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FROM THE EDITOR

Why is it so diff icult to ask for help? � p78

CONTRIBUTORS

CONTRIBUTORS

, A L A M Y

X 2

I M A G E S

, G E T T Y

L E O N A R D O

: B E R N A R D

PA G E

I S

T H

P O T T S

: A N D Y

C O V E R

Dark matter really is an awkward thing to explain to anyone who doesn’t fol low sc ience. Even i f you do fol low sc ience, it s t i l l sou nds k i nd of si l ly when you t r y a nd make sense of it . Any at tempt to do so usua l ly ends up sou nd i ng somet h i ng l i ke t h i s:

“So, a s f a r a s we ca n tel l, norma l mat ter – t he s t u f f t hat makes atoms, pla net s a nd s t a r s, a s well a s mundane t h i ngs l i ke t ables a nd cha i r s – on ly accou nt s for one-f i f t h of t he physica l ‘s t u f f ’ i n t he Universe. The r est of it , t he ot her 80 per cent of a l l mat ter ever ywhere, i s somet h i ng we ca l l da rk mat ter. Why da rk? Because we’ve never ac t ua l ly seen it. Not only is it invisible, but it’s also totally intangible – at least, it is as far as we’re concer ned. I n f ac t , while you r ead t h i s, mil l ions of pa r t ic les of da rk matter will probably pass through your body without so much as an ‘excuse me’. So how do we know it’s there? Well, when we look out at other galaxies, our current understanding of the Universe and the way it works suggests that t hey shou ld n’t ex i s t . They’re spi nn i ng so f a s t t hat, s t r ic t ly spea k i ng, t hey should have torn themselves apart, hurling their contents out into the void l i ke a Cat her i ne wheel. And yet, somet h i ng i s hold i ng t hem toget her. Somet h i ng t hat’s prov id i ng t he g r av it y needed for ga la x ies to ha ng onto t hei r innards. That something is what we call dark matter.”

I mean, it r eads l i ke t he sc r ibbl i ngs of someone who wea r s t i n-foi l headgea r. Mercif u l ly t hough, cosmologist s – t he people who r ea l ly k now how to explain dark matter – could be about to shed a whole new light on it. Head to p56 to find out how we could finally make sense of the dark Universe.

Daniel Bennett, Editor

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ON THE BBC THIS MONTH...

The Artificial Human Two of our f avourite radio presenters, Aleks Krotoski and Kev in Fong , team up f or this new series that aims to get to the bottom of our deepest hopes and fears regarding ar tif icial intelligence. They’ll set out to answer key questions like: will AI be smarter than me? And could i t make me money? BBC Radio 4 Also available on BBC Sounds

Seven Deadly Psychologies Slo th i s probably my f avouri te s in . This smar t new show looks at why we do the things we know we shouldn’t. So the nex t time you spend eight hours on the sofa , you’ve got a good excuse (it ’s your big brain’s f aul t f or needing so much ener gy). You’re welcome. Available now on BBC Sounds

Wild Inside Did you know that when aphids g i ve bir th , they ac tua l l y spawn their gr andchildren too? Well, now we both do thanks to this smar t ser ie s that revels in the wonder s o f evolu t ion. E ach episode e xplore s a di ff erent creature , great or small, f rom the inside out . A br i l l ia nt , f re sh per spec t i ve on the natur a l world. BBC Radio 4 Also available on BBC Sounds

DR KATIE MACK Katie explains how studying radio bursts that originate from unknown sources outside the Milky Way could lead to exciting new discoveries. -> p26

DR BENYI CAO Britain’s roads are cratered with 750,000 potholes. Civil engineer Benyi takes us through the cutting-edge solutions that could f ix them once and for all. -> p36

DR CLAIRE ASHER Af ter 800 years of slumber, Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula has awoken and is entering a new phase of volcanic activit y. Claire looks into what has caused this awakening. -> p48

DR ALEXANDRA AMON Alexandra, a leading cosmologist, reveals why the next few years could yield a crucial breakthrough in our understanding of the nature of dark matter. -> p56

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