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New Scientist 2-mar-19

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
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51 Issues


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the most beautiful table

(JACOBH/GETTY)NAGAYASU NAWA describes himself as a schoolteacher and periodic table designer. He has created versions of the table that adorn everything from clocks to a traditional Japanese coat and even a school bus.This year, the 150th anniversary of the table’s invention by Dmitri Mendeleev (page 34), has been designated by the UN as the international year of the periodic table. And Nawa’s creations featured at the opening ceremony in Paris last month: Yuri Oganessian, the only living person to have an element named after them, was photographed holding a fan with one of his periodic table designs.Nawa takes his love for periodicity further than most, although there is something about it that appeals to many of us. People have designed periodic tables of cupcakes, Star Wars, cereal and David Bowie,…

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space for everyone

SPEAKING of anniversaries, this year marks half a century since the first astronauts landed on the moon, an incredible feat that saw the US cement its space race victory over the Soviet Union.These days, there is talk of a new space race between the US and China, which recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon and has ambitious plans to send people there. But framing the new era of exploration beyond Earth as a nationalistic competition is an error. The superpower monopoly of space is over – increasingly, it is about the little guy too.Take SpaceIL, the Israeli start-up that recently launched the first private lunar lander (see page 12). Unable to fund its own rockets, the firm hitched a ride on one made by US-based…

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this week

(KYODO/VIA REUTERS)Asteroid dust in the bagJAPAN’S Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has successfully landed on the asteroid Ryugu and grabbed the first sample from its surface.The manoeuvre was originally planned to take place in October last year, but had to be delayed because Ryugu’s surface proved to be more uneven than expected.The boulder-strewn terrain meant that mission controllers had to aim for a circle just 6 metres across on the asteroid, and control the landing precisely. At around 2300 GMT on 21 February, they confirmed that the ambitious touchdown had been pulled off.As it landed, the spacecraft fired a 5-gram bullet made of the hard metal tantalum onto the surface to dislodge particles for collection. The aim is to return samples to Earth for analysis.After landing, the probe began to rise again.…

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alternative facts may be real

THERE are no objective facts in the world. This isn’t a statement about fake news. Rather, it is the implication of an experiment that suggests the nature of reality depends on who is looking.The work is rooted in thought experiments about the nature of quantum mechanics, but this is the first time one has been done in the lab, with potentially profound implications. “I am very excited about it,” says theorist Carlo Rovelli at Aix-Marseille University in France.The experiment, carried out by Alessandro Fedrizzi at Heriot-Watt University, UK, and his team, involved four fictional observers: Alice, her friend Amy, Bob and his friend Brian. It begins with Amy and Brian inside their own labs. A central source outside both labs creates a pair of photons linked by quantum entanglement, sending…

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light is leaking into vital habitats

LIGHT pollution is now so bad that a dull orange “skyglow” obscures the stars in more than two-thirds of the world’s crucial habitats. And we have almost no idea how this affects wildlife.There are two kinds of light pollution. The first is the intense brightness close to artificial lights like street lights, which often means night-time cities are lit up like Christmas trees, and we know a lot about its effects on nature.But further from cities, although there is less bright light, there is still a diffuse orange glow in the sky. This skyglow is widespread: about a third of people cannot see the Milky Way at night because of it.Jo Garrett at the University of Exeter, UK, and her colleagues have now mapped how far skyglow has penetrated into…

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stars full of nuclear ash race through galaxy

THEY are the stars that refuse to die. Astronomers have detected four stars hurtling through the galaxy that are full of ashes, probably because they are survivors of enormous cosmic explosions. Two of them look set to escape the Milky Way altogether.The first of these cosmic runaways, called LP 40-365, was discovered in 2017. Roberto Raddi at the University of Erlangen–Nuremberg in Germany and his colleagues have found three more.All four of these white dwarf stars seem to be survivors of a strange kind of supernova discovered in 2013, called type Iax. They are much dimmer than type Ia supernovae, whose consistently bright explosion allows us to use them as “standard candles” to measure astronomical distances.Both types of explosion involve stars in a pair, with a white dwarf star stealing…