Read more articles from The Great Beyond (Nature Magazine News Blog)
Joe Farman, one of three British scientists who discovered a ‘hole’ in
the ozone layer, died on 11 May (see obituaries in /The/ /Guardian/  and
/The/ /Telegraph/ ).
It was exactly 28 years ago yesterday (on 16 May 1985) that Joe Farman, Brian
Gardiner and Jonathan Shanklin published their finding in /Nature/ . It
prompted global action to ban chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, the man-made
chemicals that were breaking down ozone high in the atmosphere. The ozone
hole still appears above Antarctica every spring, but it is on the mend and
scientists hope that
/Posted on behalf of Alison Abbott./
A controversial decree allowing severely ill patients to continue treatment
with an unproven, and possibly unsafe, stem-cell therapy may be amended, if
the Italian parliament’s Chamber of Deputies has its way.
Yesterday (16 May) the Chamber’s social affairs committee unanimously
passed amendments to the decree that would allow the Brescia-based Stamina
Foundation , which developed the therapy, to continue administering it.
However, Stamina would be required to do so within regular clinical trials,
under the oversight of regulatory agencies and using cells manufactured
according to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).
US President Barack Obama’s science team gained a new member on 16 May as
the Senate confirmed physicist Ernest Moniz as head of the Department of
Energy. Lawmakers also voted to advance the nomination of Gina McCarthy,
Obama’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The unanimous vote to approve Moniz , director of the Energy Initiative at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, came after Senator
Lindsay Graham (Republican, South Carolina) withdrew his objection to the
nomination. Graham had blocked the full Senate from voting on Moniz for
nearly a month, citing
If enough eminent people stand together to condemn a controversial practice,
will that make it stop?
That’s what more than 150 scientists and 75 science organizations are
hoping for today, with a joint statement called the San Francisco Declaration
on Research Assessment (DORA) . It deplores the way some metrics —
especially the notorious Journal Impact Factor (JIF) — are misused as quick
and dirty assessments of scientists’ performance and the quality of their
“There is a pressing need to improve the ways in which the output of
scientific research is evaluated,” DORA
CANCUN, Mexico — By bombarding a patch of the Honduran rainforest with
laser pulses, archaeologists have discovered structures that could be a part
of a lost city — or two.
In spring 2012, scientists from the National Center for Airborne Laser
Mapping (NCALM ), based at the University of Houston, loaded a plane with
a state-of-the-art lidar system and took it down to Honduras. Lidar bounces
billions of laser pulses off of the forest and measures the time they take to
return. Though most of the pulses reflect off vegetation, some small fraction