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New Scientist 6-apr-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.

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new scientist

Management Executive chairman Bernard Gray Chief executive Nina Wright Finance director Jenni Prince Chief technology officer Chris Corderoy Marketing director Jo Adams Human resources Shirley Spencer Non-executive director Louise Rogers Publishing and commercial HR co-ordinator Serena Robinson Facilities manager Ricci Welch Executive assistants Sarah Gauld, Lorraine Lodge Receptionist Alice Catling Display advertising Tel +1 617 283 3213 Email displayads@newscientist.com Commercial director Chris Martin Lynne Garcia, Richard Holliman, Justin Viljoen, Henry Vowden, Helen Williams Recruitment advertising Tel +1 617 283 3213 Email nssales@newscientist.com Recruitment sales manager Mike Black Key account managers Viren Vadgama, Isabelle Cavill, Nicola Cubeddu US sales manager Jeanne Shapiro Marketing Head of campaign marketing James Nicholson David Hunt, Poppy Lepora, Chloe Thompson Head of customer experience Emma Robinson Head of data analytics Tom Tiner Web development Maria Moreno Garrido, Tom McQuillan, Amardeep Sian New Scientist Live Tel +44 (0)20 7611 1206 Email live@newscientist.com Events director Adrian Newton Creative director Valerie Jamieson Sales director Jacqui McCarron Exhibition sales manager Charles Mostyn Event manager Henry Gomm US…

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your mind is the matter

SOMETIMES the best tests in medicine can’t explain what is going on in our bodies. And when that happens, it is more often women who are turned away with a shrug and told the problem is “all in your head”. That is troublesome enough if there is an identifiable physical problem: study after study has shown that women’s medical concerns are taken less seriously than men’s. Women face longer delays before getting a diagnosis, are more likely to have to return to a GP several times before being referred for investigations, and are less likely to have their condition classified as “urgent” in hospital or to be offered certain kinds of pain relief. But what about when the problem is all in your head, but very real just the same? A century…

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an astronomical price

HOW much does a rocket launch cost? It depends who you ask. Boeing, the firm making NASA’s gigantic Space Launch System (SLS), can’t tell you. According to an internal NASA audit, a maze of contracts means the agency has no way of knowing just how much it is paying to build and launch an individual vehicle. By contrast, SpaceX will tell you exactly how much its Falcon Heavy rocket costs: $90 million per ride. It is right there on its website. This dichotomy is partly responsible for the Trump administration’s frustration with NASA. For its wildly ambitious push to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 (see page 22), Trump’s team is willing to use commercial rocket providers if necessary, rather than NASA’s SLS. The agency’s reliance on “costs‑plus” contracts, in which…

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india blows up satellite

INDIA has destroyed one of its own satellites in Earth orbit as part of a test of an anti-satellite missile. NASA subsequently warned that the act could put the International Space Station at increased risk of a collision with debris. “The risk went up 44 per cent over a period of 10 days,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine on Monday. A similar test by China in 2007 generated a huge cloud of space debris and drew international condemnation for potentially putting other nations’ satellites at risk. But the Indian satellite was in such a low orbit – 300 kilometres up – that any debris should soon fall to Earth. “Things shouldn’t last long at that altitude,” says Craig Underwood at the University of Surrey, UK, one of the leaders of the RemoveDebris…

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tesla’s autopilot fooled by stickers

JUST three stickers placed on the ground were enough to confuse the autopilot in a Tesla into moving the car to the wrong side of the road. Tesla’s autopilot uses cameras to detect lane markings so that it can position itself on the road. When a team at Keen Security Labs, run by Chinese technology giant Tencent, placed three white stickers on road markings to make a jagged, rather than straight edge, the autopilot mistook this as a cue to change position. The hack works because Tesla’s front-facing camera can’t easily distinguish between the genuine markings on the ground and the white stickers. Tesla told New Scientist that the issue isn’t a real-world concern because drivers can easily override autopilot settings and take control of the car themselves. However, others have raised concerns…

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coral reefs struggle to bounce back

GLOBAL warming is destroying the Great Barrier Reef’s ability to recover from disasters and reducing its biodiversity by changing the species that live there. Around half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef died off in 2016 and 2017 after ocean temperatures warmed enough to cause mass bleaching, where heat stresses coral to the point that it expels the colourful algae living inside it. Now Terry Hughes at James Cook University in Australia and colleagues have found that the amount of coral larvae on the reef in 2018 was down by 89 per cent on historical levels. The decline is bad news for the reef’s long-term future. It is also changing the mix of coral species that replenish the reef, which will reduce the amount of suitable habitats for marine life (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1081-y). “There’s fewer…