Sean Grant and Kathryn E. Bouskill
Open science involves the use of practices across the research life cycle that facilitate the transparency, reproducibility, and availability of scientific products and output. Prominent open science practices include registration of study protocols and preanalysis plans; materials, data, and code sharing; and publication of summary findings in open access outlets (1). To achieve openness as the default approach, initiatives are trying to use a systems approach to engage stakeholders — namely, scientific journals, funding agencies, and professional societies (2, 3). …
In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the world to Bitcoin, a volatile digital currency that’s untethered to any specific institution or country (1). (Satoshi Nakamoto was quickly revealed to be a pseudonym; the true identity of the inventor or inventors remains unknown.) In the years that followed, the value of Bitcoin has soared, plummeted, and soared again while giving rise to a raft of new cryptocurrencies of varying stability and legitimacy. Bitcoin and the others have their boosters and their detractors (see Opinion: Valuation, liquidity price, and stability of cryptocurrencies, https://www.pnas.org/content/115/6/1131).
But Bitcoin wasn’t just revolutionary as a virtual…
More than a decade ago, amphibian microbial ecologist Reid Harris watched a mother salamander as she marched in a figure-eight pattern through her clutch of soft, jellylike eggs. He knew that her strange walk, rubbing up against her brood, transferred beneficial bacteria from her skin onto the eggs to fight off fungal infection. Then something clicked. Harris wondered if she might also be showing him the solution to a scourge threatening hundreds of other amphibian species around the world.
Late one night in October 2015, Andrew Wetzel was fretting. For 15 days, his cosmological models had been swirling virtual dark matter around cybernetic gas and dust and slowly generating a synthetic galaxy approximately the size of our own Milky Way, and Wetzel was about to receive the results. “I finally got the plot up to compare our simulation with the Milky Way,” recalls Wetzel, an assistant professor of physics at the University of California, Davis. “I went to bed very happy that night.”
That’s because, for the first time, a simulation had accurately reproduced a realistic population…
Just over 20 years ago, a Lyme disease vaccine called LYMErix was approved for sale in the United States. Researchers designed the vaccine to prevent the transmission of the tick-borne pathogen Borellia burgdorferi, which spurs a bacterial infection that can cause fever, headaches, and joint pain if left untreated.
LYMErix was on the market for just four years. Concerns over adverse reactions and a lukewarm reception from public health agencies led the vaccine’s manufacturer, SmithKline Beecham, to shelve the product in 2002. Since then, the need for a vaccine has grown. An estimated 300,000 people are diagnosed with…
On September 3, 2018, an unpowered experimental sailplane made history by flying into the stratosphere. After leaving from El Calafate, a town near the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in Argentina, glider pilots Jim Payne and Tim Gardner surfed on enormous airborne waves emanating from the Andes Mountains. They achieved a world record height of 23,203 meters — higher than a Lockheed U-2 spy plane’s cruising altitude. No other unpowered aircraft has ever achieved such elevation. …
Nola Taylor Redd
The distant rock has offered clues about planet formation and the state of the early solar system.
Within the cloud of icy rocks at the edge of the solar system lie objects that have remained virtually untouched since their formation more than four billion years ago. Last January, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made the first flyby of one such primitive sample, an object known as 2014 MU69 and nicknamed “Ultima Thule” (although that label has proved controversial*). After New Horizons’ successful flyby of Pluto in 2015, researchers were keen to study a primordial body that was within…
Benjamin S. Halpern, Richard S. Cottrell, Julia L. Blanchard, Lex Bouwman, Halley E. Froehlich, Jessica A. Gephart, Nis Sand Jacobsen, Caitlin D. Kuempel, Peter B. McIntyre, Marc Metian, Daniel D. Moran, Kirsty L. Nash, Johannes Többen, and David R. Williams
Improving global food systems is essential to addressing climate change, mitigating biodiversity loss, and meeting both sustainability and human development goals. International assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and business and technology innovations such as lab-grown and plant-based meat, as well as many consumer diet trends, can all be…
Neuroscientists believe that immediately after a mammal is born, brain cells called microglia spring into action, pruning away connections between neurons. This may be a way for the brain to refine its neural networks. Until recently, neurobiologists had assumed the microglia worked by phagocytosis, reaching out a cup-shaped tendril to swallow the neuron-to-neuron bridges whole. But in 2017 when Laetitia Weinhard, then a graduate student at EMBL Rome in Italy, observed pruning via a combination of light-sheet and electron microscopy, she saw something others had missed.
In early 2017, researchers managed to slip a flexible sliver of polymer next to a pig’s heart. The device — placed between the heart and the fibrous wall that encases it, called the pericardium — squished and expanded with each contraction. It also converted the physical strain of its movement into electrical energy stashed into a capacitor. When hooked up to a commercial pacemaker, the device produced a steady pulse of 130 beats per minute — effectively using the heart’s own mechanical motions to power an implanted pacemaker.