Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, and ScottyUrb, guest editor annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, and the environment.
This week's featured story comes from NASA Television on YouTube.
ScienceCasts: Big Asteroid Flyby.
NASA is tracking a large near-Earth asteroid as it passes by the Earth-Moon system on May 31st. Amateur astronomers in the northern hemisphere may be able to see the space rock for themselves during the 1st week of June.
More stories after the jump, including updates on the asteroid flyby from NASA and CNN in the body of the diary and from Space.com and Al Jazeera English in the tip jar.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Green diary rescue: President Obama's pipeline decision, Germany's beer drinkers vs. fracking
by Meteor Blades
Megyn Kelly fends off the Cavemen of Fox News
Tornadoes and Climate Change: the Battle of Dualing Forces; Inadequate Data
On Mars: Manned Missions Will be Trickier, More Expensive and Take Longer to Design
Getting to Know Your Solar System (35): Titan (Vol. 1)
This week in science: Money
BREAKING: NOAA Cancels Furlough After Severe Weather Highlights Importance Of Agency
Fleeing Tornadoes By Vehicle Is A Death Sentence
Discovery News on YouTube: New SARS-Like Virus Declared a Global Threat
The World Health Organization has declared a new strain of coronavirus a global threat after it claimed one more life this week. What is this new virus, how has it spread, and what can we do about it? Anthony investigates.
Discovery News on YouTube: The Real Walking Dead: All About Cotard's Syndrome
There are people who are alive, but who are convinced they are dead. It's called Cotard Syndrome and it's one of the most bizarre and intriguing disorders we've ever heard of. Laci details what's going on inside these people's heads.
Discovery News: How Did Life Begin?
Scientists have long pondered how exactly life began here on Earth. Now, new research sheds light on Earth's creation, and the findings are not what you'd expect!
The Weather Channel: Rivers of Ice at Mt. Everest
Al and Steph are joined by David Breashears his 6-year-journey through Mount Everest where he studied environmental changes in the glaciers.
The Weather Channel: Amelia Earhart's Lost Plane Discovered?
Matt Sampson introduces a team of researchers that believe they found evidence which may lead to the discovery of Earhart's lost plane.
NASA Television on YouTube: New Crew to Station on This Week @NASA
Expedition 36/37 Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg of NASA, Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on May 29 Kazakstan time for an accelerated six-hour journey to the International Space Station. The arrival of the trio marks the start of its five and a half month mission aboard the ISS. They join Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA and Russians Pavel Vinogradov -- Commander of the station and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin. Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin have been on the station since late March. Also, Oklahoma Storms from Space, Bolden Visits California NASA Centers, QE2 Approaches, Dream Chaser Flight Simulations, Curiosity Rover Update, PhoneSat's Mosaic of Earth, GPM Social and more!
NASA Television on YouTube: QE2's Flyby on This Week @NASA
As the 1.7-mile-long asteroid 1998 QE2 began its relatively close flyby of Earth, telescope images were provided during a live broadcast from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, seen on NASA Television and nasa.gov. Among the insight provided from asteroid experts at JPL and the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, which used radar to track and image the asteroid -- a discovery that QE2 has an orbiting moon about 600 meters wide. The program also featured NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, who discussed the agency's role in keeping the planet safe from asteroids and other Near Earth Objects. The May 31 QE2 fly-by -- some 3-point-6 million miles from Earth is asteroid's the closest approach to our planet for at least the next two centuries. Also, Garver at Asteroid "Hang Out", MSL's RAD (iation) Measurements, Lightfoot visits Centers, Space Tech Town Hall, IceBridge completes 2013 mission, Grunsfeld visit to Ames and more!
CNN: Giant asteroid sails past Earth
CNN's Tom Foreman takes a closer look at the massive asteroid that flew past Earth on Friday afternoon.
Just a reminder, there are more videos from Space.com and Al Jazeera English in the tip jar.
NASA Television on YouTube: Actor Jaden Smith Highlights Earth Science in a New NASA PSA
Jaden Smith, star of Columbia Pictures' movie "After Earth," is featured in a new NASA public service announcement that describes the contributions of the agency's Earth science program to environmental awareness and exploration of our home planet.
Space.com: Will Smith Says: After Earth, No Cars & No Beef | Exclusive Interview Video
After Earth's lead actor/producer and his co-star son Jaden share their view of an Earth that has 'kicked out" its human inhabitants as punishment for their mistreatment. Also, fmr. NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman opines on the movie's spaceship.
Discovery News on YouTube: Is 'After Earth' Our Future?
It's a sci-fi film, but could our future resemble Will and Jaden Smith's in 'After Earth'? Trace interviews biologist and author, Dr. Joe Levine, about what made life uninhabitable for humans in the new movie, and how we can prevent a similar fate.
Space.com: Will Radiation Kill Mars Astronauts? | Video
Astronauts on long interplanetary trips will face at least two kinds of radiation hazards. The Mars Science Lab's Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) has quantified the risk. Crews could get much more than the current accepted career dose.
Also read the article from Nature under Astronomy/Space.
Space.com: Curiosity's 9-Month 'Dance' On Mars Time-Lapsed By Tech Geek | Video
Professional programmer Karl Sanford wrote a program to compile images from Sol 0 (August 8th, 2012) through Sol 281 (May 21st, 2013) from the Mars Science Laboratory website.
Scientific American via Nature (UK): Spacecraft data nails down radiation risk for humans going to Mars
Improved shielding technology could keep exposure within acceptable levels.
30 May 2013
Astronauts travelling to Mars on any of the current space-flight vehicles would receive a dose of radiation higher than NASA standards permit, according to a study of the radiation environment inside the craft that carried the Curiosity rover to the planet.
The study, reported in Science, is the first to use radiation data recorded by a robotic craft en route to Mars. It is also the first to rely on measurements from a radiation detector in space that has shielding similar to what might be used on missions carrying humans, says physicist Sheila Thibeault of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, who was not involved in the study.
Previous calculations of exposure were extrapolations, notes study co-author Cary Zeitlin of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Those studies used detectors in space that either had no shielding or were aboard Mars-bound craft whose instruments were not switched on until they reached the planet.
Space.com via LiveScience: Nuking Dangerous Asteroids Might Be the Best Protection, Expert Says
Douglas Messier, SPACE.com Contributor
Date: 29 May 2013 Time: 11:43 AM ET
If a dangerous asteroid appears to be on a collision course for Earth, one option is to send a spacecraft to destroy it with a nuclear warhead. Such a mission, which would cost about $1 billion, could be developed from work NASA is already funding, a prominent asteroid defense expert says.
Bong Wie, director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University, described the system his team is developing to attendees at the International Space Development Conference in La Jolla, Calif., on May 23. The annual National Space Society gathering attracted hundreds from the space industry around the world.
An anti-asteroid spacecraft would deliver a nuclear warhead to destroy an incoming threat before it could reach Earth, Wie said. The two-section spacecraft would consist of a kinetic energy impactor that would separate before arrival and blast a crater in the asteroid. The other half of the spacecraft would carry the nuclear weapon, which would then explode inside the crater after the vehicle impacted.
Science News: Southwest's monsoon season may heat up with the climate
Warmer temperatures may bring stronger rainy seasons over the long term, study finds
By Erin Wayman
Web edition: May 28, 2013
The summer monsoon that dumps rain on an otherwise-arid American Southwest may grow stronger as the climate warms, suggests a study of the region’s monsoon patterns of the last millennium.
Across the Northern Hemisphere, monsoons — winds that change directions seasonally, altering rainfall — could intensify, the team reports May 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The results complement recent observations and simulations of monsoon activity, says Pang-chi Hsu, a climate scientist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who was not involved in the work. “We do see enhanced Northern Hemisphere monsoons over the recent decades, from the 1970s.”
Science News: Mosses frozen in time come back to life
Buried under a glacier for hundreds of years, plants regrow in the lab
By Erin Wayman
Web edition: May 27, 2013
Being run over by a massive glacier is not a death sentence for some hardy Arctic plants. After hundreds of years buried under ice, mosses can regrow, biologists report May 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The revived plants come from Canada’s Ellesmere Island, where the Teardrop Glacier has retreated since the end of a cold period in 1550 to 1850 known as the Little Ice Age. On recently exposed ground, Catherine La Farge of the University of Alberta in Edmonton and colleagues found clumps of mosses that looked dead. But among the brown tangles, the team noticed a few green sprigs.
Nature (UK): Terrible toll of fishing nets on seabirds revealed
Fisheries closure backs up suspicions that nets drive down diving-bird populations.
29 May 2013
Evidence for the horrific impact of fishing gear on seabirds has been revealed by the closure of Canadian fisheries after fish stocks collapsed in the early 1990s.
Biologists have long worried that diving birds can become entangled in gillnets, which are anchored in fixed positions at sea. Designed to snare fish by the gills, these nets can also trap and drown birds.
This has been graphically demonstrated by finds of birds enmeshed in nets, but a quantitative assessment of the effects of such ‘by-catch’ on seabird populations has been hard to come by.
Nature (UK): Mutant mosquitoes lose lust for human scent
Experiments with key smell receptors may help in development of insect repellents.
29 May 2013
Mosquitoes that are genetically modified to lack some of their sense of smell cannot tell humans from other animals and no longer avoid approaching people who are slathered in bug spray. These findings, published online today in Nature1, could help scientists to design insect repellents to combat malaria, dengue and agricultural pests.
Some mosquito species will feed on most animals that they encounter. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries dengue and yellow fever, and Anopheles gambiae, which hosts the malaria parasites, are choosier: they prefer humans.
“They love everything about us,” says Leslie Vosshall, a neurobiologist at The Rockefeller University in New York, who led the latest study. “They love our beautiful body odour, they love the carbon dioxide we exhale and they love our body heat.”
Nature (UK): Tepid showing for genomics X prize
Challenge may be too hard and commercially unnecessary.
Erika Check Hayden
29 May 2013
It was never meant to be a piece of cake — but neither was it meant to be a flop. Yet as the 31 May registration deadline looms for the Archon Genomics X Prize — a challenge to sequence 100 complete human genomes in 30 days at unparallelled accuracy and low cost — only two teams have entered.
The lacklustre showing is a testament to both the difficulty of the challenge and the maturation of the DNA-sequencing industry in the seven years since the prize was first conceived, genetics and innovation researchers say.
“The business has become bigger than the prize,” says Jonathan Rothberg, founder of the sequencing company Ion Torrent in Guilford, Connecticut, which was acquired in 2010 by Life Technologies in Carlsbad, California — which was, in turn, recently snapped up for US$13.6 billion by Thermo Fisher in Waltham, Massachusetts. Ion Torrent plans to compete, but other firms have apparently decided that they have little to gain.
Scientific American via Nature (UK): 3-D printed windpipe gives infant breath of life
A flexible, absorbable tube helps a baby boy breathe, and heralds a future of body parts printed on command.
28 May 2013
Kaiba Gionfriddo was six weeks old when he suddenly stopped breathing and turned blue at a restaurant. Kaiba’s parents quickly rushed him to the hospital where they learned that his left bronchial tube had collapsed because of a previously undetected birth defect. During the next few weeks the life-threatening attacks recurred, increasing in number until they became everyday events. Physicians and researchers, however, used some of the most sophisticated bioengineering techniques available to 3-D print a synthetic tube to hold the baby's airway open. Kaiba had the surgery in January 2012 and hasn’t suffered an airway collapse since.
Fresh out of options, Kaiba’s doctors contacted Green and his colleagues who were working on a new device that could help. The researchers had been searching for a way to help infants with collapsing airways. They designed a tube that could wrap around the floppy portion of a trachea or bronchus and hold the airway open. Each individual's airway, however, is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead Green and his colleagues would create custom-designed devices using technology called three-dimensional printing.
Nature (UK): Babies learn to babble like birds learn to sing
Research challenges theory of innate vocal abilities.
29 May 2013
Babies learn to babble before they learn to talk, at first simply repeating individual syllables (as in ba-ba-ba), and later stringing various syllables together (as in ba-da-goo). Songbirds exhibit similar patterns during song-learning, and the capacity for this sort of syllable sequencing is widely believed to be innate and to emerge full-blown — a theory that is challenged by a paper published on Nature's website today1. A study of three species — zebra finches, Bengalese finches and humans — reports that none of the trio has it that easy. Their young all have to learn how to string syllables together slowly, pair by pair.
“We discovered a previously unsuspected stage in human vocal development,” says first author Dina Lipkind, a psychologist now at Hunter College in New York.
Science News: Genes weakly linked to education level
Search of more than 2 million DNA locations finds small and hard-to-explain association with schooling
By Tina Hesman Saey
Web edition: May 31, 2013
Genetic factors may exert a tiny influence on how much schooling a person ends up with, a new study suggests.
But the main lesson of the research, experts say, should be that attributing cultural and socioeconomic traits to genes is a dicey enterprise.
“If there is a policy implication, it’s that there’s even more reason to be skeptical of genetic determinism,” says sociologist Jeremy Freese of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
Nature (UK): Iron in Egyptian relics came from space
Meteorite impacts thousands of years ago may have helped to inspire ancient religion.
29 May 2013
The 5,000-year-old iron bead might not look like much, but it hides a spectacular past: researchers have found that an ancient Egyptian trinket is made from a meteorite.
The result, published on 20 May in Meteoritics & Planetary Science1, explains how ancient Egyptians obtained iron millennia before the earliest evidence of iron smelting in the region, solving an enduring mystery. It also hints that they regarded meteorites highly as they began to develop their religion.
"The sky was very important to the ancient Egyptians," says Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, UK, and a co-author of the paper. "Something that falls from the sky is going to be considered as a gift from the gods."
annetteboardman is taking a well-deserved night off.
Nature (UK): New contender for first bird
Feathered creature shakes up avian family tree.
29 May 2013
A Jurassic fossil that had been languishing in the archives of a Chinese museum may qualify as the first known bird, researchers say. If they are right, it could mean that flight evolved in dinosaurs only once, in the lineage that led to modern birds.
The single specimen of Aurornis xui was unearthed by a farmer in China's Liaoning Province and had been unidentified until palaeontologist Pascal Godefroit found it last year in the museum at the Fossil and Geology Park in Yizhou.
The specimen measures about half a metre from the tip of its beak to the end of its tail. The feathered dinosaur, which lived some time between 150 million and 160 million years ago, had small, sharp teeth. It also had long forelimbs that presumably helped it to glide through Jurassic forests.
Nature (UK): Can a mammoth carcass really preserve flowing blood and possibly live cells?
30 May 2013
Yesterday brought a flurry of news stories trumpeting a mind-blowing discovery from the lost world of the last ice age: a 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth carcass that preserves muscle tissue the color of fresh meat and blood in liquid form, despite the –10 degrees Celsius temperatures in the Novosibirsk Islands, where Russian researchers discovered the beast.
The Siberian Times obtained striking photos of the specimen showing the reddish tissues and a vial of the dark brown liquid said to be blood that was found in ice cavities under the animal’s belly, as well as additional details of the discovery. The story quotes mammoth researcher Semyon Grigoriev of the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, who led the recovery of the mammoth, as speculating that the blood contains “a kind of natural anti-freeze” and declaring the specimen — a female that was between 50 and 60 years old when she died — to be “the best preserved mammoth in the history of paleontology.”
An AFP report, meanwhile, referred to the animal as the first old female mammoth ever found and quotes Grigoriev as saying “this find gives us a really good chance of finding live cells,” which would be a windfall for his institution’s project with South Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation to clone a mammoth.
Nature (UK): Long-lived insects raise prime riddle
Mass orgy of 17-year cicadas sets US researchers buzzing.
28 May 2013
Drivers who end up behind John Cooley this week will quickly lose their patience. Cruising around the eastern United States with his car window open, he slows down or stops every few hundred metres, cocks an ear and taps on a data-logger strapped into the passenger seat.
Since last week, Cooley, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, has been on the road mapping populations of periodical cicadas (Magicicada). These loud, red-eyed insects have spent the past 17 years maturing underground, only to emerge this month by the billions for a few weeks of singing and sex before they die. Like a handful of other cicada researchers on the prowl from North Carolina to New York, Cooley knows that he has to work quickly. “Time is the real enemy here, for both the cicadas and the researchers,” he says. “If you miss this opportunity, you have a hole in your map and you have to wait for another 17 years.”
The insect genus with the longest known life cycles, Magicicada has confounded scientists for centuries. In 1665, the first volume of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society included a report from New England concerning “swarms of strange insects, and the mischiefs done by them”. Charles Darwin also puzzled over them. Even now, entomologists are trying to understand how the insects’ peculiar life cycles evolved, how they count the years underground and how they synchronize their schedules. “They are one of the big ecological mysteries out there,” says Walt Koenig, a behavioural ecologist at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.
I went to the University of Michigan with Cooley and shared an advisor. It's a small world.
Inside Science News Service via LiveScience: GPS 'Junk' Data Reveals Volcanic Plumes
Ryder Diaz, ISNS Contributor
Date: 30 May 2013 Time: 02:52 PM ET
Scientists may be able to track dangerous ash-filled clouds by using information similar to the bars showing signal strength on a cell phone.
The new technique analyzes the GPS’s “signal strength” -- the intensity of a GPS signal – as it attempts to cut through a volcanic plume. The research was published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The dangerous particles within these plumes can clog an airplane’s engines and send it plummeting from the sky.
Science News: The Arctic was once warmer, covered by trees
Pliocene epoch featured greenhouse gas levels similar to today's but with higher average temperatures
By Erin Wayman
Web edition: May 9, 2013
Print edition: June 15, 2013; Vol.183 #12 (p. 13)
The Arctic wasn’t always frozen tundra. About 3.6 million years ago, the far north was blanketed in boreal forests, and summers were 8 degrees Celsius warmer than they are today, geologists report May 9 in Science.
Researchers pieced together that picture from sediments buried beneath Lake El’gygytgyn (pronounced EL-gih-git-gin), about 100 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle in northeastern Russia (SN: 11/20/10, p. 13). The sediments preserve the most complete history of Arctic climate on land over the last 3.6 million years.
“It’s an unprecedented record,” says study coauthor Julie Brigham-Grette, a geologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “It gives us a way of envisioning what the future may hold.”
National Geographic News: Monterey Shale Shakes Up California's Energy Future
For National Geographic
Published May 27, 2013
It's easy to tick off the ways in which California is a leader in clean energy: It harvests more solar energy than any other state, has a program to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the vehicles on its famously long highways, and launched its own cap-and-trade system this year.
And yet, a move is afoot for a quite different type of new energy development in the Golden State, beneath the same valley that beckoned gold seekers and migrant farmers generations ago. That ever alluring land happens to lie atop the Monterey shale formation, a vast rock formation that is believed to hold one of the world's largest onshore reserves of shale oil.
Oil companies are seeking to stake their claim to this prize, plunging California into a debate on its energy and economic future. The U.S. trailblazer on renewable energy could well become the latest front in the nation's fracking-driven oil boom.
LiveScience: Underground Experiment Asks Why We're Not Antimatter
Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 29 May 2013 Time: 09:35 AM ET
A new experiment buried deep underground in a South Dakota mine aims to detect rare particle decays that could explain the mystery of antimatter.
Scientists don't know why the universe is made of matter and not antimatter, but they hope to find differences in the way these two types of stuff behave that could explain the discrepancy. Antimatter particles have the same mass as their normal-matter counterparts, but opposite charge and spin.
The South Dakota effort, called the Majorana Demonstrator, aims to observe a theorized-but-never-seen process called neutrinoless double beta decay.
TechNewsDaily via LiveScience: Gel Offers New Possibilities for 'Soft' Robots
Rachel Kaufman, TechNewsDaily Contributor
Date: 30 May 2013 Time: 01:11 PM ET
A new material controlled by light may help scientists build better soft-bodied robots.
The developers of the gel say they were inspired by the way a plant grows to face the sunlight. Unlike plants, though, the gel can be made to flex and move almost instantaneously.
The UC Berkeley scientists created the gel using graphene and a synthetic protein similar to elastin, which is found in humans' blood vessels, skin and more.
Science Crime Scenes
Nature (UK): US gun researcher turns to crowd-funding
With government funds scarce, economist aims to support firearm study through private donations.
30 May 2013
Economist Bisakha Sen wants to study how US states' gun laws and gun cultures correlate with certain crimes and with firearms deaths in each state — and whether differing laws and cultures in neighboring states “spill over” to influence a state’s statistics.
But although President Barack Obama ordered the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recommence gun research in the wake of last December's massacre of 20 schoolchildren and 6 adults in Newtown, Connecticut, federal funding for research on gun violence remains scarce so far. So Sen has turned to the crowd-funding website Microryza, and she is aiming to raise $25,000 in 100 days to fund her research.
“The research needs to be done,” says Sen, an economist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. However, she says, there is essentially no federal funding for any kind of gun-violence prevention or policy research. So when Microryza organizers sought her out several months ago and asked her to pitch a project, she decided she didn’t have much to lose by trying.
Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy
Nature (UK): Japan aims high for growth
Innovation in science is at the heart of government plans to boost the economy.
29 May 2013
The Japanese government is working on a plan to revitalize its science workforce by boosting opportunities for female scientists, attracting top talent from abroad and increasing the commercialization of research. So what else is new? Over the past decade, successive administrations have had similar goals, but little progress has been made. This time, analysts and scientists think that things might be different.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is riding high since his Liberal Democratic Party swept back to power in December. He has stimulated the economy, ending 15 years of deflation, jumpstarted the stock market and weakened the yen to spur exports. His reform platform includes a new growth strategy, and central to that strategy is innovation in science and technology.
Abe’s cabinet has already committed hundreds of billions of yen to space, physics and stem-cell research, in a stimulus package announced in January. But more aggressive measures are yet to come. On 17 May, the Council for Science and Technology Policy — the nation’s leading science body, which Abe chairs — released the first draft of a Comprehensive Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy, calling for even more fundamental changes.
International Business Times: Far-Right Extremists Chased Through London by Women Dressed as Badgers
By Timur Moon
June 1, 2013 4:58 PM GMT
A rally by extremists from the British National Party and the English Defence League was dwarfed by opposition campaigners staging rival protests in London on Saturday 1 June.
Shortly after lunch, a die-hard core of around 50 BNP and EDL supporters was confronted outside parliament by hundreds of activists from anti-extremist groups including Unite Against Fascsim and Hope Not Hate.
But in the event, both groups were upstaged by agitators of a different stripe. Decked out from head to toe in black and white, the group that won the day were campaigning for neither for race war nor ethnic equality, but an end to the government's cull on badgers.
And it was the pro-badger campaigners who appeared to steal a march on the political activists.
Nature (UK): The resistance against resistance
Microbiologist Laura Piddock talks about her efforts to raise the profile of antibiotics research.
30 May 2013
Faced with the continuing rise of infections resistant to common treatments and a dearth of new antibiotics to fight them, Laura Piddock is taking action.
Piddock, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham, UK, is chair in public engagement and former president of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC), as well as director of Antibiotic Action, a BSAC initiative to raise awareness of this problem. Last week in London, Antibiotic Action convened its first meeting, to discuss what lessons can be learned from recent failures to develop new antibiotic drugs.
Science Writing and Reporting
Science News: Blogger busts dinosaur myths
By Allison Bohac
Web edition: May 30, 2013
Print edition: June 15, 2013; Vol.183 #12 (p. 32)
For Brian Switek, the arrival of warm weather means it’s time to grab a case of beer, jump in the car and head out for the first dinosaur dig of the season. As a blogger who writes mainly about dinosaurs, he’ll spend days at a time camped out with paleontologists in America’s premier dino-hunting territory.
The actual fieldwork isn’t always so romantic — “looking for crumbs” is how Switek describes it — but he says there’s nothing more rewarding than spotting an interesting bit of bone.
As new finds emerge, scientists continually renovate theories on dino biology. “The pace of discovery is almost impossible to keep up with,” says Switek (below). He has spent the last seven years writing about all things paleontological, and the fast-moving field has provided him with plenty of material to work with.
Nature (UK): Fallout from hailed cloning paper
Duplicated figures raise debate over expedited publication.
28 May 2013
How fast is too fast for review of a scientific article? And who has the responsibility to ensure accuracy? Errors found in a widely acclaimed cloning study have rekindled those questions — and sent the lead author and the journal that published it scrambling to assure the world that the problems did not compromise the findings.
The paper, which was published online by the journal Cell on 15 May (http://doi.org/...), reported the creation of human embryonic stem-cell lines from cloned human skin cells. The lines are expected to answer fundamental questions about the way in which cells are reprogrammed and also to have potential therapeutic applications.
But last Wednesday, after an anonymous online commenter noted three pairs of duplicated images with conflicting labels in the paper, excitement turned to confusion — and a bit of déjà vu. The last time the same feat was claimed — by then Seoul University professor Woo Suk Hwang — duplicate images were noted anonymously and the breakthrough was later debunked. Nobody is claiming more than sloppiness in the present case, and the authors quickly stepped up to put the record straight.
Science is Cool
LiveScience: Wikipedia ‘Edit Wars’: The Most Hotly Contested Topics
Bahar Gholipour, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 31 May 2013 Time: 12:36 PM ET
A behind-the-scenes look at the so-called edit wars on Wikipedia has revealed the topics people argue about the most across the globe. The winners: religion and politics.
Considering Wikipedia is the result of mass collaboration, with essentially 40 million editors, back-and-forth editing — and even arguments — are bound to occur. But some topics on the site better resemble a battlefield than a publishing house, according to researchers.
"Wikipedia seems to be a cool and novel platform for collaboration, but it suffers from very traditional features of human societies," said Oxford University physicist Taha Yasseri, co-author of the new study detailed online May 23 in the preprint journal arXiv.