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New Scientist Australian Edition 18-Sep-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.

Country:
Australia
Language:
English
Publisher:
New Scientist Ltd
Frequency:
Weekly
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51 Issues

in this issue

2 min
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual event A stunning new way to explore the cosmos In 2015, we detected the first ever gravitational wave, opening up a whole new way of studying the cosmos. In her talk – Listening to the universe with gravitational waves – Lisa Barsotti will describe the tens of gravitational waves we’ve seen since and how they have shed light on some of the most profound mysteries in space. Join us at 6pm BST (1pm EDT) on 14 October. Get your tickets online now. newscientist.com/ns-events Online Covid-19 daily update Stay on top of all the most crucial developments in the pandemic with our daily briefing, updated at 12pm BST every weekday. There are also links to exclusive news, features and interviews. newscientist.com/coronavirus-latest Podcasts Weekly Great news for the more flatulent among us – breaking wind is a sign of good gut…

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2 min
beyond the pandemic

WE ARE far from the end of covid-19, but it isn’t too early to begin to assess the pandemic’s likely long-term effects on society and how we should respond. Younger people, whose education, career development and opportunities for social interaction in formative years have been most affected, are a natural focus of attention. Our special report on “Generation Covid” (see page 34) comes on the back of an exclusive survey New Scientist conducted with a team at King’s College London. It represents an attempt to marry the best of recent research with some hard data on how the pandemic has affected all generations – and how they themselves view their future prospects. Covid-19 may well turn out to be a generation-defining event. If so, it is because it has laid bare and…

2 min
amateurs in orbit

SPACEX’s Inspiration4 mission was due to launch at 8pm local time on 15 September from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as New Scientist went to press. It marks the first ever launch without any professional astronauts, as all four of the crew, pictured, are private individuals, not governmenttrained space explorers. Many people who aren’t professional astronauts have been to orbit aboard various spacecraft, but until now they have always been accompanied by trained professionals. While the passengers on the Inspiration4 mission have undergone some training to make sure they are able to fly safely, they haven’t been through the intensive, years-long process normally required to become an astronaut. The commander for the mission will be Jared Isaacman, a billionaire and pilot who paid for the flight. He donated two of the…

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1 min
rare genetic variants at work in centenarians

A CLOSE look at the DNA of centenarians – people aged 100 years or more – has identified rare genetic variants that might help explain their longevity. Zhengdong Zhang at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and his team compared the genetic profiles of 515 centenarians and 496 non-centenarians, who were aged between 70 and 95. The researchers wondered whether the centenarians might owe their longevity in part to an absence of rare genetic variants known to increase the risk of disease. But they found that these variants were as likely to be carried by centenarians as non-centenarians. On the flip side, some rare versions of genes with known beneficial effects were more likely to be carried by centenarians. For instance, the researchers found the centenarians carried rare beneficial variants in…

2 min
emissions from australian wildfires mostly captured by algal blooms

MOST of the carbon dioxide released by Australia’s wildfires of 2019-20 was sucked out of the atmosphere by giant ocean algal blooms seeded by the nutrientrich ash, a new study suggests. Australia experienced its worst wildfires on record between November 2019 and January 2020. More than 70,000 square kilometres of bushland – an area the size of the Republic of Ireland – burned to the ground. As the vegetation combusted, about 715 million tonnes of CO2 was released into the atmosphere – roughly equivalent to the entire annual emissions of Germany. This led to fears that the fires would be a major contributor to global warming. However, new research suggests that approximately 80 per cent of this CO2 has been absorbed by ocean algal blooms that began growing when iron-rich ash from the…

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2 min
army ants store temporary caches when raiding nests

ARMY ants frequently raid other social insects’ nests for vulnerable larvae and pupae. A computer simulation suggests that the insects have come up with a strategy to boost the speed and efficiency of their raids, by temporarily storing the food they steal in a nearby cache. Hilário Póvoas de Lima at the University of São Paulo in Brazil and his colleagues were observing Eciton hamatum army ants in the Amazon rainforest when they noticed the insects stacking prey that they had pillaged in piles along their foraging trails, far from their bivouac – the nest that houses the queen and larvae, and is made out of interlinked bodies of living worker ants. Biologists first noticed these food stacks, or caches, nearly a century ago. They were assumed to appear because ants became…