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NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has ceased its work at the age of nine, after running out of fuel. Since it was launched in 2009, the telescope has discovered 2,681 confirmed planets beyond the Solar System and nearly 2,900 more that are awaiting confirmation. Kepler overcame a potentially mission-ending mechanical failure in 2013. “It was the little spacecraft that could,” says Kepler project scientist Jessie Dotson. “It always did everything we asked of it, and more.”
The Wellcome Sanger Institute has cleared its director, geneticist Mike Stratton, of allegations that he bullied staff, discriminated against them and misused funds. An investigation by an independent lawyer did identify “failings in the way in which people have been managed” and a lack of diversity at senior levels of the organization.
The International Astronomical Union has voted to change the name of the Hubble law to the Hubble–Lemaître law. The equation describes how the expansion of the Universe causes galaxies to move away from Earth at speeds proportional to their distance. The name change aims to recognize the contribution made by Belgian priest and astronomer Georges Lemaître, who came up with the result independently of Edwin Hubble, two years earlier. The new terminology is only a recommendation: “if people will continue to use the Hubble law naming, nobody will object,” says former IAU president Piero Benvenuti.
Doubts over Piero Anversa’s cardiac-stem-cell research have led the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to pause a clinical trial based on his results. Earlier this month, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital recommended that 31 papers from Anversa’s lab be retracted from medical journals. Last year, the hospital agreed to pay US$10 million to the US government to resolve allegations that the lab used bad data to fraudulently obtain grant funding from the National Institutes of Health.
The Hawaiian state supreme court has upheld the construction permit to build the pioneering Thirty Meter Telescope on Mount Mauna Kea. The ruling opens the door for the US$1.4-billion project to resume, but after years of public protests and legal challenges, administrators might still choose to relocate the project to an alternate site on the Canary Islands. Some Native Hawaiians say that building the mega-telescope on the mountain would further desecrate a sacred site that is already home to multiple observatories.
FEATURES & OPINION
Jupyter has swiftly become the de facto standard for data scientists looking for a computational notebook to bring together their code, data and documentation. It’s also “a killer app for teaching computing in science and engineering,” says engineer Lorena Barba. Nature Toolbox explores how an improved architecture and enthusiastic user base are driving uptake of the open-source web tool.
A leaked proposal by the US Department of Health and Human Services to legally define a person’s gender on the basis of their anatomy at birth “is a terrible idea that should be killed off”, argues a Nature editorial. “It has no foundation in science and would undo decades of progress,” the article reads. “Political attempts to pigeonhole people have nothing to do with science and everything to do with stripping away rights and recognition.”
In northern Canada, caribou are far more than a national icon pictured on the back of a coin: they are a cornerstone of an ecosystem that long predates the founding of the country itself. Now, populations across the Arctic and sub-Arctic are falling to a point of no return. The Globe and Mail explores how Canada’s species-protection laws have failed the animals and the people who depend on them, accompanied by a photo gallery from the Yukon, where caribou subsistence harvesting is a way of life.
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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing