New Scientist International Edition 20-Nov-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

Academy The quantum world, explained Quantum theory is one of the triumphs of science, but it has a reputation for being mystifying. Take this introductory course and you will learn the basics of the theory, the history of how physicists devised it and how we have come to terms with the fact that reality is underpinned by a sea of nebulous probabilities. Enroll online now. Online Covid-19 daily update Stay on top of the latest and most crucial developments in the pandemic with our briefing, updated at 12pm GMT every weekday. We include links to our exclusive news, features and interviews. Podcast COP26 special The New Scientist reporting team in Glasgow, UK, reflect on their experiences of the crucial COP26 climate summit and the pledges nations have made. They also discuss high-income countries’ attempts to make up for…

2 min
the climate age

“THE world has entered a phase of spectacular technological advances.” So The New Scientist wrote on 22 November 1956 when introducing its mission. Nuclear bombs had fallen on Hiroshima and Nagasaki a little over a decade before, the digital computer was in its infancy and the space race was just beginning. The desire to “publish news of scientific progress in language as free as possible from technicalities” was the spur of this magazine’s foundation, but right from the outset we were clear about the need to look further. “For a branch of research which, today, appears as a purely abstract quest for knowledge, may turn out tomorrow to have a direct and vital application to the happiness of us all,” we wrote. “Besides, science is exciting; science can be entertaining.” These sentiments…

3 min
a new quantum leader?

IBM claimed on Monday that it has created the world’s largest superconducting quantum computer, surpassing the size of state-of-the-art machines from Google and from researchers in China. Previous devices have demonstrated up to 60 superconducting qubits, or quantum bits, but IBM’s new Eagle processor more than doubles that by stringing together 127. Several approaches are being pursued to create a practical quantum computer, including using superconductors and entangled photons. It remains unclear which one will become the equivalent of the transistors that powered the classical computing revolution. In 2019, Google announced that its Sycamore processor, which uses the same superconducting architecture that IBM is working with, had achieved quantum supremacy – the name given to the point at which quantum computers can solve a problem that a classical computer would find impossible.…

3 min
how the drama unfolded

“WHEN will leaders lead?” asked Mia Mottley at the start of the COP26 climate summit on 1 November. More than 100 world leaders had gathered in Glasgow, UK, but it was the speech by the prime minister of Barbados that stood out. With Earth on course for 2.7°C of global warming ahead of the landmark conference, Mottley warned that 2°C would be a “death sentence” for countries on the front line of climate change. Impassioned speeches soon gave way to side deals on everything from deforestation to methane. They were non-binding, often missing key countries and replete with caveats. But they will make a difference, if followed with action. One analysis found they could lower 2030 emissions by 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, about 5 per cent of 2021’s levels. “In…

4 min
what difference will it make?

IS THE 1.5°C goal still alive? The answer is a good way to boil down the mind-boggling complexity of whether the COP26 summit, which finished in dramatic fashion last Saturday, puts humanity on the path that climate science calls for. Six years ago in Paris, 195 countries committed to this temperature goal as their line in the sand for limiting future global warming, in addition to holding it “well below” 2°C. Yet the emissions-cutting plans put forward in 2015 left the world facing a cataclysmic 3.5°C of warming by 2100. That is why nations in Paris also agreed a “ratchet mechanism” to upgrade the plans by the end of 2020. Many missed the deadline, so COP26 in Glasgow, UK, became the de facto cut-off point. This first crank of the ratchet yielded a…

4 min
an emotionally gruelling fortnight for those pushing for change

CLIMATE talks are arenas of high emotion because, fundamentally, they are about life, death, money, family and people’s homes. I saw this emotion in the bleary eyes of the sleep-deprived negotiators at COP26 and heard it in the chants of protesters outside the summit’s venue each morning. Whether they were activists, negotiators or ministers, most of the people I met in Glasgow were steadfast, hard-working and resolutely uncynical. “It’s two weeks away from your family, from your friends, eating very bad food and not sleeping,” says Kristin Qui, a negotiator for Trinidad and Tobago. The day before, 11 November, she had started work at 8am and finished negotiations at 10pm. “That was an early finish,” she says. “There’s a lot of rhetoric about the science, but some just want to erase any…