15 articles from SUNDAY 14.8.2022

Despite climate, war and Covid, is everything actually … getting better?

The psychologist Steven Pinker has long believed we should be more optimistic – and even current crises do not dissuade himReading and watching the media over the past year, you might be forgiven for thinking that we are facing the collapse of civilisation. We have a shrinking economy, a fuel crisis that may bring on energy rationing and forced blackouts, extreme weather events, the increased...

Building a Martian House review – will this be your tiny gold-foil room on Mars?

M Shed, BristolHow to live well, and sanely, on a freezing, dry planet bombarded with radiation, wonder two artists, whose prototype Martian house also affords a view of our increasingly challenged EarthLiving on Mars is a game for squillionaires and the agencies of superpower governments, for Elon Musk and Nasa, not the average citizen. The reason is obvious and simple: it is mind-bendingly...

Hotter summers to fuel increase in skin cancers, doctors warn

Higher summer temperatures caused by climate crisis will lead to more cases of melanoma, say medicsExperts have said higher summer temperatures caused by the climate crisis will fuel an increase in cases of potentially deadly skin cancers such as melanoma.The UK recorded its highest ever temperature of 40.2C last month, as climate scientists stressed the heatwave was not a one-off and high...

‘I am, in fact, a person’: can artificial intelligence ever be sentient?

Controversy over Google’s AI program is raising questions about just how powerful it is. Is it even safe?In autumn 2021, a man made of blood and bone made friends with a child made of “a billion lines of code”. Google engineer Blake Lemoine had been tasked with testing the company’s artificially intelligent chatbot LaMDA for bias. A month in, he came to the conclusion that it was sentient....

What killed tons of fish in European river? Mystery deepens

Laboratory tests following a mass die-off of fish in the Oder River detected high levels of salinity but no mercury poisoning its waters, Poland's environment minister said Saturday as the mystery continued as to what killed tons of fish in Central Europe.

Iraq's Garden of Eden now 'like a desert'

To feed and cool his buffaloes, Hashem Gassed must cross 10 kilometers (six miles) of sunburnt land in southern Iraq, where drought is devastating swathes of the mythical Mesopotamian Marshes.

New ‘Parp inhibitors’ could prevent certain tumours appearing

Breakthrough research could see some genetic cancers neutralised before they take hold and is already being used for people at riskSue Hayward was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017. Doctors acted swiftly and she was given a hysterectomy followed by sessions of chemotherapy.But her cancer returned within a year. “I carry a mutated version of a gene known as BRCA1 which makes me...