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New Scientist 1-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.

United Kingdom
New Scientist Ltd
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51 Issues


access_time2 min.
light relief

AH, THE great indoors! Many of us treasure the time we spend in its narrow, enclosed spaces. The warming glow of screen light on our faces, the refreshing breeze of the air conditioning unit ruffling our hair. Perhaps not. Those of us in developed countries typically spend a whopping 90 per cent of our lives inside – far more time than even 50 years ago. That’s not good for our health. Less sunshine on our skin is fuelling an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with problems ranging from an increased chance of cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders to weaker bones and teeth. And that isn't the half of it (see page 34). It turns out that getting too little daylight results in poorer quality sleep, a greater risk of…

access_time2 min.
new scientist

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access_time2 min.
climate change swings seats

THE European Parliament elections last weekend saw a collapse in support for traditional centrist parties, while that for populists and greens grew. For the first time ever, the centre-right European People’s Party and centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats don’t control a majority of the seats, meaning they will now probably have to partner with the liberal and green alliances to pass measures. As the world’s second largest democracy (India, the largest, just re-elected prime minister Narendra Modi), the European Union has a large role to play in tackling climate change. The EU’s green bloc is now in a good position to force more drastic action, having increased its seats from 52 to 69, its highest-ever result. There are a total of 751 seats in the European Parliament. The European Commission aims…

access_time1 min.
elon musk’s line in the sky

SKYGAZERS had an unusual view last week: a string of bright objects moving across the night sky, as seen in this image captured by Marco Langbroek in Leiden, the Netherlands. The orbiting objects are Starlink satellites, produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and launched two days earlier. The 60 satellites are the first of an intended 12,000-strong fleet designed to provide broadband internet worldwide. The satellites are in low orbits: initially launched to an altitude of 440 kilometres, their thrusters will carry them to 550 km above Earth and they should dim as they disperse. Their brightness has been met with concern by astronomers, who say the planned number of satellites could interfere with views of the night sky. Musk claimed on Twitter that Starlink would have “no material effect on discoveries in astronomy”,…

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the oceans are draining below earth’s crust

SEAWATER has been steadily draining into the interior of our planet over the past 230 million years. The loss is equivalent to a fall in sea level of at least 50 metres and possibly as much as 130 metres. This drainage won’t counter the current rise in sea levels, however, which is driven by climate change and ultimately our greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because the seas are rising 10,000 times faster than the rate at which water is draining away. Many processes have affected sea levels over Earth’s history, from warmer climates that melt ice sheets, causing levels to rise, to sea-floor rocks becoming denser with age and sinking, causing levels to fall. Another is subduction: as one continental plate moves under another it is dragged down into the mantle below, taking…

access_time3 min.
your own animal avatar

EVERY person’s cancer is different. While a certain treatment might see off one person’s breast cancer, it may fail to work on someone else’s, and it can be difficult to know which drugs will be the best for a specific tumour. Now doctors are starting to test out their options on animals that have been given replicas of an individual’s cancer – known as “cancer avatars”. One method is to generate Drosophila fruit flies with the same genetic mutations as a person’s cancer. These flies are small and breed fast, so lots of them can be generated in multiple rows of test tubes. Robotic equipment can then screen the effectiveness of hundreds of drug combinations on the flies. This approach was used to guide the treatment of a man with terminal colon…