New Scientist

New Scientist 19-Sep-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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United Kingdom
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51 Números

en este número

1 min.
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual events What we don’t know about black holes Astronomer Chris Impey reveals what makes black holes so special and why they still haven’t given up all of their secrets. Available on demand now. newscientist.com/science-events Podcasts Weekly The healthy eating revolution; China’s cosmic ambitions; Russia’s pursuit of gene-editing technology. Plus: the world’s greatest mammal. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Launchpad Our free newsletter sends you on a weekly voyage across the universe and beyond. This week: are there really signs of life on Venus? newscientist.com/sign-up/launchpad Online Video The microorganisms that live inside us are every bit as vital as our heart, our lungs and even our brain – and a healthy diet can give them a boost. Science with Sam explains all. youtube.com/newscientist…

2 min.
a note from the editor

Each year, in our Christmas edition, we talk about what to expect in science in the 12 months ahead. So back in December 2019, what did we see in our crystal ball for 2020? Here is that list: a giant leap in our knowledge of early humans, crunch time for anti-ageing, a crucial year for the climate, mounting fears over foreign interference and misinformation online, pioneering treatments for old enemies like cancer and steps forward on plastics and human health. You may notice something rather large missing from that list – which is why crystal-ball-gazing is quite definitely not a science. “The journalism we produce at New Scientist has changed very quickly because of the pandemic” Nine months on, because of that missing item, the way in which New Scientist is produced has changed…

2 min.
a heavy toll

MOST people still don’t have any level of immunity to the virus behind covid-19. But there is a growing risk that some of us are becoming immune to the enormous numbers that this pandemic is throwing out on a weekly basis. As New Scientist went to press, the world was on track to exceed a million deaths from covid-19 within days (see page 10). That is a number that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to become blasé about. Early in the pandemic, US President Donald Trump suggested covid-19 wasn’t as bad as the flu. He was wrong. In a bad year, the flu kills up to 650,000 people globally. Covid-19 has killed far more, with three months of the year still to go – and won’t stop when Auld Lang Syne is sung,…

3 min.
signs of life on venus?

THE clouds of Venus may contain life. Some 50 to 60 kilometres above the planet’s surface, there are small quantities of phosphine gas, a substance that is present in Earth’s atmosphere because it is produced by microbes and by human technological processes. There are no known non-biological mechanisms for making this amount of gas on Venus, so it may be being produced by alien microbes. Jane Greaves at Cardiff University, UK, led a team of astronomers who looked at Venus using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile. The data from both telescopes showed signs of phosphine gas in the Venusian clouds, which was completely unexpected. “Phosphine in that environment is a weird thing to observe. It doesn’t belong there,” says David Grinspoon at…

4 min.
the venusian enigma

A TEAM of researchers has used two of the biggest telescopes on Earth, including the ALMA telescope in Chile (pictured right), to find signs of phosphine gas on Venus – a compound that is produced on our planet only by industrial processes and microbes – and raised many questions about whether we have just found alien life. How hot is Venus? Would any life there burn up? There are a lot of different environments on Venus because of its thick atmosphere. The surface is absolutely miserable, with temperatures reaching 470°C and pressures 90 times that at sea level on Earth. But it is pretty temperate where the phosphine was found, at 50 to 60 kilometres above ground level, so the atmosphere could be conducive to life. Why would the phosphine gas stay at…

8 min.
one million global deaths

IT BEGAN on 9 January. In a hospital in Wuhan, China, a 61-year-old man became the first person on the planet confirmed to have died from a new coronavirus. At the time, scientists didn’t believe there was strong evidence of transmission between humans. As this magazine went to press, we are nearing a global death toll of a million people after the virus spread out from Wuhan and exploded around the world. The true count is far higher and won’t be established for years, as many killed by the virus weren’t tested (see “Can we trust the numbers?”, right). What happened? Within weeks of that first reported death in China, cases appeared in Thailand, Japan and South Korea. The first fatality outside China was confirmed on 2 February in the Philippines. On…