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New Scientist Australian Edition 6-Mar-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 event Making sense of quantum theory Quantum theory has given us many startling ideas, from cats that are both dead and alive to distant objects that seem magically connected. Our understanding of the universe is based on this idea – yet it remains profoundly mysterious. In this talk, physicist Carlo Rovelli unpacks the deep meaning of quantum theory and explains how we live in a universe of relations. Join us from 6pm BST on 1 April or watch on demand later. Tickets available now. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly Here’s an epic thought experiment: if you had a trillion dollars, what would be the best way to spend it to safeguard humanity’s future? The team also talks metabolism myths and learning Morse code in your sleep. Escape Pod A dose of pure escapism, with no mention of viruses! This…

2 min
counting the cost

WE MAY never know for certain how the SARS-CoV-2 virus jumped from another animal to a human before upending our world. Getting a convincing answer will take some time, judging by the first results from a World Health Organization investigation into the origins of the new coronavirus. The WHO team served up more questions than answers at a press conference last month, ruling out a lab origin, but calling for more research into the possibility that it was carried via frozen food. Most virologists regard that as unlikely. The most plausible route seems to be that the virus originated in a bat, as the closely related SARS-CoV-1 virus, which causes SARS, did two decades ago, and spread from there to people via an unidentified species. In a sense, the details don’t matter.…

3 min
brazil variant reaches uk

SIX people in the UK have tested positive for the P.1 coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil. Five of the six either recently returned from Brazil or had close contact with someone travelling from there. Officials are trying to trace a sixth person who tested positive after sending in a home test kit without contact details. The situation has led to fears that this variant could spread more widely. The P.1 variant seems to have emerged in Brazil last November. It caused a second wave of infections in the city of Manaus, despite up to three-quarters of its population having been infected in the first wave earlier in 2020. A study by Nuno Faria at Imperial College London and his colleagues suggests that P.1 spread 1.4 to 2.2 times faster than other…

7 min
children of the pandemic

SCHOOLS have been closed in England for about two months amid a national lockdown, and I have lost count of the number of times my daughter has cried. She is normally cheerful, but throughout this time, she has dissolved into tears most days. She misses her friends and finds Zoom lessons stressful In England, schools will reopen next week, but that isn’t the case everywhere: in some US states, such as California, schools have been closed for almost a full year. At the start of this pandemic, many parents had a sense of solidarity, even adventure. Now many of us are grumpy and tired, and feel close to burnout. What effect has all this had on our kids? “We need to consider children in all of this, and we’re just not,” says…

3 min
face masks needed until 2022

MANDATORY wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport will probably stay in place in the UK until at least 2022, predict a majority of infectious disease experts polled by New Scientist Expectations are similar for official guidance in the UK on physical distancing, with most anticipating that 2 metre or “1 metre plus” measures will remain until 2022 or later. Opinion is split on whether the UK will hit its vaccination roll-out target. To gather the views, New Scientist contacted around 200 leading UK epidemiologists, modellers, virologists and public health researchers to see when they think life in the UK will return to something resembling normality. A total of 52 responded from more than 15 universities and organisations, providing an anecdotal snapshot of expectations for the future Among the respondents,…

2 min
complex life’s days are numbered

ONE billion years from now, Earth’s atmosphere will contain little oxygen, making it unsuitable for complex aerobic life. Today, oxygen makes up around 21 per cent of Earth’s atmosphere. Its oxygen-rich nature is ideal for large and complex organisms, like humans, that require the gas to survive. But early in Earth’s history, oxygen levels were much lower – and they are likely to be low again in the distant future. Kazumi Ozaki at Toho University in Funabashi, Japan, and Chris Reinhard at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta modelled Earth’s climatic, biological and geological systems to predict how atmospheric conditions on Earth will change. The researchers say that Earth’s atmosphere will maintain high levels of oxygen for the next billion years before dramatically returning to low levels reminiscent of those that existed…