‘The spark has ignited.’ Latin American scientists intensify fight against sexual harassment

Feb. 20, 2020

Universities across Latin America are struggling to protect women within cultures that have long tolerated, and even celebrated, male privilege and a set of attitudes known as machismo. Such masculine demography has helped promote a sometimes toxic atmosphere for women in academia—including faculty and students in the sciences—according to dozens of researchers from across Latin America who spoke with Science. But now, the tide might be turning.

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Pools in the Mexican desert are a window into Earth’s early life

June 30, 2020

Deep in Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert, the turquoise-blue pools of Cuatro Ciénegas host ancient microbes and provide a "window into early Earth." But this "lost world" has been endangered since the 1970s. The intensive drainage of the precious water to grow alfalfa—a water-intensive crop—for cattle fodder is gradually drying the improbable oasis.




Science NOW

News about new discoveries

This pterosaur supported its giant neck with bones built like bicycle wheels

About 100 million years ago, gigantic flying reptiles with necks longer than those of giraffes cruised the skies of modern-day Morocco. Scientists think this kind of pterosaur, with its large jaw and slim neck, preyed on fish, small mammals, and even baby dinosaurs. But how their necks didn’t snap as they carried their prey has long been a mystery. Now, a new study shows the bones inside had an intricate spokelike structure that made them strong and stable, but light enough for flight.

Apr. 14, 2021

Octopuses, like humans, sleep in two stages

Mar. 25, 2021

Do octopuses dream? Scientists haven’t cracked that mystery, but they have come a bit closer. A new study reveals that, like us, our eight-legged friends experience both an active and a quiet sleep stage. Because humans and octopuses are separated by more than 500 million years of evolution, the discovery suggests a two-stage sleep pattern evolved independently twice.

Did heavy rains trigger the eruption of the most dangerous U.S. volcano? Scientists are skeptical

Apr. 22, 2020

In May 2018, Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano let loose its largest eruption in 200 years, spewing plumes of ash high into the air, and covering hundreds of homes in lava. The eruption terrified local residents, but it gave scientists a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study the volcano’s explosive behavior. Now, a new study claims that extreme rainfall boosted underground pressures and was the “dominant factor” in triggering the eruption.

Body composting promises a sustainable way of death

Feb. 18, 2020

SEATTLE—Death is not environmentally friendly. Cemeteries take up about 500 square kilometers in the United States. Embalming the dead consumes millions of liters of chemicals each year. And cremation takes large amounts of natural gas, producing plentiful greenhouse emissions. So why not take a cue from consumers who recycle their food waste into soil, and do the same to our mortal remains?

How to donate a piece of your brain to science—while you’re still alive

Feb. 15, 2020

SEATTLE—Donating a piece of your brain to biomedical research has never been easier. Scientists have developed a successful live donor program, where patients undergoing brain surgery can contribute a piece of their brain that would otherwise be tossed away. The researchers—led by neuroscientist Ed Lein at the Allen Institute for Brain Science—presented their approach here yesterday at the annual meeting of AAAS, which publishes Science. 

The microbes in your gut could predict whether you’re likely to die in the next 15 years

The microbes in our guts have been linked to everything from arthritis to autism. Now, scientists say they can even tell us about our future health. Two new studies find that our “microbiome”—the mix of microbes in our gut—can reveal the presence of many diseases better than our own genes can—and can even anticipate our risk of dying within the next 15 years.

Jan. 22, 2020

This is the oldest scorpion known to science

Scientists have revealed the oldest known scorpion—and arachnid—on Earth: a mysterious species more than 430 million years old uncovered near Waukesha, Wisconsin, about 29 kilometers west of Milwaukee.

Jan. 16, 2020



News about science policy and academia

‘A lack of humanity’: Hundreds of early-career researchers forced out by Mexico’s science agency

Jun. 2, 2021

Mexico's National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt)—the country's federal science funding agency—launched the Cátedras Conacyt (Conacyt Professorships) program 7 years ago to alleviate the brain drain of young Mexican researchers. But hundreds of researchers have been dismissed since its creation. Conacyt has stopped paying researchers, terminated them without reasonable explanation, or coerced them into signing resignations, according to multiple sources who spoke with Science.

This ancient shark fossil is exquisite. But some researchers wonder if they’ll be able to study it

In March, an exquisite shark fossil from Mexico made it to the cover of Science. Paleontologists were stunned: it’s a beautiful specimen, but the paper raised many ethical questions regarding private collections and scientific colonialism.

Apr. 15, 2021

Ones we've lost

Dec. 19, 2020

Obituary of Ricardo Valderrama Fernández.

Peruvian scientist and politician Ricardo Valderrama Fernández was first in many things. In the 1970s, he was among the first anthropologists to make contact with the Kugapakori, an Indigenous group living in the Peruvian Amazon. He co-founded the first research institute for Andean studies in Cusco in 1974. And in 1977, he wrote a “revolutionary” work on Indigenous, Quechua-speaking laborers, in which—breaking with anthropological traditions of the time—their testimony took center stage.


Mexico’s coronavirus czar faces criticism as COVID-19 surges

Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez bolstered the country’s health system but rejected universal testing.


Dec. 9, 2020

Science’s English dominance hinders diversity—but the community can work toward change

For nonnative English speakers, publishing and presenting their work can be a significant burden, as a new study highlights.

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Oct. 28, 2020

Troubles escalate at Ecuador’s dream research university

Oct. 21, 2020

It was supposed to become Ecuador's dream research university—an international hub for science and higher education, nestled in a new campus in the mountains 2 hours north of Quito. Instead, 6-year-old Yachay Tech University has long been mired in conflicts. Now, Ecuador's economic woes and shifting politics have stirred new turmoil that threatens the university's drive for “independent” status, which would allow it to run its own affairs.

‘A brutal blow’: A bill threatens dozens of trust funds that support Mexican science

Mexican scientists clad in lab coats and carrying handmade signs gathered here yesterday outside the Chamber of Deputies to protest a bill that would cut a lifeline for many Mexican research centers.

Oct. 2, 2020

‘We’re losing an entire generation of scientists.’ COVID-19’s economic toll hits Latin America hard

Across Latin America, researchers have raced to contribute their expertise to the worst public health crisis in a century and demonstrate that several decades of investment in research—including the capacity to run large clinical trials—has paid off.

Aug. 12, 2020

A conservation scientist enlists Colombia’s ex-guerrillas in a new cause: preserving their country’s biodiversity

For more than 50 years, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fought a civil war sparked partly by social inequities from the remote jungles of Colombia. In 2016, FARC and the Colombian government signed a peace agreement. Suddenly, a question loomed: How to reincorporate 14,000 former combatants back into society?

Jul. 8, 2020

Scientists rush to defend Venezuelan colleagues threatened over coronavirus study

Scientific and human rights groups in Venezuela and abroad have rushed to defend the Venezuelan Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (ACFIMAN) after a high-level government official suggested raids or arrests to punish the academy for “causing alarm” in a report that suggested the country’s coronavirus epidemic is far worse than official numbers show.

Jun. 2, 2020

New helmet and tent aim to protect health care workers from the coronavirus

COVID-19 is a threat to the very people fighting it—nurses, doctors, and other first responders, who are exposed to virus-carrying droplets, or aerosols, from infected patients. Now, a team has developed two devices that could reduce their risks by sucking away infectious aerosols: a helmet to be worn by a patient, and a small tent in which a patient could be enclosed.

May. 15, 2020

Artificial intelligence takes on song-composing duties in Eurovision-inspired contest

A contest inspired by the popular annual Eurovision music competition has drawn entries composed with the help of unusual songwriters—artificial intelligence (AI) programs.

Apr. 24, 2020

Health care workers seek to flatten COVID-19’s ‘second curve’—their rising mental anguish

New surveys of doctors and nurses in China, Italy, and the United States suggest they are experiencing a plethora of mental health problems as COVID-19 continues its spread, including higher rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Apr. 22, 2020

Top neuroscientist leaves Mexican university as former trainees allege sexual harassment

Mar. 17, 2020

Earlier this month, Mexico’s leading university, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), announced that renowned neuroscientist Ranulfo Romo Trujillo would leave his position after being disciplined for an unspecified offense.

According to a 4 March press release from UNAM, Romo Trujillo voluntarily asked to be separated from his job at UNAM’s University City campus in Mexico City. Sources close to the case say he had been temporarily suspended because a female worker made a formal complaint of sexual harassment against him following an incident in January. But current and former UNAM students and staff say that reports of inappropriate behavior by Romo Trujillo had circulated for years before his departure.

Colombian university fires prominent biologist accused of sexual harassment

A prestigious Colombian university has fired a prominent biologist for sexually harassing students and other violations. Yesterday’s decision by the University of Los Andes (Uniandes) in Bogotá is the latest turn in a 15-month controversy that has divided the private school’s biology department, catalyzed protests, and attracted the attention of Colombia’s media.

Feb. 7, 2020

Colombia’s first ever science minister faces calls to resign over fungi-based cancer treatment

In December 2019, when Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez appointed molecular biologist Mabel Gisela Torres Torres to be the first head of the newly created Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, only a few of the nation’s researchers knew who she was.

Feb. 3, 2020

Doomsday Clock is reset to 100 seconds until midnight, closest ever

Jan. 23, 2020

Information warfare and a looming space arms race are among the emerging threats that led a group of scientists today to reset their iconic Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has been since the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists started the annual exercise in 1947. Midnight on the clock marks the symbolic moment when humankind could annihilate itself.


Science Shots

Visually-driven science news


Ants store long- and short-term memories on different sides of their brains

May. 5, 2020


Highlighting reporting from other outlets

Longest deep-sea animal spotted off Australian coast

Apr. 10, 2020

The deep sea is largely unexplored and marine scientists are constantly surprised by the creatures they find roaming the depths in darkness. While exploring the Ningaloo Canyons off the coast of Western Australia with the SuBastian underwater robot, a team of researchers spotted what they believe is the longest organism ever recorded: a giant siphonophore of the genus Apolemia, Newsweek reports.

Atomic bomb dating reveals true age of whale sharks

Apr. 8, 2020

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean—and one of the longest lived, a new study suggests. Sharks lack otoliths—bony structures in the skull that scientists use to estimate the age of most fish—which makes it tricky to estimate their age. So researchers measured the carbon-14 isotope in the cartilaginous vertebrae of two whale sharks and correlated it to the carbon-14 patterns created by Cold War–era bomb detonations, National Geographic reports.

Scientists use lidar to map a forgotten Nazi concentration camp off the coast of France

Apr. 2, 2020

What today looks like an idyllic patch of land in the Channel Islands was, some 75 years ago, a Nazi concentration camp. Now, researchers have thoroughly mapped the nearly forgotten camp of Lager Sylt for the first time, National Geographic reports. 

Lab-grown meat is starting to feel like the real deal

Apr. 2, 2020

When it comes to making realistic lab-grown meat, one of the hardest things to replicate is not the taste, but the feel. In a new study, researchers created a spongy 3D scaffold out of soy protein that both scientists and tasters say made a clump of bovine cells feel like the real deal, Inside Science reports. 

Whales strand more on days with higher solar activity

It is still a mystery why more than 200 whales washed up on beaches along the west coast of North America last year. But among the possible culprits are sunspots, a new study published Monday in Current Biology suggests. 

Feb. 27, 2020

This is the only known animal that doesn’t need oxygen to survive

Breathing is essential for animals to stay alive. Or so we thought. In a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have now identified the first animal that doesn’t use oxygen to breathe: Henneguya salminicola, an 8-millimeter white parasite that infects the flesh of Chinook salmon.

Feb. 26, 2020

Unusual Arctic warming explained by overlooked greenhouse gases

Jan. 21, 2020

The same gases that caused holes in Earth’s ozone layer in the past century are responsible for the rapid warming of the Arctic as well, according to a new study published in Nature. Scientists looked at the effect of these gases in climate simulations between 1955 and 2005. They found that the gases accounted for up to half of the warming and sea-ice loss of the Arctic during that period, Nature reports. 

Ancient viruses found in Tibetan glacier

Jan. 17, 2020

In 2015, when researchers embarked on an expedition to retrieve the oldest ice on the planet, they were doing it to look for clues about past climate. But during the journey—to the Guliya ice cap in China’s Tibet (above)—they also found 15,000-year-old viruses—some of them new to science, Vicereports.

Human body temperature has declined steadily over the past 160 years

Jan. 10, 2020

It’s a number everybody knows by heart—our bodies are supposed to be an average 37°C. But that number may be outdated, according to a new analysis of body temperature records going back to 1860. The study suggests the body temperature of the average U.S. man has dropped by 0.6°C since the Civil War, KQED reports.