Daily briefing: How to build a better scientific poster

Rip it up and start again with these templates. Plus: how a virus helps a bacterium evade the immune system and 11 ways to avert a data-storage disaster.

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Scanning electron micrograph of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria can be responsible for persistent infections in wounds such as bedsores. Credit: James Cavallini/Science Photo Library

Virus helps bacterium trick the immune system

A bacterium responsible for about 10% of hospital-acquired infections in the United States uses a virus to trick a person’s immune system into ignoring it. The virus, known as a phage, exists in a symbiotic relationship with the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium. The phage prompts the immune system into going after it instead of its microbe host. The finding could help to explain why the body tolerates helpful bacteria, such as those in the gut ― and it might lead to better treatments for chronic infections.

Nature | 4 min read

What Thailand’s long-awaited election means for science

Thailand held its first elections last week since the military junta seized power in a 2014 coup. Early results indicate that the pro-democracy Pheu Thai party has gained the most parliamentary seats, but that it has not secured the outright majority needed to rule. Regardless of which side ends up in charge, science is likely to prosper, because of increased funding and reforms put in place by the junta.

Nature | 3 min read

Light from the vacuum of empty space

Physicists predict that it might be possible to generate light by shooting charged particles through empty space. The light, called Cherenkov radiation, is seen when energetic charged particles zip through a transparent medium — an effect that, for example, makes the water in a nuclear reactor glow blue. Now, physicists say that with enough energy, Cherenkov radiation could also happen in the short-lived virtual particle-antiparticle pairs that populate the quantum vacuum. We don’t have lasers and particle accelerators powerful enough to test the theory on Earth, but physicists suggest that it might explain the high-energy emissions detected from the Galactic Centre.

Science | 6 min read


Advisers, assemble

Every professional should have a support team of dependable, reliable, clear-eyed peers for mutual support and advice, argues academic educator Ruth Gotian. She outlines how to develop your own ‘personal advisory board’.

Nature | 7 min read

“Landscape of fear” threatens ecologists

Rising nationalism, fake news and mistrust of science is creating a ‘landscape of fear’ for ecologists, argues an editorial in the Journal of Applied Ecology. The authors cite climate-science funding cuts in Australia, gag orders in the United States and arrests in Iran as evidence that the job is getting more difficult and dangerous. Institutions that employ or train ecologists need to “step up their game” to help mitigate the risks, says lead author and journal editor Nathalie Pettorelli.

Journal of Applied Ecology | 14 min read

Eleven ways to avert a data-storage disaster

Don’t wait until your hard drive fails — or you accidentally delete the whole thing — before reading these 11 tips for avoiding data-loss disasters.

Nature | 8 min read


“People are walking by in 5 seconds, we gotta punch it in their brain.”

Industrial-organizational psychologist Mike Morrison spent a year developing a better poster design (with templates) for the real world of scientific conferences. (YouTube via Twitter)


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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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