Daily briefing: WHO calls out ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as top 10 health threat

Anti-vaccination sentiment up there with deadly air pollution, Ebola and antibiotic resistance. Plus: the Milky Way is awesome and there’s a plant growing on the Moon.

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A picture of a seedling (left) growing out of a frame, which has melted at centre to right.

Credit: Wang Quanchao/Xinhua via Zuma

First ever plant grown on the Moon

China’s Chang’e-4 mission has become the first ever to grow plants on the Moon. The cotton seed sprouted in a mini-biosphere experiment that also contained nutrients, air, water, yeast and fruit-fly eggs. The lander had already secured its place in the record books on 8 January, when it became the first craft to make a soft landing on the far side of the Moon.

Nature | 3 min read

Super-collider plan will dwarf the LHC

CERN has unveiled its bold dream to build an accelerator nearly four times as long as its 27-kilometre Large Hadron Collider — currently the world’s largest — and up to six times more powerful. After the LHC’s historic discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, the collider has not discovered any other particles, prompting physicists to dream of even higher energies.

Nature | 6 min read

WHO calls out ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as top-10 health threat

Anti-vaccination sentiment joins deadly air pollution, Ebola and antibiotic resistance as one of the World Health Organization’s top 10 priorities in 2019. “The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases,” says the group.

Newsweek | 5 min readReference: Ten threats to global health in 2019


Gaia's all-sky view of our Milky Way Galaxy and neighbouring galaxies, based on measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars.

Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC

Meet the real Milky Way

The Gaia spacecraft’s unprecedented map of the Milky Way has revealed hidden drama in its past: our Galaxy has been shaped by a smash-up with a colossal companion between 8 billion and 11 billion years ago. Nature discovers how Gaia’s spectacular haul of data about our cosmic home has painted a picture of a Milky Way that is much more dynamic and complex than previously imagined.

Nature | 12 min read

How to win public support for a global carbon tax

Charges on emissions could be more popular if the money is given back to citizens, argue economist Stefano Carattini and climate scientists Steffen Kallbekken and Anton Orlo. They surveyed almost 5,000 people in 5 countries and found support for a global system of carbon taxes in which countries retain control over the revenues.

Nature | 10 min read

How to make a great science podcast

Find your niche, learn how to promote — and invest in a good microphone. Those are just some of the top tips to make your science podcast stand out.

Nature | 10 min read

A text message’s tale

The path of a text message from his wife, sitting just downstairs, prompts digital humanities scholar Scott Weingart to delve into the technology and history of the SMS. From how touchscreens work to why phone numbers are encoded in “pig latin for numbers”, Weingart explores how we get the message.

The Scottbot Irregular blog | 21 min read


“For two graduate students who are not trained in science to come in and do what they did? Absolute forces of nature, savants. They keep seeing things that other people don’t see.”

Chemical biologist Stuart Schreiber lauds the achievements of Sonia Vallabh and Eric Minikel, who switched to scientific careers to pursue a cure for Vallabh’s genetic disease. (Wired)

We're poised to say goodbye to the Year of the Dog — and celebrating with one last chance to win the legendary, cannot-be-unseen Nature Year of the Dog convertible travel pillow. Enter here for a chance to win (and stay tuned for a pig-shaped treat coming soon)!

Thanks for reading!

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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