New Scientist 23-Oct-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

Academy Everyday quantum physics course Quantum theory is one of the triumphs of modern science, but it has a reputation for being mystifying. Our new course will guide you through this fascinating world, teaching you how quantum physics works in technology, your daily life and even biology. To register your interest or find out more, visit: Online Covid-19 daily update Stay on top of all the most crucial developments in the pandemic with our briefing, updated at 12pm BST every weekday. We round up the latest coronavirus news and give links to exclusive features and interviews. Podcast Weekly As cuts to welfare benefits in the UK are set to push thousands more children below the poverty line, we learn about the raft of health issues linked to child poverty. Meanwhile, bizarre signals are coming from an unknown object…

let’s make this a good cop

IN JUST over a week, the doors will open in Glasgow, UK, on what is arguably one of the most consequential international summits in history. Yet for many people, it remains unclear why COP26, the 26th UN-sponsored “conference of the parties” on climate change, is so crucial. What would a good outcome even be? It doesn’t help that the UK, the host and diplomatic leader of the summit, which begins on 31 October, seems so muddled in its approach. Its long-delayed announcement this week of major green policies (see page 9) was welcome, but has been tarnished by political infighting over funding that raises old canards pitting the economy against the climate. The president of COP26, Alok Sharma, has repeatedly said that its goal is to “keep 1.5°C alive”, a reference to…

priming the heat pump

HOUSEHOLDS in England and Wales will be offered a £5000 government grant from April 2022 to buy low-carbon heating systems, as the UK government takes a major first step to ending the country’s reliance on fossil fuels for keeping warm. The government is also planning to ban the sale of new gas boilers from 2035. Gas boilers are used in about 86 per cent of UK homes, meaning heating and hot water for homes account for more than a fifth of the nation’s carbon emissions. The boilers also account for a growing share of air pollution in towns and cities. Under the long-delayed Heat and Buildings Strategy, one of the decarbonisation strategies planned to help the UK achieve net-zero emissions, people will be encouraged to shift to heat pumps, which provide…

covid-19 still rife in iran

NEARLY everyone in Iran has been infected by the coronavirus at some point during the covid-19 pandemic, and some have caught the virus more than once, but the country still hasn’t achieved herd immunity. Instead, Iran is seeing a punishing new wave of deaths driven by the delta variant. Iran was one of the first countries after China to be hit by the pandemic, and it had a slow start to its vaccine roll-out. By July 2021, only about 3 per cent of the population was fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to Mahan Ghafari at the University of Oxford, although information from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland shows that proportion has now risen to about 23 per cent. The Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank, has called Iran’s covid-19…

largest ever ai suggests limits to scaling up

MICROSOFT and chip maker Nvidia have created a vast artificial intelligence that can mimic human language more convincingly than ever before. But the cost and time involved in creating the neural network has called into question whether such AIs can continue to scale up. The new neural network, known as the Megatron-Turing Natural Language Generation (MT-NLG), has 530 billion parameters, more than tripling the scale of OpenAI’s groundbreaking GPT-3 neural network that was considered the state of the art until now. This progress required more than a month of supercomputer access and 4480 high-power and expensive graphics cards, which are commonly used to run high-end neural networks. When OpenAI released GPT-3 last year it surprised researchers with its ability to generate fluent streams of text. It had used 175 billion parameters –…

‘abnormal’ ivf embryos can actually become healthy babies

EMBRYOS that are often discarded by IVF clinics because they contain some seemingly abnormal cells are just as likely to develop into healthy babies as embryos with no chromosomal abnormalities, two new studies show. The finding means that many people trying to conceive with IVF will have more embryos to choose from. To select the most viable embryos for implantation, IVF clinics visually assess their shape and often do genetic tests to find those with chromosomal abnormalities that are unlikely to survive. There is controversy over what to do with those containing just a small portion of cells with chromosomal abnormalities, known as mosaic embryos. About 1 in 4 embryos made via IVF are found to be mosaic. These are often discarded or used as last‑ditch options because of the perceived risk…