New Scientist 6-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.

United Kingdom
New Scientist Ltd
51 期号


elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual event Can the UK become a new space pioneer? In 2022, UK spaceports will be capable of hosting space launches for the first time. It is part of an ambitious plan to make the UK a meaningful actor in space. But is the country ready for the challenge? This New Scientist debate will explore how the UK’s space efforts could unfold in the coming years. Join us for this free event on 18 November from 6pm GMT (1pm EST). Online Covid-19 daily update Stay on top of all the most crucial developments in the pandemic with our briefing, updated at 12pm GMT every weekday. We round up the latest coronavirus news and give links to exclusive features and interviews. Podcast Weekly This week’s episode begins with a look at the UN’s Emissions Gap Report 2021, which has…

zooming out on alzheimer’s

FOR nearly three decades, we have waited anxiously for a blockbuster drug that could defeat Alzheimer’s disease. We believed we had identified the culprit behind this debilitating condition: sticky clumps of the protein beta-amyloid in the brain. Even as drug after drug homing in on this target failed to make a difference to symptoms, we continued to pour more money into the effort. Regrettably, it is now becoming clear that this time could have been better spent zooming out from beta-amyloid, to look at the big picture of possible Alzheimer’s causes. Doing so reveals a far more complicated and insidious illness. It seems to be a condition that doesn’t have a lone underlying trigger, but instead results from multiple overlapping processes and risk factors, which you can read about in detail in…

an end to deforestation?

NATIONS representing 85 per cent of the world’s forests have pledged to end deforestation by 2030 in a renewed effort to stem the carbon emissions released by trees being cleared, nearly all for agriculture. The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, issued on 2 November by more than 100 countries plus the European Union at the COP26 climate summit in the UK, comes alongside £14 billion of new funding to combat forest loss over five years. The money is being provided by 12 nations, including the UK, plus private organisations, including the Bezos Earth Fund. Experts welcomed the renewed focus on forests and the new funding, but warned that the way deforestation is tackled will be key to whether the 2030 goal is met. “We cannot reach climate goals if we…

india’s pledge on net zero

INDIA has said it will reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. This is decades later than many other countries, but it marks the first time the country has put an end date on its contribution to climate change. The target was announced by prime minister Narendra Modi at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, UK, on 1 November, amid warnings by world leaders about the dangers of failing to act fast enough on emissions. “A year ago, no one would have expected India to announce a netzero target at COP26,” says Thomas Hale at the University of Oxford. “But that’s the nature of tipping points. Once critical mass is reached, it is very hard not to join in.” He says that countries representing 90 per cent of global GDP are now covered by…

brain implants help with flexible thinking

ELECTRICAL brain stimulation in people with pre-existing brain implants has allowed them to think more flexibly and clear anxious thoughts, suggesting it has the potential to treat conditions like depression. Alik Widge at the University of Minnesota and his colleagues found that applying an electric current within the centre of the brain boosted people’s ability to rapidly adapt to changing goals, known as cognitive control, and in some cases improved their feelings of well-being too. “It may be possible to stimulate the brain only when necessary to relieve specific brain activity” The inability to disengage from habitual ways of thinking is commonly seen in people with mood disorders, such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. In these conditions, people are often unable to extricate themselves from thought processes triggered by habits or distress. Widge…

barn owls may create mental maps just like us

OWLS may make maps of their surroundings in their brains just like humans do. If this ability is indeed present in non-mammals as well as mammals, it means it may have evolved hundreds of millions of years ago. To check for this in barn owls (Tyto alba), Yoram Gutfreund at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and his colleagues implanted a wireless neural recording device into the brains of six of the birds. The team used these to analyse brain activity as the birds flew back and forth between two perches. The group was looking for signs of place cells – neurons that fire when an animal is in a specific place. These cells let an animal make a mental map of its surroundings and have been found in people, rodents and bats, but…