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In-ear nerve-stimulating device helps people learning a new language

An in-ear device that stimulates the vagus nerve helps non-native speakers learn speech sounds from Mandarin Chinese more rapidly and more effectively

Deep-sea microbes survive on less energy than we thought possible

We thought we understood life’s minimal energy requirements – but microbes beneath the sea floor survive on hundreds of times less energy than we considered possible

What Hiroshima teaches us about coronavirus and the future of humanity

The nuclear bomb told us we are the greatest threat to our own survival – and the covid-19 pandemic shows the lessons still to learn, say Anders Sandberg and Thomas Moynihan

Covid-19 news: UK border rules ‘accelerated’ pandemic, say MPs

The latest coronavirus news updated every day including coronavirus cases, the latest news, features and interviews from New Scientist and essential information about the covid-19 pandemic

Beirut explosion: What caused the blast and what else do we know?

Here's what we know so far about the cause of the massive blast in the port area of the city of Beirut, Lebanon, on 4 August

Disease-carrying animals thrive on our farmed land and in our cities

Farming and other human activities are changing the world in a way that favours animals carrying more diseases, including bats – the source of the new coronavirus

Strange lightning on Jupiter may be caused by ammonia snowballs

The Juno spacecraft has spotted lightning on Jupiter that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before, and it may be caused by strange, slushy balls of ammonia and ice

Coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of slowing across South America

Even after four months of strict lockdowns in some South American countries, cases of covid-19 are still soaring across the continent

SpaceX’s prototype Mars rocket has flown for the first time

A prototype of Starship, the rocket SpaceX intends to use to bring explorers to the moon and Mars, has hopped 150 metres into the air in its first flight

How to hug people in a coronavirus-stricken world

Hugging has benefits for our health that might make it worth doing despite coronavirus risks – here’s how to reduce the chance you’ll pass on the virus

A radical new theory rewrites the story of how life on Earth began

It has long been thought that the ingredients for life came together slowly, bit by bit. Now there is evidence it all happened at once in a chemical big bang

Coronavirus: US has no cohesive plan to tackle massive second wave

The US is battling a massive second wave of coronavirus cases and has no cohesive national strategy to stop the spread

First poison arrows may have been loosed 70,000 years ago in Africa

Many ancient bone points are the same shape as poison-tipped arrowheads used today by San peoples in southern Africa, suggesting the practice is ancient

Termite intruders evolved cowardice to squat in another species’ nest

Inquiline termites can’t build their own nests and instead sneak into the homes built by another termite species. When the host attacks, the freeloaders run away

Quantum version of the ancient game of Go could be ultimate AI test

DeepMind’s AlphaZero AI has conquered Go, an ancient Chinese board game, to become the best player in the world, but a quantum version of the game is much harder

Skeletons reveal wealth gap in Europe began to open 6600 years ago

Some early farmers at a site in Poland were buried with elaborate grave goods – now it seems these individuals also had access to more productive pastures

Beautiful shell carving was part of Incan offering to Lake Titicaca

A 500-year-old stone box found in Lake Titicaca contains a llama carved from mollusc shell and a miniature gold bracelet. They may have been part of a human sacrifice offering to the lake itself

Opening schools in UK without more testing risks covid-19 second wave

The UK faces a second wave of coronavirus infections this winter if the country’s testing and contact tracing system does not improve by the time schools reopen, researchers have warned

Economic benefits of vaccination programmes vastly outweigh costs

The costs of vaccination programmes are outweighed 20 times by the economic benefits of reducing illness, disability and premature death, a model suggests

Chinese nature reserves focus so much on pandas that leopards suffer

China’s conservation efforts to save giant pandas have paid off for the bears, but miserably failed leopards and other carnivores that share their home

Ancient valleys on Mars may have been carved by glaciers

Some areas on Mars are covered in huge valleys that many think were carved by rivers in the planet's warmer past, but they may have actually been formed by glaciers, pointing to a chilly early Mars

The US may have the most to lose if Donald Trump bans TikTok

A US ban of the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok could see countries developing their own versions of popular US-owned services as the internet splinters across national borders

SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule makes splashdown with NASA astronauts

The first astronauts to launch to the International Space Station on a commercial spacecraft have now returned, splashing down into the sea off the coast of Florida

Genetic privacy: We must learn from the story of Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks's cells are used in experiments in laboratories around the world but were cultivated without her consent. The lessons from her story are more important than ever, says Maninder Ahluwalia

Sperm have a weird way of swimming and we only noticed after 300 years

For 300 years we’ve assumed sperm swim by beating their tails symmetrically, but in reality sperm rotate like a corkscrew while beating their tails asymmetrically

Changing how we make solar panels could reduce their carbon emissions

Although solar panels are a source of renewable energy, making them has an environmental impact. A new type of panel has a lower carbon footprint than traditional silicon ones

Australia will use robot boats to find asylum seekers at sea

Five-metre-long uncrewed vessels that look like miniature sailing boats will be able to operate at sea for extended periods of time, but plans to look for asylum seekers have human rights groups concerned

Single particles of light can be used for remote 3D surveillance

Researchers have taken 3D images by bouncing individual photons from a laser off a building 45 kilometres away, more than 4 times farther than ever before

Electronic is an epic trip through the history of music

Electronic, an exhibition at London's Design Museum, evokes some of the experiences of being in a club. It is a trip through electronic music in all its guises and offers hope that things will be alright in the future

Leonardo da Vinci saw a whale fossil that opened his mind to deep time

Renaissance-era polymath Leonardo da Vinci may have seen a whale fossil in his youth, prompting him to speculate that Earth was enormously old

Dark matter map hints at cracks in our understanding of the universe

A new survey suggests dark matter is more evenly spread through space than we had thought, which might mean we don’t fully understand how gravity works on large scales

UK temperatures broke records in 2019 as climate change took hold

Last year saw the hottest temperature ever recorded in the UK at 38.7°C. All 10 of the warmest years in the UK since records began in 1884 occurred after 2002

Deep-sea anglerfish fuse bodies to mate thanks to an odd immune system

Some male anglerfish fuse to the much larger females to mate – they can do so because they don’t recognise their partner’s tissue as foreign material that should be attacked

We can now predict dangerous solar flares a day before they happen

Large solar flares can put astronauts’ health at risk and damage satellites, but we haven’t had an early warning system for them – until now

Seal lice can survive the pressure found 4000 metres under the sea

When elephant seals go on long dives, they can reach thousands of metres below the ocean’s surface – and the lice they carry with them can withstand the intense pressure there

These are the 12 ways you can drastically cut your dementia risk

Up to 40 per cent of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed through lifestyle measures like exercising, socialising and not smoking, says a major review

Extreme rising seas could wipe out assets worth $14 trillion by 2100

Coastal floods wrought by rising seas could affect tens of millions more people and wipe out assets worth trillions of dollars by the end of the century, if the world fails to prevent the worst-case climate change scenario

How refugee camps in Bangladesh are being defended against covid-19

An alarming mathematical model sparked efforts to ramp up testing and defend one of the world's largest refugee camps from the coronavirus. Now the lessons learned are being tried elsewhere

Finding coronavirus superspreaders may be key to halting a second wave

The R number for coronavirus has had a lot of attention, but we also need to understand the K number – the variability in how many people one infects – to stop superspreading

Extreme heat from the sun is baking a thin crust on Mercury’s surface

Mercury's surface should be powdery like Earth's moon, but the extreme heat it experiences from being close to the sun may be baking it into a thin, hard crust

Lyme disease vaccine found to be safe and effective in clinical trial

A vaccine against Lyme disease that is safe and stimulated immune protection in 82 to 96 per cent of clinical trial participants could be available by 2025

We’ve finally figured out where Stonehenge’s giant boulders came from

Most of the 50 huge boulders used to build Stonehenge’s iconic architecture have a chemical composition that suggests they came from a site 25 kilometres away

Half of Nobel prizes in science go to just five research fields

Scientists in just five research fields – including neuroscience and atomic physics – scooped up more than half of the Nobel prizes awarded for science in recent decades

Boosting gut microbes helps protect mice against Alzheimer’s disease

A prebiotic supplement that promotes good gut bacteria seems to protect against an Alzheimer’s-like disease in mice and will soon be tested in a clinical trial

Marine kaleidoscope shows the beauty of coral reefs

The vibrant colours of threatened coral reefs are transformed into a natural kaleidoscope in this stunning image created by Dutch photographer Georgette Douwma

Cosmology's new advances show our voyage of discovery is far from over

An incredible map of the universe and mind-bending revelations about a supermassive black hole are evidence that the advance of science is far from over – it has plenty of new shores yet to explore

Proxima review: Eva Green shines as a troubled astronaut

Alice Winocour's new film Proxima shows the difficulties of balancing family life with a career as an astronaut, finds Simon Ings

Sharon Moalem interview: Why women are genetically stronger than men

We know that women live longer and are less susceptible to certain diseases than men. That may be down to the benefits of having two X chromosomes

The End of Everything review: A rollicking tour of the wildest physics

There are many ways that the universe could come to an end. Katie Mack's book exploring them is a fascinating read

A weather forecast for fake news outbreaks on social media is coming

A social media weather report that predicts outbreaks of propaganda is on its way. It can't arrive soon enough, says Annalee Newitz

The invisible superpower that helped dinosaurs conquer the world

From beginnings as skulking, cat-sized reptiles, dinosaurs came to rule Earth for 100 million years – but how? Their secret wasn’t teeth or claws, but something deep inside them

The best view of the stars from Earth is on a hill in Antarctica

The best place on Earth from which to look at the night sky is a hill of ice in Antarctica – a telescope built there could take clearer images than could happen anywhere else

NASA has launched its Perseverance Mars rover and Ingenuity helicopter

NASA’s Perseverance rover, which will look for signs of past or present life on Mars and test Ingenuity, the first interplanetary helicopter, is set to launch on 30 July

Black holes are hiding movies of the universe in their glowing rings

A faint fuzzy glow around the first black hole image last year baffled astronomers. Now we know what it contains – and it’s more bizarre than we ever imagined

Which covid-19 treatments work and how close are we to getting more?

There are very few drugs shown to help with covid-19, but along with dexamethasone and remdesivir, some new medicines are showing potential

Sarah Gilbert on how her team is making the Oxford coronavirus vaccine

Sarah Gilbert, head scientist on the Oxford vaccine for covid-19 explains why we have reason to be hopeful and what her life is like right now

Endangered tigers have made a remarkable comeback in five countries

The number of wild tigers is on the increase in Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Russia, say conservationists

Bacteria dug up from beneath the seabed may be 100 million years old

Beneath the Pacific Ocean there are communities of bacteria that have survived since the reign of the dinosaurs – and some individual cells may have been alive for over 100 million years

Coronavirus vaccine hope rises after a flurry of positive results

There are more than 160 coronavirus vaccines in development, and we don't yet know if any will work, but a string of promising results offers hope for the long run

Tiny mammals once scavenged meat from giant dinosaur carcasses

The first mammals probably mostly ate insects, but bite marks on a bone fragment suggest they occasionally scavenged meat from giant dinosaur carcasses

Watch a beam of light bounce off mirrors in ultra-slow motion

For the first time, researchers have taken a video of a pulse of laser light as it moves in three dimensions, using a camera with a shutter speed of a trillionth of a second. It could potentially be used to see around corners

Biggest ever map of the universe reveals 11 billion years of history

A huge survey of the universe has been able to peer back into the deep past, revealing 80 per cent of the universe’s 14-billion-year history

Coronavirus: Second wave hits Asia as global cases continue to soar

Asian countries such as China and Vietnam are seeing a resurgence of the virus as daily global covid-19 cases hit 300,000, with more than half occurring in the Americas

Birdwatching AI can recognise individual birds from behind

Artificial intelligence that can recognise individual birds is being developed for biologists studying wild animals, but could also be adapted so that people can identify individual birds in their surroundings

How a Jewish ghetto beat a typhus epidemic during the second world war

Jews imprisoned in a ghetto during the second world war stamped out a big typhus outbreak using public health measures like those currently being used to fight covid-19

Mould from Chernobyl nuclear reactor tested as radiation shield on ISS

A radiation-absorbing fungus discovered in Chernobyl blocked harmful cosmic rays on the International Space Station and may help protect future Mars colonies

Spiderwebs gather DNA that can help us monitor insects in forests

Spiders may build their webs to catch prey, but trials in Slovenian forests show they also grab onto DNA, which can help us monitor biodiversity in a less invasive manner

Earth faces plastic pollution disaster unless we take drastic action

Even if we took every feasible action to reduce plastic pollution, we would only cut it by 78 per cent by 2040, a study has found. That doesn't mean we should stop trying

Big drop in Earth’s surface vibrations seen during covid-19 lockdowns

Earthquake monitoring stations have detected sharp reductions in Earth’s surface vibrations during coronavirus lockdowns due to limits on noisy human activities

DNA from Viking people reveals the unexpected history of smallpox

Smallpox DNA found in the bodies of people who lived in the Viking era show that these viruses were different to the one eliminated in the 20th century – and perhaps much less deadly

Does your blood type influence how susceptible you are to covid-19?

There is some evidence that blood types can influence whether or not someone becomes infected with the coronavirus, as they do with SARS, but it is not yet conclusive

How the slave trade left its mark in the DNA of people in the Americas

Genetic data from people in the Americas with African heritage hints at unusually high death rates among certain slaves, and points to systematic rape of women of African descent

Mosquitoes evolved to suck human blood when they couldn’t find water

Mosquitoes that carry Zika and dengue may have developed their taste for our blood as a way to cope with long dry seasons, since human activity often creates standing water

Night lights cause severe loss of sleep for pigeons and magpies

City lights could have a serious impact on the sleep patterns of birds, as pigeons were found to sleep around 4 hours less under illumination equivalent to street lights

A giant impact may have caused cracks all over Jupiter's moon Ganymede

New analysis of images of cracks on Ganymede indicate that they cover most of the surface in concentric rings, suggesting a giant impact rocked the moon 4 billion years ago

China is sending its first rover to Mars with the Tianwen-1 mission

China is launching its first solo interplanetary mission, called Tianwen-1, to Mars on 23 July. If all goes well, the ambitious mission will arrive in February 2021

Hearing restored in rats by modifying ear cells to respond to light

Rats could respond to a sound converted into light after their nerve cells were genetically modified. The experiment suggests a similar approach could help restore hearing in people

Flapping drone can fly, dart and hover like a bird

A drone equipped with light, soft wings can mimic the flight of a bird. Its inventors say it is safer than drones with rotor blades and could be used to monitor delicate crops

Hundreds of illegal Chinese fishing vessels spotted near North Korea

Satellite imaging has revealed hundreds of vessels from China fishing off the coast of North Korea, violating UN resolutions prohibiting such activity

Hungry foxes have been raiding our bins for thousands of years

Foxes rooting through our rubbish to scavenge for food isn’t just a modern-day phenomenon – analysis of animal bones in Germany shows foxes were eating human leftovers 42,000 years ago

Research is our best weapon in the fight against covid-19 and obesity

The obesity and covid-19 pandemics have been shown to be interlinked, and both urgently require more research to provide clear evidence on how best to beat them

Brave New World review: Dystopian TV without lessons for today

A TV adaptation of Brave New World covers many of the same ideas as the book, but is stripped of relevance for the present day

Friederike Otto interview: Can we sue oil giants for extreme weather?

We can now rapidly and reliably link heatwaves, droughts and hurricanes to human-induced global warming, says climate scientist Friederike Otto. The science could soon be used as evidence in legal cases brought against fossil fuel companies

Lockdown is a unique chance to see how human activity affects wildlife

Rewilding efforts have been emboldened by the sudden cessation of everyday life during the coronavirus pandemic. Scientists are seizing the opportunity to learn how best to support our wildlife, says Graham Lawton

Why old school technology could shape the future of digital computing

Analogue computers were abandoned half a century ago. But to push past the limits of modern day devices, it may be time for a blast from the past

Stunning night sky pictures shortlisted for astronomy photo prize

Images of the night sky taken from an Australian cave and a desert in Jordan are among the shortlisted entries for the 2020 Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Afterland review: A thought-provoking tale of life without men

Lauren Beukes's new speculative novel imagines a world stripped overnight of men. Do women do a better job of running things?

UK could eliminate the coronavirus but it might do more harm than good

A group of scientists has said the UK can eliminate coronavirus in the next year, but the strict lockdown it would require may make it unfeasibly hard

Recent decades of European floods are among the worst in 500 years

The years 1990-2016 rank among the worst periods of flooding in Europe in five centuries, according to an assessment of historical letters, annals and legal records

Humans reached the Americas 15,000 years earlier than thought

Almost 2000 stone tools have been found in a Mexican cave and some seem to be 33,000 years old – suggesting people reached America before the peak of the last glacial period

What is the best way to lose weight and keep it off for good?

The UK government wants people to lose weight to reduce their risk of severe covid-19, but despite 40 years of rising obesity, we still don’t know the best way to permanently slim down

Ads for junk food in the UK seem to be concentrated in poorer areas

A map of outdoor billboards in Liverpool developed with the help of AI shows that advertisements for unhealthy food are concentrated in less affluent areas. The same may be true elsewhere in the UK

Hidden nutrition: We don't know what makes up 99 per cent of our food

We know next to nothing about the vast majority of compounds in our diet. Now researchers are finding ways to study this "nutritional dark matter" – and what it could mean for our health

Hair dye that changes in UV light can reveal your risk of sunburn

Printable stickers that go from purple to light pink throughout the day measure your UV exposure, and the pigment that makes them has also been added to colour-changing hair dye

Everything you need to know about the Oxford coronavirus vaccine

Promising findings from an initial trial of the Oxford vaccine for covid-19 have been published in The Lancet but many questions remain about whether the vaccine would work

Moon craters hint huge asteroids bombarded Earth 800 million years ago

Craters on the moon show it was probably bombarded with asteroids about 800 million years ago, which also rained down on Earth and could have plunged the planet into an ice age

The universe may be full of enormous clusters of tiny black holes

If tiny black holes born at the beginning of the universe survived to the present day, they could have formed enormous clusters that might help explain dark matter

Quadruple-stranded DNA seen in healthy human cells for the first time

DNA's most famous form is a double helix, but it can exist in other arrangements, and a quadruple-stranded version has been discovered in healthy human cells

Dozens of active volcano sites spotted on Venus for the first time

We know Venus had many active volcanoes in the past, but now researchers have identified 37 sites that could have seen eruptions as a recently as a million years ago

Ghostly clouds are appearing more often due to climate change

Noctilucent clouds, silvery blue wisps that float high in our atmosphere, are a rare phenomenon – but rising greenhouse gas emissions mean we are seeing more and more of them