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New Scientist

New Scientist 31-Oct-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 future of food Join us at our one-day event to hear from a farmer developing robots to plant, cultivate and harvest crops; a researcher making lab-grown meat; a microbiome expert overturning everything we know about diets; and a psychologist making food taste better by hacking your senses – and much more. Saturday 28 November from 10am GMT. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly The surprising social lives of viruses; gene editing vs antibiotic resistance; risk in the time of covid-19; the diabolical ironclad beetle. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Launchpad Our free newsletter sends you on a weekly voyage across the universe. This week: our ever-worsening space junk problem. newscientist.com/sign-up/launchpad Online Covid-19 daily briefing The day’s coronavirus coverage updated at 6pm GMT with news, features and interviews. newscientist.com/coronavirus-latest…

1 min.
a note from the editor

You may have seen adverts for this in the magazine, but if not, this is just to let you know about the launch of New Scientist Academy. As of next month, we will offer online courses for people who want to deepen their understanding of science and technology. They are aimed at adults and older teens, but younger science enthusiasts may also get a great deal from them. The first two courses on offer will be about the biggest mysteries in the cosmos and the workings of the human brain. We have plans for many more across all our most popular subject areas. So what will they involve and who will they be for? I’ll use our cosmic mysteries course as an illustration. This programme is for people who want to understand…

2 min.
the facts of life

LAST month, the world of planetary science blew up after the news that phosphine gas had been observed in Venus’s atmosphere, which could potentially be a sign of life. The team that spotted the phosphine, led by Jane Greaves at Cardiff University in the UK, couldn’t find any mechanism for forming enough phosphine on Venus to account for these observations. On Earth, the gas is made by living organisms and industrial processes. Now, though, that detection has been called into question. First, a look at old data by a group that included researchers who worked on the latest phosphine study found no hints of the gas. Then a re-analysis of Greaves and her team’s observations by an independent group concluded that the measurements showed no signs of phosphine (see page 18). According…

3 min.
melbourne lockdown lifts

CAR horns honked in the streets and declarations echoed that people could “get back on the beers”, as residents of Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria celebrated a double milestone on 26 October. After 111 days of lockdown – one of the longest and most stringent in the world – Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, announced an easing of restrictions in the city as well as what some called a “double-doughnut day”: one with 0 new coronavirus cases and 0 deaths in the state. “Now is the time to open up,” said Andrews at a press conference. From 11.59 pm on 27 October, bars, restaurants and retail shops in Melbourne reopened for the first time in more than three months. The last time Victoria recorded no new daily cases was on…

8 min.
us health agencies in disarray

AS THE US enters a third surge of coronavirus cases, the two agencies charged with shepherding it through the public health crisis have lost their biggest asset: trust. The impact could be catastrophic, with one expert warning that the country may be heading for a national security crisis. “Both the FDA and the CDC rely on one common element, which is public trust and confidence,” says J. Stephen Morrison at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. “That is their essential asset that they have to treat as precious, and they have to guard it and sustain it through all sorts of twists and turns. As we’ve seen, that’s not very easy.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are two…

1 min.
vital roles

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are both arms of the US government. The CDC plays many roles, including helping to detect, trace and monitor disease outbreaks. Scientists within the CDC, or funded by its grants, research infectious diseases, such as influenza, and non-infectious diseases, such as cancer and obesity. Public health experts at the CDC gather and share data, including accurate disease burden statistics, and give suggestions for public health policy to stop the spread of disease. The FDA plays a pivotal role in public health preparedness, by acting as a regulator for drugs, therapies, diagnostic tests and vaccines, as well as regulating food, cosmetics and tobacco products. These two agencies are designed to work in concert to protect the health and well-being…