News at a glance: Pandemic declarations, job satisfaction in the COVID-19 era, and a nuclear-powered rocket
19,973 articles from ScienceNOW
Breathless oceans: Warming waters could suffocate marine life and disrupt fisheries
Nuclear rocket eyed for Mars trips
NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plan to launch and test a nuclear-powered rocket engine in space as soon as 2027, the agencies announced last week. Such engines promise higher thrust and efficiency than conventional ones, enabling faster travel times and bigger...
Sharks are helping scientists probe worrying oxygen declines
WEDNESDAY 1. FEBRUARY 2023
Could a popular COVID-19 antiviral supercharge the pandemic?
Neanderthals lived in groups big enough to eat giant elephants
A widely used COVID-19 drug may be driving the appearance of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, sparking concerns it could prolong and even reinvigorate the pandemic. The drug, molnupiravir, produced by Merck & Co., is designed to kill the virus by inducing mutations in the viral genome. A survey of viral genomes reported in a new preprint, however, suggests some people treated with the drug...
Secrets to making mummies revealed in ancient urns
On the muddy shores of a lake in east-central Germany, Neanderthals gathered some 125,000 years ago to butcher massive elephants. With sharp stone tools, they harvested up to 4 tons of flesh from each animal, according to a new study that is casting these ancient human relatives in a new light. The degree of organization required to carry out the butchery—and the sheer quantity of food...
India’s draft geoheritage law sends tremors through the research community
For the ancient Egyptians, mummification was a spiritual process imbued with deep meaning. Ancient texts show it took 70 days, with carefully defined rituals and invocations, to prepare the deceased for an eternal afterlife. It also required specialized skills, long lists of ingredients, and a professional class of embalmers steeped in religious and chemical knowledge.
Want to avoid a heated argument? This trick could help
announcement of the discovery of 92 titanosaur nests
—along with 256 eggs the size of volleyballs—in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was another reminder of the country’s vast geological and paleontological riches. But a draft bill slated to be sent to the Indian Parliament soon has researchers worried about future access to such treasures,...
Debate a friend about vaccines, politics, or even who’ll win the Super Bowl this year, and it rarely ends well. Each of you is so entrenched in your positions—and so sure of your convictions—that the most likely outcome is an argument.
But what if both of you reflected on your values before you started bickering—how much you treasure loyalty or equality, for example?...
TUESDAY 31. JANUARY 2023
Postdocs need raises. But who will foot the bill?
Postdocs—the Ph.D.s who do much of the labor of science—are notoriously underpaid. But the problem has intensified over the past year as postdocs struggle to get by amid soaring inflation and professors
report problems recruiting Ph.D. graduates
to fill positions. Several institutions and states have recently implemented policies to increase their pay. But these...
MONDAY 30. JANUARY 2023
U.S. scientists brace for tighter scrutiny of potentially risky research
Dolphins and humans team up to catch fish in Brazil
Federally funded scientists who work with potentially harmful bacteria, viruses, and other agents could soon face a major expansion of U.S. government oversight. An expert group last week recommended broadening rules that require universities and funding agencies to determine whether proposed studies count as dual-use research—work that carries the risk of intentionally or accidentally...
For more than 140 years, fishers in southeastern Brazil have formed an
unusual partnership with local dolphins
. In the small coastal city of Laguna, men wait for the marine mammals to swim up a narrow lagoon, herding silvery mullet from the Atlantic Ocean into shallower waters. As soon as the fishers spot a dolphin slapping its tail, lifting its head, and diving deeply,...
FRIDAY 27. JANUARY 2023
When alpha mice are trounced by weaklings, they spiral into depression
When two male mice meet in a confined space, the rules of engagement are clear: The lower ranking mouse must yield. But when these norms go out the window—say, when researchers rig such an encounter to favor the weakling—it sends the higher ranking male into a depressionlike spiral. That’s the conclusion of a new neuroimaging study that reveals how the mouse brain responds to an...
THURSDAY 26. JANUARY 2023
Protein decoys for viruses may battle COVID-19 and more
Iranian researchers fear for science after hardline cleric takes important post
As the fight against COVID-19 wears on and the virus continues to mutate, vaccines and several monoclonal antibody drugs are losing some of their punch. That’s added urgency to a strategy for preventing and treating the disease that, in theory, could stop all variants of SARS-CoV-2. The idea is to flood the body with proteins that mimic the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)...
Earthlike planets should readily form around other stars, meteorites suggest
Many Iranian scientists are dismayed about last week’s appointment of a hardline conservative cleric as the new secretary of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution (SCCR), a body with considerable power over science, academic life, and culture in Iran.
They worry Abdolhossein Khosropanah, appointed on 17 January by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, will strengthen the...
News at a glance: HIV vaccine failure, AI meteorite detective, and the Doomsday Clock
How hard is it to give birth to an Earth? To assemble the right mix of rock, metal, and water, in a balmy spot not too far from a star? For a long time, planetary scientists have thought Earth was a lucky accident, enriched with water and lighter “volatile” elements—such as nitrogen and carbon—by asteroids that had strayed in from the outer edges of the early Solar System,...
Federal watchdog finds problems with NIH oversight of grant funding bat virus research in China
AI helps find missed meteorites
Antarctica is famously good at preserving meteorites, burying the rocks in snow and ice until they resurface. They often become concentrated in regions of compacted “blue” ice that make up about 1% of the Antarctic surface. But finding the meteorites within those tracts has been an ad hoc affair. Now,...
A federal watchdog has weighed in on problems with a U.S. government grant that funded work in Wuhan, China, on bat coronaviruses that some onlookers claim led to the COVID-19 pandemic. The audit found oversight issues by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and that the grantee had misreported $90,000 in expenses. But it sheds little new light on issues already widely covered and...
WEDNESDAY 25. JANUARY 2023
What’s next for COVID-19 vaccines? Scientists and regulators chart a course amid uncertainty
Watch this liquid metal robot slink out of jail
FDA panel will discuss switch to an annual booster in the fall, akin to flu vaccination strategy
Ready, set, share: Researchers brace for new data-sharing rules
It’s not exactly the T-1000—yet. But researchers in China and the United States have created a liquid metal robot that can mimic the shape-shifting abilities of actor Robert Patrick’s silvery, morphing killer robot in
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Researchers demonstrated the capabilities of the new human-shaped, 10-millimeter-tall “robot” by having it...
Policies aim to accelerate science, but will require big changes for some investigators
TUESDAY 24. JANUARY 2023
‘Incredibly concerning’: Bird flu outbreak at Spanish mink farm triggers pandemic fears
Despite opposition, Japan may soon dump Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific
When mink at a big farm in Galicia, a region in northwestern Spain, started to die in October 2022, veterinarians initially thought the culprit might be SARS-CoV-2, which has struck mink farms in several other countries. But lab tests soon revealed something scarier: a deadly avian influenza virus named H5N1. Authorities immediately placed workers on the farm under quarantine...
Human geneticists apologize for past involvement in eugenics, scientific racism
The Japanese government is pushing ahead with its plan to release 1.3 million tons of radioactive water from the defunct Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. The release could begin as early as this spring or summer, according to materials distributed at a 13 January ministerial meeting. But it has stirred broad opposition—from Japan’s...
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)
today for the participation of some of its early leaders in the eugenics movement, as well as the group’s failure to acknowledge and oppose other past harms and injustices in the field of genetics.
The apology stems from a yearlong ASHG project that resulted in a 27-page report documenting instances of...
MONDAY 23. JANUARY 2023
Women scientists at famed oceanography institute have half the lab space of men
When deer disappear off the menu, hungry wolves turn to sea otters
Women constitute 26% of the scientists at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), but only hold 17% of the space, according to an unprecedented report released last week.
SIO’s 56 women scientists have on average half as much research space and one-third the storage space of their 157 male counterparts,...
Can California’s floods help recharge depleted groundwater supplies?
Although wolves in Alaska will eat just about anything that moves, their typical main course consists of deer, deer, and more deer. But when wolves on one island off the state’s coast finished off nearly all the deer around them, they turned to a surprising substitution: sea otters.
That’s the conclusion of a new study that records a rare instance of a wolf population...
The drenching storms that hit California in recent weeks represented a long-sought opportunity for Helen Dahlke, a groundwater hydrologist at the University of California, Davis. Dahlke has been studying ways to recharge the state’s severely depleted groundwater by diverting swollen rivers into orchards and fields and letting the water seep deep into aquifers. But carrying out such...