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New Scientist International EditionNew Scientist International Edition

New Scientist International Edition 12-jan-19

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


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make work work for you

“NOTHING is really work unless you would rather be doing something else,” the writer J. M. Barrie once said. As the festive season fast recedes and the realities of work loom large in the new year, the strategy of Barrie’s most famous creation, Peter Pan, to avoid earning a daily crust – staying an eternal kid – may look oh-so tempting. We should avoid Neverland’s siren call. Having a meaningful job that gives you a sense of agency and purpose is associated with improved health outcomes from lower rates of depression and dementia to a longer overall lifespan. An academic report commissioned by the UK government in 2006 concluded that the overall benefits of work to our mental and physical health outweigh its negatives, and far exceed the damage caused by…

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no way computer

EVERY day, algorithms make decisions that affect your life, whether it is social media firms determining the news you read or mapping apps choosing the route you will take. We are vaguely aware of this, but few people give it much thought. It is time that changed. As machine learning advances, we are conceding more control to the algorithms, with potentially dire consequences. This is a particular problem in the public sector, where cash-strapped authorities are turning to algorithms they don’t fully understand in an effort to cut costs. In the UK, one police force is now investigating half as many reported assaults and public order offences on the say-so of a computer (see page 7). Of course, algorithms can be useful, like a neural network that can identify rare genetic disorders…

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welcome to the far side

FOR the first time, a spacecraft has landed on the far side of the moon. Until now, we had only seen the side of the moon that is always facing away from Earth from orbit. The China National Space Administration’s Chang’e 4 lander launched on 7 December 2018 and spent a month reaching the correct orbit to attempt the historic landing. China also launched a lunar satellite in May 2018 to communicate with the lander, because there is never a direct line of sight between the moon’s far side and Earth. That lack of visibility meant that Chang’e 4 had to make its landing almost autonomously, with no input from mission control. At 10.26 am Beijing time on 3 January, the lander touched down in a huge depression called the South Pole-Aitken basin. The…

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hackers target german politicians

PERSONAL data and documents on hundreds of German politicians and others were posted online last week. Martina Fietz, a spokesperson for the German government, said politicians at all levels, including the European, German and state parliaments, seem to have been affected. “The German government takes this incident very seriously,” said Fietz, adding that its cyberdefence centre was looking into the matter. Public broadcaster RBB, which first reported on the issue, said there seemed to be no pattern to the data. The data reportedly includes information such as mobile phone numbers, addresses, internal party communications and, in some cases, personal bills and credit card details. Yet some of the details are years old and RBB said there seemed to be no politically sensitive documents. On Tuesday morning, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office announced the arrest of…

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nhs plans for the next decade

THE National Health Service in England has launched a 10-year plan that includes proposals to improve mental health services and increase the use of digital technologies to make access to healthcare easier. The plan, launched on Monday, says mental health services will be extended to an additional 350,000 children and young people, and at least an extra 380,000 adults, over the next five years. Everyone should also have digital access to their GP. This will include the ability to make appointments and view health records online. The proposals include plans to become the world’s first health service to offer whole genome sequencing for all children with cancer, so that treatments can be tailored to target the specific genetic mutations of a child’s tumour. Health campaigners welcomed the plans. But “there are several big pitfalls…

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call for human gene-editing rules

A LEADING geneticist has called for scientists to draw up a clear set of dos and don’ts for those who want to perform human gene editing. “What we need is a detailed protocol of how you would go about this,” says Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute in London, who thinks some people could benefit from genome editing if it were done in the right way. In November 2018, the world was shocked when Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced he had created the world’s first genome-edited babies. He was trying to make individuals immune to HIV, but the two girls born already may not be immune to HIV and could be more vulnerable to flu. His actions have been widely condemned as unethical. Drawing up clear rules would help those assessing the…