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New Scientist 25-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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blind to the truth

NINE days, three elections – and a confusing mix of messages about what constitutes meaningful action on climate change. Start in Australia, where the ruling Liberal-National coalition won a surprise re-election last Saturday (see page 7). The result followed sustained questioning of the cost, in money and in jobs, of the opposition Labor party’s plans to nearly double planned cuts to carbon emissions. In India, meanwhile, exit polls as New Scientist went to press suggest that the world’s largest democratic contest will have delivered another term as prime minister for Narendra Modi. Significantly, for the first time, the manifestos of both Modi’s BJP party and the opposition Congress party promised significant action on environmental issues: expanding renewables, reversing deforestation and cleaning up India’s polluted rivers and foul urban air. People in 30 countries…

access_time1 min.
new scientist

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scott morrison’s surprise win is the climate’s loss

PRIME minister Scott Morrison’s shock win in the Australian federal election is bad news for climate action. While the left-leaning Labor party had promised emissions cuts of 45 per cent on 2005 levels over the next decade, Morrison’s more conservative Coalition government plans about half that. It aims to do so with a A$3.5 billion (US$2.4 billion) Climate Solutions Package over 15 years. Some will go to paying farmers and small businesses to reduce emissions, and some to big projects like pumped water projects that store energy produced by wind and solar. The policy has been criticised for doing far too little to address the climate emergency, and there are fears this election could push the country further into the arms of the non-renewable industry. The election is also another high-profile failure…

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google restricts huawei’s use of android

GOOGLE is restricting Chinese smartphone-maker Huawei’s access to the Android operating system currently used on Huawei phones. This is because US president Donald Trump has placed Huawei on a blacklist of companies, barring US businesses from trading with it. The Trump administration has previously implied that it thinks Huawei cannot be trusted, because the Chinese state may use the firm’s products to hack US citizens. “This is a direct attack on the growth of one of Huawei’s core markets” The result is that Huawei will have to provide a useable version of Android itself, relying on its own developers to update it. Owners of Huawei phones will still have access to Google’s Play Store and some security protections, according to Google. However, third party apps on the phones may soon have their access cut…

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cosmic cacophony

THE expansion of the universe is accelerating, and we aren’t sure why. It may have something to do with quantum fluctuations that make every point in space constantly grow and shrink, producing a roiling foam that, on the whole, is always expanding. This is a complex solution to the “vacuum catastrophe”, which concerns one of the most hotly contested numbers in physics, the cosmological constant. The constant describes the energy stored in the vacuum of space. Most hypotheses predict a value for the constant that is up to 120 orders of magnitude higher than that given by actual observations of the universe’s expansion. The calculations are off by so much that it has been called “the worst prediction in the history of physics”. Now Qingdi Wang and William Unruh at the University…

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our ageing population could make it even harder to limit climate change

AVERAGE age is rising around the world – a demographic shift that may pose a significant challenge to efforts to rein in climate change. Hossein Estiri at Harvard University and Emilio Zagheni of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany, have found that energy use rises as we get older, and not just because we tend to get wealthier. A greying population could mean a greater proportion of society with higher energy use, their study suggests. They combined two decades’ worth of data from thousands of US households and used this to build a model to reveal how energy use varied across 17 age groups between 1987 and 2009. They found that, on average, children’s energy consumption climbs as they grow up, before dipping slightly when they leave home. Consumption then rises again…