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Wi-Fi signals could prove useful for spies

Science & technology | Surveillance technologyA router’s emissions can paint a picture of activity in a room Jan 25th 2023Like all radio waves, Wi-Fi signals undergo subtle shifts when they encounter objects—human beings included. These can reveal information about the shape and motion of what has been encountered, in a manner akin to the way a...

A better way of keeping mosquitoes at bay is under development

Science & technology | Insect repellentsA nifty piece of chemistry may have found a safe, effective, long-lasting protection Jan 25th 2023Mosquito repellents have come a long way. For decades, the market leader was DEET, which fends the pests off successfully, but only for an hour or two. Recently, Icaridin has become available. This lasts up to...

How to measure how stress affects athletes’ performance

Science & technology | Archers and heart ratesPick a sport where they don’t move much, and study skin flushing Jan 25th 2023How much stress is good for an athlete? Surprisingly, since modern, professional sport of all sorts now seems to be in the hands of number crunchers trying to extract another zillionth of a percent of performance from their...

I spy, with my little Wi-Fi

Science & technology | Surveillance technologyA router’s emissions can paint a picture of activity in a room Jan 25th 2023Like all radio waves, Wi-Fi signals undergo subtle shifts when they encounter objects—human beings included. These can reveal information about the shape and motion of what has been encountered, in a manner akin to the way a...

Hormone tests for women’s fertility seem not to work

Science & technology | Fertility testingThey estimate egg number, but not egg quality Jan 25th 2023Women seeking to defer motherhood are often encouraged to check their fertility. Though fecundity is tied to age, the effect of time’s passage varies. Some 35-year-olds find they cannot get pregnant. Others manage at the first attempt. The main causes...

Neurons are not the only brain cells that think

Science & technology | Out of ‘cyte, our of mindAstrocytes, for instance, may play a role in depression and anxiety Jan 23rd 2023Most people, if they think about the matter at all, probably think of thinking as something done by the huge network of specialised, electrically conductive cells that occupies the upper half of their skulls. And, as far...

New thinking on brain cells

Science & technology | The other brain cellsNeurons are not the only cells that think. The supporting cast are crucial, too Jan 23rd 2023Most people, if they think about the matter at all, probably think of thinking as something done by the huge network of specialised, electrically conductive cells that occupies the upper half of their skulls. And,...

Which firm will win the new Moon race?

Science & technology | Private moonshotsThree rival missions raise tricky questions about who owns lunar resources Jan 18th 2023IN recent years launching things into orbit has become the province of private enterprise. Of 178 successful missions in 2022, 90 were by companies (in many cases subcontracted by governments), and of those 61 were by one...

A decades-old model of animal (and human) learning is under fire

Science & technology | Dopamine. Dogma. DoubtThe result might be better AI Jan 18th 2023The buzz of a notification or the ding of an email might inspire excitement—or dread. In a famous experiment, Ivan Pavlov (pictured) showed that dogs can be taught to salivate at the tick of a metronome or the sound of a harmonium. This connection of cause to...

Ideas for finding ET are getting more inventive

Science & technology | SETIThey can’t hide out there for ever Jan 18th 2023 | SeattleThis month the VLA (Very Large Array) radio-astronomy observatory in New Mexico will begin sending every bit of data it harvests for astronomers’ research projects to COSMIC, a computer cluster dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). A...

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