New Scientist

New Scientist 14-Nov-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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New Scientist Ltd
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51 Números

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1 min.
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual events The future of food and agriculture This full-day event gives you the opportunity to hear from world-leading scientists and technologists and join a Q&A on how we will feed a growing population without costing the Earth. Join us online on Saturday 28 November from 10am GMT. newscientist.com/events Podcast Weekly The function of dreams, how octopuses taste, a bridge to a covid-19 vaccine and what it means now the US has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Fix the Planet Our free newsletter delivers a weekly dose of climate optimism direct to your inbox. This week: testing green homes of the future. newscientist.com/sign-up/fix-the-planet Online Covid-19 daily briefing The day’s coronavirus coverage updated at 6pm GMT with news, features and interviews. newscientist.com/coronavirus-latest Essential guide The fourth in the Essential Guide series, Our human story explores the epic tale of who we are, where we came…

2 min.
the population question

LETTERS to New Scientist in response to coverage of environmental issues often raise a glaring omission: why aren’t we mentioning the elephant in the room, namely the number of humans on the planet? A pandemic assisted by our incursions into nature has now given questions about human population size a renewed focus. Such questions have been hugely contentious since at least 1798, when Thomas Malthus issued the dire warnings that still set the tenor of the debate in An Essay on the Principle of Population. On page 34, you will find our analysis of where that debate stands today. While longer-term reductions in human numbers can only be good for the planet, those who advocate limiting population as an environmental panacea must answer two outstanding questions. The first is what they propose we…

3 min.
a new covid-19 approach

US PRESIDENT-ELECT Joe Biden has said he will “listen to science”, promising to take new stances on addressing covid-19, climate change and other key issues. The transition team for Biden and Kamala Harris, the US’s first black, Indian-American and female vice president-elect, has pledged to double the number of drive-through coronavirus testing sites, address shortages of personal protective equipment and work with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “dial up or down” social distancing. The incoming administration will also establish a new covid-19 task force, allocate $25 billion for vaccine development and distribution, and cancel plans for the US to leave the World Health Organization. This approach contrasts with that of Donald Trump’s administration, which has sent mixed messages on mask-wearing and undermined key science agencies fighting to limit the…

7 min.
how exciting is the pfizer vaccine?

US DRUG-MAKER Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech released some positive-looking results on 9 November from a clinical trial of their experimental covid-19 vaccine BNT162b2. The headline figure is “90 per cent effective”. While the results are an important step towards a coronavirus vaccine, the news may not be quite as good as it first seems. What did Pfizer and BioNTech find? The results are from a phase III clinical trial, the final stage of testing whether a vaccine or drug is both safe and effective. The companies gave the vaccine or a placebo to 43,538 participants in a double-blinded study, meaning that about half the people were dosed with the real thing and half with the placebo, but nobody knows who got what. They then waited until there were 94 confirmed cases…

10 min.
mink could be just the start

ALL 17 million farmed mink in Denmark were put at risk of being slaughtered last week after the discovery that mutant forms of the coronavirus are spreading among the animals. The virus has already spread back to humans. Some reports suggest that at least one of the mutations makes the virus more dangerous, although the idea is highly disputed, and claims that it could hamper the development of a vaccine don’t yet stand up to scrutiny. The call for culling has now been dropped, but the human-mink-human transmission chain demonstrates the real and present danger of what virologists call “reverse spillover” and “spillback”. The pandemic began with spillover of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19, from wildlife to humans. Reverse spillover means transmission from humans back into animals, both wild and…

1 min.
mammals at risk

Susceptible Domestic cat (Felis catus) Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) Ferret (Mustela putorius furo) Mink (Neovison vison) Lion (Panthera leo) Tiger (Panthera tigris) Probably susceptible Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) Leopard (Panthera pardus) Cougar (Puma concolor) Possibly susceptible Domestic cow (Bos taurus) Domestic goat (Capra hircus) Domestic sheep (Ovis aries) Horse (Equus caballus) Orca (Orcinus orca) Long-finned pilot whale, pictured (Globicephala melas) Probably not susceptible Wild boar (Sus scrofa) Black-capped squirrel monkey (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis) Sperm whale (Physeter catodon) Tufted capuchin (Sapajus apella) Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) Not susceptible Western European house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) For a full list see: Mammal Review, doi.org/fhkd…