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After many of the Alzheimer’s drugs that worked in mice failed to live up to their promise in clinical trials, several projects are developing animal models that more closely mimic how the brain disease affects people. Researchers are engineering more genetically diverse mice as well as a host of animal models with different combinations of mutations to explore the complex causes of the disease.
On Monday, NASA’s InSight mission will attempt to touch down near the Martian equator. If it arrives safely, it will embark on the first mission dedicated to listening for seismic energy rippling through the red planet. Any ‘marsquakes’ it detects could yield clues to the planet’s mysterious interior, including how it is separated into a core, mantle and crust.
A plane powered by an ion drive has flown for the first time. The drive uses high powered electrodes to ionize and accelerate air particles, creating an ‘ionic wind’ that drove a 5-metre-wide craft across a sports hall.
A handful of academic publishers are piloting the use of artificial-intelligence tools to do everything from selecting reviewers to checking statistics and summarizing a paper’s findings. The goal is to help out the fraction of scientists who take on the reviewing burden and boost the quality of published papers.
FEATURES & OPINION
Visas for foreign specialists are falling in the United States, and the numbers of international students in the country isn’t growing as it is elsewhere. Increasingly hostile immigration-policy changes and political rhetoric are to blame, argues business researcher William Kerr. Irrespective of their political affiliation, Americans should be worried that the country is losing ground as the pre-eminent destination for tomorrow’s science and technology leaders, he says.
Between 200 and 1,000 metres down, the ocean’s twilight zone is thought to be home to more animals by weight than the rest of the sea combined — but we know almost nothing about them. A recent expedition has revealed the some of the gleaming, glowing and fearsome-looking creatures that inhabit the zone, including a tiny fish called a bristlemouth — thought to be the most abundant vertebrate on Earth.
When Emily Cassidy was undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one of her treatments was known as the red devil: a bright red liquid derived from soil bacteria. It was just one of her medicines that she learnt had their origins in plants and animals, inspiring her work as an environmental journalist. “After nature helped me recover from cancer, I recognize the value of protecting it more than ever,” she says.
Today I’m thankful for every reader of this Briefing, and wishing you all a warm and wonderful 22 November (since, as we all know, Thanksgiving is in October). ? ? ?