New Scientist

New Scientist 28-sep-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

in this issue

2 min.
america’s first

Indigenous Americans have genes that helped ancestral peoples survive the subarctic “CLOVIS First” was once the rallying call of archaeologists studying humanity’s settlement of the Americas. It referred to the idea that the prehistoric people who made the distinctive Clovis bone and ivory tools must have been the first human to enter the New World, about 13,000 years ago. Now we know better. Like much of the received wisdom about human evolution, the peopling of the Americas has been subject to revision in recent years. New discoveries leave no doubt that people arrived earlier than 13,000 years ago, possibly far earlier. Some of the evidence for occupation is still hotly contested. Who the pioneers were is also proving difficult to pin down. However, there seems little doubt that they entered the last continental…

3 min.
quantum supremacy?

A MOMENTOUS claim has been made in a paper posted on a NASA server. It says that Google has built a quantum computer and proved that it can do a calculation that would be practically impossible for even the world’s fastest supercomputer. If this is true, it is big news. Quantum computers have the potential to change the way we design materials, plan logistics, build artificial intelligence and break encryption. That is why firms like Google, Intel and IBM, along with plenty of start-ups, have been racing to reach this crucial milestone – known as quantum supremacy. However, the claim is shrouded in intrigue. The paper was quickly taken down from the server and Google hasn’t commented on it. A copy of the paper seen by New Scientist contains details of a processor…

3 min.
un climate change summit

SWEDISH student Greta Thunberg has accused world leaders of failing her generation by not reining in carbon emissions, and stealing her childhood by uttering “empty words” on climate change. In a passionate and often angry address to the UN climate action summit in New York on Monday, the 16-year-old said: “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” Around 60 heads of state attended the summit, which UN secretary general António Guterres called to galvanise more ambitious plans from countries to meet the goals set out in the Paris climate agreement. But the meeting yielded modest new measures from countries, regions and businesses,…

2 min.
bizarre galaxies can’t be explained by standard physics

TWO recently discovered galaxies just don’t make sense. If they are relatively distant, the clusters of stars in them are too bright. If they are closer, they must be moving too fast. In 2018, a group led by Pieter van Dokkum at Yale University announced that it had found a strange galaxy that seemed to contain very little dark matter, or possibly none at all. The galaxy is known as DF2. A year later, the group said it had discovered another one, called DF4. Both galaxies have a low concentration of stars and this wispiness makes it hard to say how far away they are. We work out the characteristics of galaxies, like how much dark matter and how many stars they have, partly by measuring how bright and how far away…

1 min.
smartphone app could spot signs of schizophrenia

SPEAKING into your smartphone for 2 minutes could reveal whether you have a mental health condition. That is according to the developers of an app that analyses facial expressions and speech to diagnose schizophrenia. The company behind the app, AICure, hopes it could be used to better support and monitor people with schizophrenia, and eventually those who have other mental health conditions. The current version was developed to measure symptoms of schizophrenia like low mood and difficulty thinking, says Isaac Galatzer-Levy at AICure. These are normally harder to measure than symptoms like hallucinations and delusions, he says. To do this, the app tracks facial movements, as well as the content, tone and pitch of a person’s speech. Some people with schizophrenia move more slowly, and show less emotion on their faces, says…

2 min.
stockpiling lab equipment

THE threat of a no-deal Brexit is causing staff at several universities in the UK to stockpile scientific equipment, including protective gloves and fly food. Researchers say they want to ensure their experiments can continue should imports of materials be disrupted after the UK’s planned exit from the European Union on 31 October. “Last time we miscalculated and bought too many protective gloves. The boxes were everywhere” Giorgio Gilestro at Imperial College London says he and his colleagues have increased stores of the ingredients needed to make food for the thousands of fruit flies he uses in experiments. “The yeast is produced in France and travels via Belgium. The agar is imported from Japan. Polenta comes from Italy and fructose from Belgium,” he says. Laurence Bugeon, also at Imperial, keeps 1000 zebrafish in…