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The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2
The novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic was the product of natural evolution according to an analysis of public genome sequence data. Despite previous suggestions from other groups, the researchers found no evidence the virus had been engineered.
Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus
Phosphine has been discovered on Venus, which could be an indication of microbial life on the planet. Phosphine consists of hydrogen and phosphorous, and on Earth, it is only produced industrially or by anaerobic microbes.
A mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta
A new smart toilet could give your number one the once-over for signs of disease, such as certain cancers, irritable bowel syndrome and kidney failure. The toilet can detect disease markers in stool and urine, helping people monitor their health.
It Is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
In an open letter, 239 scientists from 32 countries claim the WHO is downplaying the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19. They call for greater acknowledgement of the risk and urge governments to implement control measures.
RETRACTED ARTICLE: The association between early career informal mentorship in academic collaborations and junior author performance
What impact does the mentor-protégé relationship have on an academic career? A retracted paper that suggested a link between an increase in the proportion of female mentors and a reduction in the post-mentorship impact of female protégés was criticized on Twitter for undermining the value of female mentors.
A modelling framework to assess the likely effectiveness of facemasks in combination with "lock-down" in managing the COVID-19 pandemic
"My mask protects you, your mask protects me": this is the concluding message of research modelling COVID-19 transmission. Two mathematical models showed that wearing facemasks could significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 and is most effective when 100% of people wear facemasks.
The Sleep-Deprived Masculinity Stereotype
Does more sleep make you less masculine? That’s the perception that’s broadly held, and it’s one that psychologists say is harming society. Twelve experiments revealed a perception that men who sleep less are more masculine. This has implications for the expectations of people of all genders working in male-dominated fields.
Global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass
In 2020, human-made material, or ‘anthropogenic mass’, outweighed natural biomass on Earth. For every person on Earth, anthropogenic mass equal to their bodyweight is produced every week.
Molecular water detected on the sunlit Moon by SOFIA
There's water on the moon – and not just in the cold, shadowy areas. Using a telescope on a jetliner at an altitude of 14,000m, researchers detected water molecules in the sunny Clavius crater, which seems to be 100 times drier than the Sahara Desert.
Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals to SARS-coronavirus 2
Could our feline friends be spreading COVID-19? Lab research shows that SARS-CoV-2 infects cats and ferrets, raising concern that pets could be transferring the virus between households. But it’s not all bad news: the same study showed that dogs, chickens, pigs and ducks can’t be infected.
The effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies on the COVID-19 pandemic
Lockdowns saved more than 3 million lives in Europe in the spring of 2020. Models suggest that without lockdowns, the “death toll would have been huge.” The study analysed the impact of lockdown in 11 countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child Is Not to Blame
When a family is infected with COVID-19, it’s rarely because of the children. In 79% of cases analysed in Sweden, the parents had suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 before the children, showing that children are usually infected from within the family.
Female hunters of the early Americas
In the traditional hunter-gatherer situation, men are usually thought to assume the role of hunter. But a new archaeological discovery turns that assumption on its head: a 9,000-year-old female hunter burial in the Andes Mountains of South America.
Variability in the analysis of a single neuroimaging dataset by many teams
Scientific conclusions depend on the complex methods used to reach them, and different methods can mean different conclusions. 180 researchers from 70 teams around the world analyzed the same brain images and reached significantly different conclusions. How can methodologies be improved to make results less variable?
Making Black Women Scientists under White Empiricism: The Racialization of Epistemology in Physics
What does the exclusion of Black women from physics mean for physics epistemologies? The author of this article explores the idea of “white empiricism,” looking at the way “black women physicists self-construct as scientists,” and considers the impact on the science itself.
Behavioral nudges reduce failure to appear for court
In New York City in 2015, about 100,000 people who had received a ticket for a minor offense missed their court date, resulting in an arrest warrant. Researchers suggest simple solutions to this problem: text message reminders increased court appearances by 21% and a redesigned form improved attendance by 13%.
Building social cohesion between Christians and Muslims through soccer in post-ISIS Iraq
Soccer could be a way to repair damaged social ties in the wake of a war. Mixing Christians and Muslims on soccer teams in post-ISIS Iraq encouraged persecuted Christians to have more open attitudes to Muslim players in the league, though the impact did not reach more widely.
Does Density Aggravate the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Contrary to popular belief, higher urban density is not linked to higher COVID-19 infection rates – in fact, it’s linked to lower death rates. Researchers analyzed COVID-19 infection and death rates in 913 cities in the US and found density was unrelated to infection rate.
The UK higher education senior management survey: a statactivist response to managerialist governance
On average, academics in the UK are only 10.54% satisfied with their senior management. Some of the major issues identified include excessive workload, perpetual change and work and mental health.
Dance to your own drum: Identification of musical genre and individual dancer from motion capture using machine learning
Your dancing style is unique, whatever the music you’re moving to – and computers can recognize you by your groove. Researchers used motion capture technology to study people dancing to eight genres of music, and found that the computer could identify who was dancing 94% of the time.
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