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Self-driving cars are being developed by several major technology companies and carmakers. credit: VCG/Getty

There is no universal moral code

Who should we program an autonomous car to save: a pedestrian crossing the road, or the passenger in the car? Settling on a universal moral code for the vehicles could be a thorny task, judging by a huge international survey of more than 2 million people. With so many responses, it’s the biggest survey of its kind, and revealed that although there are certain shared values worldwide, some of the moral principles that guide a driver’s decisions vary by country.

Nature | 5 min read

Reference: Nature paper

New York accuses ExxonMobil of climate-change deception

The state of New York is taking oil and gas giant ExxonMobil to court, alleging that the company misled its investors about the financial risks that global warming posed to its business. The lawsuit alleges that although Exxon said it was considering the impact of potential climate-change regulations on future fossil-fuel demand, the company either used lower estimates of those costs or failed to consider them in its business activities.

Nature | 1 min read

Why China is hiding the identities of its top scientific recruits

Lists of researchers affiliated with a high-profile scheme to attract Chinese scientists back to their homeland from abroad have been removed from government and institutional websites in China. The move seems to be linked to intensifying scrutiny from US government agencies that are suspicious of China's alleged role in the theft of US technologies and intellectual property. A climate of fear has engulfed Chinese scientists in both countries, worried that association with the previously prestigious Thousand Talents programme will make them targets of US investigations.

Nature | 4 min read

‘Pre-registered’ reports cut publication bias

Logging hypotheses and protocols before performing research seems to result in studies that are much more likely to report null findings. Under this approach, a journal peer reviews protocols and provisionally commits to publishing a paper on the findings, regardless of the results. The practice could help to correct the existing bias towards positive findings in the scientific literature.

Nature | 2 min read

Reference: PsyArXiv preprint


Salaries in science

Nature’s biannual salary survey has gathered data on salaries and careers in science from thousands of researchers around the world. It covers everything from job satisfaction to mental well-being, pay packages to career progression. It’s a sobering snapshot of science in 2018.

Nature | 9 min read

Archaeopteryx: The day the fossil feathers flew

In 1985, astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle questioned the authenticity of one of the most priceless possessions at London's Natural History Museum: the Archaeopteryx fossil. All hell broke loose, the claim made headlines around the world and the museum went to great lengths to dispute the accusations. It had to.

BBC | 5 min read

Why the world’s recycling system stopped working

More than 270 million tonnes of waste are recycled around the world each year — equivalent to the weight of 740 Empire State buildings — and recycling has become a US$200-billion global industry. But in late 2017, China, previously the centre of the world’s recycling trade, abruptly shut its doors to imports of recycled material. Suddenly, the lucrative trade was in crisis.

Financial Times | 18 min read


“We need to talk about crapping.”

An editorial from Nature Microbiology on the embarrassment we should feel about the billions of people worldwide who don’t have access to basic toilet and sanitation technologies. Tackling the taboo around talking about human waste is a first step in addressing the problem. (Nature Microbiology)

(With apologies to Nature readers who aren’t fond of alternative words for faeces.)