New Scientist Weekly
#118: Heatwaves push limits of human tolerance; chemical computer to mimic brain; first non-human to practice medicine
It feels like temperature records are being broken almost daily. We’ve seen heatwaves already this year in Texas and Mexico, with forecast highs of 50oC set to hit Pakistan and India. As we edge closer to breaking 1.5 degrees of global warming in the next 5 years, Rowan speaks to climate scientist Vikki Thompson from the University of Bristol, to find out how heatwaves are pushing at the limits of what humans can cope with.
Chemical computers have taken a step up. Lee Cronin and his colleagues at the University of Glasgow have upgraded their 2019 machine, and it’s now fully programmable. The team discusses the project’s ultimate goal, to make a chemical brain and even explain consciousness.
Ants have the power to heal. The team explains how Matabele ants, large ants found in sub-Saharan Africa, have evolved the ability to diagnose infected wounds in their nestmates using an antimicrobial medicine that they produce themselves.
It’s estimated that covid-19 has now killed close to 15 million people. And with reports of rapid reinfections and new omicron sublineages emerging, the team finds out how worried we should be about getting covid multiple times, and what we can expect from future mutations of the virus.
The composer Jon Hopkins has been working with a team involving neuroscientist Anil Seth to create a hallucinogenic immersive experience called Dream Machine. New Scientist’s Carissa Wong has been in it, and shares her wild experience. We also treat you to the music from Dream Machine throughout this episode.
Events and discount codes: