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New Scientist

New Scientist 28-Nov-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

Academy How your brain works and how to make the most of it Get to grips with the fascinating science of the human brain and learn some practical tips on how to take care of yours. Learn at your own pace, anywhere, any time. This expert-led online course from New Scientist Academy is launching soon – register your interest today to qualify for a special introductory rate. newscientist.com/science-courses Podcast Weekly The team explains how covid-19 RNA vaccines work, discusses systemic racism and explores a new fracas over the origin of humans. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Health Check Our free newsletter delivers a weekly dose of choice health and fitness news to your inbox. This week, reporter Clare Wilson looks at what the festive period will look like with covid-19 around. newscientist.com/sign-up/health Online Covid-19 daily briefing All the most important coronavirus coverage, with news, features and interviews.…

2 min.
shooting for the moon

WHEN it comes to space exploration, China has long taken third place. The cold war’s space race saw the US and the Soviet Union vying for firsts – satellite, human in orbit, landing on the moon – and left few records for China to claim. That changed last year, when its uncrewed Chang’e 4 spacecraft made the first landing on the far side of the moon. Among other experiments, it contained a “lunar garden” of seedlings that went on to host the first plants (that we know of) to germinate on another world. The Chang’e missions, named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, have seen the country orbit, land and rove – all important, but fairly common. But Chang’e 5, launched this week, is attempting something that hasn’t been done in…

3 min.
more vaccine hope

A COVID-19 vaccine that doesn’t need to be kept at very low temperatures has been found to be 70 per cent effective on average, with potential for that to rise to 90 per cent depending on how the doses are given. In large-scale trials of more than 20,000 people in the UK and Brazil, 131 people became infected by the disease, according to preliminary results published this week by the vaccine’s developers, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. “We have a vaccine for the world. We’ve got a vaccine that’s highly effective: it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation,” Andrew Pollard at the University of Oxford told an online press conference. The vaccine’s 70 per cent effectiveness is much lower than the 90-plus per cent reported in recent weeks for Pfizer and BioNTech’s…

6 min.
to the moon and back

CHINA has launched its Chang’e 5 spacecraft, the first mission designed to bring moon rocks back to Earth in more than four decades. The uncrewed Chang’e 5 probe will attempt to collect at least 2 kilograms of lunar dust and debris from the northern region of Oceanus Procellarum, a previously unvisited area on the near side of the moon. If successful, the Chang’e 5 return mission will make China only the third country, after the US and the Soviet Union, to have retrieved samples from the moon. The last sample return mission was carried out in 1976 by the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 robotic probe, which brought back around 170 grams of rocks to Earth. Chang’e 5 launched early on 24 November, Beijing time, from a Long March 5 rocket at a site…

1 min.
earth’s minimoon has drifted away beyond our reach

CHINA might have its sights set on the moon (see left), but astronomers are on the look out for alternatives. Earlier this year, they spotted a minimoon orbiting Earth. It has now drifted away, but we should soon be able to detect more of these miniature companions. When astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona spotted a dim object they called 2020 CD3 hurtling across the sky in February, they couldn’t be sure whether it was a minimoon or an artificial object like a rocket booster. Over the following few months, Grigori Fedorets at Queen’s University Belfast in the UK and his colleagues used a series of telescopes around the world to take more measurements of the object and figure out what it was. They found that it had a diameter…

2 min.
the drc is free of ebola

THE Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has declared an end to its 11th Ebola outbreak, marking the first time in years the central African country has been free of the deadly viral disease. Eteni Longondo, the DRC’s minister of health, and the World Health Organization (WHO) made the announcement on 18 November after no new cases were recorded in the country’s western Équateur province for 42 days, or twice the disease’s maximum incubation period. There were 55 deaths in the outbreak, with 75 people recovering out of 119 confirmed and 11 probable cases. Announced on 1 June, the outbreak surfaced shortly before the DRC called an end to a separate Ebola epidemic in the east of the country that killed 2280 people over nearly two years. Genetic sequencing showed that the…