In the spotlight
DNA is only one among millions of possible genetic molecules
Biology encodes information in DNA and RNA, which are complex molecules finely tuned to their functions. But are they the only way to store hereditary molecular information? Some scientists believe life as we know it could not have existed before there were nucleic acids, thus understanding how they came to exist on the primitive Earth is a fundamental goal of basic research.
Antibiotics: New substances break bacterial resistance
Researchers at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have developed a new, promising class of active ingredients against resistant bacteria. In initial tests in cell cultures and insects, the substances were at least as effective as common antibiotics.
Tiny transporters could deliver treatment to stroke patients
Swarms of nanoparticles which are 15,000 times smaller than a pinhead may be able to deliver vital drugs to the brain, offering new hope to patients in the early stages of a stroke.
Cannabis to be given to patients in study of drug’s effect
Thousands of patients are to be given cannabis in the first large-scale study of the drug’s clinical effect. This new study will subsidise cannabis for 20,000 patients to test its impact on seven conditions: chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorder and substance abuse.
Agriculture & Environment
UN reports see a lonelier planet with fewer plants and animals
Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate, according to four new United Nations scientific reports on biodiversity. Scientists meeting in Colombia issued four regional reports Friday on how well animal and plants are doing in the Americas; Europe and Central Asia; Africa; and the Asia-Pacific area.
11K scientists declare climate emergency in new paper
After compiling 40-years worth of publicly available climate change data, scientists have declared a climate emergency. The climate scientists responsible for the declaration say experts have been sounding the alarm for decades.
World food prices rise for first time in five months – U.N. FAO
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 172.7 points in October, up 1.7% on the previous month and 6.0% year-on-year.
Transport & Energy
Africa must quadruple power investment to supply electricity for all, IEA says
African countries will need to quadruple their rate of investment in their power sectors for the next two decades to bring reliable electricity to all Africans. If African countries continue on their policy trajectories, 530 million Africans will still lack electricity in 2030, the IEA report said. It said bringing reliable electricity to all Africans would require annual investment of around $120 billion.
New driverless metro train passes test in China
A newly developed driverless metro train has passed further testing with a higher level of automation, faster speeds and lower energy consumption, its developer said. Developed by one of China’s major high-speed train manufacturers, the metro train can operate automatically at all times, including opening and closing doors, detecting obstacles and handling emergencies.
AI Stats News: Humans Plus AI 20X more effective in cybersecurity defence than traditional methods
Recent surveys, studies, forecasts and other quantitative assessments of the progress of AI highlighted the role of augmented intelligence, combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence to produce better results in cybersecurity defense and in getting more business value from the use of IoT data.
Next generation 5G will change sport forever
When James Haskell started playing professional rugby, technology’s impact was limited. One of its first uses within the game, he recalls, was urine testing. A lot has changed since then. “Now all the players wear GPS heart-rate monitors,” the former England and Wasps player says.
No more traffic blues for information transfer: decongesting wireless channels
The wireless Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices in which each device can directly send information to another over wireless channels of communication, without human intervention. With the number of IoT devices increasing every day, the amount of information on the wireless channels is also increasing.
Food & Health
Ultraprocessed food linked to the worldwide epidemic of obesity
We are suffering a worldwide epidemic of obesity and accompanying heart disease and diabetes – incidence of obesity almost tripled between 1975 and 2016. The conventional explanation is simply over-eating carbohydrates and fats. But an American nutritionist has formulated a promising evidence-based hypothesis.
Are the climate kids right?
The increase of greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGs) in the atmosphere has caused average global surface temperatures to rise by almost 1°C over the past century. There is no doubt in the scientific community that these changes are a direct consequence of human activity.
Vitamin D may reduce muscle weakness in later life
Older people who have low levels of vitamin D have poorer muscle function, according to an Irish study. The research from Trinity College says that maintaining muscle function throughout life is crucial for ageing well.
Science policy & Communication
Fake celebrity endorsements are everywhere because they’re so easy to make
Fake celebrity endorsements are a ‘capital-P problème’ on the internet right now, exploiting loopholes in the $6.8 billion affiliate marketing economy to scam consumers out of their money.
Facebook, Twitter & Elections – It’s all about the Bots
In 2016, I argued that candidates for political office should do at least 5 things to optimize social media. Is the advice still good? Should anything be added? Easy: develop and unleash as many powerful bots as you can. Note that this is not an endorsement of bad bots. It’s an endorsement of reality.
European Commission approves private storage aid for olive oil sector
Important stocks at EU level and consecutive good harvests have created an imbalance between supply and demand on the EU olive oil market, resulting in a price decrease. In view of this particularly difficult market situation, the European Commission adopted today private storage aid for virgin olive oils.
EU launches citizens’ initiative to save the bees
The European Commission decided Wednesday to register a European Citizens’ Initiative entitled ‘Save the bees! Protection of biodiversity and improvement of habitats for insects in Europe’.
ATELIER Smart City project to turn Amsterdam and Bilbao into citizen-driven “Positive Energy Districts”
On 1 November 2019, the Smart City project ATELIER, funded by the European Commission under the H2020-LC-SC3-2018-2019-2020 call, is officially starting. Coordinated by the City of Amsterdam, ATELIER will focus on developing citizen-driven “Positive Energy Districts” in its two Lighthouse Cities Amsterdam and Bilbao, combining the expertise and the commitment of 30 partners from 11 countries. ATELIER puts citizens at the center of all its activities.
The pharmacy of the future will see robots come to the rescue of humans
It looks like a normal pharmacy in a normal Johannesburg shopping mall. But behind the scenes at the Morningside Dispensary, a revolution is underway. It may not be getting the attention that politicians get when they talk of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but it is a real and practical example of what emerging technologies make possible in everyday life.
To save biodiversity, scientists suggest ‘mega-conservation’
While the conservation of charismatic creatures like pandas, elephants and snow leopards are important in their own right, there may be no better ecological bang-for-our-buck than a sound, science-based effort to save widespread keystone systems.