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New Scientist 20-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.

United Kingdom
New Scientist Ltd
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51 Issues


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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, 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 Newsstand Tel +1…

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the black hole wow factor

WOW. That was what Katie Bouman’s face said, in an image widely shared on social media, as she saw what she and her colleagues had made: the first picture of a black hole (see page 6). If anyone wonders if science has anything to offer, or is for them, take a look at the joy, disbelief and pride shown by the diverse, global team of scientists who made it happen. Yes, it does, and yes, it is. Sometimes on an untrodden path, you need time to find the way. New Scientist reported on the first attempts to snap a black hole almost exactly 10 years ago, and we have checked in regularly since. In our special issue of 10 October 2015 celebrating 100 years of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity,…

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your black hole questions answered

READERS of New Scientist were thrilled to see a black hole for the first time, but the image of the M87 black hole left many people puzzled. We gathered questions on our Twitter account @‌newscientist and have answered some of the best below. For the full Q&A, visit bit.‌ly/black-hole-qs DON’T BLACK HOLES SUCK EVERYTHING IN, INCLUDING LIGHT? HOW CAN WE SEE ONE? The picture is of the black hole’s silhouette against the bright material circling it. Nothing we can see is coming out of the black hole. WHY IS THE IMAGE BRIGHTER ON ONE SIDE? The black hole is rotating. The light coming towards us appears brighter and that moving away seems dimmer. WHERE IS THE EVENT HORIZON? The event horizon, from beyond which even light cannot escape, is in the central black area – the…

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gaze into the abyss

HUMANITY has had its very first look at a black hole. Last week, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a global collaboration that uses radio telescopes around the world to make one Earth-sized observatory, unveiled its pictures of the black hole at the centre of the distant M87 galaxy, the first direct images of one ever taken. Now, the even harder work begins: figuring out what it all means. “You’re seeing photons that are just zipping around the black hole and they must come from very nearby” The images are the first proof that the event horizon – the line at which a black hole’s gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape – is real. They show light from matter right next to the black hole bending around it…

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black holes are colliding across the universe

LIGO is back at it. Having just restarted on 1 April after months of upgrades, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory has already spotted another two black-hole collisions. Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time that occur whenever massive objects move, like the wake behind a boat travelling across a lake. LIGO announced the first-ever observations of gravitational waves in 2016 and has now spotted a total of 13 gravitational signatures of pairs of enormous objects smashing together. Following the upgrade to the twin detectors near Livingston in Louisiana and Hanford in Washington, we expect to see about one gravitational wave per week. And, just a few weeks after the detectors were turned back on, that expectation is already becoming reality. The first collision was announced on 8 April, with the detection of gravitational…

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how the brain processes a pleasant touch

WE ARE starting to understand why a tender caress feels different to other forms of touch. Parts of the skin that have hairs on them, such as the backs of hands but not the palms, have nerve fibres that respond to gentle touch. Normally, when mammals are touched, these fibres send a signal through the spinal cord to a part of the brain called the primary somatosensory cortex, which reacts to changes on the surface of the body. But for pleasurable touch, this signal takes a detour to a part of the brain called the insular cortex first. To understand how these pleasure signals are processed, Louise Kirsch at Sorbonne University in France and her colleagues compared the touch responses of 59 people who had experienced a stroke with those of 20…