Archive by date | July 2010

Crowd-sourcing science funding

Crowd-sourcing science funding

Attention, scientists: got any friends who might want to make a donation to a broke biologist… or two or three? They can do so over at FundScience, a nonprofit organization which today is announcing three projects that you, your next-door neighbor, or anyone at all can help fund with the click of a mouse.

The idea behind FundScience is two-fold, says David Vitrant, the organization’s executive director: providing a novel system of support for young researchers with innovative ideas, and engaging the public more directly in science. Sure, people who want to support cancer research can make a donation to a foundation, but that money disappears into a black hole, and the donor remains completely disconnected from the science that money supports. “At some point it gets to researchers, but you have no idea who it is,” says Vitrant.

Poor science fails to stop Tokyo’s fish market move

The cleanup of the contaminated site that’s to be a new home for Tokyo’s fish market, the world’s biggest, is still dogged by controversy. As Nature reported back in April, the figures for concentrations of toxic chemicals at the site before the cleanup appear in key documents crossed out with black marker. Now the authorities have admitted in a report published last week (22 July), after consultation with experts, that this is not proper science. Yet that hasn’t stopped its plans for the move.

Fuel from microbes – another LS9 production

Many plants, insects and microbes naturally produce small quantities of alkanes and alkenes, the long-chain carbon and hydrogen molecules that are major components of diesel, petrol (gasoline) and jet fuel.

The biotechnology company LS9, based in South San Francisco, California, has now pinpointed the biochemical pathway bacteria use to do this – after receiving patents for the genes responsible, of course.

Researchers hail new MRC head

The new head of the UK’s Medical Research Council is to be John Savill, Nature has learned.

Savill is currently head of the University of Edinburgh/MRC Centre for Inflammation Research and is also the chief scientist for Scotland. He will replace Leszek Borysiewicz, who is leaving to become vice-chancellor at the University of Cambridge.

Drilling project hits Greenland bedrock

Drilling project hits Greenland bedrock

The North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) project earlier this week reached the bedrock at a depth of exactly 2537.36 metres. The drill, carried out by a 14 –nation consortium under Danish leadership, had started in 2007 at a site in northern Greenland. More than 300 ice core researchers have since worked at the remote NEEM camp. On Tuesday, 27 July, lead scientist Dorthe Dahl-Jensen of the University of Copenhagen proudly lifted the last ice core – a sample of ice more than 130,000 years old. Scientists involved in the project can now begin to study in detail climatic characteristics  … Read more

Senate to take up modest energy bill; oil-spill research included

In addition to a host of provisions tied to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a pared-down energy bill expected to hit the Senate this week would bolster oil-spill research and set up a monitoring programme for the Gulf of Mexico. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives last week.  Read more

Implanted glucose sensor could help diabetics

Implanted glucose sensor could help diabetics

Researchers have developed an implantable sensor that can monitor blood-sugar levels and send the data wirelessly to an external receiver. The team has used the device in pigs for over a year, and is hoping it will work successfully in humans with diabetes.

Don Backer, astrophysicist and discoverer of millisecond pulsars, dies at 66

Don Backer, astrophysicist and discoverer of millisecond pulsars, dies at 66

Don Backer, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley who discovered the first millisecond pulsar, died on 25 July. He was director of Berkeley’s Radio Astronomy Laboratory and the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) in Hat Creek, California – a collection of 42 dishes that recently began scanning the sky and searching for extraterrestrial intelligence.  Read more