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  • Don’t blame men for the climate crisis – we should point the finger at corporations
    by Arwa Mahdawi on July 27, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    Male spending – on petrol and meat – is apparently worse for the environment than women’s. But it’s the system, not individuals, that needs to changeSorry, boys, but it’s all your fault. Melting ice caps, flash floods, rising sea levels: men are to blame for the lot of it. Please don’t drown the messenger, I’m just relaying the results of a Swedish study that found that men’s spending habits cause 16% more climate-heating emissions than women’s. The biggest difference seems to be that men spend more money on petrol. Another big difference: the men surveyed bought more meat than women. So this is the way the world ends, eh? Not with a bang, but with blokes eating too many burgers.I don’t know how many studies published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology go viral, but this paper has had an enormous amount of traction. Of course, this is largely because its findings leant themselves to delicious clickbait such as Men Are Worse for Climate Change Than Women Because They Love Meat and Cars. To be fair, the study didn’t lean into gender war territory in the way you would expect based on the headlines it generated. Gender wasn’t even mentioned in the paper’s title, which was “Shifting expenditure on food, holidays, and furnishings could lower greenhouse gas emissions by almost 40%”. Continue reading…

  • Jeff Bezos offers Nasa $2bn in exchange for moon mission contract
    by Adam Gabbatt in New York and agencies on July 27, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    Billionaire lost out to Elon Musk’s SpaceX in lunar bidBezos claims Nasa’s decision will delay moon missionJeff Bezos has offered Nasa $2bn – if the US space agency reverses course and chooses his company, Blue Origin, to make a spacecraft designed to land astronauts back on the moon. Related: Why does Jeff Bezos’s rocket look like that? An inquiry Continue reading…

  • People shielding five times more likely to die of Covid, Scottish study finds
    by Ian Sample Science editor on July 27, 2021 at 9:00 am

    High-risk individuals were still much more vulnerable to catching virus and dying in first wave of pandemicCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coveragePeople advised to shield in the first wave of the pandemic were five times more likely to die after a confirmed Covid infection than those considered at low risk from the disease, according to research in Scotland.The study, led by the University of Glasgow, found that efforts to shield the most vulnerable did not prevent substantial levels of infection in the most high-risk groups, with many patients inevitably succumbing to the virus. Continue reading…

  • NSW Covid update: 172 new cases as Berejiklian flags greater Sydney lockdown lasting into September
    by Anne Davies on July 27, 2021 at 4:34 am

    NSW premier expected to announce Covid roadmap as Blacktown apartment block locked downFollow our Covid live blog for the latest updatesNSW restrictions; NSW hotspots; border restrictionsVaccine rollout tracker; get our free news app; get our morning email briefingThe New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has hinted at a prolonged lockdown in greater Sydney well into September as case numbers reached 172, the highest number of this outbreak.At least 60 cases were in the community during their infectious period and 19 were only partially isolating, while 32 are still under review. Continue reading…

  • Sporting super spikes: how do they work? – podcast
    by Presented by Shivani Dave. Produced by Max Sanderson and Iain Chambers on July 27, 2021 at 4:00 am

    In the lead-up to the athletics competitions at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, Shivani Dave takes look at how advances in running shoe technology are resulting in records being smashed. Talking to Geoff Burns, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan who specialises in biomechanics, Shivani asks how so-called ‘super spikes’ work and if the mechanical advantage they provide is fair Continue reading…

  • Life expectancy lower for white and mixed ethnic people than Black and Asian groups – study
    by Natalie Grover Science correspondent on July 26, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Findings of Office for National Statistics analysis consistent with previous research say experts People from white and mixed ethnic groups had lower life expectancy compared with Black and Asian groups in England and Wales between 2011 and 2014, according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).The study linked 2011 census and death registration data to produce estimates of life expectancy and cause of death by ethnic group. Continue reading…

  • UK Covid: 24,950 new cases, lowest daily total for more than three weeks – as it happened
    by Clea Skopeliti (now) and Andrew Sparrow (earlier) on July 26, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    This live blog is now closed. For the latest coronavirus updates from around the world, you can read our global Covid blogUK cases fall sixth day in a row but hospitalisations on riseCovid patients in ICU tell of regrets of refusing to get vaccinatedAdditional emergency workplace testing to be introduced in EnglandSummary of Keir Starmer’s LBC phone-inSummary of Downing Street lobby briefingBercow: calling an MP a liar in Commons chamber should be allowed 6.24pm BST We’ll be shutting this liveblog down shortly, but you can follow the latest, including UK developments, on our global blog. Thanks for reading. Related: Coronavirus live: US keeps travel ban on UK and Schengen area; Thailand reports record case numbers 6.12pm BST Here’s a roundup of today’s Covid figures – while daily cases are down, hospital occupancy rates and admissions have risen over the last week: Related: UK Covid cases fall for sixth day in a row, but hospital numbers rise Continue reading…

  • Did you solve it? Clueless sudoku
    by Alex Bellos on July 26, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    The solutions to today’s puzzlesEarlier today I set you three ‘clueless’ Sudoku and an ‘almost clueless’ Killer Sudoku. For discussion and tips you can read the original column here.For a printable page of all the puzzles click here. Scroll down for the solutions. Continue reading…

  • Has England reached a peak in Covid infections? | Graham Medley
    by Graham Medley on July 26, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    The trajectory of the pandemic might look more like a range of hills rather than a single mountainWhile the government’s decision to remove most lockdown measures in England was widely expected to result in a large wave of infection and disease, the number of new cases of Covid-19 has been falling over the last five days. Many hope this could mean that we’re past the peak. Yet the reality is more complicated. This is the first time an epidemic has taken place in a highly vaccinated population without control measures in place, so we are in uncharted territory. There is considerable uncertainty about what the next two months hold.The big questions are how high the current wave will get and how long it will last. The number of people in hospital and dying of Covid-19 is directly linked to the number of infections. It’s impossible to accurately predict when we’ll reach the peak of infections, or how long it will take to come back down from this (if I had a pound for every time I’m asked “are we there yet?”, I’d be able to give away a lot of money). Continue reading…

  • Stop calling people ‘toxic’. Here’s why | Hannah Baer
    by Hannah Baer on July 26, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Believing others have fixed traits which don’t change yields defensiveness, failure to listen, and failure to set boundariesOver the past few years I’ve noticed a rise in the label “toxic” as a response to difficult or destructive behavior. Media outlets from Psychology Today to Harvard Business Review run articles on how to identify or avoid toxic people. Politicians like Mitch McConnell use the term to describe their adversaries. Even academic psychologists have begun to take up the language. Related: It’s time to rethink what loneliness is | Miriam Kirmayer Continue reading…

  • Can you solve it? Clueless sudoku
    by Alex Bellos on July 26, 2021 at 6:10 am

    Puzzles where less is moreUPDATE: Solutions now available here.Sudoku is an extremely elegant puzzle, and this crucial to its appeal. The rules are simple to understand and the grid – with given numbers usually presented in a symmetric pattern – is striking. Yet perhaps Sudoku is not elegant enough. Perhaps the numbers on the starting grid are an unforgivable blemish, a needless sullying of the page.Or so argue a group of mathematicians, who have come up with a new puzzle genre: ‘clueless Sudoku’, which are Sudoku-style puzzles with a pristine starting grid. These puzzles literally don’t have a (numerical) clue. Continue reading…

  • ‘When disaster strikes, you have to help’: the volunteers in a global crisis
    by Philip Oltermann, Vincent Ni, Gabrielle Canon and Andrew Roth on July 26, 2021 at 6:00 am

    From Syrians helping in Germany’s floods to Russian CrossFitters fighting fires, ordinary people helping to tackle the climate crisisWhen Anas Alakkad, a Saarland-based translator and paramedic from Damascus, saw pictures of the flooded German towns on his Facebook feed on Sunday night, he fired off messages to Syrian friends around Germany. Continue reading…

  • Australia squandered its Covid advantage – and wealth is deciding who makes it home | Jennifer Mills
    by Jennifer Mills on July 25, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    It would be easy enough to get home quickly if we had money to burnFollow our Covid live blog for the latest updatesRestrictions: NSW; Vic; Qld; SA; WA and NT; border restrictionsHotspots: NSW map; Vic list; Qld; WAVaccine rollout tracker; get our free news app; get our morning email briefing“But aren’t you a citizen?”That’s the first thing most Italians ask when I tell them I can’t make it home. Continue reading…

  • Rumbling meteor lights up Norway, prompting search for meteorites
    by Reuters on July 25, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Hunt begins near Oslo for fragments after sightings of large space rock hurtling across night skyAn “unusually large meteor” briefly lit up southern Norway on Sunday, creating a spectacular sound and light display as it rumbled across the sky, and a part of it may have hit Earth, possibly not far from the capital, Oslo, experts said.Reports of sightings started arriving at around 1am, and the phenomenon was seen as far north as Trondheim. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. Continue reading…

  • Meteor lights up night sky over Norway – video
    on July 25, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    An ‘unusually large’ meteor briefly lit up southern Norway on Sunday as it sped at up to 20km per second across the morning sky. Reports of sightings started at around 1am, with sightings of the phenomenon recorded as far north as Trondheim. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage Continue reading…

  • The insect apocalypse: ‘Our world will grind to a halt without them’
    by Dave Goulson on July 25, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Insects have declined by 75% in the past 50 years – and the consequences may soon be catastrophic. Biologist Dave Goulson reveals the vital services they performI have been fascinated by insects all my life. One of my earliest memories is of finding, at the age of five or six, some stripy yellow-and-black caterpillars feeding on weeds in the school playground. I put them in my empty lunchbox, and took them home. Eventually they transformed into handsome magenta and black moths. This seemed like magic to me – and still does. I was hooked.In pursuit of insects I have travelled the world, from the deserts of Patagonia to the icy peaks of Fjordland in New Zealand and the forested mountains of Bhutan. I have watched clouds of birdwing butterflies sipping minerals from the banks of a river in Borneo, and thousands of fireflies flashing in synchrony at night in the swamps of Thailand. At home in my garden in Sussex I have spent countless hours watching grasshoppers court a mate and see off rivals, earwigs tend their young, ants milk honeydew from aphids, and leaf-cutter bees snip leaves to line their nests. Continue reading…

  • Under-30s reluctant to take Covid vaccine cite fertility and side-effect concerns
    by James Tapper & Alex Mistlin on July 24, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    Fears over ‘experimental’ inoculation show that more needs to be done to counter harmful misinformationCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageSince the vaccine rollout began last year, the journey has been relatively smooth. The few bumps that the jab juggernaut has encountered, mostly hiccups in the supply chain, have been successfully navigated.Yet there are now concerns about the final stages, with under-30s showing markedly more reluctance to get their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines than older people. Continue reading…

  • Pfizer vaccine second dose has ‘sweet spot’ after eight weeks, UK scientists say
    by Press Association on July 23, 2021 at 2:22 am

    Longer schedule led to more Covid antibodies and higher proportion of helper T-cells, supporting immune memory – researchersSee all our coronavirus coverageAn eight-week gap between the first and second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is a “sweet spot” when it comes to generating strong immune response while protecting the UK population against the Delta variant of coronavirus, scientists have said.In a study funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), researchers have found that when compared with a four-week gap, a 10-week interval between the doses produces higher antibody levels, as well as a higher proportion of a group of infection-fighting cells in the body known as “helper” T-cells. Continue reading…

  • UK scientists back Covid boosters as study finds post-jab falls in antibodies
    by Ian Sample Science editor on July 22, 2021 at 11:45 am

    Exclusive: Waning antibody levels are possible warning sign of lower protection in months after vaccination Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageScientists have backed proposals for Covid boosters in the autumn after blood tests on hundreds of people revealed that protective antibodies can wane substantially within weeks of second vaccine shots being given.Falls in antibodies after vaccination are expected and do not necessarily mean people are more vulnerable to disease, but the researchers are concerned that if the declines persist the effectiveness of the vaccines may diminish. Continue reading…

  • How does the human body cope with extreme heat? (part two) – podcast
    by Presented and produced by Shivani Dave on July 22, 2021 at 4:00 am

    We learned in our previous episode about the very real consequences that extreme heat has on human health and wellbeing, but there is little research into what actually happens to our bodies when exposed to extreme heat apart from in the world of sports science. In the second part of our discussion, as fears mount that the Tokyo Olympics will be the hottest on record and the world gears up for Cop26, Shivani Dave speaks to Mike Tipton, a professor of human and applied physiology Continue reading…

  • Lockdowns do not harm health more than Covid, say researchers
    by Natalie Grover, Science correspondent on July 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Little evidence that social restrictions during the pandemic have added to rates of death and ill-healthCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageSince early in the coronavirus pandemic, critics of unprecedented lockdown measures seen worldwide have argued that these interventions cause more harm than the disease itself. But an analysis of global health data suggests there is little evidence to support the idea that the cure is worse than the disease.The analysis, published in the journal BMJ Global Health, considered claims that lockdowns cause more health harms than Covid-19 by examining their impacts on measures including death rates, routine health services and mental health. Continue reading…

  • Why are extreme weather events on the rise? (part one) – podcast
    by Produced and presented by Shivani Dave with reporting from Jonathan Watts on July 20, 2021 at 5:00 am

    The Guardian’s global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, speaks to Shivani Dave about extreme weather events – including the extreme heat recently recorded in the US and Canada. In the first of two parts, we hear how extreme heat comes about and why extreme weather events such as floods and monsoons look set to become more likely and even more extreme Continue reading…

  • Keep wearing masks to slow spread of Covid, scientists warn Britons
    by Robin McKie Observer science editor on July 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Experts point to risks of indoor Covid-19 transmission: ‘If you don’t wear a mask, the virus spreads further. It’s as simple as that’Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageScientists have strongly endorsed the continued wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces over summer. As Covid-19 cases continue to spiral, face coverings offer people the most robust way of limiting the spread of the disease in cafes, theatres and restaurants, they said last week.Rates of new Covid-19 cases topped 50,000 a day last week, leading scientists and health experts to warn that the country could be forced into a lockdown later this year as rising numbers of infections look likely to continue until autumn. In these circumstances, they said, wearing of masks should be continued despite the government’s refusal to make such a move official. Continue reading…

  • Reasons to be fearful of China’s data-gathering | Letters
    by Letters on July 17, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    We should be suspicious of the role of the Chinese Communist party in the harvesting of genetic data from unborn babies, argues William MatthewsIn her column (What does the Chinese military want with your unborn baby’s genetic data?, 10 July), Arwa Mahdawi suggested that the alleged involvement of the People’s Liberation Army (which is directly answerable to the Chinese Communist party) with BGI’s data-gathering (likewise answerable as a China-based company) is essentially equivalent to data-gathering by western companies. To suggest that the former case is worse, she argued, “smacks of Sinophobia”.As a scholar of China, I cannot agree. While the harvesting of genetic data by any company is frightening and fraught with ethical issues, it should be obvious that this is a false equivalence. It is undoubtedly worse if genetic data is gathered by a company which must also comply with the rule of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) and its military-industrial complex, a regime which harvests and aggregates data on its citizens on a massive scale and uses it directly to implement the most repressive system of social control on earth in Xinjiang. Continue reading…

  • What are the risks of England unlocking on 19 July? – podcast
    by Produced and Presented by Anand Jagatia with Ian Sample on July 15, 2021 at 5:00 am

    Nearly all coronavirus restrictions in England are set to be lifted from Monday 19 July. But what are the risks of unlocking when we could be in the middle of a third wave of infections? The Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, talks to Anand Jagatia about how cases, hospital admissions and deaths are modelled to increase in the coming weeks, as well as the risks from long Covid and new variants Continue reading…

  • Did you solve it? Oxford university admissions questions
    by Alex Bellos on July 12, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    The answers to today’s logical conundrumsEarlier today I set the following three puzzles, which have all been set during Oxford university admissions interviews for joint philosophy courses. In each case, there is an initial question, which almost all candidates answer correctly. The follow-up questions are more challenging.1. Stephanie’s surprise. Continue reading…

  • Can you solve it? Oxford university admissions questions
    by Alex Bellos on July 12, 2021 at 6:23 am

    Brainteasers for budding philosophersUPDATE: Solutions can now be read here.Do you have what it takes to study philosophy at Oxford? Today’s three puzzles are ‘epistemic logic puzzles’, that is, puzzles concerned with reasoning about knowledge. But I know you know I know you know that.All three puzzles have been set in recent years during Oxford university admissions interviews for joint philosophy degrees. In each case, there is an initial question. Almost all candidates will answer this correctly, and I hope you will too. I’ve also included a sample of the follow-up questions. Only the best candidates will get everything right. Best of luck! Continue reading…

  • Richard Branson completes flight to edge of space – video
    on July 11, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    The British entrepreneur Richard Branson has successfully flown to the edge of space and back in his Virgin Galactic passenger rocket plane, days ahead of a rival launch by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. ‘I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars,’ Branson said. ‘Now, I’m an adult in a spaceship.’The rocket plane went into sub-orbital flight on Sunday morning, seventeen years after Branson founded Virgin Galactic to develop commercial spacecraft and cater to future space touristsRichard Branson flies to edge of space in Virgin Galactic passenger rocket plane Continue reading…

  • Daniel M Davis: ‘Unbelievable things will come from biological advances’
    by Ian Tucker on July 3, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    The immunology professor on the personal data which will shape our future and how the pandemic has fired everyone’s interest in the immune systemDaniel M Davis is a professor of immunology at the University of Manchester. He has published over 130 academic papers and two lauded popular science books, The Compatibility Gene and The Beautiful Cure. His third, The Secret Body, describes the forthcoming revolution in human health.As an immunologist, when you overhear conversations about antibodies or T-cells in the pub (when regulations permit), is it pleasing to you that these aspects of science have entered the public domain?Many terrible things have happened because of this pandemic, but the science of viruses and infections has come right to the foreground. As an immunologist I always thought my subject was quite important, but right now it’s become blatantly clear to everyone how critical it is to understand how the immune system works and how viruses evolve, and how infections spread between people. Without that deep understanding there wouldn’t have been progress in creating vaccines and many, many, many more people would have died. Continue reading…

  • Did you solve it? Carl Friedrich Gauss, money saving expert
    by Alex Bellos on June 28, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    The answers to today’s puzzlesEarlier today I set you the following two puzzles, inspired by a money-saving trick devised by Carl Friedrich Gauss. (Click to the original for the explanation of the trick, and what it has got to do with Gauss).1. The double bill. Continue reading…