Issue 3284. May 30 — June 5, 2020 
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New Scientist

TIIE 'iClf..,m.o• U\1'G U)'iGfJlB!,Ol.R worldwide shipphlgavaHable 'llQnly one code to be l&!d per order. Offer doses 31st~ly

This week's issue

On the


30 0.. big clmlata d1anC9 Why the Piilldemit could be the turning point for global warming

.HDolsawld-19 attadc:the bn*l'I' The worrying rtse cf neurological syrT1ltcms

10Howta stay

salaalter lockdawn From travetnng to work to seeing a friend

l In crtas The unseen toll on wildlife 41 The huntfor Antarctica's lostmeteorites t 7 Howfast are you ageing"? Anew test can tell 1-1 The law on the moon 17 Howbites from bees makefta.vers bloom 24Space Fotr:e, Tevil!IM!d


"The good

• we news JS don't need such drastic action on climate

change as we did on

covid-19" News


14Lunll'd91onacr Tlle US wants to lay down the law of the land fur the moon

30 0.. big ctn.te cNnce 'M:lrkl IM!ather chief Petteri Taalas on seizing the moment

15 Mallllldinctlans Earth's ma;or die-offs now all linked to global warming

341 DollS cavld-19 attadc: the bn*IP New Insights Into the disease's hidden neurob;iital effects

17 Liva fast, die JIDlllllll Blood testltlat measures the speed of ageing could indica1e healltl problems in laterlife

41 lht i.tfor Antarctica's

lost mmorttes Fmding the rocks that hold the secrets of Earth's origins


The back pages

21 Thi! ailumnlst Abattle to save a bog has given me hope, says Graham Lawton

59Pllzzles Cryptic crossword and the quiz


SIMOre puales

Readers diswss armchair

Can )QJ 5Cllve the age-old

seiel'IC2 and global threats

challenge of the 1tiple jump?

Z4cutlunl A1Vsatire about the US Space Force gets reaciyto launch

M cartaans Life through the lens of Tom Gauld and Twlst1!ddooclles

25cutlunl In No Signal, brain implants

SSFHdbm:k It's not rocket science, it's a euphemism, plus pi in the sky

aeate self-restTaint-byfura! ZBApal'tunt Tlle nightsky CM!I' O"lile as ~never seen It before

56 'n. laltward

WIP/do we often dream about 10Alldudng VUla' rillk Hcw10 avoid infection as virus restrictions ease

falling? Readers respcmd

JOMaJ-l 11ew11c1m111tl1




on New Scientist

Virtual events Allen oceans on Earth and beyand Join NASAastrobiologist IC£vil'I Hand for a fascinating online lecture exploring the best chanCl!S cf finding litl! beyond Earth, at 6pm BST on 4 ~me.

Events are a big part of what New Scientist does, offering a chance for vou to hear directly from the world's top scientists in the most lrrterestlng fields. In March, for olJViollS reasons, we had to put our In-person live events on hold.


Podcosts Weekly Newswith '"1lllcattonsfor

So what next?

ltfe on Mars, the dlsaM!ry of our ftw! separate CllJpetltes. Geordi La Fon;ie,and1he wcrld'S weirdest plant.

Virtual events were something we had considered but hadn't had the opportunity to explore in deta~. In a spirit of experfmentatloo, then, we launched our flrstvlrtual event on 16 April,anopen-1o-a~ discussion on coronavirus. Almost 3000 people watched live. Our sec:ond event, on black holes, was our fl'st paid-for virtual ENOOt We sold 850 tickets, and


Newsletter Launcl1)ad

people tuned in from fMlfY

our free newsletter sends you on a monthly voyage ael--lllh --i-.1/h--..Soe


can you help Alzheimer's Research UK to make breakthroughs in dementia? Mnod llftrYWlllkot llfe has belln lmpadad IP;' COVID-19. W. lcnawthatlhlse. .dlftlallt tlirm far..,...,.,..., and aurthaughts . .w1111 illl al thasawho.,. been dhclly atractad and with tha hunhnd c:mawurlmnwho 1n1 doing IO mud! ta...., llt thiltirna. Evarvoneat Abihafmarla ~ UKlsacutely ...,.. ofttlllaffadthlaulnakii hlwingan paaplawlth damlntla and dlllir famlla, aamrbatng11nlllntlldVw. . . . . .1bidliluatlan. Liia! so ma111arganlsdans.m.ttlls and madkill rmeardl ara also l'lllllng tha 1111JK1 at th11111diflkult&nas.Saclal ilst&nilumlBllnl rnlllll thatmar11111111havehad1D 1amponn1i,dmath1lrdoon ilnd amnamli: 1n:111biMtJ fl th.....,ingvttalfundlnQfOr......cti. Damlntill l'lllHl'Chanl ........ innanting 118Wwayl al working ta mntinllll ta drlvlt sdlllflfk: ~but WI need to girtl'ISUl'Cti pragnmmas bad! up to IPHd qLK!dVr u man n It Is safa ta dD so.

NOW IS TIE11ME ItIs • atlklll time In dlnlllltl.a l'ISUl'Cti as sdlntlstswark to capltallsa an the leaps In undarstandlng CMI' l'Kmltvars anc1. trans1a1a tllaa dtMllapmants intaw.-to halptha 200,000 paopla in thl Ult who dlMilop dementia Wftllout lfl8ctlva1ratm8ntl,, ona In tlnll Jl90ple barn thls)al'wlll dlltwlth damlntla. 1bday,thlnt . . no dlmlntla llnlvDn. But resarm can dlang1 this. At Alzhelmlr's AllilHntl UK our vision II a warld fnla from the far, t..m md hlartlnak afdamantia. Wa'ra ~gnxn:lbraldng lnitllitlwl to fund thaKill1flm. aquipmant md


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Views CUlture

Boots on the moon The us Space Force has provided a lot oflaughs since its inception. ATV satire about itis almost as comical as the original, says Slmanlnp was released, General Jay Raymond. its ChiefofSpace TY Operations, had a suggestion for Space lcmle who plays the Space Force QresDanimandltnecanD chiefIn the series, General Mark Nainl. "The one piece ofadvice OnNedllzfram19MaJ rd giveto Steve carell isto get a ASRECRUlTMENTads go, thevideo hafn:ut," he grinned, durlng a :released to Twitter on6 Maywas weblnar. "He'slooking a little too genuinely engaging. Young people shaggy ifhe wants to play [me]." staredoflintotheMilkyWayas I'm glad he can see the funny It>Clcets ofindetEnninate scale side. While the fictional Naird and rolled out ofunmarla!dhangen. his headof science Adrian Mallory "Some peoplelook to the stars and OohnMalkovich)sparspiritedly ask, 'What H'l'" drawled a voice. averthelaunchproceduresofone glant-lookingrocketafteranother, "Our job is to havean answer." 1nthe real world the redoubtable This admirably down-to-i!Brth sentiment wu cooked up by the Raymond.ii tasked with defending US Space Force, the newest arm of US satellites from laser and the US military, officially brought projectile attack from potentially into being bypresident Donald hostile:faro!&, ona start-up budget Trump on 21December2019. of$40 million.1he:re are streets in Ithas been thebutt ofjolres London where that wou1dn't buy ever since. On18 January, the Space you a house. Meanwhile, the total Force showed oiTita uniforms to annualbudget fortbe US mfiltaiy Twitter. Apparently there is a use stands at $738 biillon. fur camouflage In space. Six days Space Pormthe, later, it revealed its logo, a sort of likewite, alabouroflove, produced straightened-out, think-insideon an obv:iouslylowbudget. Its the-boxversion ofthe Federation symbolfrom StarTrek. Then, the coup de grace: Net:llix announced itwould be streaming


a sitcom about the enterprise, createdby producer Greg Daniels and actor Steve carell. A lot ofexpectatlonhu been gathering around this :fictional Space Poree. Daniels's writing and production credits include the US version ofThe Officr, Paris and Recreation and King oftheHiU. Everyone is expectinga savage parody.So viewingistempered with the realisation that the :real Space Force will outcompete any televis1on satire. On the same day that the US Space Force's :recruitmentvideo 5t8Vlt C..11 plays Genlll'lll Nalrd, c:hlllf of thetldlcmal Spam Forat

small satisfactions take a while to build. Naird's elevation means the fiunilymust relocate from washlngton to an old military facility in Colorado (an "upand

comJng" state, acconlingto Nainl. His wife, played byL!saKudrow, sobs softlyinto her pillow). Atwork. Mallmyinsists on taking two steps at a time when he climbs a staircase, even though

"Space Pcm:e the sitcom, lfkethereal-llfeSpace - - fs labourof ~~


love, proclucecl OD an obvfouslJlowbuclget" his fitness isn't quite up to it: trust Malkovich to make comedy gold out ofnothing. other cast members underplay themselves. Improv comedian

Tawny Newsome, as helicopter pilot Angela Ali, has too straight a role.Silicon Valley's Jimmy 0. Yanggeta decent lines, but in demeanour he remains

the soberest of Mallory's team ofint:en:hangeable scientists.

Trump wants boots on the moon. American boots. What does that mean? Naird, ln a speech, tries to clarify: "Boots with us feet in them, I mean. Can't be certain where the boots willbe made. MaybeMsico, maybe Portugal." This is the main point: what does it mean to makt! nationalistic noises about space when doing anything worthwhile up there requires massive international cooperation? In one episode, Nahddemands to know what thefuremost aeronautical engin.eeringtheoriltlnBelgiwn is doing on his oh-so-secretbase. Gently. Mallmyexplains: The EuropeanSpace Agency is in on the mission. Belgiumis part ofthe European Space Agency. Belgiwnis part ofEurope. The show may not quite be the satire we expected, but there is real.charm in watching gruft' Nahd slowlylearn to expres1 his feelings. I


Watching your every 1nove When everything is recorded. people become paragons ofmoderation. What could go wrong, asks 5ally Adee Visit anlinl!

An Electronlca Haml Dllhlaly ls a weekly programme of exhibition ttus, lab visits, concerts and talks with artists and sdentis1s, bringing the magic af Europe's biggest art-meelstechnology festival to your computer.


pandmnlcwauld chaw thair right ilm1 off far anlMe. Nuane ian.

home without one In the world )Im 'RlgWlill i.s bult In NoSignal,

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11111 M'd War' ls avaried WIogical symptoms are also showingup. Some people with mvid-19 experience headaches and dizziness. Those with more severe Illness sufl'erseizures and strokes-even young people with no

underlyjng conditions. SUch outcomes are thought to be rare, although we don't have enct numbers.An assessmentof aJ-4 people hospitalised with covi.d-19 in Chlnafound that around 6 per cent ofthosewith severe disease developed a condition thataffectEd blood supply to the brain. "We've seen strokes and bleeds inthe brain," says Frontera, who ls basedat NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn. There have also been a handful ofreports of

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Amvld-19 lntenslnan milt In Manaus, llraztl, an 20 May

Post-mortem problems Autapsla 1111 people who died an.. hlMlg mvld-19wtll 11e1p1D dallr up manv of the qll8ltlanlllbautwhathartha mnnnil"lll cmi antwthe lnln ll'ldwhlltlt does lheN(Me lnlin stoiy). Butso far, 11111r •handful ofU- mrarnlnattans hlMt t1em1111ramm1. ._lotof autapsysultlls. . nat aqulppad tD hlndlethlslchl of lnfedlan,•..,. Avlnlh Nllth .. the us Natlcnll lnltltula of Nluralaglml DllDnlani.., stralclt. . .lotof inltHutionl .... nlfuMd tD do autapsiu on thllle patiants.• And farthalll that . . pafonnlng aulUlllla. getting

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crtherg,.,... - ·U'llMlnhd.

brain inflammation andbrain damagein people with severe cases ofa>Vld-19. In some diseases, neurologkal.damage Is a knock-on efl'ect of otherproblems within the body. not ca.used by the pathogen attacking the nervous system directly. But in this case, it is also possible that the virus could be working its way into the brain and nervous system. Plenty ofother viruses that infect humans do this, including coronaviruses. Pierre Talbot at the National Institute ofSclen1:1fk: Research InQuebec, C8nada, basbeen studying coronavirule1 since the198oll.. Much ofhis wort bas focused on two coronaviruses that are known to infect humans: HCoV-0(43 andHCoV-22gE. Both often cause the commoncold.

pfnding a WBJ in Weknow that both can enter the nervous system.and brain. "When I put [OC43] in the na&e ofmice, the virus goes stmigl:lt to the brain through the oU'actmynerve." says Talbot. "And whenitgen tothe bralll, it spnwa to all areas afthe brahi." Here, the virus can kill neurons and cause encephalitis. Similaretrects have been observed,but very rarely, in people infl!cted with 0C43. Talbot points to the case of an u-month-old boywithaweak:Immunesystemwho died with encephalitis. Abiopsy revealed OC43 inhi• brain, ImplicatingtheviruJ. When Talbot and his colleagueslooked for 229E and OC43 in brain tissue from 9opeople who donated their bodies to science, they found at least one ofthe two coronaviruses, and sometimes both, in almost halfofthe samples. Forty-fourper cent ofthem had 22gll In theirbrains and 23 percenthad0C43. The SARS virus, anothercoronavirus Bimflarto SARS-CoV-2, seems to act In similar ways. Theflrst SARS outbreak toot place between 2002 and 2003. claiming about Booolives. I..ikethe coronavirus that causes covid-19, the SARS virus also causes lung disease and can lead to fatal pneumonia inabout to percent ofthose infected. But autopsies performed the outbreak ended revealed that the virus could get Into

the brain. In zoos, a team.looted at eight people who died with SARS and foundthe virus In all their brains. And when resean:hers Infected mice with SARS via their noses, they later found the virus inthe animals' bralnstems. The brainstem sits between the brain and spinal cord and regulates our breathing. "You can imagine that could furtherwonen therespirat.oiyfailureofthesepatients,# says Igor Koralnik at Northwestern University FeinbergSchool ofMedicine in Chicago, who studies dJseases that infect the central nem>us system. What about the new coronavirus? A few report• claim to have found the virus Inthe cerebrospinalfluid of people with covid-19, which suggests itisgetting into the brain and nervous system, says AvindraNath at the US National Institute ofNeumlogical Disorders and Stroke. But there is a chance that the virus could get Into a sample afthls fluid without

"Based OD the evidence we have, it looks as if the virus is entering the brain"

affectingthe bnUn. Ifthevirus is ina person's blood, this might contmninat:ethe sample taken during a spinal tap, for example. It ls also possible that neurological symptom1maybe caused by a ladofoxygen. People who die with covid-19 have a lot of damage to their lungs. The surfaces of small air sacs beaime thickened, mating ithmler for oxygen to get into the blood, says Sanjay Mukhopadhyay at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Thia may also explain why those who survive cavid-19 afterbeing treated on a ventilator can show signs ofbraindamage in scans, says Front.era..Thls damage it pmbabJy a result ofthebrainbeing starvedafmcygen. The body'sownimmunerespometo an infection could alJO be to blame fur damage to the brain.An ovm-eaction of the immune system can lead to what is known as acytokine storm-an extreme activation ofimmune c.ells that can lead to more inflammation, and damage organs. But based on the evidence we have so fa?, it ls reasonable to assume the virus is getting Into the brain, says Nath. Ifthat is true, !tisvital we learnhow the virus is attactingthe brain. ,twill make a huge dilierence [to b.owvretn:atpatienuL# be says. At the moment, many antiviIW. treatments being developed for covid-19 will focus on getting the medication to the lungs. Getting drugs to the bnUn is an entirely differentc:hallenge. For a start, any treatments will have to cross the blood-brain barrier-a protective layer Inthe brain that controls what cangetin. Most drugs can't do this. ,twould be a totally different treatment approach," says Nath. Ifthe virus is accessing the brain, it could havelong-term neumlogical.consequences. We know that some viruses can hide in neurons, reactivating to cause disease later lnlife. Herpes simplex viruses, for example, typically cause cold sores or genital blisters. Butln some people, they can trigger inftammation ofthe brain. Once a person bas beeninfected, the virus lays lowin their neurons and can reactivate throughout life. ,t's not impossible that [theooronaviru.s] could have the same kind ofpersistence in >


temporary. butother people experience lasting disability and it can even be fatal

the brain," says Talbot. "We have seenOC43 and 229E In the brains ofhumans, and the virus seems to be hid.Jng there-it's possible that upon reactl.vation they could cause

neurological disease."

Some neurologkal.effects are likely to have a lasting impact on people who recover from covid-19. Strokes and seizures can ause brain damage with long-term consequences,for example, and many of those who experience such outcomes will need follow-up care and rehabilltatlon. The virus could also cause longer lasting secondary problems. Some might be in the form ofpost-viml fatigue synclronies. There is also concern about Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is characterised by poorly functioning peripheral nerves. "It's like an ascending paralysis," says Nath. "It starts with the feet and goes up." Somecases are

Organ impacts Covid-19ilfhtnl fanmolta.._.ofthe atnnps, c:austng llMlnl harm Iii the lungs. Butdactars hawtbmn -*1g llgnsatdarrage right acraa the bodr. Whlllt hDlpltU want ...,,ptlngto ....... tMnLllTIMr atVllltllatDn tMyhad, thar"1oW'll

at th. . people.,. Intact dylngwlth multi-Grgan

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•result of actions of the body's own lmnu1•


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There is growing evidence that GulllainBarre can develop in some people who recoverfromoovic:l-i9. So far, there have been reports ofthi1 in several countries. Poreomple, across thn:e hospitals in northern Italy. over a thn:e-weekperiodin March, docton notM five cases ofGuiilainBarre out ofbetween1000and1200 people treated for covid-19. "That'svery significant. About a thousand times more than what you'd expectinthe population [in the absence ofcovid-191" says Koralnlk.. "We're probably going to see many more sw:h cases.• It lan't clearwho is atrilk ofdeveloping neurological symptoma or seconduy disorders. But what is clear is that many people who are hospitalised with covid-19 and then recover will need to be followed up by healthcare providers, possiblyforyears. Some of Prontera's ventilated patients are already showing signs of severe brain damage. "The possibility ofthem waking up seemJ extremelylow,N she says. The prospects for less~ affected.people are still unclear. "We'ze stillleaming about covid:' she says. "It will take arew months before we have agoodideaofthe prognosis." Apart from a tl!mporary loss ofsmell and taste, most ofthe neurological effects seem to onlyoc:rurln very severe cases ofcovid-19. Although we don't yet have exact figures, it seems that only a very smallfraction of people experJence damagetotheiI brain and nervous system. But it is possible that. for some people, brain effects will be lasting, says Nath. nBrain diseases can really affect who we are -theycan change ourpersonality, can affect the waywe walk and move and cause all kinds oflong-term consequences," he says. "llven lfit's only In a small percentage ofindividuals, the devastation can be quite phenomenal We should not take it lightly." I

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Jessie.a HarTlZ21aJ is a New Scientist ieporter. Follow her @jesshamzelou

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Lost meteorites of the Antarctic Space rocks canying crucial clues to how our world began could be hiding in Earth's most extreme wilderness, says Joshua Howgego


BEEP IOunded in Katherine Joy's

earpieceandalightftashedonher handlebardisplay. The metal detector dragging behind hermowmobileha.dfuund somethingburied inthe thick:Antan:t:ic ice. She dismounted. Could this finally be it? A convoluted storyhad brought Joy and her fellow treasure hunters here, 700 tilometres south ofthe Biitlsh.Antarctic Survey's HalleyVI research station. You might say the stmy started4-5 billion years before, as a result, probably. of a massive star going supernova. Its rumbling shockmm: caused a cloud of dust and gas laced with heavier elements to begin to collapse in on itself, eventuallyforming the sun and the planets, moons, asteroids and, eventually. other components of our solar system, like us. For decades, research.era have been hunting for pristine material from these tUibulent times to better understand exactly how these processes oa:urzed.. Joy and hercoll5gues had ft!ntured out into the Antarctic wilderness fellowing a hot leadto fill a crucial gapin thetale: the mystezy of the missing meteorites. What they found, however, wasn't one mystery, buttwo. Meteorites are time capsules from the solar system's birth. They are mostly fragments of uteroidJthatorbitbetweenManandJupfter, plus the occasional unsullied piece ofthe moon orMarsthat has come unstuck and croased Earth's orbital path. These > Anattm rnataarita Ispludald from 1111 Antadlclm

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fragments have existed more or less untouched since bits ofrod: ftI'IJI: began to aocrete ftom smallerdurtpartldes as they wtrlrled around the infant sun. With their chemisttyunadultentted bythetectonks, volcanism and other violent processes of Earth, they preserve vital clues as to how the solid parts ofthe solarsystem formed. we know lots ofindividual details about what must have happened as bits ofrock crashed together and aggregated tofonn larger bodies, orsometimes split apart again in the maelstrom ofthe early solar system. Butwelack a convincing. unifying picture. "We don't~ an equivalent of, say; evolution bynatwal selection in planel:a?y science rightnaw," says Luke Daly at the University ofGlasgow, UK. "We don't have a goodtheory that takes us all the way from gu and dust to planetary systems."

Iron pilings Meteorites come ina wide variety of shapes and sizes, from the 60-tonne Hoba met:eorite,discoven!dinNamibiain1920, to the tiny specks of dust consWrtlyraining down on ourplanet that present their own dJft'lculttes to researchers (see uDusting the rooftops", left). The vast majority ofmeteorites found worldwide are ltOny, made mainlyof dulllooking silicate rod: ofthe sort that makes up the bulk ofa planet like Earth. Then there aft!the stony-iron meteorites, formed of a mixture of rock and metal A striking example ofthese is the Imilacmeteorite that was foundin the Atacama desertin Chile hundreds ofyears ago. Remnants of

it held in London's Natural History Museum looklike dazzling slices ofextraterrestrial stained glass. Thethinl category comprises the iron meteorites,madeofa:mllr:ofironand:nickel. The Hoba meteorite is the largest known example ofthis type, which is particularly crucial1D undemanding the solar system's origins. For a lump ofiron and nickel to have formed, it must at some point have beenpart ofa space rock that grew so lalgethat ita innards melted, allowing heavy metals to sink to its core and len dense rock to rise. A similar process of difrerentiation created Earth's dense, partiallyliqwd ironnic:kel core sumnmded by a mantle and crust ofsilicate rock. The movingliqwd metal in these early space rocks would have generated a magneticfield. just as Earth's churning core does today. Iron meteorites are fragments of these early cores. Bylooting at preserved traces ofthe magnetic fields now frozen in them. we can work outhowlarge their parent rod: murthave been -and 10 how, and how quickly. the process of planet fonmrtion progressed. "They're a really enigmatic and interesting group to study because they're the onJy waywe canactuallythinkaboutplanetary Interiors," says Claire Nichols at the Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology. "The more samples we can possibly get our hands on, the more we canleam about how planets work." Whatever type of meteorite you are interested in, Antarctica is far and away the best place on Earth to lookfor them. Its frozen surface is largely pristine and untouched for millennia Interior glaciers


provides two-thirds of all meteorite finds on Earth"

act like a conveyor belt, slowly carrying any roc:b that fall on them down from the high points ofthe East and West Antarctic ice sheets towaids the Transantarct:ic mountains, a range rearing out ofthe ice that dMdes the two regions as it slices a.cross the continent As the gladen butt up against the mountlln rock, theyfuRE ice and any space rocb trapped within it up to the surface. EachAntard:lc summer, from

October to Februazy; teams from around the world head south to harvest them. The continent provides almost two-thirds of verified meteorite finds made on Earth. But here's the thing: discoveries ofiron and stoey-iron meteorites, rBie at the best oftimes, Bie almost non-existent in AntairtiCL Why this shouldbe is a mystery that has stumped many meteorite hunters, and one that hampers our attempts to

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construct a convinc:ing storyofthe early solar system (see "Predous metal': page 44). GeoffreyEvatt never intended to getmmd up inthis problem.A mathematician at the University ofManchester, UK. he began his career developing models ofthe dynamics of glaciersmainJybecausehelikedmountain climbing and the outdoors. He first heanl about the missing meteorites by chance at a scientlflc meeting. ~that point, I wouldn't have known a meteorite lflthad hlt me on the bead,. he says. Thingl really kicked offin 2012 when Joy; an old friend and climbing buddy ofhis, moved to the Unive:rsity ofManchester. She justhappened to be a meteorite expert. Discussing the mymry, Evatt.and Joy bit upon a possible solution to the problem. It went likethis. Metal meteorites are >


"The lost

meteorites may have been right in front of our noses"

much betterat absorbing heat than stony ones. AB the glaciers pushed them upwards at the hue ofthe mountains, they would begin to absorb mon: sunlight, warm up, meltthe ice around them and slllt again Unlike other

types, metal-rich meteorites would remain perennially trapped a few centimetres beneath the surface. Inother words, they aren't missing at all-just hiding. Thepair tested the ideaby shining sunlJght·simulating lamps on a stony and an iron meteorite in ice. Sureenough. the iron meteorite sank. "We'dgone from a bonkerstheorytoapointwhereweactually had evidence to explain the absence ofthe iron meteorites,»says Evatt It was enough for him andJayto secwe a grant to put together a largerteam to build some kit-ametaldetecling array commonly used to clear landmJnes, adapted and towed by a snowmobile-and go meteorltehunting. By 2019, aftera testinthe Arctic and a first reconnaissance trip to Antarctica. the search was on in earnest "Meteorite hunting is the best thing inthe world,» says Joy. "You're rodceting up and down over this quite bumpy surface, avoiding ice patches and looking around.And when you spot a meteorite, you kind ofjump, the heart lifts a little bit.• Things didn't pan out quite as expected, however. The metal-detectingrig got badly bashed up by the bumpy ice, requiring frequent repairs.And whilethe re&earchen found lots of meteorites on the surface, about 130 ofthem alltold. they didn't discover any inthe ice. Even that promisingm.ommt when Joy's earpiece beeped was just one of manyfaJse alarms, caused bya metal screw that had fallen ot1'herrlg.

Precious metal Almost twla! ilS many meteorites nave been found in Antarctica as elsewhere in the wOOd, but rare Iron-bearing spectmens are lnexpllcably hilrd to find there lronald







25,000 20,000

10,000 5000 0

But there was an odd twlrtin the tale. Many ofthe rocks are still on a ship headingback to the UK for full analysis. but based purely on appeanmce, there an: far more iron-rich meteorites among the surlilce finds than anyone expected. "It seems, in a very preliminaryway, like we may well have foundthelostironmeteorit:esofAnbm:l:ica," says Evatt •eutforthis particular area, they were right infront ofour noses." Which means there are now two mysteries. 1he first is why the resean:hen failed to find any meteoritesbeneath the ice. It could be that their hypothesis and successful lab tests ledthemdownthewrongpath.orperhaps their equipment troubles meant they just hadn't sean:hed a wide enough area. The second mystery is why, comparatively, they found so manyiron-rich meteorites on the surface when so many othersbefore hadn't



The outerRecovery Ice Fields, as Evatt and Jay named their stomping grounds, hadn't been sean:hed before, and the discoveries could be a statistialblip: the small area they sean:hedmayhave just had a latgerthan average concentmtlonof ironmeteorltes. It mightnot say anything aboutAntarctlca more gene:rally. Alternatively. it could indk:ate some subtle shiftin the ice dynamics, perhaps as a n:sultof climate change-thoughJoy.forone,thinbthatis unlikely. as the effects ofglobal warming are onlyjustbeingft!ltintheAnWrticinWrior. Beginning to find answers will require a more conclusive analysis ofthe researchers' haul "We haven't begun to ask these

questions ourselves yet because we don't knowwhat we've fbund." N)'I Joy. Whstever

latmavem111tsdlum mlltllalitestowardsthe feet DI the Transantardlc


the exact.mate-up oftbe meteorltes turns out to be, however, planetary scientists are rubbingtheirhands. "Giventhatthey've just been sitting on the ice, they're highly pristine, so I would argue these are more wluable, probably, than a lot afwhatwe have available at the moment," says Nichols. James Bryson at the University ofOxford agrees. '!would tol2lly be InterestedIn getting hold ofthese meteorites oncetbey have cluaifled them,• he says. The question then becomes whetherth.e tnm: is a fluke orifwe QUI find more ofthis precious au-go. That will mean venturing back intothefieldanned with whatever new information the samples provide to infonn the search. Joy says that she is currently explorlng soun:e1 offunding for alongerteml programme, and that other teams are welcometorepllcatethelrsearehequipmeirt and go foraging on the k:e thelOlelves. Ifthat happens, it won't be for afew months yet AsAntarctica slips into the depths ofits winter, no one is venturing out to the lonely interior glaciers for answers right now. Buttheir slow movements will continue to churn more rocb from the dawn ofour solarsystem down towards the mountains. When wintertuma Into summer once again. some more couldbe justwaiting for someone to pick them up. I

Joshua HOIMJl!!JO is a featurl!S editor at NewScientist

Book extra.ct Neuroscience

FINDING YOUR PHYSICAL INTELLIGENCE Our brains' fluid interactions with the world around us are aunderstudied element of human success - one best appreciated in the wild, says neuroscientist Scott Gratton

ow do you decide ifyoucan drive through a snowstorm? How hlgh are you willing to climb up a ladder to change alightbulb? can you prepare a dinner partyfor eight? When was the Iaattime you discovered a shortcut through a forest? For all these challenges, there is only one way to find out A person needs to devote some time, energy. and physical engagement Smart talk, texting. virtual goggles, reacling, andzationalising won't get the job done. The hands have to be on the wheel ofthe art.o learn the feel ofslipping tyres. The feet need to be balanced on the ladder rungs to detect the tipsiness. The cook has to already know howto


chop, fry, and combine four complicated recipes so they are allflrushedbya Dl!rtaln time. Findinga shortcut through the forest demands vigilance, courage, and the abllityto keep one's wits, partlrularly at that moment of self-doubt when the journeyseems more like a longcut than a shortcut Skills such as these are informed by "physical intelligence": the components ofthe mind that allow anyone to engage with and change the world. Inside the bJain there is no single module or bit oft:iasue that makes this possible. Instead, the action-prone mind draws on a multiplicity ofcapabilities. Some are almost primordial in theirsimplicity.Howcomeyoudon'twalkintowallsoroff of cliff'edges? Others are quite subtle. When you take on a new do-it-yourselfproject, bow much ofyour problem.solving relies on old habits, winging it, orcareful reasoning? Our psychologlcal intuition about how the brain works inevitably places verbal thought and all the stuft'we can talk about. such as our emotions, atthe top ofthe heap. Physical intelligence, whichis largely inaa:e11ible to conscious introspection, is treated as a lower form of intelligence, something to be tuclred beneath the verbal and largely ignored. Butphysiallintelligence is much more. It is foundational, a kind ofknowing that frames much ofwhat the mind spends itstime engaged in.

Indeed. the fact that 10 much ofphyaical intelligence can be perfonned beyond consciousness is the wry design

featurethatfree1ourthought1sowecanspendourday thinking about social affairs, work. and the world ofideas. Under all the verbal chatter ofthe mind. much ifnot most ofwhat the brain is actually dealillgwith is the raw physicalityofbeing alive. For many of my colleagues who study the mmd. the very notion that physical action also requires some intelligence diaws a blank stare. Theyfucus on thinking and perceiving. Other than ears and eyeballs, the body is largely irrelevant for their kind ofscience. However, to study a mind without abody Ignore• some ofthe greatest pleasures ofbeingalive: experiencing the world directly, as we perform and create. Mypatients point this out to me time and again. As they lose various physical capacities they also lose bits oftheir deepest sense ofself. One ofmy patient1I was a farmer in south Georgia with advancing Parkinson's disease. There came a sad day when I had to take his driver's license away. Driving bas a way of projectinga person intothe physical world. providing a dizzying sense offreedom. For good reason. then, the farmer was severely depressed wben he lost his privilege. However, he was not to be dete:m:d. Denied one ofhis greatest joys, he found an intimidating but satisfactozy substitute: he could stilldrive his oversized bulldozer aroundhis farm. For him, thinking. philosophising, and ieasoningwould never offset the 1heerjoy of getting out and about in his vehicle. Even Stephen Hawking yearned for action. He once commented, "Obviously, because ofmy disability. I need assistance. But I have always triedto

oven:ome the limitatioDB ofmycondition and lead as full a life as pouible. I have travelled the world, from the Antarctic to zero gravity." The hidden nature ofphysical intelligence poses a problemfor the scientist Howcan these capacitiesbe exposed for what they are? To a certain degree, all of us are constantlysem:hingforthem.Wearediawnlikem.oths >

to aftame whenever we witness physical brilliance, when brain, mmd, and bodyopemtetogetherwith llllgular grace, as is sometimes evident in sports, dance, cmft, or music. However, a scientistfocusing only on superb physical talent can be led astray. It would be as ifshe were trying to understand language by onlystudying winners ofspelling bees. All ofour physical intelligenc:e, not justthat of outliers, needs to beexplained. Look closely at the barista, the kid playing hopswtch, or the :tloor mopper and you will soon begin to notice physial brilliance everywhere. Long ago I discovered that some ofthe most Important components ofphyticalintelligence, the ones that are genezalisableand relevant for all ofus, are laidbare when one is alone in the natural world, particularlyin the wilderness. Venturing into wild places requires enormous ingenuity and resolve. It is the primordial worldwe originated from as a species,and thus it makes sense that the cognitive capacities that are of greatest value fur goalorientedbehaviour should come to the forefront there. I make a yearlytripintothe wilderness alone, to the Siena Nevada.A good wildern.e111 trip needs t:lm:ethinp forthe properties ofphysical intelligence to be evident. The first is obscurity. Although I had left a map and a detaileditinerarywithmywife,Ichangedmyrouteonthe seconddayofmytrip.Ifanyonewentlookingformeusing the map I hadgiven her, she would probably scouran area that was more than twenty miles away, beyond two glacial divides. Mobile phones don't work in these parts. And the Parle Service is so understaft'ed, the likelihood ofbeing rescued in a crisis is abysmally low. Without any ofthese lifelines, a relatively simple hildng trip can suddenly become a profuundly intense and complex aperience. The second feature is llOlitude. On such a trip, there is none ofthe wonderful chatter and distraction that dommates the closeness and pleasure ofan outing with family and friends. Without these entertaining social connections, a solo trip results in an utterlyclifferentkind

ofexperience. It is not a lonely one. Rather, the solitude provides time for re:tlectionand an opportunity to examine the kind of intelligence that infonnedhurnan action as our species evolved. Inaddition. a trip alone completelychanges the stakes and perceived.risk. There is no confusion about responsibility. Thetmveller owns all his or her decisions. Roughness is the third feature. The familiar world is stripped bate; the setting isprimordial. The landscape is

open and stretches forever, withbarelya trace ofhuman lnfluence. For more than1.3 million years ofevolutlorwy history, this was the ordinary world. There were no level sidewalks, wann houses, or hlgh-rise luxuries. Nothing mitigated risk, eliminated hazards, or minimised effort. Our ancestors evolved in a world that was nothing but wilderness. This landscape endowed our species with :remarkable ways ofseeing, interpreting. and acting in chailenging environs. With that in mind, when I take what are relatively hazardous and unknown explorations into the mountains, I get to experience a very crude simulation ofwhat being alive was like long ago. Survival is paiamount and one is ever mindful ofit We didn't emerge as a species sitting around. We wandered far and wide. into locales that ue almost unimaginable. To really understand intelligence, you need to wander. On a previous trip, I climbed one of the southernmostfourteen-thousand-foot peaks ofthe range I have spent my life roaming in. It was a verylong,

steep, ten-mile ascent requiring a windswept traverse far above the shelteroftrees andrunning water. Just before the summit, I was surprised to ftnd an obsidian arrowhead. The setting was desolate, remote, and cold. For many scientists, the arrowhead Itselfwould have been critical The objectrevt:als something about the cultural intelligence of thehwrter, his best tecbnology; available resoun:es,andtradingnetwork. Theobjectcouldhave beenleftthere two hundred or nine thousand years ago. What interests me is not the specific manufacturing





~ Ii!

advances revealed by the arrowheador how big the trading network must have been fur it to shew up in the region. For me, it's rather the ridiculous location where I found it. The owner probably would have been a Paiute Indian who stalked a deer ormountaingoat all the way to the summit, the far side ofwhich ended in clift's, etrectively funning a trap. The hunterhad readily climbed through this massive. unforgiving landscape at will. with stunning competence. To me he is amazing not fur his tectmology but fur his sustained confidence in stalling, tiacking, and climbing over increasingly rough terrain while intensely exposed to sun, wind, or mow. All for dinner. When I roam through the middle of nowhere, the kind of intelligence he and countless generations ofancestors drewon becomes easier to appreciate. The point ofmytrips is to wander through an environment that makes the natural relationships between thinking and acting obvious. To get a good glimpse ofwhat people were like when physical.intelligence was honed. one has only to lcok to the "lcenum,n Otzi, a mlllllmified hunter who died five thousand years ago justbelow a high mountain pass on the current Austrian-Italian border. Otzi's remains are on display at the SildtirolerArchiologiemuseum in Bolzano, Italy. along with his fur-covered beill'5k:inhat, goatskin clothing. copper-tipped axe, backpack. fuod scraps, medicine, fire-starting tools, and longbow. Only five feet three inches tall and with an entirely ordinary albeit fit physique, he readily travelled alone and selfsutftcientlythrough the middle ofthe Alps. He could smelt copper. Take down a large elk. Fabricate Neolithic blades. Travel over glaciers without getting frostbite. He yields a startling view of ow past. What we ronsiderto be extraordirwy-livingin an Alpine wilderness-was entirelyonlinazy at the time. Otzi relied on a complex of mental capacities that allowed himto adapt bis behaviour constantly to meet the demands ofan extreme and lllghly varied environment Ironically, what led to bis demise was nottherigourofan extreme mountain environment;

it was someone shooting an arrow into his shoulder. The basic propertiesof the mind that kept ancestors likeOtzialivecontinuetomanifestth.emselvesinallofus. A rommon thread is the specialrolethatleamingpla:yl in funning this kind ofintelligence.The mental capacities that are used for action are, mare than anything. dllrerent kinds oflearning machines that the brain has available for acquiring and maintaining physically derived knowledge. Physical intelligence is absolutely ruthless in requiring that knowledgebe gained from dllect physical experience. This is profoundly different from, say, the instantaneous remembrance ofa face, name, or phone number. Rather, physical intelligence reflects learningprocesses that constantly tinker with a person's performance. One never stopslearning to cook,to drive, or even to walk, for that matter. It is alJo a knowledge thatia lost from disuse: without practice you will fall on ice or offladders. The world Otzi navigated was physicallychallenging and compla. chara.cteriaed by palpable tension arising from an inability to predict whatmight happen and few means fur main-.taining control Here were perfect conditions for improvising. inventing. and enduring some ofthe most rigorous demands ofthe wilderness, which lay at the heart ofwhat shapedphyli-al intelligence fur aeons. Although the wild is unrontrolled. pey,icalintelligence provides the means to establish a sense ofcontrol Humans acquire their skills and learn to solve problems through constant physical experimentation.That was as true for Ot:zi as It is for us. There is no end to the sensing. adapting. anticipating, and accommodating that must take place fur a person to act intelligently. It takes practice and knowhow to do even the little things in life: to stay upright on a slipperysidewalkinfrontofyourhomeortoknow whetheryou can still climb aladderwithoutfallingolf. And most ofall, physical. intelligence provides the means fursperiencingthe pwejoyoffiguring outhowto do something fur the first time, whether it is building your first campfire or catching your first fish. I


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Cryptic crossword #32 Set by Wingding

Quick quiz #53



1 Dn30May1971,NASA's Martner9 pmbewas launched. Wherelsltnaw'? 2 Native 1oBrazll's norttH!astcoast, Callilhfix.iacdlUs is an l!llilmPle cf what sort of primitive monkey with a small brain, claws rather than tcenails and no wisdom tedl?

:s •ee less curiousabout people and more curious about Ideas.• Which radlochemlst said this? .. Bikini A1oll, the site cf 2 3 US illom bomb tests between 1946 and 1958, belongs to which country?

Answers and the next quick crossword nextweelc ACROSS


7 Involve part ofplacenta illu5tration(6) 8 A beast of burden Isaacanalysed, initially finding a lack of oxygen(6) 9 Study concerning origins of as1ronomlcal data (4} 10 Family gets into Sinatra song where we play among the stars?(5,3) 11 Complex chilrader once INisceratad by

1 Addition of gas under queen (6) 2 Newtoo embraced by dismal musklans(4) :S Lousy PM getting dizzy In high place (7) 4 Sallboats change direction: left south (5) 5 Nothing Interruptswork on arithmeticfa' Newton, perhaps (8) & Leudne, irrl'nunoglobulin and DNAunravelling a molecule that binds1tl a receptor(6) 12 Isaac Newton doesn't understand chemisby, early revieWers said atfll'St, refelTing 10 activating molecules (8) 14 Mother Insect, an enonnous creature (7) 16 After surgery, sit and resist (6) 18 Prayer for son among the stars {6) 19 Working class person's job under pressure (S) 21 Hole in the grol.l'ld accommodates most

detective and tailless cat (7) 13 Second car for Elin Salman, rnaybl2 (5) 15 Group collect stockpile, we hear (5) 17 Report in poor taste about something golngfasterthan llght(7) 20 Baked oompets, a phenomenon that fa!idnated Newton (8) 21 Have a itink when Newtoo is expelled by motion (4) 22 You and Ileave European country with student of stars (6) 23 Heads of Tesla and lWitter tussle Oller offen5lve display (6)

s caused by a mutation in a gene that makes the ccnnective protein flbrtllln, what ooman genetic disorder charactertsttcallyresutts In very long arms, legs, fingers anc:ltoes? AnsweIS onpage 54

Quick Crouword#58 Answers ACAIDSS l Blue-fooled boo~ II Marram, 10Dude test, 11 BH decay, 14 Geier, 17Alpha Centaur!, 20 Methylene bkle, 23 B N"no, 25 lsostuy, 28 E'dgeways. 211 Leooid, 30 Duded JllOPl!ller

DOWN 2 Lean In, :S Earl!d, 40hmlc, S Todill\ 8 Decagon, 7 Octa~ 8 Ytterbllm, 12~1J Alate, 15 Louse. 181 Am l.SQend,17Actin,18Ewn.s,l!l~US,

21Lecpad.22 C.sph!, 24 Inert, 25 ~SAR, 28 OxUp, 2 7 lloU

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Quick quiz#53 Answers lltlssttllorbmng


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up in the Martian atmosphere anly In 2022


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