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Latest Science news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world’s leading liberal voice

Last feed update: Tuesday May 28th, 2024 06:28:04 PM

Hobbyist archaeologists identify thousands of ancient sites in England

Monday May 27th, 2024 02:04:06 PM Dalya Alberge
Exclusive: Bronze age remains and Roman roads among 12,802 sites discovered using latest technologyBronze age burial mounds, Roman roads and deserted medieval villages are among almost 13,000 previously-unknown ancient sites and monuments that have been discovered by members of the public in recent months, it will be announced this week.Truck drivers and doctors are among more than 1,000 people who participated in Deep Time, a “citizen science project” which has harnessed the power of hobbyists to scour 512 sq km (200 sq miles) of Earth Observation data, including high-resolution satellite and lidar – laser technology – imagery. Continue reading…

Concrete without CO2: can our biggest building material go green? – podcast

Tuesday May 28th, 2024 04:00:42 AM Presented by Madeleine Finlay, produced by Holly Fisher and Madeleine Finlay, sound design by Joel Cox, the executive producer was Ellie Bury
Concrete is strong and durable – which is why it’s the basis for so much of our infrastructure. It’s also terrible for the planet, due to one key ingredient: cement, which is responsible for almost 90% of concrete emissions. Researchers have now found a way to recover old cement while also reducing the environmental impact of recycling steel. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Julian Allwood, professor of engineering and the environment at the University Of Cambridge, to find out how the process works, and what it could mean for the emissions generated by the construction industryFind more on concrete here in a special series from the Guardian Continue reading…

Rates of melanoma skin cancer hit all-time high in UK, study finds

Sunday May 26th, 2024 11:01:07 PM Ian Sample Science editor
Cancer Research UK notes particular rise in diagnoses among older people and says majority of cases are preventableRates of melanoma skin cancer have reached an all-time high in the UK, according to analysis that highlights a substantial rise in the number of cases over the past decade, particularly among older people.New diagnoses increased by almost a third from 21 to 28 in every 100,000 people between 2007-09 and 2017-19, according to Cancer Research UK (CRUK) figures, with a 57% rise among the over-80s and a 7% rise in those aged 25 to 49. Continue reading…

Can you solve it? How do you like them apples?

Monday May 27th, 2024 06:10:14 AM Alex Bellos
Two sweet and crunchy brainteasersUPDATE: Read the answers hereHere’s a curious fact taken from The Call of Coincidence, a book by Owen O’Shea about serendipity in maths.The triangle with sides 45, 97 and 56 has an area of √459.756. Continue reading…

Starwatch: the moon passes Saturn in the dawn twilight

Monday May 27th, 2024 05:00:15 AM Stuart Clark
Earth’s satellite and the ringed planet will be easily observable in the early hoursThe moon passes Saturn this week. The chart shows the view looking south-east from London at 04:00 BST on the morning of 31 May 2024.As the sky begins to fill with the dawn twilight, Earth’s satellite and the ringed planet will rise to an easily observable altitude. By now, the moon is 22.6 days old, and has arrived at its last quarter phase with 45.6% of its visible surface illuminated. This puts it just into its waning crescent phase. Continue reading…

Another pandemic is ‘absolutely inevitable’, says Patrick Vallance

Saturday May 25th, 2024 01:49:49 PM Lucy Knight
Former UK chief scientific adviser warns ‘we are not ready yet’ and urges next government to prepareUK politics live – latest updatesThe former chief scientific adviser to the government Sir Patrick Vallance has said another pandemic is “absolutely inevitable” and urged the incoming British government to focus on preparing for it, warning “we are not ready yet”.Speaking at a panel event at the Hay festival in Powys, Vallance said it is “great we are having an election” as there are “clearly issues that need to be sorted out”. One of the things the next government must do is implement “better surveillance to be able to pick these things up”, he said. Continue reading…

Remains of horses buried 2,000 years ago found in central France

Tuesday May 28th, 2024 05:24:39 PM Kim Willsher in Paris
Archaeologists trying to determine whether animals were killed in battle or buried as part of a ritualFrench archaeologists have uncovered nine large graves containing the remains of horses from up to 2,000 years ago, in a find described as “extraordinary”.The 28 stallions, all around six years old, had been buried shortly after they died, each placed in pits on their right side with their head facing south. Nearby a grave contained the remains of two dogs, heads facing west. Continue reading…

Drawings depicting gladiators among latest discoveries at Pompeii

Tuesday May 28th, 2024 05:12:16 PM Angela Giuffrida in Rome
Charcoal graffiti believed to have been sketched by children uncovered at ancient Roman cityDrawings of gladiators believed to have been made by children inspired by watching battles at Pompeii’s amphitheatre are among the latest discoveries in the ruins of the ancient Roman city.The charcoal drawings were found during excavations at I’Insula dei Casti Amanti, a cluster of homes in Pompeii’s archaeological park that opened to the public for the first time on Tuesday. Continue reading…

Giving young children peanut products cuts allergy risk, study finds

Tuesday May 28th, 2024 01:30:31 PM Ian Sample Science editor
Children who eat peanut snacks regularly from four to six months onwards 71% less likely to have peanut allergy at 13, research finds Feeding children peanut products from infancy until the age of five cuts their risk of developing a peanut allergy into early adolescence, researchers say.Children who ate peanut pastes or puffed peanut snacks regularly from four to six months onwards were 71% less likely to have a peanut allergy at age 13 than those who avoided peanuts, pointing to a long-lasting effect of early peanut consumption. Continue reading…

‘A catastrophe’: Greenpeace blocks planting of ‘lifesaving’ Golden Rice

Saturday May 25th, 2024 01:00:25 PM Robin McKie Science editor
Thousands of children could die after court backs campaign group over GM crop in Philippines, scientists warnScientists have warned that a court decision to block the growing of the genetically modified (GM) crop Golden Rice in the Philippines could have catastrophic consequences. Tens of thousands of children could die in the wake of the ruling, they argue.The Philippines had become the first country – in 2021 – to approve the commercial cultivation of Golden Rice, which was developed to combat vitamin A deficiency, a major cause of disability and death among children in many parts of the world. Continue reading…

Wuhan: How the Covid-19 Outbreak in China Spiraled Out of Control; Wuhan: A Documentary Novel – reviews

Sunday May 19th, 2024 12:00:34 PM Mark Honigsbaum
Dali L Yang’s critique of China’s response in the early days of the Covid pandemic is thoroughgoing if academic, while poet Liao Yiwu’s account mixes fact and fiction to extraordinary effectCast your mind back, if you will, to the beginning of the pandemic, before the World Health Organization had coined the term Covid-19. Back then, it was the “Wuhan virus”, a mysterious pathogen from a city that few people outside China had visited.On 12 January 2020, China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the virus’s genome on an international database, permitting scientists anywhere in the world to see that it was a coronavirus closely related to Sars – the pathogen that had caused a mini-pandemic in 2002-2004. Continue reading…

An Unfinished Film review – moving and mysterious movie about China’s Covid crisis

Thursday May 16th, 2024 03:46:12 PM Peter Bradshaw
Cannes film festivalLou Ye’s docu-realist film starts as sophisticated comedy, morphs from looking like a zombie apocalypse to intimate drama, and evolves into a tribute to how a nation handled traumaOut of agony and chaos, Chinese film-maker Lou Ye has created something mysterious, moving and even profound – a kind of multilayered docu-realist film, evidently inspired by a real-life situation in film production. As well as everything else, the film meditates on what it means to be “unfinished”. Very few of us will leave this life with a satisfied sense of everything achieved, complete, squared away. To be mortal is to feel that things have ended without being finished. It is possibly his best film since the courageous Tiananmen Square drama Summer Palace from 2006 – and set near Wuhan, the city in which his 2012 film Mystery was set in the days when that place was internationally known – if at all – simply for being almost scarily vast and impersonal.It is 2019 and a film director and his crew gather in a production studio and excitedly unbox a big 00s-era computer, containing the digitised video and audio files for a film he had had to abandon 10 years before – without even having a title – because he had refused to bow to his producers’ demands to soften the content. It is a story of a gay man’s passion for another man who is involved with someone else. Getting the unfinished film now is clearly the end result of legal wrangling. (Lou has evidently had access to genuine footage from a real production.) Continue reading…

AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine is no more – but its remarkable success must not be forgotten | Robin McKie

Saturday May 11th, 2024 02:29:27 PM Robin McKie Science editor
Although dogged by controversy, the firm’s coronavirus jab saved the lives of millions and helped avert humanitarian crises in nations unable to access costly alternativesLast week’s announcement that AstraZeneca would no longer market its Covid vaccine brings an end to one of the century’s most remarkable medical stories. Created within a year of the arrival of the pandemic, the AZ vaccine was cheap, easily stored and transported, and helped stave off humanitarian crises in Asia and Latin America, where many countries could not afford the more expensive mRNA vaccines that were being snapped up by rich western nations. It is estimated that it saved 6.3 million lives in 2021 alone.Yet from the start the vaccine – created by research teams led by Professor Andy Pollard and Professor Sarah Gilbert at the Oxford Vaccine Centre – was dogged by controversy. It was linked to blood clots, US observers criticised protocols for its trials, and French president Emmanuel Macron claimed it was “quasi-ineffective” for people over 65. In fact, the vaccine is particularly effective for the elderly. Continue reading…

Chinese woman jailed for reporting on Covid in Wuhan to be freed after four years

Saturday May 11th, 2024 11:00:26 AM Amy Hawkins Senior China correspondent
Citizen journalist Zhang Zhan’s search for the truth during the early days of the pandemic was seen as a threat by the authoritiesA Chinese citizen journalist who has been in prison for four years after reporting on the early days of the Covid-19 epidemic in Wuhan is due to be released on Monday.Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer, travelled to Wuhan in February 2020 to document the Chinese government’s response to what became the start of a global pandemic. She shared her reports on X (then known as Twitter), YouTube and WeChat. She was one of the few independent Chinese reporters on the ground as Wuhan and the rest of China went into lockdown. Continue reading…

Imagine getting life-saving drugs to sick people without relying on big pharma? We may have found a way | Dr Catriona Crombie

Thursday May 16th, 2024 11:30:05 AM Catriona Crombie
An NHS trust’s attempts to bring a crucial drug to market itself is hopeful news for patientsDr Catriona Crombie is the head of rare disease at medical charity LifeArcHealthcare should make people’s lives better. That fact can hardly be contested. Yet for some patients with rare diseases, commercial interests are dictating who gets to access life-saving treatment and who doesn’t. Pharmaceutical companies have long been driven by global demand and the potential for the highest profits. In the past two decades, the market has exploded: pharma revenues worldwide have exceeded $1tn. For patients with common conditions, this investment in healthcare can only be good news. But the narrow focus of this strategy means that, in the UK, the one in 17 of us who will at some point be affected by a rare condition risk being forgotten.That is until now. Healthcare providers, driven by a desire to make life-saving treatments more widely available, are increasingly finding new ways of getting them to patients for whom they would have previously been out of reach. Great Ormond Street hospital (Gosh) recently announced that it was taking the unprecedented step of attempting to obtain the licence itself for a rare gene therapy on a non-profit basis, after the pharmaceutical company that planned to bring it to market dropped out. If successful, it will be the first time that an NHS trust has the authorisation to market a drug for this kind of treatment. The move could act as a proof of concept for bringing drugs to UK patients that pharmaceutical companies aren’t willing to risk their profits on.Dr Catriona Crombie is the head of rare disease at medical charity LifeArc Continue reading…

We could see the aurora happening with our very own nude eyeballs. The chickens were uncertain and clucking | First Dog on the Moon

Monday May 13th, 2024 06:07:42 AM First Dog on the Moon
At one point the whole sky was lit up and pulsing PULSING!Sign up here to get an email whenever First Dog cartoons are publishedGet all your needs met at the First Dog shop if what you need is First Dog merchandise and prints Continue reading…

The climate crisis is no laughing matter, no matter what those on Radio 4’s Today programme think | Bill McGuire

Friday May 10th, 2024 02:41:15 PM Bill McGuire
As a scientist, I’m faced with indifference and a failure to understand the reality of the climate crisis every day. We must wake people upBill McGuire is professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at UCLDo you find climate breakdown funny? Do you think it’s a laughing matter that we are on track to bequeath to our children and their children a planet changed for the worse beyond all recognition? I don’t – and I’m sure the presenters of Radio 4’s Today programme don’t either. But I couldn’t help feeling we were having a bit of a Don’t Look Up moment yesterday, hearing them brush off predictions by top climate scientists that our world will end up at least 2.5C hotter as depressing and “gloomy”. This is not to say that laughter and grim news shouldn’t or can’t go together. I work with comedians to help get the climate crisis message across, but we use humour to aid understanding and to help cope, not to denigrate and mock.The truth is that most people, including many professional journalists, and most politicians, don’t really “get” climate breakdown. Partly this reflects a heads-in-the-sand attitude, but mainly it flags a poor understanding of just how bad things are set to get. Continue reading…

I understand climate scientists’ despair – but stubborn optimism may be our only hope | Christiana Figueres

Thursday May 9th, 2024 03:26:17 PM Christiana Figueres
Fighting spirit helped us achieve the Paris accords in 2015 – and we need it now the world is on course to overshoot 1.5C• ‘Hopeless and broken’: why the world’s top climate scientists are in despair• Christiana Figueres was the head of the UN climate change convention from 2010 to 2016“Hopeless and broken”: that is how a top scientist interviewed by the Guardian described feeling as she and hundreds of other climate experts shared harrowing predictions of the future of the planet this week.I resonate with her feelings of despair. Even as the former head of the UN climate change convention that achieved the Paris agreement in 2015, I, like many, can succumb to believing in the worst possible outcome. Just after I assumed the role of UN climate chief in 2010, I said to a room full of reporters that I didn’t believe a global agreement on climate would be possible in my lifetime. Continue reading…

Why is air turbulence getting worse? – podcast

Thursday May 23rd, 2024 04:00:10 AM Presented by Ian Sample, produced by Madeleine Finlay, sound design by Tony Onuchukwu, the executive producer was Ellie Bury
On Tuesday a British man died and several others were injured when their plane encountered severe turbulence between London and Singapore. And it looks like this kind of turbulence is something we’ll have to get used to. Last year a study found severe clear-air turbulence had increased by 55% between 1979 and 2020. Ian Sample speaks to Guy Gratton, associate professor of aviation and the environment at Cranfield University, to find out why this is happening, and whether there’s anything we can do to reverse the trend. Continue reading…

In their prime: how trillions of cicadas pop up right on time – podcast

Tuesday May 21st, 2024 04:00:28 AM Presented by Ian Sample, produced by Madeleine Finlay, sound design by Joel Cox, the executive producer was Ellie Bury
Right now, across much of the midwestern and eastern US, trillions of cicadas are crawling out from the soil. And this year is extra special, because two broods are erupting from the ground at once. The first brood hasn’t been seen for 13 years, the other for 17 years and the last time they emerged together Thomas Jefferson was president. Ian Sample speaks to entomologist Dr Gene Kritsky to find out what’s going on, why periodical cicadas emerge in cycles of prime numbers and how they keep time undergroundClips: CBN NewsEverything you need to know about the US cicada-geddon Continue reading…

AI, algorithms and apps: can dating be boiled down to a science? – podcast

Thursday May 16th, 2024 04:01:00 AM Presented by Madeleine Finlay, produced by Joshan Chana, sound design by Tony Onuchukwu, the executive producer was Ellie Bury
Last week the founder of the dating app Bumble forecasted a near future dating landscape where AI ‘dating concierges’ filter out prospective partners for us. But does AI, or even science, really understand what makes two people compatible? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Amie Gordon, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, to find out what we know about why two people go the distance, and why she and her colleague associate professor of sociology Elizabeth Bruch, are designing their own dating app to learn more.Clips: BloombergRead more about Amie’s app here Continue reading…

Brian Haywood obituary

Thursday April 25th, 2024 05:35:52 PM Laura Pettitt
My grandfather, Brian Haywood, who has died aged 91, spent his career working as a nuclear physicist, mainly at the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell in Oxfordshire.He was born in Birmingham to Vi and Hal, who ran a haberdashery shop. An only child, Brian lived through much of the blitz and spent the evenings in an air-raid shelter. He attended Bearwood Road school, then obtained a scholarship to King Edward VI Five Ways grammar school, and in his first year was evacuated to Monmouth with his classmates. He stayed here for a year. Continue reading…

‘Enormously exciting’ fossils found in NSW opal field suggest Australia had ‘age of monotremes’

Sunday May 26th, 2024 03:00:58 PM Graham Readfearn
Discovery of ‘echidnapus’ and two more species show the furry egg-layers predated marsupialsFollow our Australia news live blog for latest updatesGet our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcastSome time about 100m years ago in what is now an Australian opal field, a weird, furry, egg-laying, rabbit-sized mammal was gliding through a waterhole across a massive polar floodplain.This mammal – Opalius splendens, but which scientists have thankfully blessed with the nickname “echidnapus” – was among the ancient descendants of one of the planet’s most unique orders of animals, the monotremes. Continue reading…

North Korea spy satellite explodes in flight as latest launch fails

Monday May 27th, 2024 11:57:30 PM Agence France-Presse
Cause of accident was ‘operational reliability of engine’, says Pyongyang, after two failed attempts last yearNorth Korea’s latest attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit ended in a mid-air explosion, Pyongyang said late Monday, hours after its announcement of a planned launch was criticised by Seoul and Tokyo.Japanese broadcaster NHK ran footage of what appeared to be a flaming projectile in the night sky, which then exploded into a fireball. NHK said the footage was taken from northeast China at the same time as the attempted launch. Continue reading…

Argentinian couple moves to US to allow their toddler to join gene therapy trial

Saturday May 18th, 2024 12:00:06 PM Stephen Starr
The Lovatos relocated from Guatemala to Ohio for their son, who has the rare genetic disorder Canavan diseaseThe birth of their first child three and a half years ago completed Natalia and Juan Lovato’s lives. Both from Argentina, Juan was a professional soccer player in Guatemala, where Natalia ran a successful Argentinian restaurant.Soon, however, they noticed their son Ciro couldn’t hold up his head. Then, they were alarmed that he wasn’t making eye contact. Continue reading…

The problem with the nudge effect: it can make you buy more carrots – but it can’t make you eat them

Monday May 27th, 2024 04:18:12 PM Guardian Staff
It has long been thought that psychological tactics can persuade consumers to adopt much healthier habits. But it turns out there is a hitch …Name: Behavioural nudges.Age: Nudge theory was popularised by the 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. But the term nudge had been used in cybernetics, the science of communications and automatic control systems, in the 1990s. Continue reading…

Did you solve it? How do you like them apples?

Monday May 27th, 2024 03:58:13 PM Alex Bellos
The answers to today’s crunchy teasersEarlier today I set you these two puzzles. Here they are again with answers. Continue reading…

Did you solve it? Gems from the vault of the National Puzzlers’ League

Monday May 13th, 2024 04:04:09 PM Alex Bellos
The answers to today’s wordplay challengesEarlier today I set you these problems from the National Puzzlers’ League, the world’s oldest association of word puzzle aficionados, active since 1883. Here they are again with answers.The puzzles are “flats”, a genre unique to the NPL, which are small pieces of light verse with some missing words. Here’s an explanation of the puzzles for those who missed the original story. For those who did, please skip ahead. Continue reading…

Can you solve it? Gems from the vault of the National Puzzlers’ League

Monday May 13th, 2024 06:10:16 AM Alex Bellos
Wacky wordplay from the pioneers of puzzledomUPDATE: Read the answers hereThe National Puzzlers’ League is the world’s oldest association of word puzzle aficionados. Active in the US more or less continuously since 1883, its output includes these wonderful anagrams, which obey the constraint that the anagrams must be apposite to the original word(s):greyhound / hey, dog run! (1898) Continue reading…

Did you solve it? Tiler swift

Monday April 29th, 2024 04:00:18 PM Alex Bellos
The answer to today’s puzzleEarlier today I set you this puzzle, about the tiling of a 4×4 grid. It requires a swift preamble, so here we go again.Consider the image below, which highlights adjacent rows in the grid. Continue reading…

Australian student helps discover potentially habitable planet the size of Earth – video

Friday May 24th, 2024 06:02:37 AM
Shishir Dholakia of the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Astrophsics has identified Gliese 12b, a possibly temperate Earth-sized planet just 40 light years away. The student has been co-leading an international team that published the discovery in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical SocietyEarth-sized planet spotted orbiting small star with 100 times sun’s lifespan Continue reading…

Northern lights illuminate skies in US and Canada – in pictures

Saturday May 11th, 2024 03:17:37 PM Jim Powell
Rare sightings of aurora borealis in North America as atmospheric phenomenon fills overnight skies from California to Ontario Continue reading…

Northern lights captured in timelapse footage across Europe and US – video

Saturday May 11th, 2024 11:07:10 AM
Videos filmed across the northern hemisphere show skies illuminated by the aurora borealis.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US said the ‘very rare event’ was caused by a large sunspot cluster that has produced several moderate to strong solar flares since Wednesday morning. That meant the lights could be seen further south than usualNorthern lights dazzle over UK, Europe and across the hemisphere Continue reading…






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