Economist/Science & Technology

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Fences are bad for wildlife

EcologyFences are bad for wildlifeWhere possible, they should be removed or redesignedScience & technologyOct 24th 2020 editionEARTH’S LONGEST artificial structure is usually said to be the Great Wall of China. Just how long that is is hard to say, for northern China actually has many walls, built at different times and not always interconnecting....

A driverless lorry takes on the “Top Gear” track

Look, no hands!A driverless lorry takes on the “Top Gear” trackIt is ready to start earning a livingScience & technologyTHANKS TO “Top Gear”, a British television show for motoring enthusiasts that is now a global brand, a former second-world-war airfield called Dunsfold has become one of the best known testing tracks in the world. On October 15th,...

An American spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, grabs a bit of an asteroid

Close encounterAn American spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, grabs a bit of an asteroidA sample should now be on its way to EarthScience & technologyON OCTOBER 20TH an American spacecraft called OSIRIS-REx played tip and run with Bennu, an asteroid it has been orbiting since December 2018. At 10.12pm Universal Time its three-metre-long sampling arm puffed...

Should covid be left to spread among the young and healthy?

Controlling the pandemicShould covid be left to spread among the young and healthy?Two petitions by scientists clash on the matterScience & technologyAs new waves of covid-19 sweep the world, lockdowns are back in fashion. This time, though, they are a harder sell. They certainly save lives. But it is now clear that the lost jobs, the disruption...

OSIRIS-REx’s close encounter

Space explorationOSIRIS-REx’s close encounterAn asteroid sample should now be on its way to EarthScience & technologyON OCTOBER 20TH an American spacecraft called OSIRIS-REx played tip and run with Bennu, an asteroid it has been orbiting since December 2018. At 10.12pm Universal Time its three-metre-long sampling arm puffed a blast of nitrogen onto...

A driverless truck is ready to start earning a living

Look, no hands!A driverless truck is ready to start earning a livingIt has already performed on a world-famous vehicle-testing trackScience & technologyTHANKS TO its hosting of “Top Gear”, a British television show for motoring enthusiasts that has become a global brand, a former second-world-war airfield called Dunsfold, hidden deep in the home...

Arid areas have more trees than previously thought

EcologyArid areas have more trees than previously thoughtA census of all Earth’s trees may eventually be possibleScience & technologyOct 17th 2020 editionTREES LOOM large in both environmental science and the wider social and political movement of environmentalism. Not for nothing are greens sometimes called “tree-huggers”. Generally, the arboreal...

How to send underwater messages without batteries

Good vibrationsHow to send underwater messages without batteriesA new device extracts energy from ambient noiseScience & technologyOct 17th 2020 editionRADIO WAVES do not travel well underwater. That is why ships employ sonar rather than radar to plumb the briny depths. Messages broadcast through the ocean need to be sonic, too. For that purpose...

How to arm Caesarean babies with the gut bacteria they need

Healthy childbirthHow to arm Caesarean babies with the gut bacteria they needInto the mouths of babes and sucklingsScience & technologyOct 17th 2020 editionCHILDBIRTH IS MESSY. When a baby comes out, a lot else comes out with it. Some of this material is inevitable, such as the amniotic fluid that presages birth and the placenta which follows it....

Does sound, like light, have a maximum speed?

PhysicsDoes sound, like light, have a maximum speed?Quite probably, yesScience & technologyOct 17th 2020 editionWHEN IT COMES to cosmic speed limits, light gets all the attention. Its velocity in a vacuum, a tad below 300m metres per second, is an absolute upper bound on how fast anything in the universe can travel. This value, called “c” by physicists,...

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