do not protect healthcare workers from life-threatening viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV. But now a firm in Paris has developed a new thicker glove which promises to cut the number of infections. It contains a layer of disinfectant sandwiched between two films of latex. Page 18

COATED IMPLANTS PROTECT AGAINST MRI SCANNERS Because of their powerful radio waves, MRI scanners are too dangerous to use on patients who have implants with any kind of metal. A US company has come up with a new coating for implants that should protect such patients from dangerous scanner fields. Page 15

AN EYE FOR GAMING If you thought computer games were an utter waste of time, think again. Regular players score off the charts in several standard vision tests, US researchers have found, and the visual skills of non-gamers improve dramatically after just 10 hours of play. Page 11

WE HEAR THAT... Researchers in Spain found that handsome men make the highest quality semen, while in the UK, a study has discovered attractive women have the most siren-like voices. Page 18

IRAQ TO GET DIGITAL REPLICAS The British Library is to make near-perfect replicas of 1000 ancient tablets in its collection and send them back to Iraq for display and study. The plan, arranged last year, now holds extra significance since the museum lootings following this year's war. A laser scanner is to be used to make digital copies which can be viewed over the Internet or "printed" into hard copy models. Page 8

MIMICRY MAKES COMPUTERS MORE PERSONABLE Japanese researchers believe that an animated character that mimics a computer user's own voice can help to build rapport between the user and computer. Page 17

THE FACTS OF LIFE What's the smallest set of genes that can provide the elusive spark of life? There's only one way to make sure, according to US genomics pioneer Craig Venter, and that's to build a genome from scratch. Pages 28-31

DEATH AND DESTRUCTION Starting in the 8th century, the Vikings spent 300 years roaming and pillaging their way across much of Europe, as far as Greenland and Russia. Archaeological remains and historical records tell us much about Viking history, but some mysteries remain-such as, why do so many European Vikings appear to have Middle Eastern ancestry? Pages 32-35

IT'S A WRAP, FOLKS (short story) Two North American researchers are patenting a seasoning solution for short-order cooks-a thin edible film containing measured amounts of flavouring which can be wrapped around food to be cooked. New Scientist's free public website at

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