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On the front line of the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, staff from the World Health Organization fight to save lives, build trust and stay safe themselves. Some have seen colleagues injured or killed while trying to halt the deadly virus. “It is very intense, but I am totally devoted to serving the people,” says epidemiologist Marie-Roseline Darnycka Bélizaire.
US researchers have developed a new way to define pressure. For nearly 400 years, air pressures have been measured using mercury-based instruments called manometers. The new pressure sensor, called a fixed-length optical cavity, compares the speed of a laser travelling through a gas-filled cavity with that of an identical beam in a vacuum. Quantum calculations can then be used to determine the gas’s ‘energy density’, which is equivalent to pressure. If widely accepted, the method would do away with the need for mercury, which is toxic and faces international bans.
Cuttlefish and their kin form tentacles by deploying the same genes that direct the growth of arms in humans and legs in spiders — despite the fact that these animal groups evolved limbs independently. The results suggest that genetic programs driving appendage development have been conserved for more than 500 million years, even if the appendages themselves have not.
FEATURES & OPINION
Ongoing human development and climate change mean that river managers can’t look to the old tools that aim to restore ecosystems to their original state, argue nine biologists in Nature. They describe how waterways can be managed adaptively to maintain water supplies and avoid devastating population crashes in riparian environments.
To cope with climate change and population growth, the continent urgently needs more home-grown researchers, argue ecologists Anagaw Atickem, Nils Chr. Stenseth and colleagues. They call for incentives for international researchers who collaborate with African colleagues, extra support for graduate students from the continent who are studying abroad and better working conditions for scientists in Africa.
A robotic fish is powered by ‘robot blood’ that stores energy like a battery and also physically moves the fins. The blood increased the amount of energy stored in the robot by 325%, compared with a machine that has a separate battery and hydraulic-fluid system. Robotocist Rob Shepherd tells the Nature Podcast how the innovation saves on weight and power.
BOOKS & ARTS
Barbara Kiser’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes life’s innovations, the enigma of gravity, and how to feed 8 billion people.
From childcare to schooling, juggling family life with fieldwork has many challenges. Researcher-parents tell Nature how they balance their children’s needs with work priorities while in the field.
Are you a PhD student?. Tell Nature your story and share what you find most challenging — and most rewarding — about life as a doctoral candidate. Take part in our biennial PhD student survey to make yourself heard in Nature’s coverage of PhD life worldwide, and be in with a chance to win £250 in our prize draw. Click here to take the survey.
Former biochemist Catriona Manville leveraged her science background into a career as a research leader for the non-profit organization RAND Europe. She shares her tips for transitioning into a career outside academia.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Hats off to paleontologist Dr Win, who wore a full Tyrannosaurus Rex costume to accept her PhD. Tell me the outfit that would represent your favourite career moment — plus any feedback on this newsletter — at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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