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Cannabis can relieve pain short-term, but we still don't know how

There is some evidence that cannabis is an effective short-term pain-reliever but long-term users may experience more pain

Having children earlier in life is genetically linked to dying younger

An analysis of over 270,000 people's genomes has found that people with genes linked to having children earlier in life are also more likely to die before the age of 76

Great Wall of China protected from erosion by coat of lichen and moss

Much of the Great Wall of China is covered in a biocrust of lichen, moss and cyanobacteria – it turns out this isn’t slowly destroying the wall, as was previously thought, but is slowing its degradation

Scientists have invented virtual reality goggles for mice

Studying the brain activity of a mouse while it scurries around different virtual reality scenarios typically requires cumbersome equipment, but the invention of miniature goggles may have solved that problem

Jumping spiders seem to recognise each other if they have met before

Regal jumpers, a type of jumping spider, appear to be less interested in each other if they have met before, suggesting that the arachnids recognise individuals within their species

How strong is the link between cannabis and schizophrenia?

Psychiatrist Deepak D’Souza says we are finally beginning to understand the relationship between cannabis use and schizophrenia, including which drug users are most at risk

The moon may enter a new geological period thanks to human activity

Humans have been altering the lunar surface since the first Soviet probe in 1959. With moon missions set to ramp up, researchers say humanity is now the dominant geological force and the moon is entering its equivalent of the Anthropocene

This mathematical trick can help you imagine space-time

Visualising space-time can be a mind-melting exercise, but mathematician Manil Suri has a trick that makes it easier

We now know why we find some jokes funny - thanks to Seinfeld

Scientists have a better understanding of how we enjoy jokes after monitoring people's brain activity while they watched the sitcom Seinfeld

World predicted to break 1.5°C warming limit for first time in 2024

There is a reasonable chance 2024 will be the first year in which the average global surface temperature is more than 1.5°C above that of the pre-industrial period, the UK's Met Office forecasts

Ancient climate analysis suggests CO2 causes more warming than thought

A reconstruction of 66 million years of climate history indicates global temperature may be even more sensitive to carbon dioxide levels than current models estimate

Honeyguide birds respond to special calls from human honey-hunters

Honey-hunters from several African cultures use different sounds to communicate with honeyguides, and the birds respond to local calls more than others

Microplastic pollution rained down on Canada during a hurricane

When Hurricane Larry struck Newfoundland in 2021, large amounts of microplastic fell from the sky, probably because the storm travelled over an ocean garbage patch

Seams on a baseball shift its trajectory by unexpectedly large amount

When a baseball is tilted and spinning just right, its raised, hand-stitched seams skew the process by which its wake is created and radically shift its trajectory in the air

Sand-dwelling fungi discovered and named after Dune's giant sandworms

One of four newly described species of "stalked puffball" fungi from Hungary’s Pannonian steppe erupts out of the sand like the iconic Shai-Hulud

The top ten films about artificial intelligence according to an expert

From Wall-E to Short Circuit via I, Robot, these are the best films out there about AI, says Alan Turing Institute ethics fellow Mhairi Aitken

Uganda is planning a massive clean energy expansion – paid for by oil

Uganda announced a plan at COP28 to use oil revenues to fund a rapid expansion of clean energy across the east African country

Unusual dark hedgehog from eastern China is new to science

A species of hedgehog that hadn't been scientifically identified before has been discovered in two eastern Chinese provinces

Insects thrive on solar farms planted with native flowers

Two solar farms in Minnesota saw big increases in bees and other insects after a variety of native grasses and wildlfowers were planted among the panels

Genetic errors are behind more than two thirds of early miscarriages

Chromosomal abnormalities were thought to cause around half of miscarriages, but a new genetic analysis technique puts the figure at nearer two-thirds for early miscarriages, with the remaining third probably also due to factors that are out of our control

Quantum computer sets record on path towards error-free calculations

A quantum computer contains the largest ever number of "logical quantum bits", which can be used for error-free calculations

Robotic mouse with flexible spine moves with greater speed and agility

Most robots lack a flexible spine, so researchers created a 3D-printed mouse with the ability to bend its back and found that it could move faster

DNA nanobots can exponentially self-replicate

Tiny machines made from strands of DNA can build copies of themselves, leading to exponential replication. Similar devices could one day be used to create drugs inside the body

Space Force’s secretive space plane is making its highest flight yet

The US Space Force is launching its mysterious X-37B space plane on 10 December atop a Falcon Heavy rocket for what will probably be its highest and longest flight yet

Why I've been somewhat obsessed with space-time this year

I have been revisiting the Unruh effect, a beautiful, strange concept that describes quantum field theory in curved-space time, says Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Why you don't need to bother raking up dead leaves from your lawn

When the leaves start falling, we can spend hours removing them from our lawns. But leaving them where they are is often better for the grass, says James Wong

The best 3 board games of 2023 – if you love science

What would you do to combat climate change if you were a world superpower? That's just one of the challenges set by 2023's best board games, from Daybreak to Sky Team, writes Jacob Aron

Erland Cooper interview: The composer who melts hearts with icy music

Research into the acoustics of Svalbard's glaciers and caves is at the heart of Orkney composer Erland Cooper's latest works

See the world's tropical forests illuminated in stunning new show

A new exhibition in Paris showcases the diversity of tropical forests and their plants and animals through a series of majestic light installations

The US needs to do more to preserve its ancient sites

It has been over 100 years since the US began protecting its places of antiquity, such as Colorado's ancient cliff dwellings, from development, but they remain vulnerable to politics, says archaeologist Rachel Morgan

Pretend engine noises make electric cars more fun

Feedback ponders that old philosophical question, what is reality, after discovering that Toyota has built an electric car with a fake transmission

The best science-inflected music of 2023

From Ashnikko to Hannah Diamond, our resident experts Bethan Ackerley and Tim Boddy round up the best music albums of 2023 - if science is your thing

COP28: The biggest climate wins and flops from the first week

Much of the world pledged to triple renewable energy this decade – except some of the biggest emitters – and ambitious climate mitigation goals have been set without clear funding

Why adding water when you grind coffee beans makes for a better brew

Coffee aficionados often add a drop of water to their beans before grinding – now scientists have shown that this leads to less mess and a more flavourful espresso

Google says its Gemini AI outperforms both GPT-4 and expert humans

The Gemini artificial intelligence comes in a variety of sizes, with Google saying its mid-range version will be incorporated into its Bard chatbot and available to the public from today

The placebo effect means painkillers may work better with side effects

A nasal spray was better at relieving people's discomfort when it caused a mild burning sensation, possibly due to the placebo effect

How bad is vaping for your health? We’re finally getting answers

As more of us take up vaping and concerns rise about the long-term effects, we now have enough data to get a grip on the health impact – and how it compares to smoking

Gesturing as you talk may help you speak a new language like a local

Talking with your hands may help you stress the correct parts of words as you learn a new language

Roo-ver: Australia's first moon rover has name chosen in public vote

The Australian Space Agency is working on plans for its first moon rover, which will fly on an Artemis mission later this decade – and it has already chosen a name

We can trigger positive tipping points to cut carbon emissions faster

Governments should be aiming to trigger technological, economic and social tipping points that accelerate climate action, according to a major report

Locusts spun in a centrifuge develop extra-strong exoskeletons

Spinning locusts in a centrifuge to mimic hypergravity seems to cause their exoskeletons to adapt, giving them stiffer legs – but too much gravity and they simply died

Major climate tipping points could be triggered within a decade

We are getting close to triggering irreversible changes that will have catastrophic effects worldwide, according to a major report on tipping points in Earth’s systems

Why reports that Western civilisation will soon collapse are premature

A scientific analysis of history reveals that societies are becoming more resilient to collapse – and shows how to successfully navigate crises, says complexity scientist Peter Turchin

Drug prevents fentanyl overdose for a month in monkeys

A single dose of a novel antibody medication can bind to fentanyl and prevent the opioid from triggering potentially life-threatening symptoms, research in monkeys suggests

Removing zombie-like cells may help treat multiple sclerosis

Senolytic drugs can clear away worn and damaged “zombie” immune cells that are resistant to dying, which may help treat multiple sclerosis, according to research in mice

2023 saw thrilling space missions and new cosmic mysteries

The past year gave us thrilling missions to Jupiter and the moon, stunning images that captured the universe like it’s never been seen before, and a few tanatalising cosmic mysteries

AI can tell which chateau Bordeaux wines come from with 100% accuracy

A machine-learning algorithm was able to tell which estate 80 Bordeaux red wines came from with 100 per cent accuracy by assessing their chemical signatures

Shipwrecks are havens for wildlife in areas threatened by fishing

In areas of the sea affected by bottom trawling, marine life is more abundant in and around shipwrecks, suggesting they should be considered important conservation sites

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels hit another all-time high

Despite urgent calls to slash fossil fuel use to meet climate targets, the Global Carbon Budget report shows that 2023 emissions will be about 1.1 per cent higher than last year

Pregnant megamouth shark washed up on beach is first ever seen

A female megamouth shark was found in the Philippines with one pup alongside her and six fetuses inside her body

Brain implant could ease the effects of a traumatic injury years later

A device that was implanted into the brains of people with traumatic brain injuries substantially improved their cognitive function a year later, a small study suggests

The roboticist who wants to bring AI into contact with the real world

Artificial intelligence may never reach its full potential without a body to interact with the physical world. Roboticist Josh Bongard says that the push for “embodied AI” is suggesting a rethink of what it means to design intelligent robots

China’s first underwater data centre is being installed

To hold and cool computer servers, China has installed a 1300-tonne watertight cabin on the shallow seafloor – it is the first of 100 planned for an underwater data centre

Rare gene variants can change your height by up to 7 centimetres

Gene variants that have an unusally large effect on some people's heights have been discovered by analysing the genomes of more than 300,000 individuals

IBM’s 'Condor' quantum computer has more than 1000 qubits

IBM has revealed two quantum computers. One is the second largest ever made and the other produces fewer errors than any quantum computer the company has built so far

Ultrasound can push vaccines into the body without needles

Vaccinations could be made less painful by treating skin with a vaccine-laden liquid and using ultrasound to push it into the body

Largest stream of stars ever found could teach us about dark matter

The newfound Giant Coma Stream of stars stretches nearly 1.7 million light years across the cosmos, and it could have holes blasted through it by clumps of dark matter

How big a problem are methane and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases?

Carbon dioxide is the dominant driver of climate change, but countries convening at COP28 are expected to make agreements to reduce methane and other often overlooked greenhouse gases

Why does weed give you the ‘munchies’? Here's what the science says

There may be several reasons why cannabis encourages people to eat, including the fact that the psychoactive compound in the drug affects the neurons that control hunger

Passing star could fling Earth out past Pluto into the Oort cloud

If another star passed close to our solar system, there is a small chance that Earth could crash into another planet, get stolen by the interloping star or even be sent hurtling towards the Oort cloud

GPT-4 developer tool can be exploited for misuse with no easy fix

OpenAI’s developer tool for its GPT-4 large language model can be misused to trick the AI into providing information to aid would-be terrorists, and fixing the problem won’t be easy

Vaping vs edibles: How does the way we use cannabis alter its effects?

Edibles, vapes and joints all contain the same psychoactive compounds, but the effects they have on the body vary

How will we actually know when we pass 1.5°C of warming?

It looks likely that the world will pass 1.5°C of warming in the 2030s, but current climate definitions would only make this failure official 10 years later, which could waste time in bringing temperatures back down

World must prepare for frequent and severe droughts, report warns

With climate change driving more intense dry spells, the world must invest in early warning systems and measures to conserve water, a UN report says

The best new science fiction books of December 2023

A novelisation of Zack Snyder’s film Rebel Moon, a new Star Wars novel and the much-anticipated second spy thriller from Terry Hayes are among the great science fiction reads out in December

Robot eel reveals how the strange fish swim so efficiently

Tests with an eel-inspired robot show that the unusual fish may swim most efficiently by reducing their speed

See a forgotten meteor shower caused by a dead comet this weekend

The Andromedid meteor shower is normally a quiet affair, but very occasionally it puts on an intense show - which may happen on 2 December

Marmosets swap brain cells with their siblings

Most marmosets have non-identical twins or triplets, which exchange blood cells while in the uterus - and now it seems they also swap certain brain cells

COP28: Energy transition may cut oil-producing states’ revenue by 60%

Without more international support, the transition away from fossil fuels could have disastrous effects for low-income countries reliant on their oil and gas industries

Bottlenose dolphins can sense electric fields with their snouts

Like platypuses and some sharks, bottlenose dolphins have an electric sense which they may use to navigate and search for food

Chinstrap penguins take thousands of very short naps every day

While incubating their eggs, chinstrap penguins need to stay vigilant for predators – so they only sleep for a few seconds at a time

DNA repair has been captured in a step-by-step molecular movie

Researchers have worked out how a protein called photolyase repairs DNA using light, and their discoveries could guide the development of light-based manufacturing technologies

Tiny star found harbouring a huge planet that shouldn’t exist

An enormous planet has been spotted orbiting a small star, and it could not have formed under either of our existing models of the birth of planets

Traces of cannabis found in pre-modern human bones for the first time

A 17th-century hospital crypt in Milan, Italy, has yielded the first archaeological evidence of cannabis's psychoactive components in human bones

The music you should play at a party to ensure conversations flow

It is easier to focus on conversations when background music is playing if the song is unfamiliar to you, according to brain activity data

Physicists have worked out how to pour water as quietly as possible

The sound of pouring water into a cup can be tamped down by changing the height of the pour or the diameter of the spout, but physicists have found that changing just one of these never makes it fully silent

COP28: How this year shattered nearly every modern climate record

The COP28 climate summit kicked off with a report on the many records broken in 2023, including unprecedented rises in greenhouse gases, global temperatures and sea level

The battle to bring beavers back to Scotland

The reintroduction of beavers has already transformed parts of the Scottish landscape and provided much-needed habitats for many animals, delighting conservationists but alarming some landowners

Governments must stay in it for the long haul on long covid research

Lingering symptoms after a covid-19 infection remain a problem for millions of people. Nations need to renew efforts to find treatments for them and help prevent yet more cases

Picturing life in the dust bowl remains of the once mighty Aral Sea

Photographer Kristina Varaksina has documented the lot of people living near what was once the fourth-largest freshwater lake in the world, the Aral Sea, much of which has become a barren desert

How to perfectly wrap gifts of all shapes and sizes using maths

Reduce wastage and enjoy deeply satisfying neat folds by applying a little geometry to your gift-wrapping, says Katie Steckles

The 13 best new science fiction books of 2023

From a dystopian future with Naomi Alderman to climate fiction with Christopher Priest, this is New Scientist's guide to the best science fiction of the year

Paris climate goal of less than 2°C of warming is within our grasp

Despite pessimism over global warming, the agreed target of keeping it well below 2°C is actually looking increasingly likely to be met, says Jakob Thomäe

Killing pigeons 'not in their best interests', find pigeon ethicists

Feedback is greatly taken by a new study into the ethics of pigeon racing from researchers at Newcastle University in the UK

The best science picture books for your coffee table in 2023

From the glorious Wildlife Photographer of the Year tome to a breathtaking collection of images captured from the International Space Station, this is New Scientist's pick of the best photography books of the year

The wonder particle: How axions could solve more than just dark matter

Physicists are coming to realise that hypothetical particles called axions could explain not only dark matter, but dark energy too, and more besides. Now there is fresh impetus to detect them

How counting the true cost of cheap food could make a better world

What we pay for food and other goods doesn’t reflect the environmental and social damage they cause. But a radical new approach to economics could change that

Long covid: What we now know about its causes and possible treatments

Almost four years after the first cases emerged, we are accumulating evidence about the physiology behind this complex condition – from microclots to viral persistence

COP28: Countries agree on how to fund climate ‘loss and damage’

The COP28 climate summit in Dubai opened with an agreement on key details of a long-awaited fund to help low-income countries pay for climate-related damages, but how much money will flow is still unclear

Kenneth Libbrecht interview: A grand unified theory of snowflakes

Snowflakes can form in either a plate or column shape, but no one understood why – until physicist Kenneth Libbrecht investigated. His theory is the result of two decades making snow in the lab

Searching for stardust: How to find micrometeorites in your gutters

Space dust is constantly falling to Earth, sprinkling rooftops with beautiful particles unchanged since the birth of the solar system. To find some, start with a sieve – and be patient

Reindeer's real superpowers could help us beat depression and cancer

So what if Rudolph can’t really fly? He and the herd have some truly amazing evolutionary adaptations that could inspire new treatments for human diseases

From Star Wars to Hitchhiker's – how to make the best drinks in sci-fi

New Scientist combines mixology with science fiction to produce recipes for the finest drinks in this – or any other – universe, from Bantha Milk to Ambrosia

Green Christmas: How to have an ethical and guilt-free festive season

If you celebrate Christmas, it doesn't have to be a feast of rampant consumerism and devastating gluttony. Read our guide to cleaning up your Yule

Inside the secret chocolate garden built to avert a cocoa crisis

Pests and disease threaten our supply of cocoa beans, but in a field outside London biologists are working to prevent a chocolate meltdown. We paid a visit

How the rules of long-lost board games take us inside ancient minds

Humans have faced off with grids, dice and pieces for millennia – figuring out the rules of long-lost board games can take us inside ancient minds

Hangovers: What science says about why you feel so rough

Hair of the dog? Wine before beer? Why everything you know about hangovers, and how to cure them, is wrong – or unproven

The ultimate guide to stacking the dishwasher

A dishwasher is supposed to make life easy, if only we could agree how to load it. It’s time to settle the argument

Farting: The questions you're too embarrassed to ask

The most insidious consequences of the festive meal are a lot more interesting than you think

Man vs sherry trifle: Can I eat myself drunk?

What happens if you try to get mashed on potatoes and sauced on sauce? It's a sobering insight into what really happens to the booze we cook with