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New Scientist Australian Edition

New Scientist Australian Edition


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
51 Issues

in this issue

1 min
really brief

Coal powers some bitcoin mining Levels of bitcoin mining in Kazakhstan increased from 1.4 per cent of the global market share to 8.2 per cent in recent months, following the introduction of government restrictions on bitcoin mining in China. Kazakhstan has a power grid fuelled largely by coal, so bitcoin mined there has a higher carbon footprint. Just 7 per cent of our DNA is unique to us Modern humans have evolved since appearing 350,000 years ago – but just 1.5 to 7 per cent of our DNA is unique. The rest we shared with Neanderthals and Denisovans. Some was inherited through our common ancestors, some gained via interbreeding (Science Advances, doi.org/gnzh). Drones to be used to fight crime in Dubai Dubai police will be able to respond to an incident anywhere in the United…

1 min
finger sweat could power health sensors

SMALL biofuel cells can harvest enough energy from the sweat on our fingertips to power wearable medical sensors that track health and nutrition, and because our fingertips are one of the sweatiest parts of the body, the sensors could be powered all day. Lu Yin at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues created a device that breaks down a dissolved compound in sweat called lactate. It comprises biofuel cells that fit into thin pads stuck to the fingertips. They soak up sweat into a thin layer of foam, where an enzyme oxidises lactate to create an electrical charge. Each finger pad can generate between 20 and 40 microwatts of power and harvest 300 millijoules of energy per square centimetre during 10 hours of sleep (Joule, doi.org/gnrq). This isn’t enough…

1 min
printed shape tests out 150-year-old idea

A STRANGE shape described by mathematician Lord Kelvin in 1871 and predicted to behave unusually in a fluid has finally been studied thanks to 3D printing, and it seems Kelvin may have been wrong. The shape, called an isotropic helicoid, was expected, like a sphere, to experience the same amount of drag regardless of its orientation but also rotate as it moves through a fluid. So if you dropped one into a tank of a viscous liquid, it should spin as it sinks, much as a propeller turns. Greg Voth at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and his colleagues 3D-printed five shapes that should be isotropic helicoids, each a little more than a centimetre across, and dropped them in a tank of silicone oil. They were unable to detect any rotation, so…

4 min
field notes from space-time

LAST month, I wrote a column about the possibility that space-time is eternally inflating, and I was admittedly caught off guard by the amount of attention it got on social media. I am pleased that so many people share my interest in cosmology and specifically the first few seconds of space-time as we understand it. At the same time, I was troubled by a supposed summary of the column that I saw in another publication which claimed I was proposing a new theory for the origins of the universe. This suggests to me that I should continue my discussion of inflation this month, including explaining my relatively minor role in doing research on it. To start, it is worth saying again that my primary research focus is on the problem of dark…

1 min
what a load of rubbish

Humans have become prodigious producers of unwanted stuff, including synthetic chemicals, smoke, sewage, greenhouse gases, dust, scrap machinery, food waste, e-waste, metals, plastics, glass, paints, worn-out tyres, construction materials, agricultural waste, household garbage, old clothing and packaging, to name a few. Airborne pollutants, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and particulate pollution, come from stuff we burn to power electricity generation and industrial processes, heat buildings, cook food and fuel vehicles – as well as being released by tyres rubbing on roads. Much of the rest of our polluting trail is just what is left over when we have used whatever we want to use. “We take stuff out of the environment, and then we put it into the economy and society – which is a fine thing because it enables us…

6 min
almost the last word

In the dark What would happen to Earth if the sun suddenly disappeared? How long could we live in darkness? Peter Bursztyn Barrie, Ontario, Canada If the sun were to suddenly vanish, the effects would be felt immediately. Almost 50 years ago, a solar eclipse was visible in Kenya where I was working at the time – a total eclipse in the semi-desert 300 kilometres north of Nairobi. It was a remarkable experience. Not only did we witness the grandeur of a solar eclipse in a cloudless sky, but we also saw its effects on wildlife. A nearby zebra herd became agitated as darkness came hours early with the sun still high in the sky. The many birds flying about promptly became quiet as they settled down for the “night”. During the few minutes of neardarkness,…