[ Back to EurekAlert! ] EMBARGOED UNTIL TIME OF MEETING SESSION OR NEWS BRIEFING

Contact: Monica Amarelo or Nan Broadbent
Prior to 14 February, 202-326-6440
As of 14 February, 617-236-1550
(AAAS Newsroom Headquarters
Sheraton Boston Hotel, Boston)

Teleconferencing opportunities for journalists: 2002 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass.

As a service to journalists unable to attend the 2002 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass., the AAAS Office of Public Programs will provide eight teleconferencing opportunities for the following news briefings.

Seven of the teleconferences will allow journalists to call a telephone number immediately following a news briefing, to speak with one or more of the key sources on that story.

One teleconference-on "Bioterrorism in a Threatening World"-will allow journalists to hear the news briefing as it occurs, and to ask questions following presentations by speakers.

This schedule is subject to change. Two of the phone-in opportunities are still tentative. Adjustments will be posted on EurekAlert! (www.eurekalert.org). Please note that journalists phoning Boston from beyond the United States will incur long-distance charges.

THURSDAY, 14 February

Phone-In
4:15 p.m. ET

When Being "Bird Brain" is a Compliment
The embargo on this story will lift at 3:00 pm Eastern Time Thursday 14 Feb.

TELECONFERENCE LEADER / SOURCE:
Irene M. Pepperberg, Brandeis University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Social Learning of Referential Communication in Grey Parrots

USA TOLL-FREE NUMBER:
888-456-0346

TOLL NUMBER FOR INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS:
+630-395-0020

PASSCODE:
34683

We tend to think of cognition-generally defined as the ability to take in a large amount of information from the environment and use it to survive-as a skill held only by humans and our closely related kin. Scientists are learning, however, that birds have some remarkable cognitive abilities, which in some cases rival those of humans. Speakers in this session will present evidence that, despite the evolutionary distance between humans and birds, our feathered friends are surprisingly skilled in areas such as communication, navigation, and certain types of memory.

FRIDAY, 15 February Phone-In
10:15 a.m. ET

Interstellar Travel and the Human Dimension
The embargo on this story will lift at 9:00 am Eastern Time Friday, 15 Feb.

TELECONFERENCE LEADER / SOURCE:
Geoffrey A. Landis, National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Multi-Generation Survival In Space

USA TOLL-FREE NUMBER:
888-455-9655

TOLL NUMBER FOR INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS:
+630-395-0055

PASSCODE:
25991

The dream of journeying to distant stars will almost certainly be a decades-long quest, as these trips could take multiple human generations to complete. As scientists investigate the technologies that will propel interstellar travel, other researchers are contemplating the human dimension of such a fantastic voyage. Should these travelers receive regular cultural input from the home planet? How will we understand them when they come back? What kinds of behavioral changes can we expect within such a population? Ensuring a good mix of cultures, languages, genetic diversity, and skills among the travelers will be essential, say some researchers.

Phone-In
12:15 p.m. ET

More Than Skin Deep: The Body's Response to Sunlight
The embargo on this story will lift at 11:00 am Eastern Time Friday, 15 Feb

TELECONFERENCE LEADER / SOURCE:
William Grant, Independent Researcher: Solar UV-B Radiation as a Protective Factor Against Cancer

USA TOLL-FREE NUMBER:
800-621-8495

TOLL NUMBER FOR INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS:
+312-470-7411

PASSCODE:
17484

Sunlight's effects on the body don't stop with skin cancer-and they're not all bad, either, scientists are learning. Scientists will discuss possible beneficial and harmful results of sun exposure, involving cells in addition to those in the skin. UV radiation has played a key role in the evolution of life, from the single cells of Earth's early life forms, to those in our own bodies. Don't throw away the sunscreen, but small amounts of regular sunlight may help protect against disease, later in life.

Tentative-
Phone-In
2:15 p.m. ET

Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Hotspots
The embargo on this story will lift at 1:00 pm Eastern Time Friday, 15 Feb.

TELECONFERENCE LEADER / SOURCE:
Callum Roberts, University of York: Marine Reserves as a Solution to Removal of Natural Refuges

USA TOLL-FREE NUMBER:
888-829-8672

TOLL NUMBER FOR INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS:
+712-271-3211

PASSCODE:
47450

A world "we cannot yet imagine" lies deep beneath the seas, researcher Cindy Van Dover reports in the 15 February issue of Science, but undiscovered animals and microbes are increasingly threatened by commercial pressures. New research by Callum Roberts, also in Science, pinpoints 18 critical places world-wide, where conservation resources would likely do the most good. Topping the list of 18 are ten "conservation hot spots." During this press briefing, Roberts will provide journalists with an exclusive preview of a forthcoming study--not previously disclosed--on the rising toll of deep-sea fishing on biodiversity. Van Dover's review of underwater bounty provides perspective on the Roberts study: Some life forms in the deep-sea environment date to the Mesozoic Era, she notes, and thus, hold the answers to key biological and evolutionary questions.

SATURDAY, 16 February

Phone-In
10:15 a.m. ET

Is There a Worldwide Epidemic of Fat?
The embargo on this story will lift at 9:00 am Eastern Time Saturday, 16 Feb.

TELECONFERENCE LEADER / SOURCE:
Marquisa LaVelle, The University of Rhode Island: Patterns of Emerging Obesity in South Africa and Native Australians

USA TOLL-FREE NUMBER:
800-369-3146

TOLL NUMBER FOR INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS:
+712-271-3211

PASSCODE:
52225

Obesity, considered until recently to be an exclusively "Western" disease, now poses a serious threat to the health of developing nations, say scientists studying an emerging "global epidemic of fat." Different biological and cultural factors are behind the epidemic in both nonwestern and certain western groups undergoing rapid socioeconomic change. As poor populations are drawn into the fat epidemic, developing nations will need to switch their concerns from the risks of under-nutrition to obesity-related diseases.

Phone-In
1:15 p.m. ET

El Nino and Climate Forecast
The embargo on this story will lift at 12 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday, 16 Feb.

TELECONFERENCE LEADER / SOURCE:
Stephen E. Zebiak, International Research Institute for Climate Prediction: El Niņo Forecasting

USA TOLL-FREE NUMBER:
888-455-9639

TOLL NUMBER FOR INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS:
+712-271-3820

PASSCODE:
13069

Although the 3- to 7- year alternating pattern of El Niņo and La Niņa have their origin in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, its climatic and economic impacts can be felt worldwide. There are many prediction challenges to forecasting these specific weather patterns. Speakers will discuss the types of approaches used in accurately developing a forecast, from using numerical models of climate systems to satellite sources. The session will highlight new forecasting techniques, including an El Niņo forecast for 2002.

SUNDAY, 17 February

Listen-In/Call-In
2:00 p.m. ET

Bioterrorism in a Threatening World
The embargo on this story will lift at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday, 17 Feb.

TELECONFERENCE LEADER:
Ginger Pinholster, AAAS Office of Public Programs (See the list of speakers at this briefing, below.)

USA TOLL-FREE NUMBER:
888-790-1641

TOLL NUMBER FOR INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS:
+312-470-0029

PASSCODE:
"AAAS"

PROCEDURE:
Journalists calling into this session will be able to listen to the proceedings. Following questions by journalists on site at the meeting, a moderator will invite questions from journalists listening via telephone. Questions will be handled one at a time. Callers, please state your name and affiliation.

Although the biological attack hasn't happened, the events of 11 September 2001 have helped clarify questions regarding the willingness to do us harm. We must prepare for biological terrorist attacks against our cities and against forces deployed from key military bases. It might come from a terrorist organization or from a state sponsor who would use these agents as a lever against our conventional military force. Biological warfare is a unique threat for three reasons: the dual-use nature of facilities and equipment; the biotechnology revolution that has occurred in the last 10 years; and the world political background on which this 21st century threat is superimposed.

Anthony S. Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

David Franz, Southern Research Institute

Claire M. Fraser, The Institute for Genomic Research

Matthew Meselson, Harvard University

MONDAY, 18 February

Tentative-
Phone-In
12:00 p.m. ET

New Dinosaur Theories from Paul C. Sereno
The embargo on this story will lift at 11:00 a.m. Monday, 18 Feb.

TELECONFERENCE LEADER / SOURCE:
Paul C. Sereno, University of Chicago: The Evolution of Dinosaurs

USA TOLL-FREE NUMBER:
888-455-9641

TOLL NUMBER FOR INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS:
+212-547-0460

PASSCODE:
35394

What's next for dinosaur expert Paul C. Sereno, and what can we learn from his studies of large fossils found in Africa? In 1995, the renowned paleontologist unearthed "Africa's answer to T Rex," Carcharadontosaurus, the largest predator of all time, from the Moroccan Sahara. That same year, Sereno team member Gabrielle Lyon discovered Deltadromeus, "the agile delta runner," also in Morocco. Afrovenator, the blade-toothed "African hunter," had been found two years earlier-also the home of Jobaria, Sereno's bizarre, hoover-headed sauropod find. And in 1998, Sereno reported yet another huge dinosaur from Africa, Suchomimus, the "crocodile mimic from Tenere, with its croc-like skull and foot-long thumb claws. Most recently, Sereno described a dinosaur-stalking "super-crocodile" the length of a school bus. Such spectacular discoveries inevitably captivate the public. But, with each new find, are scientists also gaining ground in understanding dinosaur evolution? Sereno thinks so and, during this briefing, he will reveal new ideas on the dino story: Contrary to the notion of very rapid evolution following the breakup of ancient Pangaea, he says, the split was slow enough to drastically limit dino-evolution in certain regions. The pace of the continental breakup had distinct evolutionary impacts on various dinosaur characteristics and lineages.

Paul C. Sereno, University of Chicago: The Evolution of Dinosaurs

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