New Scientist International Edition

New Scientist International Edition 15-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
our malleable minds

THERE is something special about the human brain. Yes, it contains 86 billion neurons and billions of other cells, and yes, it is arguably more complicated than anything else we have discovered in the universe. But more than that, our brains make us who we are. They keep us alive and functioning, while storing our thoughts and memories, shaping our behaviours, relationships and our lives. Perhaps that is why it is so remarkable to hear that some people are living with only half a brain. This week, we cover the case of a teenager born without a left hemisphere (see page 10). Given that this is the half of the brain specialised for language, you might have expected her speaking and reading skills to suffer. Not so. In fact, she has…

1 minuti
new scientist

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3 minuti
how bad will it get?

THE World Health Organization has now named the new coronavirus disease: Covid-19. If the virus isn’t halted, it could infect 60 per cent of the world’s population and kill one in 100 of those infected – around 50 million people – Gabriel Leung, at the University of Hong Kong, told The Guardian on 11 February. But no one knows if it really will, because we don’t know whether the virus can be contained, how deadly it is and how many people have it. The number of confirmed cases globally reached 42,000 on Tuesday, but the rise in cases has been slowing since 6 February. This suggests China’s decision to limit people’s movements in the most affected province, Hubei, is working and that containment may be effective. That isn’t certain, however. The decline may also…

4 minuti
race to get ready

THE new coronavirus is now spreading in several countries. As New Scientist went to press, eight cases of infection had been confirmed in the UK, including a man who went home to Brighton from a conference in Singapore via a ski resort in France. Four other people on the ski trip were diagnosed as infected after returning to the UK, including a doctor. The medical centre where the doctor works has now been shut. A further five people at the ski resort were diagnosed while still in France, and one other case was confirmed on return to Spain. So is the rest of the world ready for the coronavirus? The short answer is no. “I am utterly convinced that no country is fully prepared,” says Jennifer Nuzzo at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg…

2 minuti
african nations step up efforts to prevent spread of coronavirus

AS PEOPLE start to pick up the coronavirus in countries other than China, fears are rising that it could explode somewhere less able to contain it. African countries, many of which have strong trade links with China but limited healthcare infrastructures, are of particular concern. As of 11 February, no case had yet been diagnosed in Africa, but the continent is bracing for its arrival. A recent African Union workshop in Dakar, Senegal, trained lab technicians from 15 countries in how to test for the virus. Last week, only two public health labs on the continent, in Senegal and South Africa, could test for the coronavirus. By the end of this week, 29 countries will be able to. “A month ago, I wouldn’t have said this, but now I think we will…

2 minuti
wuhan-like virus discovered seven years ago

THE Covid-19 coronavirus is similar to one detected in bats in China in 2013. But a failure to act on the warnings of those who studied it means we missed an opportunity to protect human health. While some are now saying the Covid-19 virus passed to humans from pangolins, it is likely that pangolins are merely victims of the infection, like us. “From the virology evidence available to date, the virus is almost certainly from a species of bat,” says Andrew Cunningham of the Zoological Society of London. For years, Zheng-Li Shi and her colleagues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been isolating coronaviruses from horseshoe bats in caves in China’s Yunnan province. In 2013, they found a coronavirus that could infect human cells in the lab. Last week, Shi reported…