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Prof Arturo Casadevall: ‘It is hubris to think a fungal pandemic can’t happen to us’

Prof Arturo Casadevall: ‘It is hubris to think a fungal pandemic can’t happen to us’

Could a fungus trigger a Last of Us-style apocalypse? The author of What If Fungi Win? says despite dangers, the organisms are of great use to scienceArturo Casadevall is a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has spent four decades investigating how fungi can both improve and devastate life as we know it. His new book, What If Fungi Win?, charts how we might overcome the rising threat.What first fascinated you about fungi?When I was in training as an infectious disease fellow [in the 1980s], Aids was the biggest problem...

The Guardian

How’s this for a bombshell – the US must make AI its next Manhattan Project | John Naughton

How’s this for a bombshell – the US must make AI its next Manhattan Project | John Naughton

A new essay on the rise of superintelligent machines pivots from being a warning to humanity to a rallying cry for an industrial complex to bolster American military defence Ten years ago, the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom published Superintelligence, a book exploring how superintelligent machines could be created and what the implications of such technology might be. One was that such a machine, if it were created, would be difficult to control and might even take over the world in order to achieve its goals (which in Bostrom’s celebrated thought experiment was to make paperclips).The book...

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When our young son died, we decided to build him a boat

When our young son died, we decided to build him a boat

Wild Cat Island had always held a special place in the imagination of our son, so after his funeral we chose to try and send him on one last journeyFamously, Windermere is the setting of the children’s adventure story Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, and it’s also one of our son Torin’s favourite books. It appealed to his own love of adventure, mischief and all things piratical. Along with his little sister, Lowri, we embarked upon many canoe adventures together on the River Dart in the summer months, spotting wildlife and playing pirates with other boats. Torin – which means...

The Guardian

Anti-malarial drug may help treat polycistic ovary syndrome, study suggests

Anti-malarial drug may help treat polycistic ovary syndrome, study suggests

Herbal extract artemisinin, used in Chinese medicine, appears to stop excess testosterone productionAn antimalarial drug used in ancient Chinese medicine could be an effective treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a groundbreaking study suggests.The herbal extract artemisinin appeared to stop the ovaries producing too much testosterone, and women who took the drug for 12 weeks had more regular periods. The findings from the small trial by a Chinese team have been hailed as a potential breakthrough that could lead to an entirely new approach to treating the condition that affects...

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Science Weekly: Are cold and wet UK summers here to stay? - podcast

Science Weekly: Are cold and wet UK summers here to stay? - podcast

Here in the UK talking about the weather is already a national pastime, but this month the water-cooler weather chat has ramped up a notch as rain, grey skies and biting temperatures have put summer firmly on hold. Ian Sample talks to Matt Patterson, a postdoctoral research scientist in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, to find out what’s causing the chilly weather, whether it’s really as unusual as it seems, and whether any sun is on the horizon for the UKFind out more about what’s going on with the weather in First Edition Continue reading...

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Eagle attacks, red invaders and a genetic bottleneck: inside the fight to save arctic foxes

Eagle attacks, red invaders and a genetic bottleneck: inside the fight to save arctic foxes

Captive breeding in Norway has built up numbers endangered by the climate crisis and golden eagles but only a more diverse population will survive in the long termDeep in the Norwegian mountains, amid a vast expanse of bright snow and howling winds, Toralf Mjøen throws a piece of meat into a fenced enclosure and waits for a pair of dark eyes to appear from the snowy den.These curious and playful arctic foxes know Mjøen well. He has been the caretaker at this breeding facility for 17 years, going up the mountain daily to feed them at their enclosures near the small village of Oppdal, about 250...

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Why do women outlive men? Cells that develop into sperm and eggs could give the answer

Why do women outlive men? Cells that develop into sperm and eggs could give the answer

Japanese scientists find blocking production in killifish of germ cells closes lifespan gap between males and femalesThe enduring mystery of why women outlive men may come down to the smallest and the largest cells in the body: the sperm and eggs that are central to human reproduction.Scientists in Japan have shown for the first time in vertebrates that cells that develop into eggs in females and sperm in males drive sex differences in lifespan, and that removing the cells leads to animals with the same life expectancy. Continue reading...

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Who owns the Moon? A new space race means it could be up for grabs

Who owns the Moon? A new space race means it could be up for grabs

A race for the lunar surface's resources is currently under way. What’s to stop a Wild West opening up?

BBC News - Science & Environment

Smallest known great ape, which lived 11m years ago, found in Germany

Smallest known great ape, which lived 11m years ago, found in Germany

Buronius manfredschmidi estimated to have weighed just 10kg and was about the size of a human toddlerThe smallest known great ape has been discovered in Germany, dating to 11m years ago.The tiny creature, far smaller than any other great ape on record, is estimated to have weighed 10kg (1st 8lbs), about the size of a human toddler. The species, called Buronius manfredschmidi, is an ancient hominid, part of the ancestral family that gave rise to modern humans, gorillas and chimpanzees. Continue reading...

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Call for UK agency to regulate harmful chemicals

Call for UK agency to regulate harmful chemicals

The Royal Society of Chemistry says the current regulation of chemicals is 'not fit for purpose'.

BBC News - Science & Environment

Gene therapy trial restores hearing in both ears for deaf children

Gene therapy trial restores hearing in both ears for deaf children

Study participants born unable to hear could locate sound sources, recognise speech and dance to music after treatmentFive children who were born deaf have had their hearing restored in both ears after taking part in an “astounding” gene therapy trial that raises hopes for further treatments.The children were unable to hear because of inherited genetic mutations that disrupt the body’s ability to make a protein needed to ensure auditory signals pass seamlessly from the ear to the brain. Continue reading...

The Guardian

Starwatch: get to know the Great Diamond asterism

Starwatch: get to know the Great Diamond asterism

Composed of four of the brightest stars, the asterism is great for finding your way around the night skyBeyond the traditional constellations, asterisms can provide a useful alternative way to find your way around the night sky. This week we take a look at one that spans four northern spring constellations.The chart shows the view looking south-west from London at about 23.00 BST this week. Continue reading...

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Scientists develop method of making healthier, more sustainable chocolate

Scientists develop method of making healthier, more sustainable chocolate

Approach replaces sugar with mashed pulp and husk of cocoa pod and uses less land and waterHealthier and more sustainable chocolate could hit store shelves after Swiss scientists and chocolatiers developed a recipe that swaps sugar for waste plant matter.By mashing up the pulp and husk of a cocoa pod instead of just taking the beans, scientists have made a sweet and fibrous gel that could replace the sugar in chocolate, according to a report published in Nature Food. Continue reading...

The Guardian

Airbus UK to build satellite to monitor Sun storms

Airbus UK to build satellite to monitor Sun storms

The spacecraft will give earlier warnings of conditions that produced the recent auroral lights.

BBC News - Science & Environment

UK breakthrough could slash emissions from cement

UK breakthrough could slash emissions from cement

Scientists from Cambridge University find an ingenious way to decarbonise one of the world's most polluting materials.

BBC News - Science & Environment

Electric cars more likely to hit pedestrians than petrol vehicles, study finds

Electric cars more likely to hit pedestrians than petrol vehicles, study finds

Electric and hybrid vehicles are quieter than cars with combustion engines, making them harder to hear, especially in towns and citiesHybrid and electric cars are more likely to strike pedestrians than petrol or diesel vehicles, particularly in towns and cities, according to an analysis of British road traffic accidents.Data from 32bn miles of battery-powered car travel and 3tn miles of petrol and diesel car trips showed that mile-for-mile electric and hybrid cars were twice as likely to hit pedestrians than fossil fuel-powered cars, and three times more likely to do so in urban areas. Continue...

The Guardian

Eagles changed migration route to avoid Ukraine war

Eagles changed migration route to avoid Ukraine war

Scientists believe they avoided perils including artillery fire on their way to their traditional breeding ground.

BBC News - Science & Environment

Milky Way photographer of the year 2024 – in pictures

Milky Way photographer of the year 2024 – in pictures

The travel photography site Capture the Atlas has published the seventh edition of its Milky Way photographer of the year collection. The Milky Way season ranges from February to October in the northern hemisphere and from January to November in the southern hemisphere. The best time to see and photograph the Milky Way is usually between May and June, when hours of visibility are at their maximum on both hemispheres – away from light-polluted areas such as cities, and preferably at higher elevation Continue reading...

The Guardian

Electric pulses may ease paralysis after broken neck

Electric pulses may ease paralysis after broken neck

One patient who lost movement in her hand can now use it to scroll on a smartphone.

BBC News - Science & Environment

Last summer hottest in 2,000 years, ancient trees reveal

Last summer hottest in 2,000 years, ancient trees reveal

Clues hidden deep in their trunks shows just how unprecedented last year's heat was.

BBC News - Science & Environment

UK farmers must grow more fruit and veg, warns PM

UK farmers must grow more fruit and veg, warns PM

A new national food security report finds the UK is too reliant on imports of fruit and vegetables.

BBC News - Science & Environment

Great Ormond Street hoping to license gene therapy for ‘bubble baby’ syndrome

Great Ormond Street hoping to license gene therapy for ‘bubble baby’ syndrome

Hospital to take unprecedented step after drug firm pulled out despite successful trial of treatmentWhen Great Ormond Street hospital (Gosh) published the results of its gene therapy trial for “bubble baby” syndrome it was hailed as a medical breakthrough. The treatment had a more than 95% success rate for treating the life-threatening disorder in which children have no immune system. But less than a year later, the therapy had been dropped by the pharmaceutical company that planned to bring it to market.Now, Gosh is taking the unprecedented step of attempting to license the therapy itself...

The Guardian

Backstabbing, bluffing and playing dead: has AI learned to deceive? – podcast

Backstabbing, bluffing and playing dead: has AI learned to deceive? – podcast

As AI systems have grown in sophistication, so has their capacity for deception, according to a new analysis from researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr Peter Park, an AI existential safety researcher at MIT and author of the research, tells Ian Sample about the different examples of deception he uncovered, and why they will be so difficult to tackle as long as AI remains a black boxListen to the Guardian’s Black Box series all about humans and artificial intelligenceRead Hannah Devlin’s article about the MIT study Continue reading...

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Aurora australis offers second chance of ‘bloody awesome’ southern lights display on Sunday

Aurora australis offers second chance of ‘bloody awesome’ southern lights display on Sunday

Solar storm effects delight stargazers in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia but most in NSW miss outSouthern lights ignite the sky in geomagnetic glory – in picturesFollow our Australia news live blog for latest updatesGet our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcastAustralians should have a second chance to see the aurora australis on Sunday night, experts say, after a Saturday southern lights display so spectacular it left at least one astronomer in tears.Social media users posted pictures of brightly coloured skies in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and...

The Guardian

I’m worried my new partner won’t love who I really am

I’m worried my new partner won’t love who I really am

Try to steer your focus to what you want rather than what you think you should beThe question At 36, I find myself in a stable phase of life, contrasting my earlier years of nomadic renting and dead-end jobs as an artist, a passion I’ve abandoned. My dog is my sole source of joy, yet even that pleasure feels dulled lately. I struggle to feel real or connected, lacking focus and interest. Despite overcoming anorexia and surviving a long, violent relationship, I still battle the emotional blunting and PTSD that I’ve had therapy for and thought I’d conquered. I yearn for a more purposeful...

The Guardian