Friday coffee break

Experimental coffee

NiB does not endorse drinking coffee at your lab bench. No, sir.

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Devin: The National Science Foundation explains broader impacts, the part of NSF grant applications intended to connect basic research with society beyond the lab.

“So many people have interpreted the broader-impacts criterion as requiring something involving K-12 education,” says Cora Marrett, deputy NSF director and former head of NSF’s education directorate. “But that’s not our position at all.”

From Jon: A breast cancer pathologist learns she has breast cancer.

“There’s never a good time to have cancer,” she said. But this was clearly one of the worst. She was working full time, having recently been named director of breast pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.

From Jeremy: A vaccine against malaria has passed clinical trials looking very promising indeed.

Over the 12 months after immunisation, the vaccine reduced their risk of developing clinical malaria – meaning the high fevers and chills that need medical treatment – by 56% and of developing severe malaria by 47%. Severe malaria affects the brain, kidneys and blood and can kill. Most children still suffered malaria, but fewer and less serious bouts.

From Sarah: The use of captive chimpanzees in entertainment may be bad for wild chimps.

… participants watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees showed a decrease in understanding relative to those watching the control footage. In addition, when participants were given the opportunity to donate part of their earnings from the experiment to a conservation charity, donations were least frequent in the group watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees.

From Noah: A new generation of airborne sensors—with frickin’ laser beams—can “scan” the structure and biological function of hard-to-map tropical forests.

This is where Asner’s CAO really sets itself apart, using newly developed sensors — built by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory — that can detect dozens of signals, including photosynthetic pigment concentrations, water content of leaves, defense compounds like phenols, structural compounds such as lignin and cellulose, as well as phosphorous and other micronutrients — all of which can be used to build signatures to distinguish individual plant species, as well as other measures of forest condition.