New Scientist 24-Jul-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.

United Kingdom
New Scientist Ltd
51 期号


elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual event A new science of consciousness Most people view themselves as apart from the rest of nature, but a new way of thinking encourages the opposite. In this talk, neuroscientist Anil Seth draws on his original research and collaborations to put forward an exhilarating new idea about how we experience the world and the self. Join us from 6pm BST on 9 September or watch on demand. Tickets available now. Podcast Weekly Race-based medical practices are harmful, so why are they still used? The team also hear a clip of Richard Branson’s recent journey into microgravity. Plus: an update on the dramatic heatwave ravaging the US, why “impact gardening” might help us find alien life and news on the state of the cosmetics industry in Neolithic times. Competition Photography awards There is just one week left to…

solving the chemicals crisis

WHEN the US chemicals company DuPont adopted the slogan “Better Things for Better Living… Through Chemistry” in 1935, it was to try to win over a public wary of new synthetic materials such as nylon, neoprene and pesticides. It seems to have succeeded. For most people, life today is steeped in synthetic chemicals. Many of these chemicals are benign and do indeed make life better, delivering superior medicines, higher agricultural yields, innovative materials, cleaner water, magical electronic products and a radical abundance of consumer goods. But better living through chemistry has turned out to be a Faustian pact. Over the past century, tens of thousands of chemicals have been released into the wild with barely a thought for the effects on human health and the environment. As a problem, this is hardly news,…

spyware scandal

SPYWARE sold for use in antiterror investigations is being misused to watch journalists, academics and politicians across the world, according to a report by The Guardian and others. NSO Group, based in Israel, is thought to have sold the spyware to countries including Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, India and the United Arab Emirates. It allows a user to read data from smartphones and spy via their microphones and cameras. The software, called Pegasus, uses vulnerabilities in smartphone and social media source code. Technology firms that make these phones and social media platforms are now embroiled in a long-running legal battle with NSO to prevent this hacking. WhatsApp and Facebook, its parent company, first filed a lawsuit in California in 2019 alleging that NSO had hacked into its servers to infect 1400 phones belonging…

how do we live with covid-19?

WITH more than half of adults in the UK having received two doses of vaccine against covid-19, the UK government has decided that the time has come to lift most restrictions in England and get on with life alongside the virus. Since 19 July, people in England have been free to meet up with whoever they want, wherever and whenever they like, for the first time since November 2020, and nightclubs have reopened for the first time since March 2020. Masks and social distancing are largely no longer mandated. But it won’t quite be business as usual, with a predicted spike in cases reaching 100,000 per day in mid-August. So what does it mean to “live with covid” once restrictions have lifted, and what insights can we glean for those living…

‘borg’ dna assimilates genes

A STRANGE new genetic entity has been discovered in methane-eating microbes, and it could help fill a gap in our understanding of Earth’s climate. Named “Borgs” after Star Trek aliens that assimilate the biology of other creatures, these enigmatic stretches of DNA inhabit singlecelled organisms called archaea, where they appear to acquire and swap genes and potentially boost their hosts’ ability to consume methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. “These Borgs seemingly represent a new type of genetic element,” says Thijs Ettema at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, who wasn’t involved in the study. Scientists have long known about mobile genetic elements, pieces of genetic material that can either move around a host’s genome or sit alongside it and travel between cells. They include plasmids – circular bits of…

how galapagos giant tortoises avoid cancer

GALAPAGOS giant tortoises are long-lived in part because their cells are surprisingly sensitive to certain forms of stress. As well as informing research into human medicine, the finding reveals how animals have evolved different ways to resist cancer and ageing. We would expect large animals to be more susceptible to cancer because they have more cells, each of which has a chance to become cancerous. But recent studies have shown how big, long-lived animals such as elephants have paradoxically low cancer rates thanks to having extra copies of genes involved in suppressing tumour development. These studies have mostly been done in mammals, raising the question of what similar adaptations other animals might have evolved. So Vincent Lynch at the University at Buffalo, New York, and his colleagues turned to turtles, which come…