Hello Nature readers, would you like to get this Briefing in your inbox free every day? Sign up here.
The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed on the Moon yesterday, after apparently experiencing engine trouble moments before it was scheduled to touch down. The mishap ended the mission’s goal of becoming the first privately funded craft to make a controlled landing on the Moon. “Well, we didn't make it. But we definitely tried,” said Morris Kahn, president of SpaceIL, the non-profit company that built Beresheet.
A deadly storm that tore through Nepal almost two weeks ago was the country’s first ever recorded tornado. A team identified the extremely rare event in southeast Nepal without the aid of typical tornado-detecting instruments, instead relying on satellite images, analysis of social-media posts and a visit to the affected area.
NASA’s identical-twin astronauts, Scott and Mark Kelly, are back to being nearly identical. That’s the verdict of a study that tracked how Scott’s body changed during a nearly year-long spaceflight in 2015-16, while Mark stayed on Earth. Many of the subtle genetic, biochemical and other changes that had affected Scott mostly disappeared once he returned from space. One genetic change that did largely persist six months after Scott returned to Earth affected his chromosomes: parts of them inverted, or flipped end-to-end. That leads to DNA damage and might be linked to the high amounts of radiation he experienced while in space.
Researchers have sequenced a strain of cholera bacterium collected during the First World War and thought to be the oldest publicly available strain in existence. Revived after more than 100 years in storage, the live microbe offers insights into how the cholera microbe attacks and clues to its antibiotic resistance.
FEATURES & OPINION
Food insecurity is on the rise in the world’s richest countries. In the United States, one in five children go to school hungry. The United Nations called child poverty in the United Kingdom “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster”. Focusing on Britain, Mosaic reports on the rise of nutrition-related diseases and the long-term effects of food poverty on children’s lives.
Researchers have created a new model to study an untreatable form of heart failure that affects millions of people. The causes of the problem in humans are complex, so researchers simplified things by combining two major risk factors in mice — obesity linked with glucose intolerance and high blood pressure.
BOOKS & ARTS
Quantum mechanics is perhaps the most successful theory ever formulated. The only problem with it is that it’s wrong — or so argues theoretical physicist Lee Smolin in his new book Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution.
Barbara Kiser’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes worldwide wayfaring, the human cost of the big thaw, and marine die-offs:.
INFOGRAPHIC OF THE WEEK
Swirls of aqua and peach command a starry night sky in the Xigazê region of Tibet in April 2014, captured by Jeff Dai — then an engineer on a photography holiday and now a full-time photographer. This was just one of 2019’s winners of Nature’s #ScientistAtWork photography competition — see the rest of the stunning winning images.
About 40% of research-intensive universities consider journal impact factors when deciding whom to promote, finds a survey of 129 institutions in the United States and Canada. The journal impact factor is a measure of the average number of citations that all articles published in a specific journal have garnered over the previous two years. It has been criticized as a crude and misleading proxy for the quality of scientists’ work, but the survey results suggest that institutions still encourage its use.
LGBTQ scientists “must overcome the biggest challenge of all — coming out and being our true selves without fear”, says pharma researcher Neil Reavey. To help make that happen, Reavey and colleagues launched the first LGBTQ employee resource group for AstraZeneca in the United Kingdom. He shares his advice to openly LGBTQ professionals who are interested in creating something similar.
Thanks for reading!