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Microscopic fungi pulled from a billion-year-old rock could push back the first known appearance of fungi by more than 500 million years. The intricate, filament-like fossils were discovered in an area in the Canadian Arctic where the rock formed without exposure to high temperatures and pressures, leaving the fossils within them remarkably preserved. However, not everyone is yet convinced that the finding is truly a fungus.
A year after scientists detected a mysterious rise in the ozone-destroying chemical CFC-11, one source has been traced to the Shandong and Hebei provinces of northeast China. Researchers suspect that rogue factories might be producing foam insulation, which is bad news because the foam will continue to leak CFC-11 over time. China says that it has already cracked down on some illegal CFC-11 production, which was nearly eliminated following the 1987 Montreal Protocol introduced to save the ozone layer.
A private Hong Kong foundation has announced the three winners of this year’s Shaw prizes, which recognize scientists working in the mathematical sciences, astronomy and the life sciences. A French mathematician working on mysterious spin glasses and two US scientists — a steward of NASA’s Voyager missions and a molecular biologist whose work enabled gene-editing tools — will each receive US$1.2 million.
FEATURES & OPINION
It’s tempting to try to attend sessions morning, noon and night, network like crazy and drink vats of coffee to stay alert. Lab manager Paris Grey has some more-realistic suggestions for getting the maximum value from any conference.
Part of your preparation might be considering a conference’s code of conduct. A Twitter thread about terrible conference behaviour prompted an outpouring of examples of harassment and sexual assault of female academics.
Carbon offsets are not doing their job of cancelling out greenhouse-gas emissions, reports ProPublica. “Ultimately, the polluters got a guilt-free pass to keep emitting CO2, but the forest preservation that was supposed to balance the ledger either never came or didn’t last,” writes environmental reporter Lisa Song. Her investigation points to a lack of evidence and joined-up thinking on the ground — and scientists say that current efforts are simply much too small to succeed.
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Do you have time for a trip into the uncanny valley? Have a look at this mind-boggling clip of the Mona Lisa having a chat, thanks to research that can animate a human face from a single image. Connect with a real human (at least, I think I am) by sending me your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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