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New Scientist Australian Edition 30-Jan-21

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 Making sense of quantum theory with Carlo Rovelli Quantum physics has given us many startling ideas, like particles separated by vast distances that are still somehow connected. Our best understanding of reality is based on these ideas – yet they are still profoundly mysterious. Join one of the world’s most celebrated physicists, Carlo Rovelli, from 6pm GMT on 1 April as he unravels the deep meaning of quantum theory. Tickets available now. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly More coronavirus variants; lack of diversity in genetic databases; a contender for the largest ever dinosaur; what Joe Biden’s presidency means for climate change. Escape Pod Our fabulous new podcast provides a dose of escapism: this is a coronavirus-free zone! This week, the team look at the maths icon Paul Erdős and the incredible relationship between plants and fungi. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter NEW Wild Wild Life Our…

2 min
a twist of human fate

THE human story only becomes more intricate and fascinating. For hundreds of thousands of years, a mysterious group known as the Denisovans lived in the east of Asia – even as our species was emerging in Africa and beginning to spread around the world. Their homeland spanned thousands of kilometres and they existed as a group longer than we have as a species. Yet they were utterly unknown until 2010, when they were identified from DNA preserved in a bone fragment. A decade later, the Denisovans remain enigmatic. We know they were a sister group to the Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and west Asia around the same time, and that they interbred with Neanderthals and with us. But only a handful of bones have been identified and we don’t have…

3 min
eu squeeze on vaccines

THE European Union has taken a first step towards clamping down on the export of coronavirus vaccines after pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca told the bloc it would deliver far fewer doses than expected in the next months. The EU hasn’t stopped manufacturers from selling to outside nations, including the UK, but has taken a step towards this by requiring vaccine manufacturers to give notice before exporting. “In the future, all companies producing vaccines against covid-19 in the EU will have to provide early notification whenever they want to export vaccines to third countries,” said Stella Kyriakides, the EU commissioner for health, on 25 January. “Humanitarian deliveries are, of course, not affected by this. The European Union will take any action required to protect its citizens and rights.” Even before it was clear whether…

8 min
can you relax after one dose?

ABOUT 70 million doses of vaccines against covid-19 have now been administered worldwide, including in excess of 20 million in the US. In the UK, where more than 7 million people have received a first dose, most people will be required to wait for about three months before they receive the second dose. This has left many wondering how protected they are, and what measures they still need to take for their safety and that of others. Here’s what you need to know. Am I safe once I have had one dose of a coronavirus vaccine? The short answer is no. “Don’t for a moment imagine you are safe. That would be a horrific thing to do,” says Danny Altmann at Imperial College London. “You absolutely can’t remotely modify your behaviour until well after…

4 min
herd immunity no-show

HOSPITALS in the Brazilian state of Amazonas are collapsing under the strain of covid-19 once again. This is despite a high rate of coronavirus cases during the first wave of the virus, and suggests that if herd immunity by infection is possible, it may be harder to achieve than previously thought. In Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, hospital beds are unavailable. People are queuing to buy oxygen tanks from private suppliers to try to treat family or friends, as oxygen supplies in hospitals were exhausted by 15 January. Oxygen donations from nearby regions are now being rationed. The state is “in the most critical moment of the pandemic”, said the state’s governor, Wilson Lima, on 15 January. It is the second time that Manaus has been in crisis since the pandemic began.…

3 min
is the new uk variant more deadly as well as spreading faster?

IT APPEARS that the new coronavirus variant first identified in the UK is slightly deadlier as well as more transmissible than older variants. But thanks to improved treatments, the risk that people who are infected will die could still be lower in the UK than it was during the first wave of the pandemic last March. “The additional mortality from the new variant is concerning,” says Graham Medley at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). But the main reason why so many people are dying now in the UK is the number of infections, he says. “If you want to reduce the number of deaths, you have to reduce the incidence. That is the critical thing.” There is now strong evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant is around 50 per…