Archive by date | September 2011

Postdoc Leapfrog

Postdoc Leapfrog

For most fledgling scientists, the long path to principal investigator-hood includes years of toiling as a postdoc. But the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that ten young biomedical scientists will skip that step in their careers, thanks to its new Early Independence Award programme. “The Early Independence Award enables outstanding investigators to establish their independent research careers as soon as possible,” explained NIH Director Francis Collins in a statement announcing the first award recipients today. The statement pledged that the agency would commit approximately US$19.3 million to support the investigators’ work over five years. An example of  … Read more

Bottle-loving beetles, alarming wasabi powder, and tired tortoises: The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes

Bottle-loving beetles, alarming wasabi powder, and tired tortoises: The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes

Funny and fascinating science got top billing at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the evening of 29 Sept. The 21st First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes, continued its tradition of recognizing science that “makes people laugh, and then makes them think.” The biology prize went to a team studying confused and amorous beetles in Australia. Researchers there discovered that the males of the Australian jewel beetle are attracted to shiny brown beer bottles that are sometimes found discarded by the side of the road. The beetles are so tenacious in their desire to copulate with the vessels that they will  … Read more

Goodbye, Tevatron

Goodbye, Tevatron

After more than 25 years of smashing particles, the massive Tevatron accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, is being turned off for good today. You should read Nature’s recent news story about the Tevatron’s closure, and what will take its place (‘Fermilab faces life after the Tevatron‘)

Ranking AIDS priorities

Ranking AIDS priorities

If the world’s HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations were able to raise $10 billion dollars over the next five years to fight the disease, they should give top priority to funding vaccine research and development. That was the conclusion of a Nobel-laureate-laden panel of economists at a meeting at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, on Sept 28. The panel also prioritized infant male circumcision, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, increasing safety of blood transfusions and expansion of antiretroviral therapy usage over 13 other possibilities. The meeting was hosted by the RethinkHIV project, which is funded by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a Danish state-funded  … Read more

China’s space lab lifts off

China's space lab lifts off

China launched the first module of its space station today at around 13:15 GMT. The 20ish ton Tiangong-1 module was carried into low-earth by a Long March 2F rocket. As BBC reports, the Tiangong-1 is a 10.5 m cylindrical module with a few solar panels and communications equipment.

EPA comes under fire for climate finding

EPA comes under fire for climate finding

It’s not as if President Barack Obama needed any more trouble with his beleaguered climate agenda, but so it goes. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog released a report Wednesday alleging that the agency cut some corners in producing its 2009 “”http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090417/full/news.2009.374.html”>endangerment finding”, which formally declares that global warming endangers human health and welfare (Bloomberg Businessweek).  Read more

Japan freezes fast breeder plans

Monju, Japan’s prototype fast breeder reactor, has had its research budget slashed. This might not come as a big surprise, given the anti-nuke sentiment in Japan and the tattered state of its nuclear energy policy. Still, with this latest blow, the woeful state of the ill-fated reactor is all the more striking. It could be maintained — with the help of a one-off Y20 billion yen (US$262 million) allocation — but the annual research budget will be cut 70%~80% from its previous Y10 billion.