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New Scientist International Edition

New Scientist International Edition 1-Feb-20

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 minuti
best we be prepared

A DEADLY new virus is spreading rapidly around the world. In a matter of weeks, we have seen almost 3000 people infected across at least 12 countries, and more than 80 deaths. But epidemiologists are warning that it has the potential to spread further and claim more lives. We know the airborne virus can spread between people, and Chinese researchers studying it have warned that it seems to be able to spread before symptoms show. That might explain why it is spreading so much faster than SARS did back in 2003 (see page 8). As New Scientist went to press, reports of the first possible cases of person-to-person transmission outside China were beginning to emerge. If SARS, MERS, Ebola or swine flu have taught us anything, it is that we need to…

1 minuti
huawei can build uk 5g

THE UK government has decided to allow technology from Chinese company Huawei to be used in the country’s superfast 5G network, despite intense pressure from the US for a ban. The decision, made by prime minister Boris Johnson this week, was branded a major blow for the US. Huawei is the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, but critics have warned that allowing the firm to supply the UK’s 5G infrastructure is a national security risk. The US threatened to cut off intelligence sharing if the deal went ahead. Now the UK has said it will give Huawei access, albeit with several limitations. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre will tell telecoms operators that Huawei – and any other “high-risk vendors” – must be excluded from “core” functions that manage the network,…

1 minuti
australian fires add to carbon forecast

THE UK’s Met Office is forecasting a near-record annual increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2020, made worse by the huge wildfires burning in Australia. Around 2 per cent of the predicted rise will be due to those blazes. The fires are estimated to have emitted between 0.4 and 0.7 gigatonnes of CO2 , says Richard Betts at the Met Office. That is a lot, though not as much as the fires in Indonesia in 1997 to 1998, which may have produced between 3 and 9 gigatonnes. Before the industrial age, CO2 levels – gleaned from ice cores – were around 280 parts per million (ppm). When we began measuring them directly at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii in the 1950s, they were around 315 ppm…

4 minuti
coronavirus spreads

IT NOW looks as if it will be even more difficult to limit the transmission of a deadly new coronavirus between people. On 26 January, China’s health minister Ma Xiaowei said the virus can spread before a person experiences symptoms. If this is the case, some researchers may have underestimated how contagious the virus is. “If the virus is able to spread before symptoms show, that could certainly explain why the virus is spreading quicker than SARS,” says Robin Thompson at the University of Oxford. He had previously calculated that there is a 1-in-3 chance that a person who brings the virus to the UK will pass it on to others in the country. This would change if the virus is contagious before people realise they have it. The scale of the outbreak…

1 minuti
ai makes people in videos speak a different language

FAKE videos created by artificial intelligence may eventually help us talk to people in other languages. Prajwal Renukanand at the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad, India, and his colleagues have developed software that automatically translates people’s speech in videos so they speak another language instead. It also matches lip movements with the words in the translated language. The deepfake software works by combining several algorithms. Given a video of a person speaking, one AI recognises the words being spoken and another translates the words into a target language. A third text-to-speech AI generates the sounds, while a final algorithm animates the lips and mouth to match facial movements with the words spoken in the new language. The software was trained on 29 hours of videos of hundreds of English speakers. For…

3 minuti
uk fusion reactor will fire up for first time in decades

WITHIN months, researchers will attempt to create a ball of plasma hotter than the sun inside a doughnut-shaped machine in southern England. It will be the UK’s first nuclear fusion operation since the last century. The attempt in November to fuse two forms of hydrogen at the Joint European Torus (JET) in Culham, Oxfordshire, will be the first since the facility broke the then world record for nuclear fusion power production for less than a second in 1997. “Humans don’t do this very often,” says Howard Wilson at the University of York, UK. He says the fusion reaction in the ring-shaped tokamak at JET is “extremely important” for informing efforts to create the first plasma at a much bigger fusion project being built in France called ITER. Commercial nuclear fusion power holds the…