New Scientist

New Scientist 22-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 What is life? with Sir Paul Nurse Nobel prize-winner Paul Nurse takes up the challenge of answering perhaps the most important question in science: what is life? Thursday 3 September at 6pm BST/1pm EDT. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly Loneliness in the time of coronavirus; medical diagnosis by artificial intelligence; how to allocate covid-19 vaccines. Plus: the fate of the universe on a knife-edge and exciting news for asteroid miners. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Fix the Planet Our free newsletter delivers a monthly dose of climate optimism straight to your inbox. newscientist.com/sign-up/fix-the-planet Online Covid-19 daily update The day’s coronavirus coverage updated at 6pm BST with news, features and interviews. newscientist.com/coronavirus-latest Instagram Keep in the loop with our daily Instagram posts featuring a selection of the best images from New Scientist, from bricks that can store energy to an algorithm that reposes your selfies. instagram.com/newscientist Essential guide The third in a brand new…

2 min.
all that glitters…

ONE of the special things about science is its inbuilt system of self-correction. There is no such thing as scientific truth, just a set of provisional truths that are subject to revision or rejection when new information comes in. That process isn’t always quick or peaceful, but it usually gets to an answer in the end. The result is scientific progress. Today, science badly needs to turn that commitment to self-correction on its own processes. Science involves many exciting discoveries, but not all incremental advances can be revolutionary. In a bid to get pulses racing with newsworthy findings, scientists are throwing caution to the wind. As psychologist Stuart Ritchie explains on page 36, the values that make science so successful – universalism, disinterestedness, organised scepticism and common ownership of knowledge –…

3 min.
new zealand’s new battle

A FRESH outbreak of covid-19 in New Zealand following its elimination there is a sobering reminder of how the virus can evade the toughest defences. The country has responded swiftly, but it remains to be seen if it can beat the virus again. New Zealand declared zero remaining covid-19 cases on 8 June after enacting one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. Restrictions were eased, but it has since sought to keep the virus out with tight border controls that include a ban on international visitors, quarantining its citizens who return from abroad and requiring protective equipment for all airport and seaport workers. These measures allowed New Zealand to go 102 days without recording any new locally acquired covid-19 cases. However, on 11 August, the country was rocked by news that…

3 min.
sweden’s virus response analysed

SWEDEN was one of the few European countries not to impose a compulsory coronavirus lockdown. Its strategy for tackling the outbreak has been hailed as a success by some and condemned as a failure by others. Which is it? While it is sometimes implied that Sweden didn’t have a lockdown, it did. It was just largely voluntary, with only a few legal measures such as a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people. “Voluntary restrictions work as well as legal ones,” says the architect of Sweden’s strategy, chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell. This appears to be true, in Sweden at least. The measures did work nearly as well in getting people to change their behaviour. Adam Sheridan at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, for instance, has used data from a bank…

2 min.
india’s lockdown hits school lunch scheme that feeds 115 million

A STAGGERING 115 million children in India are at risk of malnutrition, as the world’s largest school lunch programme has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. When India went under a strict lockdown on 24 March to reduce the spread of the virus, 12-year-old Kavi’s life changed. His mother, a roadside tailor, was no longer able to work and his father doesn’t have a job due to health problems. With schools closed, Kavi began selling fruit and vegetables from a sparsely stocked cart. This is now their primary source of income, but it isn’t enough for a family of four. “Some days, we just eat rice or chapati with salt,” says Kavi. Before lockdown, Kavi was guaranteed a nutritious meal of rice, lentils and vegetables under India’s state-run school lunch programme. As many…

2 min.
can pets contract the coronavirus and spread it to people?

THE first confirmed case of a pet infected with SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes covid-19 – was a dog in Hong Kong in February. Since then, there have been at least 26 more confirmed cases in pet cats and dogs globally. Should pet owners be worried? “We don’t know how many pets have been infected because testing of animals is not done extensively,” says Suresh Kuchipudi at Pennsylvania State University. A small study led by Qiang Zhang at Huazhong Agricultural University and Huajun Zhang at the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that 11 of 102 cats tested in Wuhan, China, had antibodies showing they had been infected with SARS-CoV-2. An ongoing study by Sarah Hamer at Texas A&M University and her colleagues tested the pets of 50 US owners with covid-19 and…