New Scientist Weekly

#174 Finding the universe’s missing matter; saving babies’ lives by sequencing their genomes; the earliest horse riders - the latest news in science


Matter we’ve long thought missing from galaxies has finally been found. Great news…except there’s one catch. It turns out that perhaps this matter should be missing, based on our understanding of the way young galaxies form. So what’s going on? The team finds out where and how this matter was found, and what it means for our understanding of galaxies.

A life-saving trial is sequencing the entire genomes of extremely sick babies. The team learns how the trial worked, and hears from one mother whose son made a remarkable recovery after being born with a rare life-threatening disease.

You know that low creaky sound you make when you drop your voice low? That’s called vocal fry, and it turns out some whales can do it too. The team shares the sounds of a sperm whale using vocal fry during echo location, which explains how they’re able to make these sounds in deep water.

Norovirus is spreading rapidly in the UK, with reported cases higher in England than they’ve been in a decade. The team finds out what’s caused this spike in cases of the ‘winter vomiting bug’.

Horse riding may have begun as far back as 5000 years ago. New bone evidence suggests that the earliest known horse riders may have been members of the Yamnaya tribe. The team discusses whether horse riding may have been behind the success of the Yamnaya, who expanded across Europe around this time.

On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, Alexandra Thompson, Clare Wilson, Leah Crane and Alice Klein. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at

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