TheGuardian.com Latest Science News Feeds

  • Meteorites from sky fireball ‘may have fallen near Cheltenham’
    by Natalie Grover Science correspondent on March 1, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    Computer modelling suggests fragments of space debris may have landed outside Gloucestershire townThe yellow-green fireball that pierced Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday night, delighting observers from the UK to the Netherlands, is thought to have partially survived the journey in the form of meteorites, most likely landing just north of Cheltenham.Fireballs are particularly bright meteors – space matter that burns up as it enters Earth’s atmosphere. Whatever is left of it when it reaches the surface of the Earth is known as a meteorite. They are of particular interest to scientists as they can offer crucial clues about the history of the solar system. Continue reading…

  • Time to say goodbye? Calls rarely end when we want them to, study finds
    by Natalie Grover Science correspondent on March 1, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Whether talking to family, friends or strangers, calls hardly ever end when both parties are readySo you just called to say “I love you” – but how long should you stay on the phone?New research suggests no matter who we’re talking to, or what we’re talking about, conversations rarely conclude when the two individuals want them to end. Continue reading…

  • UK Covid: one dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine reduces hospitalisation in over-80s by 80%, data shows – as it happened
    by Andrew Sparrow on March 1, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    Health secretary says data shows that, for over-80s, a single vaccine shot leads to a more than 80% reduction in hospitalisation. This live blog is now closed – for updates, please follow the global coronavirus live blogOne Pfizer or Oxford jab ‘significantly’ prevents hospitalisation in elderlyAlarm over delays in border measures as Brazil Covid variant hits UKSpain may allow in Covid-vaccinated UK tourists if no EU pass agreedTory-linked PR firm to provide test and trace ‘reputation management’ 6.34pm GMT[This data] shows us how, if we are patient and we give this vaccine programme time to have its full effect, it is going to hopefully take us into a very different world in the next few months. The effectiveness of the vaccine on protecting people, and on reducing transmission, is critical to the roadmap [for lifting lockdown restrictions] … The data that we’ve published today shows that the roadmap is achievable, because it shows that we will be able to break the link from cases through to hospitalisations and to deaths, and until now in the pandemic that link from cases through to hospitalisations and deaths has been unbreakable. And we have demonstrated with the data today that the vaccines can break that link, and that is down to the power of science. So it’s good news for everybody. Related: Coronavirus live: global cases rose for first time in seven weeks at end of February; stricter Czech lockdown 6.01pm GMTQ: What do you make of the EU plan for a vaccine passport?Hancock says the UK is working with international partners on this. The EU is part of the discussion, as are other partners. Continue reading…

  • Large meteor ‘fireball’ blazes across the UK, lighting up skies – video
    on March 1, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    A large meteor was visible over parts of the UK on Sunday night, delighting those lucky enough to see it.The meteor was spotted shortly before 10pm and was visible for about seven seconds. It was captured on doorbell and security cameras in Manchester, Cardiff, Honiton, Bath, Midsomer Norton and Milton KeynesUK meteor: ‘huge flash’ as fireball lights up skiesContinue reading…

  • Brazilian Covid variant: what do we know about P1?
    by Sarah Boseley Health editor on March 1, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    Six cases have been detected in Britain. What threat does the variant pose, and how is it different?Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageTwo coronavirus variants have been detected in Brazil, or in people who have travelled from Brazil, called P1 and P2. They are similar but it is P1 that is causing concern in the UK, after the detection of six cases – three in England and three in Scotland. The hunt is on for more – and to identify one of the people infected, who appears not to have registered their full details with NHS test and trace. Continue reading…

  • Starwatch: Mars closes in on Pleiades star cluster
    by Stuart Clark on March 1, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Sky-watchers will be rewarded with contrasting celestial colours as red planet approaches blue-white starsMars, the new home of Nasa’s Perseverance rover, closes in on the Pleiades star cluster this week to give sky-watchers a beautiful view of contrasting celestial colours. Continue reading…

  • 20 million people in UK have had first dose of coronavirus vaccine
    by Linda Geddes on March 1, 2021 at 12:02 am

    Health secretary hails latest inoculation figures as ‘magnificent achievement for the country’Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageMore than 20 million Britons have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose, the UK government has said.In a video uploaded to his Twitter profile, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said it was a “magnificent achievement for the country”. Continue reading…

  • Letters: Sir Arnold Wolfendale obituary
    by Trevor James, Jim Grozier and Gerard Gilligan on February 28, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    Sir Arnold Wolfendale wrote an article on John Harrison and the invention of his maritime clock (2008) for The Historian, the members’ journal of the Historical Association. On making his acquaintance, I discovered that, along with being a physics professor and astronomer royal, he attended the lectures and other activities of the Historical Association branch in Durham.Trevor JamesIn 2000 Arnold Wolfendale helped the International Association of Physics Students draw attention to the plight of physics students outside the US and western Europe, often compelled to leave their own countries to find work.Jim Grozier Continue reading…

  • Green pass: how are Covid vaccine passports working for Israel?
    by Oliver Holmes and Quique Kierszenbaum in Jerusalem on February 28, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    As hotels and gyms reopen in Israel, governments elsewhere are considering a similar certificate scheme – raising ethical concernsFour key questions on a Covid certification scheme in EnglandCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageAs the UK and other governments consider whether to give Covid-vaccinated people certificates that allow entry to bars, hotels, and swimming pools, one country, Israel, has already deployed its “green pass”.The state of 9 million, which has administered jabs to half its population, released an app a week ago that shows whether people have been fully inoculated against the coronavirus or if they have presumed immunity after contracting the disease. Continue reading…

  • I have tested positive for Covid – and I feel really guilty
    by Zoe Williams on February 28, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    At first I felt relieved that my symptoms aren’t too grim. Then I felt bad about my relief, as if I’d failed a basic solidarity dutyIt started with a text that was doing the rounds from Lambeth council’s director of public health: the South African variant of Covid had been discovered in a tiny box of postcodes that included our house, and we were all encouraged to get tested. I forwarded it to a neighbour, who said: “This cuts off just before our houses. This is basically: ‘Don’t go to the supermarket down the road.’” Is it a sign of cognitive impairment that I can’t find my own house on a map? Not really: I can never do that.Still, we had ordered tests by then. I was reasonably sure we were an early-adopter household in the matter of the pandemic. Mr Z had a meeting a year ago with someone else who had just had a meeting with Nadine Dorries, and he felt mortally unwell after that when the news broke that she had Covid. She’s been our go-to yardstick of wellbeing ever since. How do you feel? Well, a bit rough, but not like I’ve had any proxy face-to-face contact with a junior Conservative health minister. Continue reading…

  • Under threat: the birthplace of Darwin’s historic theory
    by Robin McKie and Toby Helm on February 28, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Groups including the Geological and Linnean societies say government’s 3,000% rent rise could force them to quit their Burlington House premises after 167 yearsSome of Britain’s most distinguished learned societies say they may be forced to leave their central London premises because the government has imposed rent rises of more than 3,000% over the past few years.Last week the Geological Society and the Linnean Society announced that they had united with the Society of Antiquaries in a campaign to try to stop the government pricing them out of their premises at Burlington House, on Piccadilly, where they have been since 1854. Continue reading…

  • If oestrogen can save women from the worst of Covid, they should be given it | Kate Muir
    by Kate Muir on February 28, 2021 at 10:00 am

    There is mounting evidence that HRT can help menopausal women recover from the virus, but little action is being takenCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage‘To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” wrote George Orwell, and seeing in front of our masks in this endless pandemic turns out to be even harder. Take the compelling case of the effect of oestrogen, the female hormone, on the coronavirus. Quite simply, research suggests that women with more oestrogen in their bodies are less likely to die and more likely to have milder symptoms of Covid-19. Doctors are also discovering that topping up low hormone levels seems to help some women suffering from long Covid. Yet, this area of research is being sorely neglected. I wonder why? Continue reading…

  • Covid vaccine does not affect fertility but misinformation persists
    by Harriet Sherwood on February 28, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Scientists emphasise safety but younger women still hesitantCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageAmy Taylor was chatting to friends over a Zoom drink when the conversation took an unexpected turn. One of the group – all in their early 30s, mostly university-educated and in professional jobs – mentioned that she had concerns about the Covid vaccine because she wanted to try for a baby in the next year or two.“I was surprised when others said they were also a bit anxious. Then I started thinking maybe I should be worried too – even though I’m pro-vaccinations and I know this is the way out of the pandemic,” said Taylor*. “This really plays into the fertility insecurity that lots of women in their 30s have anyway – have I left it too late, will I need IVF, should I freeze my eggs? We don’t want anything else that could interfere with our chances of motherhood.” Continue reading…

  • ‘I’ve had my vaccine – how well will it protect me and for how long?’
    by Robin McKie on February 27, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    The latest answers to the important medical questions about the vaccines and the pandemicCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe prospects of vaccines failing to trigger immune responses are dismissed as remote by scientists. “If a vaccine has not been properly refrigerated that might pose problems but doctors take great care to ensure that doesn’t happen,” said Prof Helen Fletcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “Frankly the only other way to get a failed reaction is for the doctor to miss your arm – which isn’t likely.” Continue reading…

  • Archaeologists find unique ceremonial vehicle near Pompeii
    by Reuters in Rome on February 27, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    Well-preserved iron, bronze and tin carriage discovery is ‘without precedent in Italy’Archaeologists have unearthed a unique Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa just outside Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage, made of iron, bronze and tin, was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, about 700 metres north of the walls of ancient Pompeii and close to where the remains of three horses were unearthed in 2018, including one still in its harness. Continue reading…

  • Changes in Atlantic currents may have dire climate implications for the next century | Andrew Meijers
    by Andrew Meijers on February 26, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Without modifying human behaviour we run the risk of violent weather swings and a drastic effect on crops and ocean lifeThe ocean circulation that keeps our relatively northern corner of Europe warm(ish) is often likened to a gigantic conveyor belt bringing warm equatorial water northwards at the surface, balanced by cold southward flow at great depth. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC for short, brings heat energy northward at the equivalent rate of 10 Hiroshima bombs every second and keeps our weather mild, and just a little bit too damp, and is critical to the wider climate.New research has provided important long-term context for scientists’ observations of these Atlantic currents that bring warmth and climatic stability to our shores, with concerning implications for the coming century. Changes in the AMOC in the geologic past have caused significant local and global impacts, and for several decades now oceanographers have been monitoring its strength. Continue reading…

  • Will I have to wear a mask after getting the Covid vaccine?
    by Jessica Glenza and Alvin Chang on February 26, 2021 at 8:00 am

    With Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine close to distribution in the US, the end of the pandemic seems a big step closer. But not everything will return to normal right awayPublic health authorities want people to keep wearing masks and social distancing, even after they receive a vaccine. This might seem counterintuitive – after all, if someone gets a vaccine, aren’t they protected from the coronavirus?The answer is complicated: the vast majority of people who are vaccinated will be protected from Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, vaccinated people may still be able to transmit the virus, even though they do not display any symptoms. Continue reading…

  • A practical guide to tackling the climate crisis – podcast
    by Presented by Natalie Grover and produced by Madeleine Finlay on February 25, 2021 at 5:00 am

    The first UN climate change conference was held in 1995 in Berlin. More than two decades later, our planet remains on track for three degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. The answer to avoiding this catastrophe is both simple and staggeringly complicated: drastically reducing and reversing the amount of carbon dioxide entering our atmosphere. How do we do this? Science correspondent Natalie Grover speaks to Prof Mike Berners-Lee, author of There is No Planet B, who has crunched the numbers on everything from carbon offsetting and green investments to e-bikes Continue reading…

  • Listen to the first sounds recorded on Mars – video
    on February 24, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Nasa scientists release the first sounds ever recorded on Mars, a light gust of wind on the planet’s surface on Monday.’I invite you now to, if you would like to, close your eyes and just imagine yourself sitting on the surface of Mars and listening to the surroundings,’ says Dave Gruel, camera suite lead for the Perseverance rover Continue reading…

  • The Guardian view on vaccine passports: a tool to handle with care | Editorial
    by Editorial on February 24, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    Practical and ethical concerns are valid, but a well-designed policy with the right legal safeguards could make a valuable differenceBoris Johnson appears, at last, to have learned the folly of overconfidence in fighting the pandemic. He used to make rash promises with grandiose optimism. Now his plans are laden with caveats. The adjustment is welcome, albeit too late for those whose lives were lost when denial and bluster spoke louder than caution and evidence to dictate government policy. The coming months will test the prime minister’s newly judicious method. Many in his party are impatient for lockdown to be eased faster. Public tolerance of onerous restrictions has a limit.The question then arises of whether proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test might accelerate the reopening of services and advance a revival of social and economic activity. Downing Street was against the idea when it was first raised last year, but this week Mr Johnson was more circumspect. To issue some kind of certificate raised “deep and complex” issues, the prime minister said. But he did not rule it out. Instead it is to be the subject of a Cabinet Office review. Continue reading…

  • Prototype Covid test delivers results three times faster than lateral flow
    by Jon Henley in Paris on February 23, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    Test developed in France is as accurate as PCR test and does not require lab processingCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageFrench researchers have developed a coronavirus test that they say delivers results three times faster than rapid lateral flow antigen tests with – according to initial trial data – almost the same accuracy as more reliable, but slower, PCR tests.The electrochemical test, which uses nanobodies taken from the camelid group of animals, returns a result within 10 minutes and, in an early test of 300 samples, proved 90% as accurate as a PCR test for both positive and negative results. It is being developed by scientists at Lille and Marseille universities and from the French national scientific research centre CNRS. Continue reading…

  • Did an ancient magnetic pole flip change life on Earth? – podcast
    by Presented by Nicola Davis and produced by Madeleine Finlay on February 23, 2021 at 10:21 am

    What would it be like if the Earth’s magnetic pole switched? Migrating animals and hikers would certainly need to reset their compasses, but could it play real havoc with life on Earth? Analysing the rings of an ancient tree pulled from a bog in New Zealand, researchers have been investigating what happened the last time north and south flipped – 42,000 years ago. Nicola Davis speaks to Prof Chris Turney about how it changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and, if combined with a period of lower solar activity, what impact this could have had on the environment and evolution Continue reading…

  • Did you solve it? The art of the puzzle
    by Alex Bellos on February 22, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    The solutions to today’s artful problemsEarlier today I set you the following puzzles. The first is a starter problem and the other three were suggested by puzzle guru Rob Eastaway.The nine dots Continue reading…

  • Can you solve it? The art of the puzzle
    by Alex Bellos on February 22, 2021 at 7:38 am

    Thinking in and out of the boxUPDATE: The solutions are now up hereWhat makes for a great puzzle? Here’s a golden oldie that certainly qualifies.The nine dots Continue reading…

  • After the Nobel, what next for Crispr gene-editing therapies?
    by Philip Ball on February 21, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Hailed as the ‘molecular scissors’ that will allow us to rewrite our genes, the DNA tool is being trialled in treatments for everything from sickle-cell anaemia to cancerWhen last year’s Nobel prize for chemistry was awarded to biochemist Jennifer Doudna and microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier for their work in developing the technique of gene editing known as Crispr-Cas9 (pronounced “crisper”), headlines hailed their discovery as “molecular scissors” that would allow us to “rewrite the book of life” – with all the complicated ethical questions that ability raises. But much of the excitement has nothing to do with visions of designer babies. The real promise of Crispr is for treating diseases caused by genetic mutations, from muscular dystrophy to congenital blindness, and even some cancers.The first human trials of Crispr therapies are happening already, and researchers hope that they are on the brink of reaching the clinic. “The speed at which Crispr research has progressed has been truly astonishing,” says Doudna from the University of California at Berkeley. Continue reading…

  • Nasa reveals new colour images of Mars from Perseverance rover – video
    on February 19, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Adam Steltzner, the chief engineer on the Perseverance project, said his team was ‘overwhelmed with excitement and joy’ as he revealed new colour photographs beamed back from Nasa’s Perseverance roverNasa scientists release new images of Perseverance rover on Mars at news briefingNasa scientists hail Perseverance rover’s arrival on Mars with stunning imagesContinue reading…

  • Why do humans struggle to think of ourselves as animals? – podcast
    by Presented and produced by Madeleine Finlay on February 18, 2021 at 5:00 am

    The pandemic has demonstrated why humans are ultimately an impressive species. From monitoring the genetic evolution of Sars-CoV-2 to devising vaccines in record time, we have put our minds together to reduce the impact of Covid-19. Yet, the global spread of a new disease is a reminder that we are not invincible, and remain at the mercy of our biology and the natural world. Speaking to author Melanie Challenger about her new book How to Be Animal, Madeleine Finlay asks how we can come to terms with ourselves as animals and why it might do humanity some good Continue reading…

  • Did you solve it? Think of a number
    by Alex Bellos on February 8, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    The solution to today’s Q&A puzzleEarlier today I asked you the following puzzle.Ask Johnny Continue reading…

  • Can you solve it? Think of a number
    by Alex Bellos on February 8, 2021 at 7:12 am

    A new twist on the all time classic maths trick UPDATE: the solution can now be read here.“Think of a number” tricks are such a puzzle staple that the BBC even named a kids show after them. (To readers under the age of 40, Think of a Number was hosted by Zoe Ball’s dad Johnny, and to many Britons, this one included, it was an indelible cultural highlight of growing up in the late 1970s/early 1980s.)The following puzzle is a brilliant version of a ‘think of a number’ type problem, which I had not seen until recently. The solution is wonderfully ingenious. If you don’t crack it now, or at all (as it consumes your day, sorry), you will be rewarded when I reveal the answer at 5pm. Continue reading…