Science & Technology

Hayabusa 2: returning asteroid sample could help uncover the origins of life and the solar system

Artist impression of Hayabusa 2 approaching asteroid Ryugu. Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)/wikipedia, CC BY-SA John Bridges, University of Leicester What is your idea of an asteroid? Many people think of them as potato-shaped, inert and perhaps rather dull, pock-marked objects – far away in deep space. But over the last ten years, two Japanese space missions – …

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Exhibit A and other true crime shows can fuel misconceptions about forensic science

Microgen/Shutterstock Graham Williams, Staffordshire University Forensic science is under attack. A string of recent collapsed trials and quashed convictions that relied on forensic evidence have led some experts to say the field is in crisis. Several US and UK government reports over the last few years have highlighted and condemned failings in the use of forensic science. And there is …

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Spotting liars is hard – but our new method is effective and ethical

Guilty? The length of your answer may give it away. Motortion Films/Shutterstock Cody Porter, University of Portsmouth Most people lie occasionally. The lies are often trivial and essentially inconsequential – such as pretending to like a tasteless gift. But in other contexts, deception is more serious and can have harmful effects on criminal justice. From a societal perspective, such lying …

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Coronavirus dreams: how anger, sadness and fear crept in during lockdown – new research

Lockdown isn’t easy. Julia Lockheart DreamsID com, Author provided Mark Blagrove, Swansea University The COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our lives. Our dreams are no different. Soon after the first lockdowns started, people reported having more dreams than before, with different content. This was explained by the fact that many people were sleeping for longer, and waking …

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Mars colony: how to make breathable air and fuel from brine – new research

Artist’s concept of astronauts and human habitats on Mars. NASA David Rothery, The Open University NASA is planning to land a crew on the Moon by 2024, and then onward to Mars, possibly in the 2030s. One day, we will have permanently crewed bases on both worlds. Unlike the initial short-stay visits, long-term bases will have to be self sufficient …

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The meaning of life – a psychologist’s view

Shutterstock/LedyX Steve Taylor, Leeds Beckett University The search for meaning in life is a familiar challenge to many of us. Some materialist scientists and philosophers consider it a futile search. Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, for example, claims that human beings are just “throwaway survival machines” whose only purpose is to survive and replicate genes. Otherwise, the theory goes, there is …

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How mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna work, why they’re a breakthrough and why they need to be kept so cold

Moderna’s new mRNA vaccine is almost 94.5% effective in large-scale trials. JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images Sanjay Mishra, Vanderbilt University As the weather cools, the number of infections of the COVID-19 pandemic are rising sharply. Hamstrung by pandemic fatigue, economic constraints and political discord, public health officials have struggled to control the surging pandemic. But now, a rush of interim …

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Virus evolution could undermine a COVID-19 vaccine – but this can be stopped

Could SARS-CoV-2 evolve to dodge the vaccine? Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Moment collection/Getty Images Andrew Read, Penn State and David Kennedy, Penn State The first drug against HIV brought dying patients back from the brink. But as excited doctors raced to get the miracle drug to new patients, the miracle melted away. In each and every patient, the drug only worked …

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