Spanish scientists take to the streets

Are Spain's brains flying away like balloons?

Researchers gathered in more than a dozen Spanish cities this morning to protest against drastic cuts to the country’s science budget. The demonstrations were organized by the Open Letter for Science group, a platform uniting the main scientific organizations in the country, including scientific societies, unions, university rectors, and researchers’ associations.  Read more

German court bars local-government interference with animal research

Andreas Kreiter

A landmark court ruling this week has ended uncertainties in Germany about who may decide the permissible level of animal suffering in experiments. On 11 December, Bremen’s administrative court said that local health authorities had been wrong in 2008 to block a licence for neuroscience studies on macaque monkeys.  Read more

European unitary patent approved

Michel Barnier, Europe's Commissioner for Internal Market and Services

The European Parliament yesterday ended decades of wrangling over how to streamline the European Union’s patent system. On Tuesday 11 December it approved an ‘EU patent package’, an agreement among 25 member states to roll out a new unitary patent that will be valid in all signatory nations, and will be overseen by a single patent court.  Read more

Italian particle physics facility scuttled by funding woes

An Italian project aiming to build a new particle accelerator near Rome, called SuperB, will either have to be abandoned or drastically scaled back for lack of funding. The project has failed to attract enough international partners to pay its full cost, and the Italian government yesterday made it clear that it will not cover the gap.  Read more

Amazon deforestation drops to record low

The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen to yet another record low this year. The new figure, a staggering 27% drop from 2011, exceeded the expectations of the Brazilian government and puts the country on the verge of fulfilling the promise it made at the COP 15 climate meeting in Copenhagen in 2009: to slash the rate of destruction of the world’s largest tropical forest by 80% by 2020.  Read more

ORCID launches to give researchers unique identity codes

A registry that will grant researchers unique identifying number — helping readers of the literature to distinguish between authors with similar names — launches today. ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID, is supported by funds and input from member institutions, publishers (including Nature Publishing Group) and scientific societies. It should integrate with existing researcher identification systems and make it easier for universities and funding agencies to track scientists’ output (see ‘Scientists: your number is up‘). Researchers can register at and add information about their publications to their ORCID records.  Read more

Spain plans fourth consecutive year of cuts to research budget

An analysis of Spain’s draft research and development (R&D) budget for 2013 has shown that the government plans to cut its investment in science by 7.21%. This is the fourth annual cut to science funding in a row: support was reduced by 4% in 2010; 7% in 2011; and 25.5% in 2012.  Read more