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SMC Heads-Up: Dec 13 - 19

SMC Heads-Up:
The upcoming week in sci-tech

Issue 15, Dec 13 - 19

Dear science and tech reporters,

Upcoming events, new research and SMC backgrounders and a taste of what might be on the news agenda science-wise next week. Contact us at the SMC for any more information.

It's been a busy few months at the SMC during which we've worked with dozens of journalists and hundreds of scientists on over 200 stories. We look forward to working with you again in the New Year.

Have a great holiday!

Peter Griffin
Science Media Centre

Register for back-stage access

If you are a staff reporter or freelancer covering science, technology or health, register with the SMC to get a log-in for verified access to research papers, audio and video and a library of photos.

It's easy to sign up. Click here.

SMC Christmas break hours

The SMC office will be closed from Dec 20 to Jan 5 but we will be on call to help out on stories throughout the Christmas break should extreme weather, toxic spills, tsunamis or earthquakes intrude!

Just call the SMC hotline 04 499 5476 and it will divert to an SMC team member who has access to our database of experts and their contact details.

We'll also be running a series on science reporting over the break, so check out the website for updates, or subscribe to Feedburner to get our updates daily in your inbox.

NZMJ shines the spotlight on men's health
The current issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal (just out of embargo)features a number of articles looking at men's health and in particular, falling sperm count and quality in New Zealand.

There are also interesting articles on prostate cancer and men's sexual health and some new research on gunshot wounds. Details here.

Media Tracker - Election drives coverage
Check out the SMC's Media Tracker survey for November here. While science was relegated to the back pages of newspapers in the run up to the election, discussion of the new Government's approach to tackling climate change and commentary around the scrapping of the R&D tax credit drove up the volume of science stories in November.

- There was a 31 per cent drop in the number of stories referencing melamine, as coverage of the Chinese tainted milk powder scandal tailed off.

- References to "science" itself increased 11 per cent as discussion of National's proposed policies around the R&D tax changes and potential job losses at AgResearch saw more science mentions, particularly in columns and opinion pieces.

- Stories referencing nutrition, dieting and obesity were more common in the newspapers in November, pointing to the publishing of a series of research papers that received wide coverage in New Zealand.

New from the SMC

- Best of the week's BLOG postings: Dr Barnard answers criticism of his book The Reverse Diabetes Diet.

- PODCAST: Massey University researcher Doug Ashwell presents his research on the media's coverage of genetic modification between 1998 and 2002 and finds that interest groups were marginalised in the discussion on the issue. Listen here.

- NZ scientists comment on Rutherford's legacy: A series of comments from New Zealand researchers on our most famous scientist's enduring legacy in science. Details here.

- Experts criticise diabetes book claims: local experts have critisised the Dr Neal Barnard's books The Reverse Diabetes Diet. The SMC rounded up comment from dietitians and health experts.
Details here.

Salmon - a great source of selenium: Researchers at Massey University have compared a group of healthy volunteers who ate a 120g portion of salmon twice a week, with another group who took salmon oil in the form of capsules containing the equivalent amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Although both groups were found to have a similar level of omega 3 fatty acids in the blood, those who consumed salmon significantly increased their blood concentration of selenium.Details here.

SMC content daily to your inbox

If you'd like to receive the content the SMC puts out as a nicely formatted email newsletter sent out each evening, click here to sign up to the SMC daily briefing, courtesy of Feedburner.

Research highlights

Exercise on prescription works: A New Zealand study by Dr Beverley Lawton and colleagues, from the University of Otago, Wellington, has been published today in the British Medical Journal. Results show that exercise on prescription increases physical activity and quality of life. It is recommended that this should become part of a wider population strategy to promote exercise. Details here.

Sarcasm used to diagnose dementia: Sarcasm might be the lowest form of wit, but something's amiss if you can't detect it, according to University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers.

Patients with a particular type of dementia often can't pick up when someone is being sarcastic, according to a paper which has been published in Brain. Details here.

New climate research: Major climate events during past global ice ages did not happen simultaneously or with the same intensity world-wide, new data from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's (ANSTO) latest climate change research has revealed. The research, which used sophisticated nuclear dating techniques on rocks from Mongolian glaciers, could impact future climate change forecasts. Details here.

Next week's sci-tech events

RACI/NZIC Inorganic Chemistry Conference IC08: Christchurch Dec 14 - 18. The conference will cater for all fields of inorganic chemistry, from bioinorganic chemistry, through classic coordination and organometallic chemistry, to supramolecular and materials chemistry. Details here.

Climate Change & Human Health: Wellington, Dec 18. Public Seminar "Climate Change & Human Health: Do we really 'get it'?" By Professor Tony McMichael, The Australian National University, Canberra. Details here.


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