New Scientist Weekly
#165 Water dowsing to detect leaks; Astroforge going asteroid mining; AI discovers new bacteria-killing proteins – the latest news in science
An ancient and debunked method of searching for water leaks is still being used by some of the UK’s water companies. The team finds out why water dowsing is still in practice, despite being scientifically discredited. But they also find out how it might actually work - just not in the way you think.
People have sometimes complained that the chimps in the various Planet of the Apes films have unrealistic eyes - because they have whites around the iris, like humans. But it turns out real chimps actually do have whites too. We thought this white sclera was only a human thing - but as Rowan finds out, we were wrong.
An artificial intelligence called ProGen has designed bacteria-killing synthetic proteins, some of which actually work when inserted into cells. The team suggests this is a “short-cut to evolution” and is very promising for the development of new antibiotics.
Asteroid mining tech is being tested in space in April by satellite construction company AstroForge. Rowan speaks with their co-founder to hear what they’re hoping to achieve, and discusses the company’s second mission planned for later this year, when they’ll be doing a flyby of a near-Earth asteroid to look for platinum.
If you look up at the sky you may just see a rare green comet flying by. Comet C/2022 only heads this way every 50,000 years, so the team explains how you can seize the opportunity to see it for yourself.
On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Matt Sparkes, Abby Beal and Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.
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