Archive by date | August 2011

Bioethics commission condemns Guatamalan syphilis research as unethical

Researchers knowingly violated ethical boundaries when they intentionally infected Guatemalan prisoners, mental health patients, and prostitutes with sexually transmitted diseases in a 1940s research project, a presidential commission concluded yesterday.

Is underground Amazonian river really just groundwater flow?

Scientists have claimed that the Amazon basin has a second huge river some four kilometres beneath the more famous river on the surface, many news outlets report. The river has been named the Rio Hamza, after the head of the team that led the research from the Department of Geophysics at Brazil’s National Observatory.

Polar bear researcher is back at work, but still under investigation

Polar bear researcher is back at work, but still under investigation

Polar bear researcher Charles Monnett is back at work at the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) after a six week suspension over unspecified “integrity issues” (read Nature’s take on the debacle here).  Read more

Nearby supernova may illuminate dark energy puzzle

Nearby supernova may illuminate dark energy puzzle

A Type Ia supernova, the brightest and most energetic kind of stellar explosion – and the type that astronomers use to measure the accelerating expansion of the universe – has been spotted in a nearby galaxy, making it the closest such event in 40 years.

Ancient DNA shaped our immune system

Modern humans (Homo sapiens) arose in Africa and migrated to Europe and Asia where they displaced resident archaic humans such as Neanderthals and Denisovans. Sequencing of archaic human genomes shows that interbreeding occurred between these different human species. Now new research shows that interbreeding introduced beneficial immune genes contributing to the hybrid vigour that allowed Homo sapiens to colonise the world.

US energy research agency oversight criticized in audit

US energy research agency oversight criticized in audit

With a proposed cut of 45% hanging in the balance in the US Congress, it’s a tense season for officials at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the arm of the US Department of Energy (DOE) that specializes in funding high-risk high-payoff research on energy. Now an audit report from the DOE’s Inspector-General (IG) has added to their woes by criticizing ARPA-E over what it says is insufficient oversight and monitoring of awards made using the $400 million the agency received under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as the stimulus bill).  Read more

Report on alleged scientific misconduct to remain secret, court rules.

Report on alleged scientific misconduct to remain secret, court rules.

A US court has rebuffed a freedom of information request for an investigation report into strongly-denied allegations of research misconduct at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which is run by non-profit UT Battelle under contract to the US Department of Energy (DOE).  Read more