NewScientist : News (55)

Joke Christmas medical journal papers make unfunny bad science

Respected medical journal the BMJ has a long history of publishing silly papers at Christmas, but the joke is wearing thin - and actually harming science

Trump directs NASA to send astronauts to the moon and then Mars

The US space programme has a new focus on an old destination. President Trump has directed NASA to focus its efforts on crewed missions to the moon before Mars

We may know why younger brothers are more likely to be gay

An immune response in some pregnant women's bodies may explain the fraternal birth order effect' – that men are more likely to be gay the more older brothers they have

Bumblebees solve the travelling salesman problem on the fly

While buzzing between flowers, bees can solve the maths dilemma called the travelling salesman problem by finding the shortest route that visits every blossom

Ancient microbes caused Earth's first ever global warming

Over 3 billion years ago, the sun was faint so our planet should have been a snowball. But it wasn't – and microorganisms may have been what kept it warm

Fasting may boost brainpower by giving neurons more energy

Some people who fast regularly, like those following the 5:2 diet, feel mentally sharper. Now evidence in mice may explain how fasting boosts brainpower

Faltering carbon capture needs more investment not doubt

The world's first full-scale power plant carbon capture project has stumbled, but we can't let that risk the future of a technology we need, says Olive Heffernan

'Scary' spider photos on Facebook are revealing new species

When people see a big spider they often post a photo on Facebook – and those images have now revealed up to 30 new species

Light from LIGO's neutron star smashup just got even brighter

The gravitational wave event from August still has surprises in store. Its light is three times brighter now, which may change how we think of gamma ray bursts

Record-breaking two-tonne fish is the heaviest of its kind

The record books say that the ocean sunfish is the heaviest bony fish alive, but in fact the specimen in question belongs to a different species

That interstellar asteroid could be a shard of a shredded planet

'Oumuamua, an oddly shaped asteroid from beyond our solar system, recently passed by. It may have formed when a planet was ripped into fragments by its star

Will wildfires finally change Rupert Murdoch's climate stance?

The media-mogul's Santa Monica vineyard was saved from wildfire destruction, but the world may yet burn thanks to his climate views, says Richard Schiffman

Daughters of older mums are more likely to never have children

An analysis of thousands of women has found that the older your mother was when you were born, the more likely you are to be childless – but we don't know why

Food delivery robots are teaching themselves how to cross roads

Until now, delivery robots have always needed humans to help them when things get tricky. Now machine learning has helped them work out how to manage without us

Africa's giraffes are being slaughtered by Joseph Kony's army

Elephants, giraffes, giant elands and chimpanzees are being decimated by poachers linked to violent militias in a lawless region of central Africa

Kony's Lord's Resistance Army is slaughtering Africa's giraffes

Elephants, giraffes, giant elands and chimpanzees are being decimated by poachers linked to violent militias in a lawless region of central Africa

Bizarre supernova may be powered by hidden disc of dust and gas

A supernova that stayed bright for over three years seemed impossible, but it could be explained if the explosion is running into dense rings of dust and gas

What do the new 'gay genes' tell us about sexual orientation?

Two gene variants have been found to be more common in gay men. New Scientist looks at what this tells us about the way biology shapes our sexuality

Robot's terrible jokes are a new test of machine intelligence

An AI trained to improvise jokes around topics suggested by an audience is testing the ways we perceive and interact with intelligent machines  

Earth's climate will warm 15 per cent more than we thought

Climate models have always offered a range of possible temperature rises, but it turns out the ones that best fit what's happened so far all predict even greater warming

Gruesome eyeball wounds patched up with squirt of smart glue

On the battlefield, it may not be possible to stitch up eyeball injuries. A glue that responds to body temperature can plug up wounds until help is available

US cyberweapons have been stolen and there's nothing we can do

Malicious code exploits are the new weapons of war, but can we ever reach international agreement on how they should be used and who gets to control them?

Most distant quasar ever seen is way too big for our universe

A quasar from the early universe could help us understand how the biggest black holes form and when the universe had its last major transformation

Welcome to the limb lab where organs are kept alive on shelves

Clare Wilson visits a body-parts workshop where limbs, hearts and kidneys are reanimated, with the aim of improving transplants and developing new treatments

Why brewing beer in space is more important than you think

Budweiser is sending barley seeds into orbit next week. That's just the beginning of the challenge of trying to brew beer beyond Earth

How we breathe between words can be used to identify us

The patterns of inhalations made by people when they speak seem to be unique to each individual -  and could be used to ensnare hoax callers

Superheated water makes microwaved eggs explode when you dig in

Be careful when nuking your breakfast. A hard-boiled egg reheated in the microwave can explode with a rush of steam and a sound as loud as a chainsaw

A boy is missing the vision bit of his brain but can still see

A seven-year-old boy whose brain doesn't have a visual processing centre has baffled doctors. Despite missing this brain area, he is still able to see

Japan's refusal to stop ivory trade undermines bans elsewhere

Even though other countries are clamping down on illegal ivory, the unconstrained trade in Japan may offer loopholes for criminals to keep selling ivory – fuelling elephant poaching

Lizards re-evolved eggs after thousands of years of live births

It's an evolutionary U-turn: a group of egg-laying lizards evolved from live-bearing ancestors, which are in turn descended from even older egg-layers

The usual way of hunting dark matter may be all wrong

If dark matter isn't heavy and interacts even weakly with normal matter, we should drag our detectors out from underground to catch it

Artificial ovary may fine-tune treatment for menopause symptoms

Many women experiencing menopause have mood swings, forgetfulness and weight gain. Could an implant be a safer alternative to hormone replacement therapy?

Sumatran tigers fall 17 per cent and have just two strongholds

There are now only two viable populations of Sumatran tigers left in the wild, so if the cats are to be saved those areas have to be protected

Robofish floats about tracking antibiotics in the Great Lakes

A robotic fish is going to use sensors to monitor the levels of anibiotics in Michigan's Great Lakes region

NASA fires Voyager 1's engines for the first time in 37 years

By firing a set of thrusters that have been gathering dust for more than 3 decades, NASA has extended the lifetime of the Voyager 1 mission by a few years

World's richest science prize hands out $22 million for research

Science's richest prizes, the Breakthrough Awards, were presented at a star-studded ceremony in California on Sunday night.

Extreme radiation around small stars may not doom life nearby

Red and white dwarfs make nasty neighbours due to spurts of deadly radiation, but alien life could still form on planets nearby if shielded by smog or oceans

Spaceplanes may be the best hope in war on deadly orbiting junk

Promising technologies to get rid of dangerous space debris are gathering speed. The sooner we put them to the test the better, says Paul Marks

Focus on liberty and purity may change anti-vax parents' minds

Why do some parents choose not to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases? The moral ideas of purity and liberty may play a role

Moon's explosive birth drove iron deep into Earth's core

Our moon was made by the Big Splash, an impact that we thought left iron deposits near Earth's crust. It turns out that the metal sank into our planet's core

Jupiter's icy moon Europa has a hidden 'conveyer belt' of heat

Frigid Europa may be warmed by a layer under its crust that moves heat and ice to and from its poles – and alien microbes could be hitching a ride

Want to be the boss? How to signal your leadership potential

We all assess if a person is leadership material without realising it. By changing your body language, and talking in the right way, you may boost your chances

Destruction of war-torn Syria brought to London by AI

UNICEF is using artificial intelligence to show what disaster would look like in your city, bringing international charity campaigns closer to home

World's richest science prize hands out $22 million for research

Science's richest prizes, the Breakthrough Awards, were presented at a star-studded ceremony in California last night.

Male monkeys with masculine faces draw long lingering glances

Female monkeys spend more time staring at males that have highly masculine facial features, but we don't know if they fancy them or fear them

Kids are alright whatever the family make-up, so let them be

Children brought up by single parents, heterosexual partners or same-sex couples are all equally healthy and happy. The law needs to catch up with society

Why it's good that NHS England is cutting back on prescriptions

Patients in England are set to lose access to a raft of prescription drugs through the National Health Service – but only overpriced, ineffective or dangerous ones

Why the internet's CiCo calorie count diet won't keep weight off

An old dietary fad has got a fresh lease of life: Calories in-Calories out, or CiCo to its new devotees. It still doesn't add up, says Anthony Warner

A shipwreck has been found from the time of Alexander the Great

Of three wrecked ships found near Cyprus, one dates from around 330 BC and hints at a vast trading network that spanned the Mediterranean

Weird magnets could make computers that work 1000 times faster

We are approaching the physical limits of our computer drives. Antiferromagnets could outdo our fastest technology without using huge amounts of energy