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The US government has re-opened, after a historic 35-day shutdown that paralysed key science agencies, left some researchers at home without pay and throttled research funding. But the reprieve might be temporary: the deal approved by Congress on Friday funds the government for only three weeks. “The shutdown overlays anxiety about what we can work on, what we can’t, how our work is valued, or more likely not,” says an anonymous senior scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency.
A South Korean research ship has rescued 24 Chinese workers who were stranded in Antarctica and running out of supplies. China asked for help after its icebreaker, on its way to collect the team, collided with an iceberg. The Chinese group was working on building the nation’s fifth Antarctic research base, on Inexpressible Island.
A proposed land swap that would redraw the boundary between Serbia and Kosovo along ethnic lines has left academics facing an uncertain future. Two universities in the city of Mitrovica, near the border, currently offer rare opportunities for multi-ethnic collaboration and education. But it’s unclear which country Mitrovica will even be in if the swaps go ahead, much less what it will mean for the academics who call it home.
FEATURES & OPINION
Meet Marguerite Perey (who discovered francium), Darleane Hoffman (who uncovered plutonium-244), Stefanie Horovitz (who proved isotopes exist), Reatha Clark King (who developed fluorine as a rocket fuel) and a score of other women who revealed the building blocks of matter.
How long can bacteria survive? Microbiologists aim to find out by sealing Bacillus subtilis into glass vials and checking on them regularly for 500 years. The project joins a number of similarly long-term experiments, from the beloved pitch drop to 30 years of Escherichia coli evolution. “Of course, for an experiment to go on like this, I’m assuming that science still looks somewhat like today, in the sense that universities will exist, there will be professors with labs, and so on,” says E. coli-wrangler Richard Lenski.
The Gallaudet Eleven was a group of Deaf pioneers that helped NASA to test whether humans could survive the vestibular rigours of spaceflight. The Eleven’s story reveals how we could rethink the physical requirements for astronauts and interplanetary explorers. “If there is a mission need for people with advanced spatial processing skills who do not get motion sick, then there are quite a few deaf people ready and willing to serve,” says Deaf-studies researcher Joseph Murray.
QUIRKS OF NATURE
Today I am happy to hear that the red panda that escaped from Belfast Zoo — police said it was “taking in the sights of beautiful Glengormley” — is home safe. Take care out there! Your feedback is always welcome at email@example.com.
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