Editor's note

Political tensions boiled over left, right and centre this week, so a lot of people missed the very ill-tempered situation unfurling between Japan and South Korea. While the two nations have been locked in a trade dispute since 1910, their standoff now has the potential to threaten the global technology supply chain.

Japan is restricting imports to South Korea, including certain chemicals needed to manufacture the semiconductor memory chips used in most smartphones and computers. And South Korea (you can see where this is going) supplies more than half the world’s semiconductor memory chips. It’s perhaps time for the rest of the world to pay attention to their long-running dispute – before we don’t have the means to message them about it.

Footballer Eric Cantona left viewers and his fellow sports stars utterly bemused when he delivered a bizarre and unexpected speech about the future of humanity during the Champions League draw in Monaco a few days ago. According to Eric: “Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state, and so we become eternal.”

We all laughed a lot, watched the speech again and then went of to find an expert in “the science” to explain to us what Eric was blathering on about. We were surprised to find that he wasn’t entirely wrong.

Members of the British parliament are gearing up for a showdown with Boris Johnson’s government next week as they sit in parliament for the first time since he announced his plan to prorogue the session. If they want to stop him, or produce legislation to combat a no-deal Brexit, they are going to have to move very quickly.

And news just out of a fascinating study, which quashes the idea that there is such a thing as a “gay gene”. By investigating samples from nearly half a million people, an international team shed new light on how our genetic make up links with our sexuality.

We’ve also been making leather out of mushrooms and wondering if cinema can survive in the age of box sets. And we’ve featured some world-class analysis of the ongoing fires in the Amazon which are well worth a read.

Laura Hood

Politics Editor, Assistant Editor

EPA-EFE/Jeon Heon-Kyun

How a century-old dispute between Japan and South Korea threatens the global supply of smartphones

Pushan Dutt, INSEAD

Historical grievances, domestic politics, the US-China trade war and a looming global recession are all at play.

Eric Cantona at the UEFA President’s award. ALEXANDRE DIMOU/EPA

Eric Cantona’s ‘science will make us eternal’ speech was funny – but he has a point

Alexander Thomas, University of East London

Cantona was right to raise concerns about the future, says an expert on transhumanism.

The biology of same-sex attraction seems to involve a host of genes. Dewald Kirsten/Shutterstock

‘Gay gene’ search reveals not one but many – and no way to predict sexuality

Brendan Zietsch, The University of Queensland

The largest study of its kind - comparing the genetic sequences of almost half a million people - has revealed many different parts of our genetic code that seem to influence same-sex sexual behaviour.

MPs have options but they are running out of time. EPA/UK Parliament

Can MPs fight back against Boris Johnson’s prorogation? Here are the options

Asif Hameed, University of Southampton

It's technically possible to topple the government but it wouldn't be easy.

Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Can cinema survive in a golden age of serial TV?

Deborah Shaw, University of Portsmouth

Are our interests shifting away from film and towards TV series? As media changes, is there even a difference between TV and film?

Enzymatic textile dyes.

Five weird and wonderful ways nature is being harnessed to build a sustainable fashion industry

Chetna Prajapati, Loughborough University

Science is helping turn textiles into a cleaner greener industry.


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