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New Scientist 9-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


access_time1 min.
hiv cure may be possible

THE news this week that two people may have had HIV eliminated from their body after receiving bone marrow transplants to treat cancer suggests it may be possible to cure the condition. This takes the tally of people who are HIV-free after such treatment to three (see page 12). Each person received bone marrow from a donor who has a genetic mutation that makes them resistant to HIV. But such a transplant isn’t an option for most people – it is a risky procedure and only used as a last resort for cancer treatment. The discovery that the virus can be wiped out by rebooting a person’s immune system with genetically resistant cells hints there may be ways to reproduce the effect with fewer risks. Some groups are working on using gene therapy…

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ready to launch

THERE is a small US flag on the International Space Station (ISS) that is waiting for its big day. Left there in 2011 by astronauts from the space shuttle Atlantis – the last people to launch from US soil – it was to return only when crewed lift-offs resumed there. Since then though, all US astronauts have flown into space on Russian craft launched from Kazakhstan, an arrangement that has become both more costly and politically difficult over the years. Originally, NASA aimed to get its own spacecraft to the ISS by 2016, but delays and cancellations saw it pivot towards capsules developed by the private sector. Now, SpaceX and Boeing are racing to launch astronauts from the US. This week, SpaceX pulled ahead (see page 6) with the first flight of…

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enter the dragon

SPACEX’s Crew Dragon capsule has completed its maiden journey, paving the way for the US company to take people into space for the first time. The vehicle was launched by a Falcon 9 rocket early in the morning on 2 March from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, docking with the International Space Station (ISS) a day later. It was carrying a dummy named Ripley that had been fitted with sensors to monitor the forces crew members will feel on future flights. The spacecraft was also packed with supplies for the astronauts who are currently living on the space station. “The ISS still has three people on board, so this vehicle coming up to the ISS for the first time has to work,” said Kirk Shireman of NASA’s ISS Program during a press…

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hybrid cars will steal the show

MORE than half a million people will descend on the Geneva Motor Show this week to glimpse the cars of the future, which increasingly look likely to be electric. Observers expect electrified models from premium makers like Audi, Volvo and Aston Martin. Fully battery-powered cars still command steep upfront prices, so the focus will be on plug-in hybrids, says David Bailey at Aston University, UK. Totally electric models won’t “kick off in a big way” until 2020, when the European Union’s new carbon emissions rules for cars bite, he says. Absent but looming will be Tesla. Elon Musk, its chief executive, announced on 3 March that the company will soon unveil a new SUV, the Model Y. It will be bigger and more expensive than the firm’s “affordable” Model 3, but will…

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mmr vaccine does not cause autism

A STUDY of 650,000 children born in Denmark between 1999 and 2010 has confirmed yet again that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine doesn’t increase the risk of getting autism. Of the children, 6500 were diagnosed with autism. Those given the MMR vaccine were no more likely to be diagnosed with autism than children who didn’t have the vaccine. The study also didn’t find any link with other vaccinations, or with vaccines being given at a particular age (Annals of Internal Medicine, doi.org/c29w). The study adds to the already abundant evidence that vaccines are safe. Despite this evidence, groundless claims about vaccines continue to spread. Vaccination rates have fallen in many countries and there has been a resurgence in measles – one of the most contagious known viruses.…

access_time3 min.
brain zapping tested in prison

ZAPPING parts of the brain with electrical current has been found to boost memory and may relieve depression. Now psychologists are planning a new test of its powers. This month, transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) will be tested in a prison in Spain, as part of controversial efforts to see if it can calm violent urges. “The study is to try to find out if TDCS has an effect on different assessments of aggression,” says Andrés Molero-Chamizo at the University of Huelva, who is leading the project. “It could help to keep order inside a prison.” The experiment will take place in Huelva prison, which has seen a series of violent incidents in recent years, including an attack on the governor in 2017. But Molero-Chamizo says the TDCS work isn’t a response…