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New Scientist International Edition 4-Sep-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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United Kingdom
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English
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New Scientist Ltd
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Weekly
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1 min
elsewhere on new scientist

Academy General relativity The fifth in our fantastic range of online courses is now live. Discover how black holes, gravitational waves and the expanding universe all emerged from a single idea and why general relativity remains at the forefront of research in cosmology. You will be taught by expert physicists and can learn at your own pace. Find out more online. newscientist.com/courses Online Covid-19 daily briefing Stay on top of all the latest developments in the pandemic with our daily briefing, updated at 12pm BST every weekday. We round up the day’s most crucial coronavirus stories, plus links to exclusive news, features and interviews. newscientist.com/coronavirus-latest Podcast Weekly Equipment from a massive biometrics programme in Afghanistan has been seized by the Taliban. The team explores the potential dangers caused by this development. Author Jeanette Winterson drops in to talk about 12…

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1 min
a note from the culture editor

Hello, A few months ago on this page, I announced the launch of our inaugural New Scientist Photography Awards. I am delighted to say that it has been a resounding success. We had hundreds of brilliant entries and we have now whittled them down to 12 outstanding images. To mention just a few, we have a woodlouse munching a slime mould that will take your breath away. As one of the judges, naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham, said: “It’s absolutely stunning. I like woodlice, but this is now my favourite ever woodlouse.” There is also an intimate depiction of lockdown life, showing the photographer’s father celebrating his birthday with his relatives outside. A “very moving image”, as our judge Sue Flood, an award-winning photographer, put it. And there is a kestrel family…

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2 min
a greener tomorrow, today

“Yes we can.” Barack Obama’s political slogan is the perfect mantra for the net-zero targets that now apply to more than two-thirds of the global economy. As our feature imagining a day in a net-zero life demonstrates (see page 34), most of the technologies that are required to achieve those objectives already exist, or are in early development. This isn’t an expression of unthinking, technophile optimism in the face of the dire findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s recent report. We aren’t dismissing the technical, regulatory, economic and social challenges that will be involved in decarbonising buildings, transforming transport, upending diets and reshaping our landscapes. Neither are we saying that it will be easy to remove the large amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that the IPCC thinks…

1 min
melting glaciers may spread viruses

CLIMATE change may increase the risk of viruses becoming capable of infecting new hosts in the Arctic. Canadian scientists have found that an increase in glacier melt at Lake Hazen, the Arctic’s largest lake by volume, is linked to a greater risk of viral spillover, where a virus infects a new species for the first time. Audrée Lemieux at the University of Ottawa and her colleagues gathered soil and sediment from the lake and sequenced the RNA and DNA in the samples. They found signatures of viruses and their possible hosts including animals, plants and fungi. They then ran an algorithm that assesses the chance of coevolution or symbiosis among unrelated groups of organisms. The algorithm allowed the team to gauge the risk of spillover, and suggested that this was higher in…

2 min
hurricane ida climate link

HURRICANE Ida – which reached wind speeds of 240 kilometres per hour, killed at least one person and left more than a million people without power – was almost certainly made worse because of climate change, say scientists. The category 4 storm intensified rapidly over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall in Louisiana on Sunday, 16 years to the day since Hurricane Katrina – a category 3 storm – devastated the state. US president Joe Biden told reporters on Monday that one person had been killed, and more deaths were likely. Studies that link extreme weather events like Ida to climate change take time, but past research has already connected global warming with the heavy rainfall of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. Tropical storms such as Ida are fuelled by…

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3 min
waves in space-time could let us see if gravity is quantum

WE MAY finally have a way to detect the quantum nature of gravity. The question of how gravity and quantum mechanics fit together has been one of the biggest problems in physics for decades. The way that quantum fluctuations affect gravitational waves – ripples in space-time caused by the movements of massive objects – may give physicists a way to solve it. Gravity is the one realm of physics that doesn’t mesh with a quantum mechanical understanding of the universe. “Our fundamental physical theory is currently incoherent: it is made up of two parts that do not fit,” says Carlo Rovelli at Aix-Marseille University in France, who wasn’t involved in this work. “To have a coherent world picture we need to combine the two halves.” There has been a lot of theoretical work…

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