New Scientist Weekly


#162 How to trigger positive tipping points to tackle climate change

Season 1, Ep. 162

On this special episode of the show, host Rowan Hooper and environment reporter Madeleine Cuff chat with climate scientist Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter.

Tim has just contributed to a research paper that suggested governments could trigger a mass shift to plant-based diets, simply by serving more vegan burgers in schools and hospitals. We discuss with Tim the power of leveraging so-called positive tipping points to bring about large-scale change.

Topics in a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion include: green hydrogen, better fuel for shipsJames Lovelock and negative tipping points. These are processes such as the drying of the Amazon rainforest or the melting of the Western Antarctic ice shelf, that, if triggered, would become irreversible and self-perpetuating and that would certainly speed up climate change. One such tipping point that Tim highlights is the Atlantic ocean conveyor belt, and in particular, the deep convection in the Labrador Sea. If the tipping point for this is reached, and models suggest it could happen at the warming we are now seeing, then Europe would shift to a far more seasonal climate, with extremes in both winter and summer.

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#176 Human organoids are new AI frontier; Listening to the big bang through the cosmic microwave background

Season 1, Ep. 176
Brainoids - tiny clumps of human brain cells - are being turned into living artificial intelligence machines, capable of carrying out tasks like solving complex equations. The team finds out how these brain organoids compare to normal computer-based AIs, and they explore the ethics of it all.Sickle cell disease is now curable, thanks to a pioneering trial with CRISPR gene editing. The team shares the story of a woman whose life has been transformed by the treatment.We can now hear the sound of the afterglow of the big bang, the radiation in the universe known as the cosmic microwave background. The team shares the eerie piece that has been transposed for human ears, named by researchers The Echo of Eternity.Artificial intelligence can now read our minds…under a very specific set of circumstances. The team looks at a mindblowing new study which feels very sci-fi.Pop legend and environmentalist Feargal Sharkey makes a cameo to highlight the campaign New Scientist is running in collaboration with the i newspaper, to draw attention to the shocking state of Britain’s rivers. Great apes like to twirl around like ballerinas. As the team finds out, it turns out it’s not just humans who like to spin around and make themselves dizzy, it’s fun for many other species of ape too.Bonnie Garmus, author of the bestselling novel Lessons In Chemistry, speaks to comment and culture editor Alison Flood about the success of her debut novel. She explains the inspiration behind her protagonist and why she made her a chemist. And she discusses fan-favourite character Six-Thirty the dog and the intelligence of animals.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page and Alison Flood. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at and discount codes:NS JWST Event: