“When it comes to genome sequencing, visionaries like to throw around big numbers: There’s the UK Biobank, for example, which promises to decipher the genomes of 500,000 individuals, or Iceland’s effort to study the genomes of its entire human population. Yesterday, at a meeting here organized by the Smithsonian Initiative on Biodiversity Genomics and the Shenzhen, China–based sequencing powerhouse BGI, a small group of researchers upped the ante even more, announcing their intent to, eventually, sequence “all life on Earth.””
Interested? Read more over at Science.
The Aztecs were once a great sprawling civilization, until they were brought low by a pestilence that devastated the native population of Mexico. And a pair of studies now suggest that it may have been caused by a deadly form of samonella from Europe.
Read about it over at Nature!
Global health charities are funding more and more scientific research (as NIH and NSF funding rates are scarily low).
However, one prominent charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have an open-access policy stipulating that any research that they fund must be available open-access.
Which conflicts with Science and Nature policy. So at the moment any research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation cannot be published in two of the top journals for science.
Read about it here.
There has been a lot of economic discussion lately of humans losing their jobs to robots.
There has also been a ton of discussion about self-driving cars and their impact on the auto industry.
But what we haven’t heard about is moth driven cars. Yeah, you read that correctly.
It turns out that moths can be trained to track odor aiding people finding disaster victims, detect illicit drugs or explosives, and sense leaks of hazardous material.
And to this end, they drive cars. See video, and read article here.
Scientists on at MIT are proposing to introduce a mouse that has its genes edited to resist Lyme disease. Given the high prevalence of Lyme disease on the small New England Island, the removal of Lyme disease from the mouse population (who harbor before it infects humans) would then directly effect how prevalent it is in the human population.
But really, this story is about one of the first real world examples of CRISPR, the revolutionary gene editing tool.
Read about it over at the New Yorker.
I love the “best books of the year” lists. I live for their insight, and to update my reading list (or cull theirs).
But Smithsonian has really outdone itself. Looking for a new coffee table book (who isn’t) or simply want to indulge in how spectacularly beautiful the natural world is? Then check out the Smithsonian list of the Best “Art Meets Science” Books of 2016.
In December 1952, a dense fog fell over London that lasted 4 days. This “Great Smog” lead to the death of roughly 12,000 people.
What the heck happened. Now, more than 60 years later, an international team of researchers have figured it out. While researching China’s modern air pollution issues, they determined that people were breathing in the fog equivalent of acid rain.
Read about it (and our potential future!) over at Science Alert!