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US megadrought has led to more air pollution from power plants

The ongoing drought in the western US depleted reservoirs and reduced hydropower generation. Fossil fuel power plants filled the gap but that has led to increased air pollution

Sperm-sorting device aims to find healthy samples to boost IVF success

Healthier sperm are normally selected for IVF using a centrifuge, which can damage the cells, but an alternative method can do the job gently by creating a current for them to swim against

Neolithic complex dubbed ‘Stonehenge of the North’ opens to UK public

Two sections of the Thornborough Henges near Ripon, UK, have been donated to the public body Historic England in an effort to preserve the millennia-old monuments

Smart cladding could control whether buildings retain or emit heat

A new material changes its infrared colour when a small electric current is applied, raising the possibility of buildings that store or release heat depending on outside temperatures

Entirely new type of ice made using extremely cold steel balls

A new type of ice called medium-density amorphous ice has the same density as liquid water, so studying it could help us understand water’s strange behaviour at low temperatures

Wormholes could magnify light by a factor of 100,000

Wormholes, which are strange hypothetical tunnels through space-time, could act as cosmic magnifying glasses for objects behind them

Sunquakes may be caused by weird beams of electrons from solar flares

Mysterious ripples in the sun’s plasma have gone unexplained for decades, but they may be caused by strange beams of high-energy electrons fired inward by solar flares

Human neurons implanted into a rat's brain respond to flashing lights

Lab-grown neurons were transplanted into the brains of rats with damaged visual cortexes. After two months, the neurons responded when the rats saw flashing lights

Google AI generates musical backing tracks to accompany singers

An artificial intelligence called SingSong can take a recording of a person singing and create a backing track for it with the appropriate rhythm, key and harmonies

US military plan to create huge autonomous drone swarms sparks concern

The AMASS project would involve thousands of drones, on the ground, in the air and in the water, working together in a "swarm of swarms" to overwhelm enemy defences

Should we be worried about bird flu spreading to mammals?

Bird flu infections have been recorded in various mammals, including foxes and mink, but it is unclear whether the virus can be transmitted from one mammal to another

Flying robot echolocates like a bat to avoid banging into walls

A simple buzzer and some microphones help a drone to navigate and map out its surroundings, much like how a bat uses sound to see in the dark

Antidepressants mostly can't treat chronic pain, despite wide use

Ongoing pain, such as chronic back or neck pain, is difficult to treat, so some doctors prescribe antidepressants. Now, a review of evidence says these drugs mostly don't work as a treatment

Vikings brought horses and dogs to England, cremated bones confirm

The first physical proof that Vikings brought horses and dogs to England has been unearthed

Neanderthals hunted enormous elephants that fed 100 people for a month

Analysis of cut marks on elephant bones suggests every scrap of meat and fat was removed from the big beasts

Tweets reveal hardware stores cause disgust but hostels bring joy

A study of nearly 2 million tweets over one year suggests that people in San Francisco feel disgusted when at hardware stores and Londoners are most joyful at hostels or motels

Pegasus review: Terrifying exposé of the world's most powerful spyware

From French president Emmanuel Macron to ordinary whistle-blowers, the surveillance software Pegasus has been used to target thousands of people. Investigative journalists Laurent Richard and Sandrine Rigaud tell its story and explain why no one is safe

We need to accept that deepfakes are here to stay in film and TV

Last week saw the launch of Deep Fake Neighbour Wars, the first ever deepfake comedy. We need to start talking about the legal and ethical implications of this technology, says New Scientist's television columnist Bethan Ackerley

Why the most important topic in physics could be statistical mechanics

Statistical mechanics helps relate the quantum world to objects that seem solid and not governed by the whims of observation, but there are still questions to be answered, says Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Stunning photos show nomadic life of Mongolian goat herders

Mongolia produces 40 per cent of the world's cashmere supply from its goats, but climate change and overproduction are threatening this unique way of life

Impulse review: An authoritative, if dry, sexual behaviours manual

Impulse: The science of sex and desire by psychiatrists Jon Grant and Samuel Chamberlain delivers on its bid to answer our hidden questions about sex, but it can be a little perfunctory

Arch-Conspirator review: Ancient Greek tragedy spun into sci-fi gold

Veronica Roth's dystopian take on Sophocles's 2500-year-old tragedy reminds us that human nature is timeless, finds Sally Adee

Ancient Egyptians used exotic oils from distant lands to make mummies

A workshop used for mummification at Saqqara in Egypt contains remnants of the substances used to make mummies, revealing many came from southern Africa or South-East Asia

Putting solar panels in grazing fields is good for sheep

Sheep living in pasture with solar panels benefit from shade in hot weather and more nutritious grass – and they stop weeds from growing on the panels

Most of England's sewage systems are overwhelmed, finds analysis

Figures on sewage overflows into rivers and seas in England show that 80 per cent of wastewater systems are regularly working over capacity

Hearing noise and moving our body helps us gauge the passing of time

People may be more aware of how much time has passed when they move their body and hear sounds during an event. This improved time perception may help to gauge the effectiveness of treatments for conditions like Parkinson's disease

Doubling trees in European cities could prevent thousands of deaths

A modelling study of 93 European cities suggests that more than 2600 human heat-related deaths over just three months could have been prevented if these places increased their average tree coverage from 15 per cent to 30 per cent

San Francisco is getting cold feet about self-driving car tests

San Francisco officials have called for a slower, more considered expansion of the use of autonomous vehicles, which have blocked traffic and hampered emergency services

The sex differences that impact the strength of your immune system

There are sex differences that put you at an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to your risk of different diseases, including cancer and autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis

The food and drink that really can boost your immune system

Whether it is immune-boosting smoothies or bacteria-laden yogurts, there is a whole world of products that claim to improve your immune system – but these are the ones that actually work

Why do some people appear to have a naturally strong immune system?

We all know someone who never seems to get sick. Now scientists are discovering what makes some people’s immune systems stronger than others

How to tell if your immune system is weak or strong

New blood tests can reveal whether your immune system is fighting fit by looking at the balance of different immune cells, but there may be a simpler way of gauging your immune health

The AI immune system that's changing our understanding of human health

Artificial immune systems are intelligent algorithms based on how the immune system learns and remembers and could transform our ability to protect ourselves from biological – and technological - invaders

How genetically engineered immune cells are beating some cancers

In some cases, it is now possible to genetically engineer the immune system to banish cancers like T-cell leukaemia that were previously unresponsive to treatments

How the immune system changes with age and why

We are gaining a better understanding of the effects of ageing on the immune system, with some surprising findings that it’s not all downhill after 65

What effect did lockdown have on your child’s immune system?

Scientists are getting to grips with the real effect that social distancing during the covid-19 lockdowns had on babies' and young people’s immunity

Vine-like robot that 'grows' towards heat could put out fires

A vine-like segmented robot that is attracted to heat could be used to autonomously extinguish fires without the need for costly and complex electronics

Smart dairy farms are using AI scanners to monitor cows' health

Technology being trialled on UK farms collects daily data on cows’ weight, body condition and mobility, helping to identify individuals in need of treatment

DeepMind AI is as fast as humans at solving previously unseen tasks

Artificial intelligences need specific training to excel at a task, but now a more generally intelligent one from DeepMind has performed as well as humans in a virtual world test

US proposes to ease blood donor restrictions on gay and bisexual men

The US Food and Drug Administration has proposed changing the screening process for blood donations so that they measure an individual's risk, rather than exclude people based on their sexual orientation or gender

Galaxy clusters are smashing together to form 'flaming cosmic narwhal'

Six of the most powerful astronomical observatories have captured a stunning image of Abell 2256, which is made of multiple galaxy clusters smashing together

Dolphins that help humans catch fish are more likely to survive

Dolphins off coast of southern Brazil drive mullet towards the nets of local fishers and in return get some extra fish themselves

Animals that care for young may have more mutations and evolve faster

An experiment in beetles shows that when parents care for their young, the population accumulates more mutations over time, but this may have benefits

Inside the complex and extremely violent world of warring mongooses

Banded mongooses have long been used as a model of animal cooperation. Now, researchers in Uganda are starting to get to grips with the harsh realities of their long-running and bloody battles

Net-zero aviation needs up to $1 trillion in carbon offsets by 2050

Growing demand for air travel is counteracting the aviation industry push to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Carbon offsets will be necessary – or fewer passengers

Microplastics can be recycled to make electrodes for lithium batteries

The polyethylene microplastic pollution commonly found in wastewater can be extracted to create electrodes for lithium-ion batteries

Only eating between 7am and 3pm helps people with obesity lose weight

Intermittent fasting led to a group of people with obesity losing 7.6 kilograms in 14 weeks when combined with them receiving advice on reducing their calorie intake, compared with 3.9 kilograms among those who only received the advice

Doughnut-shaped laser used to create an optical fibre out of air

Shooting a brief but powerful laser beam shaped like a doughnut through the air created a light pulse that acts like an optical fibre, carrying data 45 metres

Reports of Bigfoot rise when at least 900 black bears are in the area

Where black bears are abundant, Bigfoot sightings usually follow – which could make reports of the mythical creature a way to measure American black bear populations

US hospitals are facing critically low supplies of liquid ibuprofen

In response to a shortage of liquid ibuprofen, the US Food and Drug Administration is temporarily allowing manufacturers to produce and distribute non-FDA approved drugs for relieving fever and pain

Bears may self-medicate against ticks by rubbing against trees

Brown bears often scratch their backs on trees, leaving behind chemical signals to other bears. Now, it seems the act also helps protect them from ticks

Two of the UK's water companies are still using dowsing to find leaks

Most UK water companies have dropped the scientifically discredited method of dowsing to find water leaks, but Thames Water and Severn Trent Water say they still use it

Solar panel cleaning robot can be dropped off and picked up by drone

Dirty solar panels reduce global solar energy output as much as 5 per cent, but a start-up in Israel has tested drone delivery of a new autonomous robot to clean rooftop arrays

Multicellular life may have begun with brief alliances between cells

Single-celled organisms called Stentor can feed more efficiently by pairing up, illustrating a possible stage in the evolution of complex life forms

US childhood obesity guidelines may rush the use of drugs or surgery

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends intensive interventions to manage weight loss, including drugs and surgery – but it’s unclear whether they will reduce childhood obesity

‘Love hormone' may not be crucial for social bonding after all

Prairie voles still form social bonds without oxytocin sensors in the brain. The findings challenge the long-held belief that the hormone is a crucial part of the bonding process for all mammals

Taxing sugary drinks may not cut obesity as much as headlines claim

A study finds the UK’s 2018 sugar tax prevented 5000 cases of obesity in school girls in England, but the picture is more murky than headlines suggest

We can reduce homelessness if we follow the science on what works

Decades of research have shown that focusing on housing, without making sobriety or mental health treatment a prerequisite, is the most effective way to reduce homelessness

Preterm babies have a similar BMI at adolescence to peers born at term

By the time premature babies reach 14 to 19 years of age, they have, on average, a similar body mass index to peers born at term, according to an analysis of more than 250,000 people

Earth's 'geological thermostat' is too slow to prevent climate change

Rock weathering has helped keep Earth’s climate relatively stable for millions of years, but the process isn't fast enough to keep up with human carbon emissions

The size of skin cancer cells may affect how they respond to treatment

Smaller melanoma skin cancer cells may be more vulnerable to drugs that block DNA repair, while larger cells might be more responsive to immunotherapy

AI has designed bacteria-killing proteins from scratch – and they work

An AI was tasked with creating proteins with anti-microbial properties. Researchers then created a subset of the proteins and found some did the job

Supernovae might be a good place to hunt for alien broadcasts

Other intelligent civilisations may send transmissions after a bright galactic event like a supernova to make them more visible to others, according to SETI researchers

‘Forbidden’ planet somehow escaped consumption by its dying host star

The planet 8 Ursae Minoris b should have been destroyed when its star became a red giant, but it continues to orbit strangely close to it

A better understanding of PCOS offers fresh hope for new treatments

New insights into polycystic ovary syndrome are revealing more about the causes of this common but misunderstood whole-body condition, and these could lead to new treatments

The US government is suing Google – again

A new US government lawsuit alleges that Google has harmed innovation and raised costs for internet users by attempting to monopolise the digital advertising industry

Why gene variant impairing alcohol breakdown raises heart disease risk

A gene variant that causes the "alcohol flush" reaction increases the risk of heart disease by causing inflammation of blood vessels, especially in drinkers

Early relatives of primates lived in the Arctic 52 million years ago

Analysis of fossilised teeth from Ellesmere Island, Canada, reveals that extinct relatives of monkeys and apes reached the Arctic during a period when the climate was hotter

Flames that don't flicker could make engines more efficient

Producing flickerless flames usually requires artificially low pressure or gravity. Researchers have now come up with a method that works in standard conditions and could help make engines more efficient

Original Sin review: Was space flight tainted from the get-go?

A convincing new book by space policy analyst Bleddyn Bowen reveals how space technology was born out of appalling weaponry – and still has a militaristic bent

We need a new model of space governance to address today's challenges

Access to space is growing, with more than 70 nations now operating space programmes. We urgently need to update international rules, says chair of the UAE Space Agency Sarah Al Amiri

Hormonal conditions like PCOS should no longer be neglected

Conditions like PCOS, endometriosis and PMS are notoriously hard to study, but recent advances in our understanding and in treatments are proving that is no longer the case

Medical AIs are advancing - when will they be in a clinic near you?

Trained on real electronic health records, medical AIs are making rapid progress. How long before we see these tools widely used in the clinic, wonders Alex Wilkins

How to use science (and a dash of acid) to improve your scrambled eggs

How do you like your eggs in the morning? If the answer is extra-soft and scrambled, you need to follow these top tips for a perfect result, says Sam Wong

M3gan review: A chilling sci-fi film about the dangers of AI care

It pays to know what you really need from a sophisticated learning machine, particularly if you don't want a killer robot on your hands, says Simon Ings

Close-up photographs capture feathers' dazzle factor

Heidi and Hans-Jürgen Koch photographed various feathers housed at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin to create these vibrant images

Collision review: How CERN's stellar secrets became sci-fi gold

Margaret Drabble, Luan Goldie, Steven Moffat and Stephen Baxter are among the top writers in Collision, an anthology that transmutes CERN's elusive research into science fiction

AI legal assistant's first appearance in court has been cancelled

DoNotPay's AI was due to represent a defendant in court for the first time next month over a speeding ticket, but plans have been abandoned, according to the founder of the company

Fruit bats get swabbed to look for diseases that could jump to humans

Researchers are testing fruit bats in the Republic of the Congo for viruses such as Ebola to learn more about the risks of diseases spreading to humans

ChatGPT can find and fix bugs in computer code

The AI chatbot ChatGPT is as good as standard machine learning approaches at fixing bugs in code, and does even better if you engage in dialogue with it

Rare green comet C/2022 E3 is about to make its closest pass by Earth

A comet that last passed by Earth about 50,000 years ago is coming around again and will make its closest pass on 1 February, at which point it may be visible with the naked eye

Shortest pulse of electrons ever created lasts just 53 attoseconds

A record-breaking short pulse of electrons just 53 billionths of a billionth of a second long has been generated – it is so fast it could allow microscopes to grab images of electrons jumping between atoms

Metal robot can melt its way out of tight spaces to escape

A millimetre-sized robot made from a mix of liquid metal and microscopic magnetic pieces can stretch, move or melt. It could be used to fix electronics or remove objects from the body

Skin patch makes ultrasound images of your heart as you move

A prototype skin patch produced images that were comparable to those of a standard handheld device used to visualise the heart before and after exercise. Visualising the heart during exercise may aid cardiovascular diagnoses

A diet high in amino acids reduced diabetes-related nerve pain in mice

Eating more of the amino acids serine and glycine decreased the amount of nerve damage and pain in mice with diabetes

Neil Turok on the case for a parallel universe going backwards in time

To explain the cosmos without invoking cosmic inflation, physicist Neil Turok has proposed the existence of a mirror-image universe going backwards in time from the big bang. He tells us why the idea is so compelling

What happens when sperm and egg donors lose the right to anonymity?

In the UK and New Zealand, people conceived using donated sperm, eggs or embryos who turn 18 this year will be able to learn the identity of their donors – but it is unclear how many will want to

The covid-19 virus gets into the brain – what does it do there?

We now know that covid-19 can cause neurological symptoms, ranging from brain fog and headaches to strokes. Research is beginning to reveal how this happens and hint at better treatments

Artificial skin can detect nearby objects without even touching them

A skin crafted from two layers of electrodes around an ion-infused sponge is better at sensing than human skin because it can detect nearby objects and what they are made of

The outline of people’s bodies can be detected from Wi-Fi signals

Machine learning can analyse how the signals from Wi-Fi transmitters are disrupted by human bodies to reveal what position people are sitting, standing or lying in

Dogs can tell when you want to give them a treat – even if you don’t

Pet dogs respond more patiently when humans clumsily drop a treat out of reach than when it is intentionally pulled away, suggesting canines can understand human intentions

Type 2 diabetes linked with an increased risk of dying from cancer

Research suggests that the risk of dying from any type of cancer is 18 per cent higher among people with type 2 diabetes, compared with the general population

The mysterious underwater avalanches reshaping Earth

Turbidity currents are cascades of sediment that tumble down Earth’s 9000 submarine canyons carrying carbon, plastics and pharmaceuticals into the deep sea. We are finally learning just how often these dramatic events occur.

Fake mushroom experiment reveals why some fungi glow in the dark

Why some mushrooms are bioluminescent remains uncertain, but a study using LED lights adds to the evidence they attract insects that help the fungus disperse its spores

The first ever vaccine against RSV could be approved in 2023

Although usually mild, the respiratory syncytial virus can be fatal among babies and older people. Promising results from trials during pregnancy and in those aged 60 or over suggest that a vaccine may soon be approved

Rare Antarctic meteorite is one of the largest ever found

Antarctica is the perfect place to go meteorite hunting, as space rocks stand out on the wide fields of ice, and researchers have found a new crop

Egyptian boy mummy was buried with a ‘second heart’ made of gold

X-rays have been used to digitally unwrap the mummy of a teenage boy dating back about 2300 years, revealing 49 precious protective amulets, including a gold scarab signifying the heart

Wolves are eating sea otters after depleting an Alaskan island’s deer

After a pack of wolves  almost drove the deer on a small Alaskan island extinct, they switched to eating sea otters and other marine creatures

JWST has seen building blocks of life in a dark, cold cloud in space

The James Webb Space Telescope has observed a frigid cloud of dust and gas where stars are forming, and it found frozen elements that are crucial for the development of life

A longevity diet that hacks cell ageing could add years to your life

A new diet based on research into the body's ageing process suggests you can increase your life expectancy by up to 20 years by changing what, when and how much you eat