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category_outlined / Science
New Scientist Australian EditionNew Scientist Australian Edition

New Scientist Australian Edition 9-jun-18

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.

Country:
Australia
Language:
English
Publisher:
New Scientist Ltd
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51 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

access_time1 min.
resistance is futile

(TETRA IMAGES/GETTY)LAST week, President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Energy to “prepare immediate steps” to prevent the closure of unprofitable coal and nuclear plants. This comes almost a year to the day after he withdrew the US from the Paris climate agreement.The move was dressed up as a way of ensuring the country’s electricity grid remains reliable and secure. But given Trump’s campaign promises, and recent reports identifying no immediate threat to US grid reliability, it is hard not to conclude that his true aim is to prop up the dying coal industry.It is a stance as forlorn as it is misguided. In the US as elsewhere, it is because of sound economic reasons, not just environmental concerns, that coal and nuclear are struggling to compete with natural gas…

access_time1 min.
the roots of extremism

MANY of the increasing – or perhaps just increasingly voluble – numbers of people in the West who self-describe as white nationalists talk of legitimate economic or social grievances. They shouldn’t kid themselves. They are part of a movement that, at its most violent fringes, is what it always has been: pure racist thuggery.As their poisonous ideology infiltrates wider political discourse, so these extremists feel emboldened. In the UK, security services claim to have thwarted four far-right terrorist plots in the past year.To combat racist white extremism, we must grasp its roots. As studies of violent white supremacists in the US show (see page 34), these are often different roots to those assumed to underlie other forms of terrorism. Rather than devotion to the cause inspiring violence, pre-existing emotional trauma…

access_time1 min.
genetic treatment for liver cancer

The toolkit for treating advanced cancers is expanding beyond usual treatments and immunotherapies (see main story). A completely new approach has had good preliminary results in advanced liver cancer.The novel drug works by ramping up the activity of a gene that stops cancers growing. It contains a carefully designed piece of genetic material – called a small activating RNA – to artificially boost this gene.The 28 people enrolled in a small trial of this drug are the first in the world to receive this kind of treatment. The recipients all have advanced liver cancer, which is usually fatal within two years.The best result came with a patient whose tumour has reduced in size by almost 75 per cent, says team leader Debashis Sarker of King’s College London. Tumours have stopped…

access_time6 min.
advanced cancer hope

Judy Perkins is cancer-free two-and-a-half years after treatmentA TYPE of immune therapy has worked in breast cancer for the first time, raising hopes that the treatment could tackle other types of advanced cancer, even after they have spread.Judy Perkins (right) had breast cancer that had spread to other organs. “She had tennis ball-sized lesions throughout her liver,” says Steven Rosenberg at the National Institutes of Health, Maryland. “It probably would have killed her in the next two to three months.”She had tried seven other cancer treatments without success. Six weeks after receiving the novel immune therapy, Perkins’s tumours had halved in size. A year later, they had disappeared. She remains cancer-free two-and-a-half years on from treatment.Perkins said she was “planning on dying” before she enrolled in the trial. Since having…

access_time2 min.
early earth had much shorter days

The moon is gradually getting further away, prolonging our day (GUSTAVO MUNIZ/GETTY)IT’S not just you – the days really are getting longer. Geological evidence from ancient rocks confirms that more than a billion years ago, our planet’s day lasted less than 19 hours.Earth’s motions undergo cyclical changes over the course of many thousands of years. Its elliptical orbit shifts around the sun like a hula hoop, and the shape of the orbit itself wobbles between clearly elliptical and nearly circular. Earth’s axis of rotation also rocks back and forth and gradually moves in a circle like the handle on a spinning top.Working out whether these variations were under way long ago is a challenge. “When we look up in the sky at other stars, we’re looking back millions or billions…

access_time2 min.
the gene that made human brains boom

HOW did humans get so smart? It could have been a genomic reshuffle more than 3 million years ago that let our brains grow three times as large.When David Haussler at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues compared brain development in humans and monkeys, they found one key difference. Human brain growth seemed to be driven by a gene called NOTCH2NL, one not found in monkeys (Cell, doi.org/gdkxhq).Further studies revealed that NOTCH2NL delays the transformation of stem cells into brain cells. The upshot is that more stem cells can divide and grow and ultimately turn into brain cells.By comparing the genomes of humans and other primates, the researchers determined that NOTCH2NL first appeared between 3 and 4 million years ago. This came about due to an extremely…

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