Science and Technology

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  • What (non-Covid) science is coming up in 2021? – podcast
    by Presented by Ian Sample and produced by Madeleine Finlay on January 21, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Ian Sample and producer Madeleine discuss what science, outside of the pandemic, they’ll be looking out for in 2021. Joined by Prof Gillian Wright and the Guardian’s global environment editor Jonathan Watts, they explore exciting space missions and critical climate change conferences Continue reading...

  • We're about to see a wave of long Covid. When will the government take it seriously? | George Monbiot
    by George Monbiot on January 21, 2021 at 11:00 am

    The NHS must learn from its mistakes with other post-viral conditions such as ME/CFS – more research is vitalCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coveragePerhaps to a greater extent than at any point since the first world war, we find that our lives do not matter to those who govern us. Boris Johnson scarcely seeks to disguise his insouciance and callousness. He hardly mentions the astonishing death toll caused by his mishandling of the pandemic: to acknowledge it would be to acknowledge his responsibility.But not only the dead are missing from his moral atlas. So are those with long-term conditions caused by Covid-19. They are likely, already, to number in the tens of thousands. If Johnson eases restrictions when most older people have been vaccinated, there could be tens of thousands more. Continue reading...

  • Wear medical-grade masks if you can't socially distance, Britons told
    by Linda Geddes and Ian Sample on January 21, 2021 at 8:00 am

    As new Covid variants emerge, scientists advise use of FFP masks that filter inflow and outflow of air Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageScientists have urged Britons to wear medical-grade masks when they cannot physically distance, amid growing concerns of faster-spreading Covid-19 variants – but said that any face covering is better than none at all.This week French health officials advised people to wear surgical masks rather than homemade fabric ones as these afford greater protection against highly contagious new variants. Continue reading...

  • Covid cases may have stopped falling, major English survey shows
    by Ian Sample Science editor on January 21, 2021 at 12:01 am

    Tests from 142,000 people suggest level of infections stable or rising slightly after recent fallsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageCases of coronavirus may no longer be falling across England, according to a major survey that raises concerns over whether lockdown measures can contain the new variant, as the UK reported a record daily number of deaths.Boris Johnson described the 1,820 deaths reported on Wednesday as “appalling”, as he warned: “There will be more to come.” Continue reading...

  • Covid vaccines may need updating to protect against new variant, study suggests
    by Ian Sample and Linda Geddes on January 20, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    Neutralising ability of antibodies typically falls eight-fold with South African variantCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageCoronavirus vaccines may need to be redesigned this year to boost protection against a new variant that emerged rapidly in South Africa, research suggests, while past Covid sufferers may not be protected against reinfection.Research by South African government scientists reveals that mutations of the new variant, known as 501Y.v2 or B1351, make the variant substantially resistant to antibodies in blood plasma donated by Covid patients. Continue reading...

  • Amazon wins 49% of new TV streaming customers in run-up to Christmas
    by Mark Sweney Media business correspondent on January 21, 2021 at 6:01 am

    Live sport major draw for Prime Video, while Netflix second with 17% share in fourth quarterAmazon proved more popular than Netflix in the run-up to Christmas as live Premier League and international rugby helped it attract half of all new UK subscribers to streaming services in the final quarter last year.There were almost 1.3m new subscriptions to services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, which includes access to Prime Video as well as perks such as free delivery on purchases, as bored Britain turned to streaming in record numbers to stay entertained during the pandemic. Continue reading...

  • Facebook under pressure to resume scanning messages for child abuse in EU
    by Alex Hern UK technology editor on January 20, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    Half of referrals for child sexual abuse material could be falling under the radar after changes to EU e-privacy directiveThe children’s charity NSPCC has called on Facebook to resume a programme that scanned private messages for indications of child abuse, with new data suggesting that almost half of referrals for child sexual abuse material are now falling below the radar.Recent changes to the European commission’s e-privacy directive, which are being finalised, require messaging services to follow strict new restrictions on the privacy of message data. Facebook blamed that directive for shutting down the child protection operation, but the children’s charity says Facebook has gone too far in reading the law as banning it entirely. Continue reading...

  • Conspiracy! review – help a Trumpist president steal an election
    by Edwin Evans-Thirlwell on January 20, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    PC, Mac; Tim SheinmanIn this brief but insidious information game, you’re an aide to a defeated commander-in-chief who is refusing to concedeThe terrible truth about conspiracy theories is that they’re fun. Making and sharing connections offers a sense of control so potent we might willingly blind ourselves to the provenance of the information in question – a tendency amplified by online recommendation algorithms, which point us towards ideas we already sympathise with. This is the gloomy message of Conspiracy!, an extremely timely text game in which you fabricate a plot to steal a US election.Created in December, as Donald Trump and his followers doubled down on claims of voting fraud, the game casts you as an aide to an ousted Republican president who is refusing to concede. To make your employer’s case, you must assemble evidence for a conspiracy that folds in every deep state fairytale from human sacrifice to the ruinous effects of 5G internet. Play is about simple but satisfying comparison and deduction. You comb through a small stash of newspaper excerpts, podcasts, forum posts and classified emails, assigning dates to a series of captioned Polaroids. Get five dates correct, and the game locks them in while handing you fresh materials for your investigation. Continue reading...

  • Dixons Carphone has bumper Christmas as online revenues soar
    by Joanna Partridge on January 20, 2021 at 9:33 am

    CEO Alex Baldock says Currys PC World owner is ‘winning online’ as shopping habits change in pandemic Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageLocked-down European consumers bought big-screen TVs, food preparation gadgets and health and beauty appliances, handing Dixons Carphone’s 11% more revenue from selling electrical items over the Christmas trading period than a year earlier.The retailer, which owns the Currys PC World brand, said computing and gaming products were also big sellers during the festive period and online sales had grown by more than 120%. Continue reading...

  • Far-right extremists take over UK land sales Facebook page
    by Alex Hern on January 20, 2021 at 7:00 am

    A Facebook page with 40,000 members created for people buying plots of land has been taken over by rightwing conspiracy theoristsOn 14 January, the 40,000 Britons who had joined the Facebook group Land for Sale UK awoke to find their newsfeed transformed.Until then, the group had been a moderately sized message board for people looking to buy or sell small parcels of land. “We’d love a patch of land in the Falmouth and Penryn area to let the kids roam, grow fruit trees,” read one typical post. Continue reading...