ZINIO logo

New Scientist Australian Edition 3-Apr-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 rescue plan for nature An all-star panel of scientists and economists explains how our disregard for nature helped cause the covid-19 pandemic – and how we can begin to get back on the right track. This event is presented in association with the United Nations Environment Programme and is free to all. Join us at 6pm BST on 15 April. Register your place now. newscientist.com/events Podcasts Weekly The Large Hadron Collider just might have found something that challenges the standard model of particle physics. The team also hear what the Perseverance rover is up to on Mars and discuss vaccine hesitancy in the EU. Escape Pod This week’s dose of escapism is all about scales: why some musical scales sound happy and others sad; the strange world at the Planck scale; and the maths of…

2 min
virus-driven progress

IN COUNTRIES where vaccinations against covid-19 are progressing well, this phase of the pandemic feels a bit like the part of a long-haul flight where the captain has switched on the seatbelt signs and ears are starting to pop. Everyone is impatient to land but there is a way to go yet. The descent will be turbulent, there is still a possibility of disaster and even once we are on the ground, there are many obstacles to negotiate before the journey is over. Even so, thoughts inevitably turn to what lies beyond the airport. The pandemic has been – still is – a health disaster, but there are many reasons to believe that we will find silver linings. Historically, pandemics have led to progress in science and medicine. The 1918 flu, for…

3 min
brazil fears covid collapse

BRAZIL is facing the biggest health system collapse in its history, according to researchers at Brazilian health institute Fiocruz, as the country records its highest number of weekly deaths since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, Chile has been forced to impose strict new lockdowns to cope with a severe second wave of infections, despite having mounted one of the world’s fastest vaccine roll-outs. Brazil recorded 18,164 deaths last week, bringing its total to more than 300,000, a higher toll than any other country except the US. Many of the country’s intensive care units have reached capacity. “The lack of medication, materials and intensive care beds are turning the situation into chaos,” says Renata Pieratti Bueno, a doctor at the Hospital das Clinicas in São Paulo. The shortages and a lack of trained…

3 min
how much worse can variants get?

THE devastating impact of the new coronavirus variants is becoming clear. The more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK is causing a surge of infections and deaths around the world. Is this just the beginning? Could even nastier variants evolve? When considering future variants, there are three main properties to worry about: transmissibility, evasion of immunity to past infection or vaccines, and lethality. Of these, transmissibility is the most important. The new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is far less lethal than the Ebola virus, but it has killed far more people because it is much better at spreading. We still don’t understand why the B.1.1.7 variant is at least 50 per cent more transmissible than other variants, says Joe Grove at University College London. But his work suggests that the spike proteins…

1 min
the covid-19 risk from our pets

In humans, the new coronavirus appears to be changing relatively slowly, but it seems to mutate much faster in animals. When Sue VandeWoude’s team at Colorado State University infected dogs, cats and hamsters with the virus, many mutations arose within days. This could be a source of dangerous variants if they jumped back into people. “There’s a risk, albeit a very low risk, of the virus becoming more virulent or transmissible,” says VandeWoude. While many dogs and cats have been infected by humans – cats are particularly susceptible – there is no evidence of pets infecting people. However, the virus has jumped to mink and then back to people. So far, this hasn’t given rise to more dangerous variants. Another worrying finding is that the B.1.1.7 variant infects lab mice, unlike older variants. If…

4 min
a third of uk population might not be protected from third wave

LAST week, UK prime minister Boris Johnson warned that there is no doubt that the third wave of covid-19 infections happening in mainland Europe will “wash up” on the UK’s shores. In fact, scientists and doctors, including England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty, have been warning for weeks that a new surge of infections would happen this year, as lockdown restrictions are eased. Now we have some early figures on vaccine take-up and effectiveness, what can we predict about the UK’s third wave? Although some people might have expected that the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines would put an end to infection surges, the new wave is inevitable because there will still be three groups of people who can get sick, even when everyone eligible has been offered a vaccine. These are: under-18s,…