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US ranked worst healthcare system, while the NHS is the best

An analysis of 11 wealthy nations, including Australia and Canada, has found that the US healthcare system is the worst, particularly for fair and easy access

Quantum simulator with 51 qubits is largest ever

Although not a full-blown quantum computer, the simulator could be used to study the interactions between atoms

Spider’s web uses optical illusion to lure nocturnal moths

The lace sheet weaver builds a web that seems to fool moths into thinking they are flying into open space – instead of into a trap

Baby salmon with ‘old’ DNA more likely to survive epic migration

We usually associate short telomeres with ill health but young salmon with them seem to have a higher chance of coping with a time at sea

The great polar mystery: closing in on the truth

What happened when all 129 men in John Franklin’s Arctic expedition vanished in the late 1840s? We’re finally putting the pieces together

Your eardrums move in sync with your eyes but we don’t know why

It turns out our eardrums seem to change position in coordination with our eye movements. This may help our brains link what we see and hear

Giant deep-sea worms may live to be 1000 years old or more

Escarpia laminata lives on the sea floor, where food is plentiful and predators are absent – a perfect environment for longevity

The cosmic dance of three dead stars could break relativity

Do we have the first hints that Einstein is about to be proven wrong? A stellar system discovered in 2012 looks like the ideal experiment to tell us

The eyes have it: How spotting naive prey made fish walk on land

New fossils and a fresh perspective are transforming our picture of a great evolutionary transition – how fish-like creatures swapped fins for limbs

AI suggests recipe for a dish just by studying a photo of it

An algorithm trained on over one million online recipes can tell you what's in a dish and how to make it

Feedback: Florida turns to crowdsourcing science classes

A new law lets anyone challenge what is taught in public schools. Plus: dark energy in power pills, elemental fixes, stopped clocks, and more

Elon Musk seems to have ditched Red Dragon lander plan for Mars

SpaceX will design a new spacecraft for a mission to the Red Planet, but Musk’s focus may be closer to home as he tweets Hyperloop plans

Now North Sea cod is sustainable, is it really ok to eat?

The bounceback of North Sea cod means you can now buy guilt-free, but Brexit and climate change could threaten its fragile recovery

Dark web crackdown as two biggest markets are taken offline

The police sting hit two markets, AlphaBay and Hansa, that were responsible for the trading of over 350, 000 illicit goods such as drugs, firearms and cybercrime malware

Bitcoin study reveals how early adopters influence our decisions

When they get special treatment, they can make new technologies go viral – but when they don’t, their real power is in putting the rest of us off

Con artists took me for a ride. Here’s how to protect yourself

As a psychologist who's peered into the minds of psychopathic cheats and fallen victim to con artists, here's what to look out for, says Marc Swogger

Trump’s plan to cut global health research may cost US billions

President Trump wants to fund less research into diseases that affect poor countries, but an analysis suggests such research hugely benefits the US itself

Mud eel’s wonky body may help it ambush prey

A pair of sea-floor-dwelling eels found off the coast of West Africa have lopsided features that may help them operate as ‘sit-and-wait’ ambush predators

Adderall might improve your test scores – but so could a placebo

Some students take ADHD drugs to improve their academic performance. A trial suggests Adderall can work in this way, but it’s largely due to the placebo effect

Refusing boys HPV vaccine saves the NHS cash but is bad science

A UK advisory committee has decided that it isn’t cost effective to give boys a vaccine that wards off cancer, but that ignores the reality of teenagers’ sex lives

Towards the sound of silence

Unwanted noise is a scourge of modern life. But an extraordinary material from BASF's research labs is restoring a bit of peace

Throwaway culture: The truth about recycling

We take it for granted that recycling is the best way to dispose of waste. But is that just greenwash? New Scientist sorts through the trash so that you can make up your mind

Blood test detects Alzheimer’s plaques building up in brain

Sticky plaques start forming in the brain 15 years before Alzheimer’s disease develops. A simple blood test may identify those at risk years in advance

California climate case turns up the heat on fossil fuel giants

Coastal communities in the US state are suing oil, gas and coal giants for the cost of dealing with sea level rise. Expect more of this, says Sophie Marjanac

How the dark web’s gunrunners covertly ship US weapons to Europe

Lax gun laws make the US the number one distributor of weapons on the dark web, with Europe the most profitable destination

Plastics made fireproof thanks to mother-of-pearl mimic

A method for quickly coating objects in a thin, environmentally safe mother-of-pearl-like film could protect food or electronics from the elements

Bioinspired tube robot can sneak round corners and turn on taps

It sounds nightmarish, but a robot that "grows" like a plant at speeds of up to 35 kilometres per hour could be surprisingly useful

Robot physical therapist helps people walk again after a stroke

A robotic harness controlled by a neural network can adjust a person’s balance and muscle activity to help them walk normally after a spinal injury or stroke

First dogs may have been extremely sociable wolves

Wolves and dogs that are friendliest to people carry mutations in genes with links to sociability, backing the idea that this was key in dog domestication

How the opioid crisis may have saved US healthcare

Though Republicans in the US hold both Congress and the White House, Obamacare will not be repealed, meaning continued healthcare for millions of Americans

First Australians may have arrived much earlier than we thought

Stone axes and the remains of fireplaces found in northern Australia appear to date to 65,000 years ago, adding 15,000 years to Australia's human prehistory

Earth’s underwater dunes help explain Venus’s weird surface

Some of the properties of wind and dust on Venus may be similar to those of water and sediment at the bottom of our oceans

The death of smoking: how tobacco will be eradicated for good

Smoking rates have been slowly falling in Western countries for decades. Soon, the habit could be wiped out, without even having to ban it

An app a day keeps the doctor away

Healthcare is poised for an upheaval, with the arrival of artificially intelligent health apps that could replace visits to the doctor

We could build a galactic internet but it may take 300,000 years

By using the timing of planets’ orbits around their stars, all the advanced civilizations that may exist in the Milky Way could communicate

Buzz of drones is more annoying than any other kind of vehicle

NASA study suggests that the noise from delivery drones will be more irritating than any other delivery method, regardless of how quietly they fly

Why fast birds, fish and animals are never too small or big

An animal’s maximum speed is based on how fast it can accelerate, which explains why the largest animals are not the fastest

Feeling lonely? You’re not on your own

Anyone can feel lonely, even when surrounded by friends, and loneliness is on the up. How can we curb its devastating effect on people's mental and physical health?

When is a black hole not a black hole? When it’s a boson star

Astronomers are confident they know what the mysterious massive object at the Milky Way’s heart is – but our first direct view this year could bring a shock

What is chemsex and why is the UK government worried about it?

The UK government wants to address chemsex, which usually involves drugs like miaow miaow or GHB. Clare Wilson explains the health concerns around the trend

Rising life expectancy in England has slowed since recession

The pace of improving life expectancies has halved in England since the global recession began. Austerity cuts to healthcare and social care may be to blame

Tanzanian volcano blast could destroy ancient hominin footprints

If Ol Doinyo Lengai erupts, iconic prints at Laetoli and another set at Engare Sero are at risk

Never-before-seen photos of leopard cub being raised by a lion

Should the leopard cub survive its unusual upbringing, would it behave more like a lion or a leopard?

Five things physicists hate about physics

Physics isn't just hard – it can be uncomfortable, too. From quantum many worlds to the universe's heat death, here are five concepts that spell embarrassment

At least 75 per cent of our DNA really is useless junk after all

After decades of arguing whether junk DNA exists, a study has calculated that without it we’d all have to reproduce in huge numbers to escape harmful mutations

UK government wants only 12 per cent of adults to smoke by 2022

Smoking is already down to 15.5 per cent of adults in England, but the government wants to go further, and is also targeting a teenage smoking rate of 3 per cent

Why help a torturer come to terms with their past?

Françoise Sironi is one of the few people in the world to treat perpetrators of atrocities. She explains what motivates her

Prenatal test spots genetic anomalies linked to miscarriage

A fetal test for Down’s syndrome has been extended to chromosomal anomalies across the whole genome. The test may help prepare parents for difficult pregnancies

Bioluminescent termite mounds lure insects to their death

Firefly larvae colonise abandoned termite mounds in Brazil and glow green at night to lure prey

A mouthful of history: How teeth reveal our evolutionary past

Fossil incisors, canines, premolars and molars help pin down where we came from, but as Evolution's Bite shows, reading them is a tricky business

Find your next must-play game by flying through a virtual galaxy

Letting algorithms suggest games and movies we might like could trap us in a filter bubble. Showing the choices as a navigable galaxy let us pick more freely

Large carnivores have lost more than 90 per cent of their range

The hunting grounds of lions, tigers and the red and Ethiopian wolves have shrunk dramatically in the past 500 years, but a few species aren't doing as badly

Ravens can plan for future as well as 4-year-old children can

The smart birds seem to have evolved this flexible cognitive ability independently from hominids as the two lineages diverged about 320 million years ago

AI doctors should improve healthcare, but not at any cost

Algorithms can already outperform specialists at disease diagnosis, but we must come up with a clear framework for what data they are allowed to use

Laws of mathematics don’t apply here, says Australian PM

Inspired by the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act, Malcolm Turnbull has proposed a new cybersecurity law to circumvent encryption – and he won’t be beaten by maths

AI coach will train hopeless chatbots to pass the Turing test

A neural network trained to rate how human-like an AI is could turn Alexa and Siri into much more convincing conversation partners

Battle lines are being drawn on the best way for babies to sleep

Paediatricians say sharing a bed with your baby is dangerous, but anthropologists say it is natural and beneficial. Who's right?

In search of a treatment for a devastating genetic disease

Vanishing white matter disease causes children to lose their motor skills. The Rainbow Dream Charity hopes to fund research into finding a cure

To understand why we behave the way we do, we need to zoom out

A challenging new book, Behave, starts with interacting brain regions and then takes in the ever wider horizons of culture and evolution to make sense of us

Asteroids may have been giant mudballs in the early solar system

Asteroids could have started life as sludgy balls of mud instead of tough rocks, which may explain how rocky planets came to be

Galaxy supercluster is one of the biggest things in the universe

The Saraswati supercluster of 400 galaxies could help us understand the physics governing the whole universe

The best way to detect aliens may be by finding their footprints

The first sign of aliens might not be microbes or radio signals but fossilised imprints or excrement left on the solid surfaces of Mars or Titan

The day Hope the whale stole the show

Whales are taking over London’s Natural History Museum, but all eyes are on the new centrepiece, says Shaoni Bhattacharya

Rats can tell when they’ve forgotten something, just like us

Ever walked into a room then realised you can't remember why you're there? Like people, rats know what they know, and can tell when their memory has failed them

Hailing e-Volvos as imminent saviours of the planet is nonsense

High praise was heaped on Volvo when it said it would stop making cars powered only by petrol or diesel. This is no revolution, says Olive Heffernan

Artificial Intelligence ushers in the era of superhuman doctors

Non-human intelligence will soon be a standard part of your medical care – if it isn’t already. Can you trust it?

150-year-old zombie plants revived after excavating ghost ponds

Plant species from ghost ponds that were buried alive when agricultural land expanded can survive for hundreds of years

Polar bear attacks on people set to rise as climate changes

Dwindling sea ice is driving hungry bears on to land and towards human settlements

Hundreds charged in huge opioid and healthcare fraud crackdown

Charges have been brought against 412 people in the US for healthcare fraud, including a doctor who allegedly gave out 12,000 illegal prescriptions for opioids

Feedback: Help us design our very scientific pub crawl

We know nothing but the John Snow; what other drinking spots are named after scientists? Plus: the woman hidden in crosswords and boxers are bigger down under

Use waste rather than crops for biofuels, says UK report

Liquid biofuels can help reduce carbon emissions, but the focus should be on making them from wastes such as cooking oil, says major review

A type of bacteria might speed up the growth of colon cancer

More than 70 per cent of colon tumours may contain Streptococcus gallolyticus gallolyticus, a bacterium that accelerates tumour growth when fed to mice

Swiss bank becomes first to offer bitcoin to its richest clients

Asset managers at Falcon Private Bank can now buy and store bitcoins for its investors. But is this missing the point of decentralised currencies?

Robotic landers could start mining the moon as early as 2020

Moon Express has just unveiled plans for three lunar expeditions. The firm aims to mine moon rocks to sell on Earth, and vague laws mean it probably can

Experiences or stuff, what’s the best buy for a happiness boost?

A decade of research that says buying experiences makes you happier than gaining possessions is being questioned. Is stuff king again, wonders James Wallman

Sleeping less in old age may be adaptation to survive in wild

The ‘poorly-sleeping grandparent’ hypothesis backed with new evidence from Tanzania’s Hadza people, links our sleep patterns to having night sentinels

Women with worse endometriosis pain have more fertility problems

Although around 10 per cent of women have endometriosis, little is known about the condition. Now severe pain has been linked to increased infertility

Smart but dumb: probing the mysteries of brainless intelligence

Understanding how things like slime moulds and plants can learn without a brain or even any neurons could help us fight diseases and make smarter machines

A massive iceberg just broke off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf

A 5,800-square-kilometre iceberg weighing more than a trillion tonnes is one of the largest known, and will change the face of Antarctica forever

Real reform must follow ruling on flawed NHS-DeepMind data deal

The NHS has been censured for the way it shared patient data with DeepMind. Meaningful checks on big tech's healthcare ambitions must follow, says Hal Hodson

Video stored in live bacterial genome using CRISPR gene editing

Cutting and pasting information into living DNA could theoretically safeguard complex records through a nuclear apocalypse

Glove turns sign language into text for real-time translation

The 26 letters of American Sign Language have been coded so far, letting people who are deaf and do not write English communicate easily with anyone around them

First close-ups of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot from Juno flyby

The closest-ever observations of our solar system’s biggest storm could tell us how deep into Jupiter it extends and how it has continued to rage for centuries

Brexiteers must not risk UK’s nuclear future by leaving Euratom

If the UK leaves Europe’s nuclear regulator when it quits the EU, it risks disrupting nuclear fuel supplies and even cancer treatments, warns Alex Connor

Hairs use chemical signals to tell each other when to grow

Hair follicles all over the body use the same chemical language to coordinate their growth, a finding that may lead to treatments for hair loss and baldness

Swinging birds play with rhythm like jazz musicians

At least a handful of species of birds swing as they sing, playing with the timing in their songs in a similar way to jazz performers

Breast implants can lessen gunshot injuries by slowing bullets

It has been claimed that breast implants can offer some protection from gunshot wounds. A study led by a plastic surgeon suggests there’s some truth to this idea

Nations of the world agree to ban nuclear weapons – now what?

Most of the world’s countries have agreed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, but with the nuclear powers boycotting it, will it make a difference?

Why your favourite websites are protesting over the net’s future

A campaign on 12 July opposes repeal of US net neutrality laws that ensure all web traffic is treated equally, but to succeed it must spark a wider discussion

Backstreet fried chicken shops must stop using killer trans fat

Cheap fast food in deprived pockets of the UK has slipped through the net in the war on harmful trans fats. Time to dish up a solution, says Anthony Warner

Uninhabitable Earth? In fact, it’s really hard to fry the planet

A controversial article says we’re heading for the worst-case warming scenarios. But while we can’t rule out extreme warming, it’s not our most likely future

Transformer robots can be printed on demand in just 13 minutes

A reconfigurable robot made only from wire and motors can be printed to suit your needs. When the job is done, simply recycle it into a new robot

Whales sneak into shallow water to eat salmon from hatcheries

Humpbacks have been spotted feeding on baby salmon bred for release into the wild to restock fisheries for the first time, competing with fishermen

Ants build living towers that flow like a fountain in reverse

The rules that guide fire ants to make tall towers with their own bodies could be applied to miniature search-and-rescue robots

Spider waves its front legs like antennae to mimic warlike ants

This sneaky jumping spider performs antics to fool predators in what is an unusual example of mimicry through behaviour, rather than appearance

Boy finds ‘extinct’ frog in Ecuador and helps revive species

A citizen science prize of $1000 got one family looking for a once-common amphibian. Their rediscovery of it has led to tadpoles hatching in captivity

Online harassment on the rise – but no one can agree what it is

People in the US want more policing of online harassment, but the varying ways it affects different groups make it difficult to agree on a definition

San Francisco is first US city to ban flavoured tobacco products

Menthol cigarettes are disproportionately smoked by black and gay smokers in California, and some hope banning flavoured tobacco will protect these groups

Child tooth is fourth fossil clue to mysterious Denisovan humans

Genetic analysis shows a tooth from the Denisova cave in Siberia is only the fourth specimen from elusive early humans who lived alongside Neanderthals

The ethics issue: Should we make everyone ‘normal’?

If more people thought and acted in the same way, societies would probably be happier and safer. But at what cost?