Today on New Scientist: 30 January 2013







Timbuktu's precious scientific texts must be saved

Islamist militants in Mali have burned documents that attest to science in Africa before European colonisation - what remains must be protected



Think that massage feels good? Try adding drugs

Nerve bundles that respond to stroking have been identified and chemically activated in mice



How Obama will deliver his climate promise

The US is set to meet - and maybe exceed - Obama's pledge to cut US emissions by 17 per cent, which could give a boost to international climate talks



Minimum booze price will rein in alcohol abuse

Evidence suggests the UK government's proposal to set a minimum price for alcohol could save thousands of lives, and billions of pounds of public money



First real time-travel movies are loopers

Hollywood has played with time travel for decades, but now physicists have the first movies of what travelling to the past actually looks like



Surfer rides highest wave ever caught

Garret McNamara of Hawaii claims to have ridden the highest wave ever caught by a surfer, a 30-metre monster off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal



Infrared laptop trackpad ignores accidental touches

Longpad is a touchpad that extends the full width of your laptop and uses infrared sensors to ignore any unwanted touches



Close call coming: Averting the asteroid threat

With an errant space rock heading this way, just how good are our asteroid defences - and how do we avert the cataclysm?



The right to fight: women at war

The US military has accepted women into combat. What can science tell us about how women deal with being in the line of fire? And are they any different to men?



Earth and others lose status as Goldilocks worlds

Several planets are taking a hit thanks to a redefinition of the habitable zone - the area around a star in which liquid water can theoretically exist



The 10,000-year bender: Why humans love a tipple

Our taste for alcohol results from an evolutionary tussle between humans and yeast - one in which the microbes have often had the upper hand





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