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Daily briefing: The paralyzed pioneers of brain–computer interfaces

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Buildings can just be seen behind a leafless tree during heavy smog in Jinan, China

Heavy smog shrouds buildings in Jinan, China, in 2016.Credit: Reuters

Nations must triple efforts to curb greenhouse gas

Governments of the world need to triple their current efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in order to keep global warming under the crucial limit of 2 °C by 2030. The United Nations’ annual emissions-gap report projects that emissions will rise by 10% between 2017 and 2030 — they need to drop by 25% instead. The report also points out ways to close the gap, and says that scaling up and replicating existing policies could be enough, while also contributing to key sustainable development goals.

Nature | 2 min read

Reference: UN environment Emissions Gap Report 2018

How the genome-edited-babies revelation will affect research

Conversation at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong is focused on one thing: a shock announcement earlier this week by genomics researcher He Jiankui, claiming that he used CRISPR gene editing on human embryos resulting in the birth of healthy twin babies. The claim has prompted an outcry from scientists, who are concerned that He leap-frogged international ethics discussions and put the children at risk of unknown health effects. Even He’s own university distanced itself from the results. Now, scientists are also raising the prospect of a chilling effect on their efforts to safely translate gene-editing technology into treatments.

Nature | 6 min read

Funders flesh out details of Plan S

A group of major science funders that launched the radical ‘Plan S’ to change the face of scholarly publishing has released detailed rules for how the initiative will work. The funders list three ways scientists can publish in compliance with the plan: use an open-access journal, immediately put a copy of the paper in an approved open-access repository or use a hybrid journal that intends to become fully open access.

Nature | 5 min read

Biomedical research is becoming more open

The culture of biomedical research is shifting to become more open and transparent. A survey of 149 biomedical papers published between 2015 and 2017 found that the majority contained statements on funding and conflicts of interest (69% and 65%, respectively). Almost one in five mentioned publicly available data — up from almost none in a previous survey.

Nature | 3 min read

Reference: PLOS Biology paper


Illustration by David Parkins

Statistical pitfalls of personalized medicine

“Causality is hard to study and difficult to prove,” says statistician Stephen Senn — and our failure to understand it is contributing to false hopes about the potential of personalized medicine. Senn calls out lazy language, arbitrary dichotomies, inappropriate yardsticks and ever-changing human physiology as some of the issues that stymie drugs in clinical trials.

Nature | 10 min read

Does science have a bullying problem?

After a spate of accusations at high-profile academic institutions and labs, Nature examines what constitutes bullying, why so many accusations are arising and the impact it is having on research and on scientists.

Nature | 11 min read

“In my mind, I’m still flying”

Jan Scheuermann had been paralysed from the neck down for 14 years when she became one of the first people to control a prosthetic with her mind — a robotic arm she nicknamed Hector. With the help of funding from the US military’s DARPA division, the experiment eventually enabled her to operate a flight simulator through brain implants. Scheuermann’s story offers a window into the complex science of brain–computer interfaces, and the military and academic powers that battle to control the field.

The New Yorker | 55 min read


“Water can’t fix the leaks in the pipeline.”

The entire scientific community must come together to confront gender bias rather than leaving women and other people from underrepresented groups to do the work, argues evolutionary biologist Katie Grogan. (Nature Ecology & Evolution)


Congratulations to geneticist Majd Abdulghani, the first person from Saudi Arabia to win a Rhodes scholarship. Check out her award-winning podcast about being a young, female aspiring scientist in Saudi Arabia (from 2016).

Thanks to Briefing reader Vivian Cheung, who runs the lab where Abdulghani works, for getting in touch. Send me the news you want to share — and any other feedback — to

Thanks for reading!

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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