Archive by date | April 2009

Ones that got away

“It was explained to us how it was supposed to work and, I think, from the technical point of view, there is no doubt that this concept would work.”

Christian Bank, designer of manned space systems at EADS-Astrium, comments on rumours that Russia’s next space craft will have rocket powered landings, rather than using a parachute (BBC).

“That’s not our tortoise. We do not have a missing tortoise”

Mary Dixon, a spokeswoman for the group that runs the Bronx Zoo in New York, denies that a large tortoise found wandering the city that never sleeps was a victim of the recent round of animal redundancies at the zoo (NY Times).

“NASA is cautious about exposing the crew to any and all viruses and bacteria in the preflight phase, whether that be swine flu or the common cold. NASA does not have to alter their current posture, because their current posture is already very conservative, as even a routine [common cold] can be problematic on a space mission.”

NASA spokesman Bill Jeffs says all precautions are being taken to prevent swine flu being carried into space (

“I felt guilty. They need somebody.”

Retired Air Force General Lester Lyles says he feels bad about pulling out of the race to be next NASA administrator (Dayton Daily News, hat tip: NASA Watch).

South Korea restarts stem cell research

South Korea has re-entered stem cell science, with the national committee on bioethics approving the first research proposal since the national scandal over Woo Suk Hwang’s fraudulent stem cell claims.

A new study will be undertaken at Cha Hospital in Seoul.

‘The coming climate crunch’

'The coming climate crunch'

This week’s issue of Nature looks in detail at “the coming climate crunch”.

As my colleague Quirin Schiermeier explains on the Climate Feedback blog, “What’s it all about then? Well, Gavin Schmidt and David Archer, in their news and views piece, get to the heart of it: “Dangerous climate change, even loosely defined, is going to be hard to avoid.’”

Interior revokes Bush rule on endangered species

It’s getting to be old-hat. Following up on an earlier promise, US President Barack Obama has formally reversed yet another of his predecessor’s policies, this one focusing on the institutional role of science in protecting endangered species (AP).  Read more

Nature Podcast

Nature Podcast

This week we’ve a climate special: Nicholas Stern tells us how the recession could help curb global warming, Nature’s climate science editor is in the studio to talk us through the latest research, and we imagine what the world would look like in the worst-case scenario of 1000ppm of CO2. Also on the show, autism genes and how to fix a broken heart.

Ones that got away

“Public officials and civic leaders were inclined to look the other way so long as resurrectionists kept to what one anatomist in 1896 called the ‘prudent line of stealing only the bodies of the poor’.”

John Harley Warner, expert in the history of medicine at Yale University, has co-authored a book on photographs of historic dissections (Insider Higher Ed – slightly gruesome photographs at this link).

“As of now, half of Americans live in an area where they are at risk.”

Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, comments on a new report from his group detailing America’s most polluted cities (Forbes).

“My belief is that it’s an older woman or her estate, from the world war two generation which is much more comfortable being anonymous. Women of that generation had no automatic opportunity to go to college even if they came from a family with money, and the role of women in leadership positions was still new and exciting.”

Melissa Berman, of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers, speculates about the identity of a mystery donor behind donations to US universities worth $75 million (Guardian).