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New Scientist Australian Edition 12-Dec-20

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.

New Scientist Ltd
51 Issues

in this issue

2 min
christmas with new scientist

Subscriber Christmas Special The end of each year simply must be marked with an office party, even a year as bruising as this one. Not thwarted by lockdowns or social distancing, we are having one of our own – and you are all invited. So join us on 17 December for the New Scientist Christmas special live. Kicking off at 6pm GMT, it is an online event that is a party, panel show and quiz all in one. I am your host, and the contestants are our journalists Graham Lawton, Sam Wong, Layal Liverpool and Penny Sarchet. There will be 10 rounds, including a picture round and questions from the audience. Start thinking up your science-related questions and I will select the best to ask on the day (there is a chance…

1 min
a note from the editor

IT HAS been a long old year, but the good news (important vaccine developments aside) is that there is now only one week to go until our famous festive double issue! My colleague Daniel Cossins is the editor of our special holiday features section this year, and he has spared no reindeers in his efforts to deliver a world-beating, mind-bending smorgasbord of stardust-sprinkled delights. That is literal stardust in one case, as we follow our feature editor Joshua Howgego onto the roof of his house in search of micrometeorites from the dawn of the solar system. But if you have also ever wondered why animals don’t have wheels, or what a glacier mouse is, wonder no more – these vital questions and more will be answered in next week’s mag. There will also…

2 min
the complexities of you

“KNOW thyself.” The first of three maxims said to have been inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi sounds grand. What it actually means has been a matter of debate for millennia, and when it comes to knowing ourselves, modern science has made things deliciously more complex, too. How the physical substance of our bodies creates our sense of being a consistent entity, and what it means to have that sensation, is a long-standing puzzle. Debates about this relationship between matter and mind were meat and drink to the Ancient Greek philosophers, but they didn’t have our conception of a universe whose matter consists of fundamental particles that have been evolving according to rigid mathematical laws since the big bang. They also didn’t have the rapidly expanding knowledge…

3 min
first shots given in the uk

THE roll-out of a vaccine against the coronavirus has begun in the UK. On 8 December, more than 50 hospitals across the country started to vaccinate people aged over 80 and some healthcare staff against the coronavirus, after the UK became the first nation to authorise a vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for emergency use on 2 December. The first person to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was Margaret Keenan. “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against covid-19. It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year,” Keenan, who is…

10 min
your guide to the new vaccine

IMMUNISATIONS using the vaccine created by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have begun in the UK. Here, we answer questions about the science of the vaccine, who will get it first, how confident we can be in the authorisation process and the logistics of vaccinating everyone in the UK. Science How effective is the vaccine? About 95 per cent. The phase III trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine involved 42,000 people, about half of whom got the experimental vaccine and the rest a placebo. In total, 170 people fell ill with covid-19. Only eight of them were in the vaccine group; 162 had received the placebo. So around 5 per cent of cases were in the vaccine group, which is where the 95 per cent figure comes from. That is a very healthy number:…

1 min
what about children?

Should we be worried about the risk of children passing the coronavirus on to older or vulnerable relatives? The short answer is yes. “I think there is a risk of that,” says Katy Gaythorpe at Imperial College London. In England, about 2 per cent of people aged between 11 and 24 have covid-19, according to the latest survey by the Office for National Statistics, compared with about 1 per cent in most other age groups, including younger children. The reason is that schools and universities remained open during the latest lockdown in England, so students were more likely to mix with others and pass on the virus. The high number of infected young people could lead to a high number of older relatives being infected during family gatherings. “If grandparents and vulnerable people mix…