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Mouse with infrared vision

This mouse has been given a ‘super-power’ of infrared vision.Credit: Tian Xue, University of Science and Technology of China

Nanoparticles give mice infrared night vision

Scientists have engineered mice that can see infrared light by injecting them with nanoparticles that convert the invisible rays into visible wavelengths. They then confirmed the rodents’ new super-sight using mazes and other tests. But cool your jets, biohackers: the technique isn’t safe for humans, and our brains might not even be able to handle the input.

Nature | 4 min read

‘The UK is sleepwalking into a disaster’

Nobel-prizewinning geneticist Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute in the United Kingdom, says that Brexit is putting science in the country at imminent risk of disaster because of unanswered questions about funding and international staff. He hopes that the British government will request an extension to the 29 March deadline for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. “Leaders have sleepwalked the nation into what I think is a big disaster for science,” he told Nature. “This is a madness that normally the British find a way through, so let’s hope that we do.”

Nature | 7 min read

NIH: 14 scientists replaced over harassment

In 2018, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigated more than two dozen sexual-harassment accusations, resulting in 14 researchers who had received agency grants being replaced, 21 being disciplined by their employers and 14 being banned from participating in NIH peer-review panels. The agency has publicized the numbers for the first time as part of its bid to respond to criticism that it fails to take action against grant recipients found to have committed sexual harassment.

Nature | 3 min read

University of California falls out with Elsevier

The United States’s largest public university system has cancelled its subscription with Dutch publishing giant Elsevier. The University of California had been seeking to strike a ‘read-and-publish’ deal that would have allowed its researchers to read scholarly papers from the publisher, as well as to publish in Elsevier journals under open-access terms. The university system — which is responsible for 10% of published research in the United States — said it’s not willing to pay the price that Elsevier was asking.

Nature | 4 min read

Sleeping in isn’t enough

Catching up on sleep over the weekend doesn’t undo the negative metabolic effects of sleep deprivation. A short-term study of young adults found that those who slept less during the week snacked more after dinner, gained more weight and exhibited reduced insulin sensitivity compared with a control group — even if they had a lie-in on the weekend.

Nature Research Highlights | 1 min read

Reference: Current Biology paper

Get more of Nature’s Research Highlights: short picks from the latest papers.

FEATURES & OPINION

Beware of plausible predictions of fantasy materials

Real materials rarely behave like their digital counterparts. Stability of the compounds must be part of the burden of proof for predicting the complex properties of matter, argues theoretical condensed-matter physicist Alex Zunger.

Nature | 11 min read

Adapted from a concept by A. Zunger

‘It’s a tough world out there for an egg’

If you could get someone else to feed and raise your children, why bother doing it yourself? It’s an easy question to answer for humans, but not so much for the greater ani (Crotophaga major), a type of cuckoo that does both. The birds sometimes raise their eggs in cooperative groups and sometimes parasitize other species’ nests. In this week’s Nature Podcast, evolutionary biologist Christina Riehl says that there are reproductive trade-offs to both strategies, and that the payoffs are ultimately about equal.

Nature Podcast | 30 min listen

Reference: Nature paper

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BOOKS & ARTS

X-ray sequence of a human skeleton running

Our bones have evolved over millions of years.Credit: Nick Veasey

The skeleton articulated

Palaeobiologist Jan Zalasiewicz reviews Brian Switek’s thoughtful, engaging meditation on the origins of the human skeleton, how it functions (or malfunctions) and how we come to terms with our essential but unsettling osseous framework.

Nature | 5 min read

INFOGRAPHIC OF THE WEEK

Source: Science & Technology Australia

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Scientist taking measurements on a beach next to a leatherback sea turtle

In this year’s overall winning photo, Callie Veelenturf measures pH, conductivity and temperature near a leatherback sea turtle’s nest during research in Equatorial Guinea.Credit: Jonah Reenders