Archive by date | August 2010

Massachusetts court propels wind farm forward

Massachusetts court propels wind farm forward

Though it was meant to generate electricity, the Cape Wind project, a large offshore wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound, has instead produced plenty of acrimony and legal ink. Well-connected residents, among others, have fought hard to keep the blades from spinning off the historic and picturesque Massachusetts shore. Now, however, it appears the project may have the wind at its back.  Read more

US government appeals stem cell ruling

US government appeals stem cell ruling

The US government this afternoon filed court documents requesting a reversal of last week’s temporary ban on human embryonic stem cell research.

“The court’s order causes irrevocable harm to the millions of extremely sick or injured people who stand to benefit from continuing research, as well as to the taxpayers who have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this research through public funding of projects which will now be forced to shut down,” said Tracy Schmaler, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, in a statement.

A climate change of heart?

A climate change of heart?

Global warming is “undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today”. Not a surprising statement? Well, perhaps you’d look again, knowing that these are the words of one of the world’s best-known climate sceptics. Bjørn Lomborg (pictured) is a statistician at the Copenhagen Business School and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming. He has argued that climate change is a problem, but it’s often massively exaggerated. He has also widely criticised policies attempting to stop the problem. But, in an interview with the Guardian yesterday, Lomborg appears to make  … Read more

NIH stops its own human embryonic stem cell experiments

NIH  stops its own human embryonic stem cell experiments

In a move not unexpected, but still shocking, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Monday halted human embryonic stem cell experiments being conducted by researchers on its own campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The directive, communicated to researchers by Michael Gottesman (pictured), the agency’s Deputy Director for Intramural Research, came one week after a federal judge issued an injunction temporarily halting federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research until a lawsuit challenging its legality is decided.  Read more

Monkeypox emerges in Africa in the wake of smallpox

Monkeypox emerges in Africa in the wake of smallpox

Few human accomplishments match the eradication of smallpox virus in the late 1970s. It was, and still is, the only disease wiped from the face of the Earth. However, three decades later, a related virus, monkeypox, is on the rise in parts of central Africa precisely because of the success of smallpox eradication.

IAC review recommends beefing up IPCC structures

IAC review recommends beefing up IPCC structures

The InterAcademy Council representing the world’s science academies released its much-anticipated review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Monday, recommending a beefed-up management infrastructure as well as various reforms for reviewing science, managing potential conflicts of interest and injecting fresh blood into the process (NYT, Financial Times).  Read more

Algorithms battle to map the brain

Algorithms battle to map the brain

In the brain, as in business, success has a lot to do with making the right connections. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that our subjective perceptions of ourselves, of one another and of the world around us all come down to how our neurons are connected. Yet the awesome complexity of these connections remains an imposing barrier to scientists who are trying to get at how the mind works by mapping the brain’s circuitry. Now, the Digital Reconstruction of Axonal and Dendritic Morphology (Diadem) Challenge, which kicked off 29 August at the Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia, aims to simplify things.  Read more

Evaluating Katrina’s impact on science

Evaluating Katrina’s impact on science

Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on August 29, 2005, and became one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history, has influenced more than just the city of New Orleans. Since 2005, it has transformed the nature of research, funding, and public perception of hurricane research. For the fifth anniversary of this catastrophic event, Nature asked leading meteorologists and climate experts to weigh in on how the event has shaped science in the intervening years. Their answers present a small slice of changes to the field in the aftermath of Katrina and some of the challenges that lie ahead.  Read more