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New Scientist 11-may-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


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an emergency we can solve

CLIMATE change is having a moment in the UK. In recent weeks, diverse voices have called for urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions. Partly in response, the UK parliament has become the first in the world to declare a “climate emergency”. While we should welcome the fact that the urgent need to decarbonise has finally broken through in the public consciousness, there is a danger in going too far. As teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg says, the house is on fire – but our response should be to calmly exit the building and execute a rescue plan, not to run about in a panic while the entire thing burns down. To reduce carbon emissions, the UK will have to use part of its farmland for planting trees Such a plan comes in the…

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new scientist

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emergency landing

FORTY-ONE people died after an Aeroflot flight carrying 78 people caught fire on 5 May while making an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, Russia. Footage of the incident appears to show the undercarriage giving way after the plane bounced while landing. The Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet took off at 6 pm and attempted to land 28 minutes later. A lightning strike just minutes after take-off reportedly disabled its main radio and automatic control systems. The plane, which was headed for Murmansk, reportedly landed with full fuel tanks, which would have made it much heavier than during a normal landing. When planes have to land soon after take-off, it is usual to dump excess fuel or circle to burn it up before landing. Bouncing off the runway tends to happen when planes land…

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cutting youtube’s carbon footprint

A SIMPLE tweak to YouTube could reduce its annual carbon footprint by the equivalent of that from 30,000 UK homes. When listening to music on YouTube, only people using the premium version of the app can opt for audio alone, meaning many have to unnecessarily load the video as well. Rolling this radio mode out for everyone would lower carbon emissions by the equivalent of 100,000 to 500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, estimates a team at the University of Bristol, UK. The team presented its findings at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems this week in Glasgow, UK.…

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high cost of uk’s ash dieback

THE expected death of nearly all of the UK’s ash trees because of fungal disease will become expensive. The cost of lost ecosystem services and clearing dead trees is now predicted to come to £14.8 billion by the end of the ash dieback outbreak (Current Biology, DOI: 10.1016/j. cub.2019.03.033). “The message is government is not taking plant security seriously enough,” says Nick Atkinson at the University of Oxford, who led the work. Economic cost aside, Atkinson says the death of the native trees will be a major blow for nature. “It’s part of the glue that holds British countryside together,” he says.…

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excess brain fluid may cause bad vision in astronauts

ASTRONAUTS who have spent months in space have increased liquid in their brains, which may affect their vision when they return home. On Earth, gravity pulls your bodily fluids towards your feet. In space, that isn’t the case. “That’s why, when you see pictures of astronauts on the space station, they look like they have a puffy head,” says Angelique Van Ombergen at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. She and her team scanned the brains of 11 Russian cosmonauts before and after going to space. When the cosmonauts returned, the volume of their brains’ ventricles – chambers that hold cerebrospinal fluid – had increased more than 11 per cent to hold the extra fluid flowing into their heads. Even about seven months later, the ventricles were more than 6 per cent bigger…