Once you can accept the Universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.

— Albert Einstein

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Updated: 3 hours 53 min ago

Our plans to tackle climate change with carbon storage don't add up

Tue, 04/16/2024 - 11:31am
Modelling that shows how the world can remain below 1.5°C of warming assumes we can store vast amounts of carbon dioxide underground, but a new analysis reveals that achieving this is extremely unlikely
Categories: Astronomy

How to destroy a black hole

Tue, 04/16/2024 - 11:17am
A black hole would be tough to destroy, but in the season two premiere of Dead Planets Society our hosts are willing to go to extremes, from faster-than-light bombs to time travel
Categories: Astronomy

Watch a swarm of cyborg cockroaches controlled by computers

Tue, 04/16/2024 - 6:49am
Remote-controlled cockroaches with computers mounted on their backs can move as a swarm towards a target location, and could be used for search missions
Categories: Astronomy

A surprisingly enormous black hole has been found in our galaxy

Tue, 04/16/2024 - 4:00am
A black hole 33 times the mass of the sun is the largest stellar black hole ever spotted, and its strange companion star could help explain how it got so huge
Categories: Astronomy

Tiny nematode worms can grow enormous mouths and become cannibals

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 4:27pm
One species of nematode worm turns into a kin-devouring nightmare if it grows up in a crowded environment with a poor diet
Categories: Astronomy

Geoscientists are using telecom 'dark fibres' to map Earth’s innards

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 4:00pm
The networks of fibre optic cables that criss-cross the planet could be used to better understand what’s happening inside it
Categories: Astronomy

Parkinson's disease progression slowed by antibody infusions

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 1:00pm
Monthly infusions with the drug prasinezumab appeared to slow the progression of motor symptoms in people with advanced Parkinson's disease
Categories: Astronomy

Deadly upwellings of cold water pose threat to migratory sharks

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 12:00pm
Climate change is making extreme cold upwellings more common in certain regions of the world, and these events can be catastrophic for animals such as bull sharks
Categories: Astronomy

We live in a cosmic void so empty that it breaks the laws of cosmology

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 12:00pm
Mounting evidence suggests our galaxy sits at the centre of an expanse of nothingness 2 billion light years wide. If so, we may have to rethink our understanding of the universe
Categories: Astronomy

Are panda sex lives being sabotaged by the wrong gut microbes?

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 5:46pm
Conservationists think tweaking pandas’ diets might shift their gut microbiomes in a way that could encourage them to mate
Categories: Astronomy

See inside an endangered California condor egg just before it hatches

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 1:27pm
The hatching of the 250th California condor chick at the San Diego Zoo marks a notable milestone for a species that narrowly evaded extinction
Categories: Astronomy

‘Peaceful’ male bonobos may actually be more aggressive than chimps

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 12:00pm
Bonobos have long been regarded as the peaceful ape, in sharp contrast with violent chimpanzees, but a study based on thousands of hours of observations suggests the real story is more nuanced
Categories: Astronomy

Arctic permafrost is now a net source of major greenhouse gases

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 10:52am
An Arctic-wide survey has found that the permafrost region is emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than it absorbs, causing the planet to heat even further
Categories: Astronomy

Chatbots can persuade conspiracy theorists their view might be wrong

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 7:00am
After a short conversation with an artificial intelligence, people’s belief in a conspiracy theory dropped by about 20 per cent
Categories: Astronomy

Untangling the enigmatic origins of the human family’s newest species

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 7:00am
Five years ago, a fossil found in the Philippines was determined to be from a new species of hominin called Homo luzonensis. Since then, we’ve learned a bit more about the newest member of the human family
Categories: Astronomy

Water purifier is powered by static electricity from your body

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 6:00am
A 10-minute walk can build up enough static electricity to power a battery-free water purifier, which could be especially helpful during disasters or in regions that lack access to clean water and stable power supplies
Categories: Astronomy

Annie Jacobsen: 'What if we had a nuclear war?’

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 5:15am
Not long after the last world war, the historian William L. Shirer had this to say about the next world war. It “will be launched by suicidal little madmen pressing an electronic button. Such a war will not last long and none will ever follow it. There will be no conquers and no conquests, but only the charred bones of the dead on an uninhabited planet.” As an investigative journalist, I write about war, weapons, national security and government secrets. I’ve previously written six books about US military and intelligence programmes – at the CIA, The Pentagon, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency– all designed to prevent, or deter, nuclear world war III. In the course of my work, countless people in the upper echelons of US government have told me, proudly, that they’ve dedicated their lives to making sure the US never has a nuclear war. But what if it did? “Every capability in the [Department of Defense] is underpinned by the fact that strategic deterrence will hold,” US Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which is responsible for nuclear deterrence, insists publicly. Until the autumn of 2022, this promise was pinned on STRATCOM’s public Twitter feed. But to a private audience at Sandia National Laboratories later that same year, STRATCOM’s Thomas Bussiere, admitted the existential danger inherent to deterrence. “Everything unravels itself if those things are not true.” If deterrence fails – what exactly would that unravelling look like? To write Nuclear War: A scenario, I put this question to scores of former nuclear command and control authorities. To the military and civilian experts who’ve built the weapon systems, been privy to the response plans and been responsible for advising the US president on nuclear counterstrike decisions should they have to be made. What I learned terrified me. Here are just a few of the shocking truths about nuclear war. The US maintains a nuclear launch policy called Launch on Warning. This means that if a military satellite indicates the nation is under nuclear attack and a second early-warning radar confirms that information, the president launches nuclear missiles in response. Former secretary of defense William Perry told me: “Once we are warned of a nuclear attack, we prepare to launch. This is policy. We do not wait.” The US president has sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. He asks permission of no one. Not the secretary of defense, not the chairman of the joint chief of staff, not the US Congress. “The authority is inherent in his role as commander in chief,” the Congressional Research Service confirms. The president “does not need the concurrence of either his [or her] military advisors or the US Congress to order the launch of nuclear weapons”. When the president learns he must respond to a nuclear attack, he has just 6 minutes to do so. Six minutes is an irrational amount of time to “decide whether to release Armageddon”, President Ronald Reagan lamented in his memoirs. “Six minutes to decide how to respond to a blip on a radar scope… How could anyone apply reason at a time like that?” And yet, the president must respond. This is because it takes roughly just 30 minutes for an intercontinental ballistic missile to get from a launch pad in Russia, North Korea or China to any city in the US, and vice versa. Nuclear-armed submarines can cut that launch-to-target time to 10 minutes, or less. Today, there are nine nuclear- powers, with a combined total of more than 12,500 nuclear weapons ready to be used. The US and Russia each have some 1700 nuclear weapons deployed – weapons that can be launched in seconds or minutes after their respective president gives the command. This is what Shirer meant when he said: “Such a war will not last long and none will ever follow it.” Nuclear war is the only scenario other than an asteroid strike that could end civilisation in a matter of hours. The soot from burning cities and forests will blot out the sun and cause nuclear winter. Agriculture will fail. Some 5 billion people will die. In the words of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, “the survivors will envy the dead”. I wrote Nuclear War: A scenario to demonstrate – in appalling, minute-by-minute detail – just how horrifying a nuclear war would be. “Humanity is one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” UN secretary-general António Guterres warned the world in 2022. “This is madness. We must reverse course.” How true. Nuclear War: A Scenario by Annie Jacobsen, published by Torva (£20.00), is available now. It is the latest pick for the New Scientist Book Club: sign up here to read along with our members
Categories: Astronomy

Read an extract from Nuclear War: A scenario by Annie Jacobsen

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 5:15am
In this terrifying extract from Annie Jacobsen’s Nuclear War: A Scenario, the author lays out what would happen in the first seconds after a nuclear missile hits the Pentagon
Categories: Astronomy

Embryos pause development when nutrients are low — and now we know how

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 6:00pm
Embryos seem to have a sensor that picks up when nutrients are scarce, prompting them to pause their development until resources become more abundant again
Categories: Astronomy

A bacterium has evolved into a new cellular structure inside algae

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 3:00pm
A once-independent bacterium has evolved into an organelle that provides nitrogen to algal cells – an event so rare that there are only three other known cases
Categories: Astronomy