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New Scientist Australian Edition 22/29-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

1 min
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual events The end of ageing Join gerontologist Aubrey de Grey as he explains how regenerative medicine will help people remain healthy however long they live. Join us at 6pm GMT on 21 January 2021. Book tickets now. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly The team discusses how to find your own stardust; the illusion of the self; and the space rocks being returned to Earth. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Our human story Our free monthly newsletter is all about human evolution and the origin of our species. newscientist.com/sign-up/our-human-story Academy Two courses available now The first two courses from New Scientist Academy cover how your brain works and the biggest mysteries of the universe. academy.newscientist.com Video Christmas special: Science with Sam How to use science to revamp your sprouts, spuds and puddings youtube.com/newscientist…

4 min
brighter prospects

THIS has been a year that will live long in the memory, mostly for the wrong reasons. More than 70 million people have fallen ill with a virus that we didn’t even know existed this time last year. More than a million and a half have died. Millions more are struggling with the long shadow of the disease. At the same time, daily life for huge numbers of people changed to an extent that few would have thought feasible as we wassailed towards the last festive period. The way many people work, travel, shop, eat, entertain themselves and socialise have all been radically disrupted and re-engineered, at least temporarily. It is easy to forget how quickly this has all happened. Just under a year ago, we ran an online story about a…

2 min
vaccination begins in the us

VACCINATIONS against the coronavirus have begun in the US and are expected in Canada within days after both countries last week authorised the vaccine developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use. The vaccine roll-out in the US coincides with the country reporting more than 3000 deaths in one day for the first time, on 10 December. “Yesterday marked another tragic, preventable milestone in our fight against COVID-19, but this news is a bright light,” President-elect Joe Biden said on Twitter on 11 December after a US Food and Drug Administration panel voted to green-light the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Officially, nearly 300,000 people have died of covid-19 in the US (see page 8), but this is thought to be an underestimate of the true toll. More countries are expected to authorise the Pfizer/BioNTech…

7 min
how the us can beat the virus

ALMOST 300,000 people have died of covid-19 in the US, and 200,000 more are expected to succumb to the disease by April. Coronavirus cases are spiking across the nation and hospitals are at or near capacity in many communities. US president-elect Joe Biden has outlined a science-based approach to combating coronavirus that is a striking contrast to the actions of his predecessor. President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of the virus and flouted public health recommendations such as wearing a face covering and avoiding large gatherings. “Winning the war against covid-19 is going to happen one conversation at a time” Biden has already assembled a covid-19 advisory board and named a new health secretary, surgeon-general and covid-19 czar. He has also asked Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious…

7 min
will vaccine immunity last?

LESS than a year after a new kind of coronavirus started spreading around the globe, we have several vaccines that seem to be very effective at producing strong enough immune responses to protect people from developing covid-19. Despite this great news, however, critical questions remain about how our immune system responds to the virus. Speaking at an online conference, Devi Sridhar at the University of Edinburgh, UK, listed some of the gaping holes in our knowledge. “How long does immunity last? Can you get reinfected? Is a vaccine going to provide immunity, for how long?” Immunity remains the pandemic’s “million dollar question”, she said. Actually, make that $12 trillion, which is the amount governments have collectively spent propping up their ailing economies, according to Gita Gopinath at the International Monetary Fund. That…

4 min
corralling wild horses in the us

FROM my home in Los Angeles, California, it is just a few hours’ drive into the deserts of Nevada to see wild horses. If you are lucky, as I was, you might see a lone mustang on the range, galloping over powdery snow, just a few hundred metres from the highway. According to the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there are about 95,000 wild horses and burros – small donkeys – on public lands across the US, half of which are in Nevada. I planned to join a round-up in Fish Creek in which the wranglers are in helicopters. The use of these vehicles is part of the controversy over managing wild horses in the western US. Wild horses are seen by some as a nuisance and by others as animals…