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 / Science
New Scientist Australian Edition

New Scientist Australian Edition 15-jun-19

New Scientist covers the latest developments in science and technology that will impact your world. New Scientist employs and commissions the best writers in their fields from all over the world. Our editorial team provide cutting-edge news, award-winning features and reports, written in concise and clear language that puts discoveries and advances in the context of everyday life today and in the future.

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51 Issues


2 min.
who will pay?

THIS week, protesters in England continued to call for access to a medicine called Orkambi. The drug delays the progression of the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis, but it carries a price tag of £104,000 a year. Like many other countries, England’s health service has baulked at this cost, and the drug is currently only available privately. Some families have now formed a “buyers club” (see page 9), which is hoping to source a cheaper, generic version of the medicine from Argentina. Such clubs are becoming more common: in recent years, groups have formed to source drugs that treat hepatitis C and lower the risk of contracting HIV. But even when clubs can source cheaper drugs, the costs remain unaffordable for many people. Some families are now calling for the UK government to…

2 min.
new scientist australian edition

PUBLISHING & COMMERCIAL Display advertising Tel +61 404 237 198 Email displayads@newscientist.com Commercial director Chris Martin Display sales manager Justin Viljoen Lynne Garcia, Henry Vowden, (ANZ) Richard Holliman Recruitment advertising Tel +61 404 237 198 Email nssales@newscientist.com Recruitment sales manager Mike Black Nicola Cubeddu, Viren Vadgama, (US) Jeanne Shapiro New Scientist Live Tel +44 (0)20 7611 1206 Email live@newscientist.com Events director Adrian Newton Creative director Valerie Jamieson Sales director Jacqui McCarron Exhibition sales manager Charles Mostyn Event manager Henry Gomm Marketing Head of campaign marketing James Nicholson Poppy Lepora, Chloe Thompson Head of customer experience Emma Robinson Email/CRM Manager Rachna Sheth Head of data analytics Tom Tiner Web development Maria Moreno Garrido, Tom McQuillan, Amardeep Sian MANAGEMENT Executive chairman Bernard Gray Chief executive Nina Wright Finance director Jenni Prince Chief technology officer Chris Corderoy Marketing director Jo Adams Human resources Shirley Spencer Non-executive director Louise Rogers HR co-ordinator Serena Robinson Facilities manager Ricci Welch Executive assistants Sarah Gauld, Lorraine Lodge Receptionist Alice Catling CONTACT US newscientist.com/contact General & media…

2 min.
wiping out earth’s plants

OUR onslaught on the natural world has caused an average of more than two plant species to vanish from the planet every year since the middle of the 18th century. That is according to the first comprehensive attempt to chart such extinctions worldwide. The best guess had been that fewer than 150 species had gone extinct, but this was based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, which doesn’t cover all plants. The true number seems to be nearly four times higher, at 571 species lost between 1753 and 2018. Researchers came up with this figure after analysing a previously unpublished database kept by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the UK. Species destroyed include the Chile sandalwood (Santalum fernandezianum), which was only found on one…

1 min.
nasa is opening up the iss for business

ASTRONAUTS from private companies will be able to use the International Space Station for activities beyond research and development, NASA has announced. This means private firms will be able to manufacture products and even do marketing on the ISS. There are already more than 50 firms with research on the ISS, but NASA is now loosening restrictions on what activities will be allowed. “Approved activities must have a connection to the NASA mission, will stimulate the low-Earth-orbit economy, or need the unique environment of microgravity,” NASA’s Robyn Gatens said at a press conference on 7 July. NASA will also allow a private module to be added to the station, creating a “commercial destination” in anticipation of independent commercial space stations. Additionally, private astronauts will be allowed to visit the station for missions of up…

1 min.
salamander-eating plants

THE salamanders of Canada have an unlikely major predator: the pitcher plant. A survey between late August and mid-September 2018 revealed that a fifth of the pitchers in one bog in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park had caught at least one juvenile salamander. “That was a WTF moment,” says Alex Smith at the University of Guelph in Canada. His team estimates that the pitchers may kill up to 5 per cent of the area’s juvenile salamanders. Pitcher plants are famous for feeding on insects. The juvenile salamanders might be falling in by accident or entering to feed on trapped insects (The Scientific Naturalist, doi.org/c63x). The team now plans to confirm whether the plants do feed on them, rather than being overwhelmed by the glut of nutrients. Large tropical pitchers occasionally catch rodents and birds,…

2 min.
ai needs more energy than five cars

ARTIFICIAL intelligence is an energy-intensive technology. New estimates suggest that the carbon footprint of creating a single AI is equivalent to as much as 284 tonnes of carbon dioxide, five times the lifetime emissions of an average car. Emma Strubell at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her colleagues have assessed the energy consumption required to train four large neural networks used for processing language. Language-processing AIs underpin the algorithms that power Google Translate as well as text generators, which can write fake news articles when given a few lines of text (see page 15). These AIs are trained via deep learning, which involves processing vast amounts of data. “In order to learn something as complex as language, the models have to be large,” says Strubell. A common approach involves giving an AI…