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Experiments at the world’s most powerful particle collider have restarted at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory, after a three-year upgrade to its machinery. For its third run, the proton beams of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will circulate at higher intensities and record energies. “With higher-energy data and a larger amount of data, we can look further. It is really quite thrilling,” says particle physicist Tara Shears.
Nature | 5 min read
In US science, there is a vast disparity in salary, respect and opportunities between people from marginalized groups and their privileged peers. Data from a survey of roughly 25,300 researchers working in sectors including academia, industry and government, conducted between 2017 and 2019, reveal consistent, striking patterns. Heterosexual, white men without disabilities get paid an average of US$7,831 a year more, are granted more career opportunities, feel more respected at work and experience less harassment than people in every other intersecting demographic group, and so are less likely to leave science.
Nature | 6 min read
A genomic investigation of the mammalian ‘tree of lice’ indicates that many of the lice parasitizing today’s mammals can trace their roots to a single louse ancestor on a single mammal that lived before the extinction of the non-bird dinosaurs. An ancient mammalian ancestor of today’s elephants and elephant shrews probably picked up the tiny skin parasites at least 90 million years ago from a bird, say researchers. The tree of lice might help biologists to test their ideas on co-evolution, the intertwined evolution of two or more species.
Nature | 4 min read
Reference: Nature Ecology & Evolution paper
Researchers have created the first cloned mice from skin cells that had been freeze-dried for up to nine months. Some of the mice went on to produce healthy pups. Freeze-drying is a cheaper and more reliable way of storing tissue than immersing it in liquid nitrogen, and offers conservationists an innovative approach to reviving endangered species. The freeze-drying process killed all the cells, but their DNA remained intact — and, to create clone embryos, the researchers transferred the nuclei into eggs whose nuclei had been removed. But the process was inefficient and had a low success rate.
The Guardian | 4 min read
Reference: Nature Communications paper
Features & opinion
Public-health researchers have found that the ‘measure of last resort’ for increasing vaccination rates — legal interventions such as vaccine mandates and passes — did work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Separate studies looked at many examples of COVID passes, vaccine mandates for employees and fines for being unvaccinated. In some cases, regions allowed almost head-to-head comparisons, such as in Lithuania, which had COVID-pass requirements for access to public spaces, and neighbouring Poland, which did not. The evidence indicates that these policies do increase vaccine uptake: Lithuania, for example, saw its vaccination curve rise above Poland’s, resulting in a roughly 12% difference in vaccine coverage.
But researchers say it is hard to accurately quantify how obligatory vaccination policies affected social exclusion, loss of public trust or inequitable outcomes. “Sentiments around vaccines are hugely tied to trust in government,” says Heidi Larson, an anthropologist and founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Nature | 13 min read
Global strategies to quit coal must be tailored to regional realities, argue climate and energy-policy researchers Jan Steckel and Michael Jakob. They analysed 15 countries that are home to most of the world’s current coal power-plant capacity and where most new plants are planned to be built. They found that nations fell into four categories: those that are already rapidly phasing out coal; established coal users; phase-in countries that do not yet rely on coal but are actively building coal plants; and export-oriented regions. Each group needs specific policy priorities that would spur change in the most effective ways, say the authors.
Nature | 10 min read
Infographic of the week
The transport of food accounts for nearly one-fifth of carbon emissions in the food system — more than seven times the amount previously estimated. Wealthy nations were responsible for generating nearly half of international food-transport emissions, despite being home to only 12% of the global population. Reducing the consumption of red meat and eating food produced locally could help people in wealthy countries to lower their climate impacts, researchers say.
Nature | 3 min read
See more of the week’s key infographics, selected by Nature’s news and art teams.