We won’t know how bad omicron is for another month


The discovery of the omicron variant of covid-19 in southern Africa shows how sequencing the genes of a virus can give an early alert to dangerous-looking changes in its genome. Omicron has more than 30 mutations, some of which have previously been seen in other variants and are thought to make viral transmission faster. Others … Read more

We still don’t know enough about the Omicron variant to panic


The news: Just five days ago, South African scientists informed the World Health Organization that they’d identified a new covid-19 variant. The situation has escalated rapidly since then. The variant, known as B.1.1.529, has already been identified in many countries across the world, and was designated a variant of “concern” by the WHO on Friday, which … Read more

NASA wants to use the sun to power future deep space missions


In August 2022, a NASA probe called Psyche will set out to explore a giant metallic asteroid called Psyche 16, to help scientists learn more about how planets form. The way Psyche reaches its target, though, will be different from typical NASA missions.   Building on technology used in previous missions, including Dawn and Deep Space 1, solar power will help propel Psyche into deep space. If that proves successful, it could be the start of a … Read more

How a new global carbon market could exaggerate climate progress


Nations are poised to begin building an international carbon market, after finally adopting the relevant rules at the UN climate conference in Glasgow earlier this month. Under the COP26 agreement, countries should soon be able to buy and sell UN-certified carbon credits from one another, and use them as a way to achieve greenhouse gas … Read more

Podcast: What is AI? We made this to help.


Defining what is, or isn’t artificial intelligence can be tricky (or tough). So much so, even the experts get it wrong sometimes. That’s why MIT Technology Review’s Senior AI Editor Karen Hao created a flowchart to explain it all. In this bonus content our host and her team reimagined Hao’s original reporting, gamifying it into … Read more

NSO was about to sell hacking tools to France. Now it’s in crisis.


In July, accusations emerged that spyware from NSO Group had targeted French president Emmanuel Macron, causing a major controversy. The company denied the claims—part of a string of allegations about use of the Israeli hacking group’s Pegasus software. Israel’s military officials, meanwhile, rushed to end a diplomatic crisis by meeting with their French counterparts and … Read more