New Scientist International Edition 7-Aug-21

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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2 min
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual events A pre-history of Britain in seven burials Anthropologist and broadcaster Alice Roberts chooses seven burials to help tell the story of Britain from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age. Along the way, she looks at how genomics is revolutionising our perception of the deep past. Join us on 4 November from 6pm GMT. The patterns that explain reality Our understanding of reality is based on patterns – without them we would have to learn afresh every time we interacted with anything and there could be no science. In this talk, Brian Clegg will explore five of the most crucial patterns in science, including the cosmic microwave background, Feynman diagrams and the periodic table. Join us on 7 October from 6pm BST. newscientist.com/ns-events Podcast Weekly The team examines how the UK has set up the perfect circumstances…

2 min
power up

A NEW world is within our grasp. That’s the message emerging from our special report on the greatest challenge we face in bending the climate curve: rebuilding our energy systems for a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future (see page 34). Our current fossil-fuelled system has brought unprecedented prosperity and comfort for billions – and wrought damage on Earth’s climate and support systems the full extent of which we have been all too slow to grasp. Bald economic reality dictates the end of the fossil fuel era is coming. Just as coal, oil and gas in their time displaced wood, wind, water and human and animal muscle power, we now have vast, cheap and hugely superior energy sources at our disposal: solar and (once again) wind. Managing the transition to these energy sources is…

3 min
infection surge in tokyo

TOKYO has seen a record-breaking rise in covid-19 cases as thousands of athletes and coaches fly in from around the world for the postponed 2020 Olympic games. But Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has denied there is any link between the event and the surging number of infections. Tokyo is in its fourth official state of emergency, which began on 12 July ahead of the Olympics and is now expected to last until 31 August. The measures include an alcohol ban in restaurants and reduced opening hours. The same measures already apply in the south-west island prefecture of Okinawa and are being expanded to four other areas, with less stringent measures in five more. The Olympics were postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But they are now taking place at a…

5 min
svalbard warming is a warning

ONE year on, the people of Svalbard are still talking about July 2020. Longyearbyen, the biggest town of this Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic, is surrounded by snowy hills and is sub-zero for much of the year. But last July, temperatures spiked to more than 20°C for several days on end in a month that rarely sees a day above 10°C. This July, by contrast, has been slightly cooler than normal. “We are probably in for more warming globally than our previous best‑case scenarios” “There is a general feeling that things are not like they used to be,” says Kim Holmén at the Norwegian Polar Institute’s Longyearbyen office, which sits on the edge of the town, near the sea. Climate change has made Svalbard one of the fastest-warming parts of the Arctic.…

1 min
what to expect from the ipcc report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, formed in 1988, is a group of government officials who commission the world’s top climate scientists to report on the state of the science of climate change every six to seven years. These assessment reports (AR) consist of three reports by working groups – one on the physical basis of climate change, one on its impacts and one on how the world tackles it – followed by a fourth “synthesis” bringing the three together. This week, scientists are finalising a report by Working Group 1 for AR6, which will be published on 9 August. Things to watch for include: projected temperature rises for varying emissions scenarios (in other words, our best and worst-case futures); assessments of events with low probability but high impact, such as…

4 min
chinese vaccines get boosted

A GROWING number of countries that have been depending on vaccines developed in China are losing faith that these alone can rein in the coronavirus as they face continued surges in infections and the spread of the more transmissible delta variant. On 1 August, Cambodia became the latest nation to approve the use of a different vaccine as a booster shot. It will administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as a third dose to bolster immune protection for those who have already received two doses of the Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines. In the past month, Bahrain, Indonesia, Thailand, Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates have all begun mixing and matching vaccines in a tactic known as heterologous vaccination in the hope of improving protection and stemming transmission. Although China’s two leading vaccines have gained emergency…