Today we launch a new initiative to promote “open science” or as we hope to one day call it, “science”
In today’s issue of Science Magazine we unveil a series of guidelines to promote transparency and reproducibility in research practices - critical aspects of science that are frequently overlooked in the pursuit of novelty and impact.
Transparency and reproducibility are the beating heart of the scientific enterprise. Transparency ensures that all aspects of scientific methods and results are available for critique, compliment, or reuse. This not only meets a social imperative, it also allows others to test new questions with existing data, makes it easier to identify and correct errors, and helps unmask academic fraud. Transparent practices such as sharing data and computer code, in turn, safeguard reproducibility: the idea that for a scientific observation to count as a discovery it must reveal something real and repeatable about the natural world.Continue reading...
The remains of herbivorous Sefapanosaurus were unearthed in the 1930s but languished in a storeroom at Wits University until they were recently reassessed
Palaeontologists in South Africa have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown dinosaur dating back 200m years. It was found not on a remote desert plain but in a university storeroom.
The specimen had been collected in the late 1930s and for decades it remained hidden among the biggest fossil collection in the country at Wits University in Johannesburg.Continue reading...
GM wheat designed to repel aphids is no more effective at repelling the bugs than standard varieties a major field trial has revealed
A major field trial of GM wheat that is designed to repel aphids has found the crop is no better protected against the pests than conventional wheat.
The results come from two years of trials that compared aphid attacks on standard wheat plants with those suffered by a GM version modified to release a natural aphid repellant.Continue reading...
Humans will be taken care of like pets should robots take over because AI will want to preserve us as part of nature
Apple’s early-adopting, outspoken co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks humans will be fine if robots take over the world because we’ll just become their pets.
After previously stating that a robotic future powered by artificial intelligence (AI) would be “scary and very bad for people” and that robots would “get rid of the slow humans”, Wozniak has staged a U-turn and says he now thinks robots taking over would be good for the human race.
Pharmaceutical companies are creating new business models to meet the needs of the global poor. Is it enlightened self-interest or calculated profiteering?
Big pharma isn’t known for its fair dealing in the global South. Infamously, the high cost of patented HIV antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in the early 2000s priced out developing countries and millions died. Patent wars still rage, notably in India and South Africa, as the industry attempts to maintain monopolies on life-saving drugs.
So why is pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (AZ) funding an 18-month pilot with five separate NGOs in Kenya to improve health services for hypertension patients and discounting its core hypertension drugs by 90% in the process? Is big pharma finally getting serious about meeting the needs of the global poor?Continue reading...
Analysis by UNAids and Lancet Commission highlights ‘fragile window of opportunity’ to maintain progress on curbing deaths and infections
The world could see the HIV epidemic rebound dramatically if countries fail to increase funding and expand access to drugs in the next five years, according to a major report.
The analysis, by the UNAids and Lancet Commission, highlights a “fragile window of opportunity” for maintaining progress on curbing deaths and infections and suggests that progress made during the past decade could easily be reversed.Continue reading...
The future of astronomy is not in acquiring new data, but in mining the old
Astronomical data is and has always been “big data”. Once that was only true metaphorically, now it is true in all senses. We acquire it far more rapidly than the rate at which we can process, analyse and exploit it. This means we are creating a vast global repository that may already hold answers to some of the fundamental questions of the Universe we are seeking.
Does this mean we should cancel our up-coming missions and telescopes – after all why continue to order food when the table is replete? Of course not. What it means is that, while we continue our inevitable yet budget limited advancement into the future, so we must also simultaneously do justice to the data we have already acquired.Continue reading...
Long hours in vans and solitary hotel rooms. Screaming fans when you’re on stage, then back home to feed the cat. Musicians talk about the psychological dangers of life on tour
While many may envisage the life of a touring musician to be that of a glorified jetsetter, the reality is far from idyllic. A recent study by charity Help Musicians UK found that over 60% of musicians have suffered from depression or other psychological issues, with touring an issue for 71% of respondents.
Singer Alanna McArdle recently announced her departure from Cardiff punk band Joanna Gruesome for mental health reasons, her statement hinting that the strain of touring may have been a factor in her decision to quit.And when Zayn Malik broke the hearts of millions by pulling out of One Direction’s tour of Asia – leaving the boy band shortly after – a source close to the band told the tabloid press: “Zayn went because he’d had enough. Have you ever been on the road for four years? ”
Bioethicist says older men’s seminal fluid contains greater number of mutations that could pose a risk to future offspring
Younger men should consider freezing their sperm to avoid their children having genetic disorders if they choose to have them later in life, according to a bioethics expert.
Freezing eggs from women planning families when they are older is not unusual, but bioethicist Kevin Smith, of the School of Science, Engineering and Technology at Abertay University in Dundee, believes freezing should also be considered for sperm to avoid the risk of “gradually reducing human fitness in the long term”.Continue reading...
When curator Alan Knox came across a rare egg in a museum drawer he just had to figure out its story
Alan Knox was checking museum’s store room for insects when he found the egg. There, in an uncatalogued drawer of oological specimens, was a label that caught his eye.Continue reading...
The five-second rule won’t save you from germs and the blue whale isn’t actually the earth’s largest living organism
From star signs to homeopathy, humans believe in strange things. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the incoming president of the Royal Society, recently described us as being “intrinsically prone to being irrational”. He pointed out that science has a role in countering this, which got me thinking about the common myths that persist, in spite of scientific evidence telling us otherwise. While not quite in the same league as astrology and homeopathy – two bugbears of Venki and scientists the world over – I hope this odd collection of not-so-conventional wisdom will at least right some small wrongs.Continue reading...
How do you estimate the size of hidden populations? Dr Ruth King explains here, an excerpt from her talk tonight in the London Mathematical Society’s prestigious Popular Lecture series
In theory the question “How many…?” is a very simple one. After all, we just need to be able to count.
In fact, this question is often extremely difficult to answer:Continue reading...