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New Scientist 27-apr-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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new scientist

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 Publishing and commercial HR co-ordinator Serena Robinson Facilities manager Ricci Welch Executive assistants Sarah Gauld, Lorraine Lodge Receptionist Alice Catling Display advertising Tel +61 404 237 198 Email displayads@newscientist.com Commercial director Chris Martin Lynne Garcia, Richard Holliman, Justin Viljoen, Henry Vowden, Helen Williams Recruitment advertising Tel +61 404 237 198 Email nssales@newscientist.com Recruitment sales manager Mike Black Key account managers Viren Vadgama, Nicola Cubeddu US sales manager Jeanne Shapiro Marketing Head of campaign marketing James Nicholson David Hunt, Poppy Lepora, Chloe Thompson Head of customer experience Emma Robinson Head of data analytics Tom Tiner Web development Maria Moreno Garrido, Tom McQuillan, Amardeep Sian 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 US Newsstand Tel +1…

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climate is an emergency

LAST week, Waterloo Bridge near New Scientist’s London office was transformed from its usual melee of buses, lorries, bicycles and cars into a green oasis filled with plant pots, food stalls, bongo-playing sit-in protesters and, briefly, a skateboard park. It is easy to disparage the idealism and other-worldliness that characterised the Extinction Rebellion protests in London (pictured) and elsewhere, or to decry its less peaceable aspects and the disruption it caused to “ordinary” people’s lives. But guess what: we are all “ordinary” people. As revered naturalist David Attenborough was pointing out simultaneously on British TV screens, the times we are living in are less so. Climate change is real – and climate change demands action for all our sakes. It is tempting, too, to modulate that action through the prism of pre-existing…

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the age of anti-ageing

HISTORY is littered with the corpses of people who claimed to have found the fountain of youth. So caution is warranted with claims of the imminent arrival of drugs to slow ageing (see page 26). But the field of anti-ageing medicine is now a serious one. A decade ago you could go to conferences and hear outlandish predictions about people living to 150 years old or more, often accompanied by rolling eyes from many scientists in the room. Now the emphasis is no longer on radical life extension, but on ensuring we stay healthier for longer. If this translates into verified drugs, that could presage a medical, economic and social revolution. Keeping at bay the age-related conditions that are now the leading cause of mortality in the developed world will be a…

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this week

SpaceX capsule failure A CAPSULE that was meant to allow the US to launch its own astronauts into space again appears to have exploded during tests being carried out on the ground on 20 April. SpaceX, which is developing the Crew Dragon capsule (pictured left), has so far acknowledged only that an “anomaly” occurred. However, huge clouds of smoke were photographed billowing from the test site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and video posted to Twitter seems to show the capsule exploding. The US has had to rely on Russia to get people into orbit since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. SpaceX was leading the race to develop a private alternative. Crew Dragon is designed to carry up to seven astronauts to space and return them to Earth. The same…

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viral treatment for brain cancer

PEOPLE with incurable melanomas and brain or breast cancers are to get injections of tumour-fighting viruses. The trial will test the safety of a virus that has been engineered to shrink tumours – an approach that holds promise for a range of cancers, including deadly brain tumours. The idea of using viruses to kill cancers goes back more than a century, inspired by anecdotal reports of some people with viral infections being cured of malignancies. But turning viruses that can infect and kill human cells into a safe and effective treatment that targets only tumour cells has proved tricky. Researchers are making progress at last. In 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first ever virus-based cancer treatment – a genetically modified herpes virus for advanced melanomas that can’t be completely…

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chemists develop greener fertiliser

THERE could finally be a way to make fertiliser without releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases. If the new method can work on an industrial scale, it could help feed the world’s growing population, while also limiting climate change. Farmers rely on fertilisers to feed their crops. Many of these contain ammonia, but the only way to make it on a large scale is the Haber-Bosch process. The method, which was developed in the 1900s, makes the chemical by combining nitrogen from the air with hydrogen. The process requires temperatures of around 425°C and pressures of up to 200 times normal atmospheric pressure. The energy required to achieve this typically comes from fossil fuels, and the ammonia industry accounts for over 1 per cent of our annual greenhouse gas emissions. To solve this…