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New Scientist Australian Edition 27-Feb-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 Health series In 2021, we are offering three showstopping talks on diet, exercise and self-help. This week, Herman Pontzer reveals the misunderstood science of metabolism. Later in the year, Jason Gill will explain the truth about how much and in which ways we need to move. Finally, Helen Thomson is set to offer scientific insights on how to improve your life, from decreasing stress levels to improving your sleep and relationships. Get your tickets now and join us live or watch later on demand. newscientist.com/events Podcast Weekly The Perseverance rover lands on Mars; physicists finally explain why ice is slippery; and the team thrash out what it would take to rescue nature from its calamitous state. newscientist.com/podcasts Newsletter Our Human Story A monthly guide to human evolution delivered free to your inbox. The latest issue looks at where…

2 min
investing in the future

SOME readers might remember the 1985 movie Brewster’s Millions. Richard Pryor’s character has to spend $30 million in 30 days in order to inherit a $300 million fortune. This week, we update the conceit, inflating the sum to a cool $1 trillion, and set a few ground rules: the money has to be spent on projects to improve human welfare, to restore the environment and to advance science (see page 38). It is the premise of How to Spend a Trillion Dollars, a new book by New Scientist’s podcast editor Rowan Hooper that takes 10 megaprojects and costs them out. It is a timely exercise, with US president Joe Biden pushing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package through Congress, with a $2 trillion climate plan waiting in the wings. What could…

3 min
vaccine data ‘spectacular’

FINALLY, some good news. The first real-world studies on the effectiveness of two coronavirus vaccines have shown they are performing “spectacularly well”. In the first of two results announced this week, one dose of vaccine cut hospitalisations due to covid-19 in Scotland by more than 85 per cent The research, led by five Scottish universities and Public Health Scotland, involved 99 per cent of Scotland’s 5.4 million people, 1.1 million of whom received a vaccine between 8 December and 15 February. By the fifth week after getting their first dose, those who received the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab had reduced their risk of hospitalisation by 94 per cent, and those who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by 85 per cent. Aziz Sheikh at the University of Edinburgh says this is probably the first national report of its…

6 min
sights set on universal vaccine

THE coronavirus sweeping around the world isn’t the first to make the leap into humans and it won’t be the last. Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 were developed in record time and are performing well. But now we urgently need a different kind of vaccine, say scientists: one that will protect us against other coronaviruses, even those we haven’t met yet. It is a daunting challenge, yet work has already begun on creating such a universal vaccine, with the first human trials of potential candidates planned to start later this year. In the past 20 years, humanity has endured three outbreaks of disease caused by novel coronaviruses: SARS, MERS and now covid-19. The first two are very deadly – up to 35 per cent of people who catch MERS, and 10 per cent of…

7 min
children with long covid

A SERIOUS picture is emerging about the long-term health effects of covid-19 in some children, with UK politicians calling the lack of acknowledgment of the problem a “national scandal”. Children seem to be fairly well-protected from the most severe symptoms of covid-19. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the majority of children don’t develop symptoms when infected with the coronavirus, or their symptoms are very mild. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a large number of children with symptomatic and asymptomatic covid-19 are experiencing long-term effects, many months after the initial infection. Long-term symptoms Symptoms of “long covid” were first thought to include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, insomnia, respiratory problems and heart palpitations. Now, support groups and researchers say there may be up to 100 other symptoms,…

3 min
us army laser weapon to be most powerful ever

THE US Army is building a laser weapon over a million times more powerful than any used before – although because it delivers short pulses, the overall energy hitting the target is low. Existing laser weapons produce a continuous beam that is held on a target, such as a drone or missile, until it melts. The first was deployed by the US Navy in 2014. The new weapon, known as the Tactical Ultrashort Pulsed Laser for Army Platforms, would be more like science-fiction movie lasers, firing bullet-like pulses of light. 1 Power of a laser pulse from the new weapon, in terawatts Such ultrashort laser pulses carry extreme power over vanishingly short lengths of time: the project is aiming for a terawatt pulse lasting just 200 femtoseconds (2 x 10?¹³ s), compared with…