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Newscientist Stories From 14 June 2003 Issue

Newscientist Stories From 14 June 2003 Issue

THE DAWN OF HOMO SAPIENS Three fossil skulls from Ethiopia are the oldest human remains ever found, and plug a crucial gap in the fossil record around the time our species emerged. The skulls support the theory that modern humans evolved in Africa, and provide dramatic insights into how they lived. Pages 4-5

IS THIS EVIDENCE FOR MEMORY OF WATER? Homeopathy depends on the idea that water retains a "memory" of substances once dissolved in it. A paper about to be published by a Swiss chemist claims to show that the structure of hydrogen bonds in pure water is very different from that of homeopathic salt solutions diluted way beyond the point where any ions of the original substance remain. Page 22

SMART SEAT CAN TELL IF YOU'RE SHIFTY Intelligent airline seats could help cabin crews judge whether a passenger is a nervous terrorist, a potential air-rager or in danger of developing deep vein thrombosis. Designed by a British lab, the seats contain pressure sensors which feed to a computer which monitors the occupant's behaviour. Page 14

AMAZING CLAIMS FOR SCANNER Certain cancers may soon be detected using a baton-like, hand-held scanner swiped over a person's body. Two separate studies in Italy have shown that the prototype scanner can detect tumours-giving hope for mass screening which is cheap, quick and non-invasive. Page 15

RIVAL MALES ARE THE ULTIMATE TURN-ON Behavioural scientists have been showing sticklebacks the fish equivalent of porn movies in an attempt to understand their sexual urges. The Swiss researchers found male sticklebacks ejaculate more when shown animations of threatening competitors, than of homely males caring for broods. Page 15

HERB EXTRACTS WRAP UP LETHAL FOOD BUGS A new plastic wrap laced with chemical extracts from the herb basil, keeps dangerous bacteria at bay from cheese and meat. Researchers say the wrap has a potent anti-microbial effect without giving food basil-like flavours. The "natural" origin of the chemicals is likely to be a big selling point. Page 26

EVOLUTION-FIVE BIG QUESTIONS In the 144 years since Darwin's Origin of Species, evolutionary theory has come a long way. Yet there are still nagging questions that it cannot answer. NewScientist asked experts to explain the latest thinking on five of the biggest. How did life begin? How do mutations lead to evolution? How are new species formed? Is evolution predictable? What's God got to do

with it? Pages 33-39

SONIC STEERING Coral fish can find their way back to the reef where they hatched by recognising its sound, says a British researcher working on the Great Barrier Reef. Page 28

ANTIPODES: CONSERVING OUR CORAL Ian Lowe weighs up the latest plan for halting the decline of the Great Barrier Reef. Page 55

DRUGS COULD PROTECT UNBORN BABIES AGAINST BOOZE American researchers have found a possible means to block the impact of a mother's excessive drinking on an unborn baby. See also... Monkeypox in America; SARS is over the hill; Quantum cryptography. New Scientist's free public website at

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