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New Scientist Australian Edition 27-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 A new science of conciousness Somewhere, somehow, inscribed in your brain is everything that makes you, you. But how do we grasp what happens in the brain to turn electrical impulses into perceptions, thoughts and emotions? In this talk, Anil Seth presents an exhilarating new idea about how we experience the world and the self. Join us at 6pm BST on 9 September or watch on demand later. Tickets available now. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly In an especially eclectic episode, the team discuss lockdown endgames in the UK, hibernating marmots, an ancient Greek “computer” and why mushrooms might be the answer to our clean energy needs. Escape Pod A podcast to distract you from the woes of life in a pandemic. This week, the team discover the science of finding a “flow” state, that sweet spot in…

2 min
cities for all

IN 2007, give or take, came a watershed moment in the 300,000-odd-year history of Homo sapiens. For the first time, more of us were living in urban settings than in small communities embedded in largely natural environments. Urbanisation has been a driver of human cultural and material development since the first cities arose some 6000 years ago. Yet it is becoming clear that city life brings with it burdens on our evolved psyches. Indeed, green spaces have been shown to be vital not just to our physical health, but also to our mental health, including in alleviating conditions such as depression, anxiety and mood disorders (see page 36). They also help with creativity, positive social interactions, healthy sleep patterns and much more. The covid-19 pandemic has driven home the reality of those…

3 min
hybrid virus is spreading

VIRUSES formed by mash-ups of two variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are now spreading from person to person, potentially increasing the risk of dangerous new variants arising. New Scientist reported on the first detection of this kind of so-called recombination last month, but at that point it was unknown whether the resulting hybrid was circulating in the wild. Two new analyses end any doubt. “Recombinants are circulating,” says Dave VanInsberghe at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Recombination is a potent source of evolutionary change in coronaviruses. It normally occurs when two variants meet in one host cell. The worry is that it could bring recent mutations together in new and more dangerous combinations, although there is no evidence yet of that happening. The risk of new variants is particularly concerning given many…

5 min
global vaccine hesitancy declining…

WHEN Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive a covid‑19 vaccine outside a trial last December, she was among the 7 in 10 people surveyed globally who said they would be willing to receive a dose. But the significant minority unwilling to have a vaccine led public health experts to worry about how such hesitancy might hamper efforts to achieve herd immunity. The good news is that with more than 400 million people around the world having received at least one dose of a vaccine, attitudes are changing. One survey, which included Japan and the UK, found that in 11 of 14 high-income countries, the number of people who “strongly agreed” they would get vaccinated increased by at least 9 percentage points between November 2020 and last month. Seven of these…

2 min
… but europeans get cold feet amid vaccine controversy

THE short-lived suspensions of the Oxford/AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine by several European countries over fears of blood clotting may have increased vaccine hesitancy, just as a third wave of infections hits Europe. In mid-March, several countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, suspended the vaccine’s use pending investigations into isolated cases of bleeding and blood clots. Many countries have since resumed their roll-outs after the European Medicines Agency concluded that the vaccine was safe and effective. However, trust in the vaccine has waned in the European Union. More than half of people in France, Germany and Spain surveyed during the latest controversy believe that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is unsafe – an increase from February – according to a YouGov poll published this week. “I am afraid that this will have a disastrous impact,” says…

3 min
mistrust over vaccine roll-out

AS COVID-19 vaccines begin to arrive in the Andean highlands in Colombia, Maria Pito, a leader of the Nasa people, is reluctant to receive one. “As a nurse, I will be required by the clinic where I work to be vaccinated but if I had the choice, I would not take it and would continue to rely on traditional medicine,” she says. “I and many others don’t trust this untransparent government.” Her distrust echoes the feeling of many Indigenous people in the region, even though they belong to one of the demographics most vulnerable to covid-19. Many are choosing to use traditional medicines and well-established isolation tactics to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “The situation with these new vaccines is complicated, and we have very little information about them,” says Marcelino Noé,…