New Scientist

New Scientist 8-Aug-20

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

1 min.
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual events The end of the universe Will our universe collapse in on itself, rip itself apart or even succumb to an inescapable expanding bubble of doom, asks astrophysicist Katie Mack. Thursday 13 August at 6pm BST/1pm EDT. newscientist.com/events What were the Neanderthals really like? Archaeologist Rebecca Wragg Sykes reveals the untold and fascinating story of the Neanderthals, shedding new light on their complex lives. Thursday 27 August at 6pm BST/1pm EDT. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly Putting plastic back on the agenda; Charles Darwin and the first image of a black hole; how dinosaurs dominated the planet. Plus: Hot news on Mercury’s crust and the fungus that could help us live on Mars. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Launchpad Our free newsletter sends you on a monthly voyage across the galaxy and beyond. newscientist.com/sign-up/launchpad Video Electronic music Take a visceral journey through the history of electronic music. From 1970s disco to…

2 min.
busting miscarriage myths

FOR more than a century, medical researchers have known that miscarriage is rarely preventable and is instead usually due to chromosomal abnormalities in an embryo. In recent decades, it has also become clear that miscarriage is very common: as many as one in five known pregnancies ends this way. That figure goes up as we get ever better at detecting pregnancy from its very first stages. It is now estimated that, among women in their early 20s, half of pregnancies end in miscarriage. This proportion rises with age. No small effort has been made by medical organisations and advocacy groups to raise awareness and improve education around early pregnancy, but the notion that miscarriage is rare – or is somehow the woman’s fault – still widely persists. Not only do surveys…

3 min.
back to school?

THE UK faces a second wave of coronavirus infections this winter if the country’s testing and contact tracing system doesn’t improve by the time schools fully reopen and people return to workplaces, researchers have warned. Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths at University College London (UCL) and her colleagues found that there is a risk of a second peak in December that will be more than twice the size of the UK’s first one. Her team modelled the amount of testing and tracing needed to stop the virus rebounding as society eases restrictions. If all children in the UK return to school by early September, as is currently planned, and almost three-quarters of people return to workplaces, the UK would need to be testing 75 per cent of symptomatic covid-19 cases to stay on top of…

7 min.
huge surge in the us

WHEN Antoine Dupont started to feel under the weather in mid-July, he immediately wanted to be tested for the coronavirus. Unable to find a facility where he could get this done near his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, a friend told him about an urgent care clinic with a handful of appointments in Boca Raton, 30 minutes away. He secured a test for the next Friday. “The nurse said I’d hear back by Tuesday because of the weekend, which seemed a little long to me,” he says. “I didn’t get my results until the next Friday – and only after I had been calling the clinic for a few days.” His test result came back negative. But the news didn’t come as a relief. He was still feeling ill – and…

4 min.
how to stop superspreaders

A SKIING trip, a wedding, a choir practice: what these events have in common is that they were all occasions of coronavirus “superspreading”. This is when someone passes the virus on to a high number of people. While there is no widely agreed definition of a superspreading event, it is sometimes taken to be an incident in which someone passes on the virus to six or more other people. Understanding why these clusters occur could be key to gaining control of the covid-19 pandemic and stopping a second wave of cases. For months, we have heard that the R number, or reproduction number, is what is needed to gauge the spread of covid-19. This is the average number of people that each infected person passes the virus on to. Before lockdown in…

2 min.
is it ever safe to hug someone?

IF THE pandemic has left you craving a cuddle, you aren’t alone. Some 60 per cent of people in the US reported feeling touch-deprived during the first month of lockdown, suggests a new study, even though only a fifth of those surveyed lived alone. Tiffany Field at the University of Miami in Florida and her colleagues surveyed 260 adults and found that those reporting touch deprivation scored higher on scales measuring anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep issues and post-traumatic stress. Touch deprivation was more common in people living alone, but also affected those living with family or friends. “Only 33 per cent of people said they were touching their partner a lot, and as many as 37 per cent said they weren’t touching them at all,” says Field (Medical Research Archives, in press). A…