The journal Science has published a replication of results from a 2007 publication coauthored by Marc Hauser. The paper, “The Perception of Rational, Goal-Directed Action in Nonhuman Primates”, found that cotton-top tamarins, rhesus macaques, and chimpanzees can each infer the intentions underlying another individual’s actions. Read more
In what will probably not be the last rumor to dog the Large Hadron Collider now that it is fully operational, a leaked memo is spreading word that the Higgs particle, proposed to explain why others have the masses they do, might have been seen by the ATLAS collaboration, at Europe’s particle physics lab, CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. In response, ATLAS’ spokeswoman Fabiola Gianotti stops short of disowning the leaked document, but tells Nature signals of the kind reported in the memo show up quite frequently in the course of data analysis and are later falsified after more detailed scrutiny. “Only official ATLAS results, i.e. results that have undergone all the necessary scientific checks by the Collaboration, should be taken seriously,” she says. Read more
I’ve published in Nature tonight a GIS analysis I did with the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), looking at how many people live within certain distances of each of the world’s nuclear power plants.
It shows, for example, that two-thirds of the world’s power plants have more people living within a 30-kilometre radius than the 172,000 people living within 30 kilometres of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Some 21 plants have populations larger than 1 million within that radius, and six have populations larger than 3 million. One hundred and fifty-two nuclear power plants have more than 1 million people living within 75 kilometres.
I’ve published the full results in the form of a map which is best viewed using the desktop version of Google Earth — you can download the file here.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has reported on the progress of the scientific integrity initiative that began with a stirring memo issued by US President Barack Obama in 2009. It says that fully 30 agencies have responded to a December 17, 2010 memo by OSTP director John Holdren that asked officials to prioritize the development of new integrity guidelines and report back to the White House in the next 120 days. “[This is] a gratifying first step to the assurance of scientific integrity across the executive branch,” says OSTP in a blog post. However, only six agencies have actually delivered draft policies. Read more
Today the Japanese government took steps to prevent people from re-entering the 20km exclusion zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The new measure, announced by chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano, makes it illegal for members of the roughly 27,000 households affected by the accident from returning to the site. Limited access will be granted for a few hours at a time to gather personal items.
The European Commission has proposed an increase in Europe’s research budget next year of 13.3% to €7.6 billion. The potential windfall for research was announced in the Commission’s draft EU budget for 2012, published yesterday.
The partial meltdown of nuclear fuel at the Fukushima nuclear power plant has created a crisis in Japan. Nature Video provides a brief summary of events at the plant, and what lies ahead for the damaged reactors.