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Mega wind farms at sea could supply power to UK

New Scientist

Artificial islands in the North Sea could provide abundant renewable energy to northern Europe. Plus: James Lovelock on what artificial intelligence means for the Gaia hypothesis.

offshore wind farm
Paul D Hunter photography/Alamy

Energy islands

A plan to build mega wind farms on artificial islands in the North Sea is technically and economically feasible, an assessment has concluded. Its backers say the bold project is needed because wind farms aren’t being built fast enough in Europe to deliver the goals of the Paris climate change agreement, and space is running out on coastlines to cheaply connect turbines. The scheme could include up to eight island hubs, each with enough capacity to power 12 million UK homes. The first one, supplying electricity to the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, could be built by the early 2030s.  Read more

More headlines

Terraforming Mars: A blanket of silica could warm up the Martian ground and protect it from radiation, making it possible for plants to grow.

Chandrayaan 2: The Indian Space Research Organisation cancelled the launch of its moon mission less than half an hour before liftoff on Sunday because of a “technical snag”.
Fast radio bursts: Weird flashes of radio waves from space could in theory be coming from huge explosions, but now we know the radio bursts occur too often for that idea to work.
Forest elephants: By destroying smaller plants, elephants favour the growth of bigger trees, which enables forests to store more carbon.
Eating disorders: Anorexia is not just a psychiatric disorder; it is a metabolic one too, according to a genetic study of almost 72,000 people.
Pornography: Brain scans have debunked the idea that sexual images are more arousing for men than women.

Personalised medicine: A survey of more than a thousand people with cancer in the UK found that more than one third had received genetically targeted drug treatment or immunotherapy.

Alcohol: Drinking more alcohol may make you less empathetic, according to a study that measured empathetic responses and moral judgements among people at different levels of intoxication.
E-cigarettes: Tighter restrictions on the flavours and nicotine levels of vape products could lead some people to smoke more traditional cigarettes, according to a survey.
Multiple sclerosis: People with severe forms of MS have dysfunctional mitochondria, which generate energy, in their neurons. Targeting these structures may lead to new therapies.

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The weather man

Sixteen years ago, Olafur Eliasson lit up London with a huge artificial sun at Tate Modern. As a major exhibition of his work opens at the same gallery, we quiz the artist on selfies, short-term thinking and the climate reckoning to come.  Read more



james lovelock
David Stock

Life begins at 100

James Lovelock is best known for the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that Earth can be considered as a single, self-regulating organism. In his new book, Novacene, he argues that artificial intelligence constitutes a new kingdom of life that will create and think for itself. As he approaches his 100th birthday, he spoke to New Scientist about the future of Gaia, our new AI overlords and why Elon Musk’s Mars mission is crazy. Watch the video 


  • Urinary tract infections are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics (The New York Times) 
  • About 85 per cent of Neanderthals were right-handed – just like us (The Atlantic) 
  • Mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing will be honoured in the design of the UK’s new £50 note. (BBC) Read our biography of the computing pioneer

Who would you like to see on a banknote? Join the discussion on Twitter or drop us an email at Thanks for reading.

Sam Wong
Digital Reporter

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