Daily briefing: Leonardo da Vinci’s voracious explorations of fluid dynamics

Renaissance studies in flow, man admits to US biologist’s murder in Crete and how a climate scientist who is also an evangelical Christian is building bridges of trust.

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Suzanne Eaton

Suzanne Eaton was a developmental biologist at one of Germany’s prestigious Max Planck institutes.Credit: Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

Man admits to US biologist’s murder in Crete

Police in Greece say a 27-year-old man has admitted to killing developmental biologist Suzanne Eaton. Eaton was attending a conference in Crete and fellow attendees have described how the meeting was thrown into turmoil as they came to realize that she was missing. Colleagues, family and friends have expressed their shock and grief over the loss of the respected scientist, family woman, musician and athlete.

Nature | 4 min read

Dino-parents nested together to protect eggs

An exquisitely preserved 80-million-year-old dinosaur nesting site discovered in the Gobi Desert provides the first clear evidence that some dinosaurs nested in groups and, like birds, protected their eggs. The fossils of 15 nests and more than 50 eggs confirm that complex reproductive behaviours, such as group nesting, evolved before modern birds split off from the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Nature | 3 min read

Communication averts tragedy of the commons

Fishers who keep their lines of communication open — even when they are competing for the same fish — end up with healthier fishing grounds. Researchers interviewed almost 650 fishers in Kenya and found that those who shared info about when and how they work had more fish and higher biodiversity in their waters. “The hardest thing in conservation is getting a bunch of disparate people to cooperate to ensure the perpetuation of a resource that they all depend on,” says ecologist Jack Kittinger. “When that happens, lo and behold, you’ve got better ecological success.”

Hakai | 3 min read

Reference: Nature Communications paper


A sketch on yellow paper shows swirling torrents of water.

Studies of Turbulent Water shows Leonardo’s understanding of how vortices move.Credit: Leonardo da Vinci, Studies of Turbulent Water, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

Leonardo da Vinci’s studies in flow

On the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance icon’s death, historian Martin Kemp looks anew at Leonardo da Vinci’s voracious explorations of fluid dynamics through his drawings of water and blood. “He saw the human body as a ‘lesser world’, mirroring the forms and functions of the wider world,” writes Kemp of Leonardo’s fascination with water’s motion in seas, rivers and canals in the form of vene d’aqua (veins of water), on Earth’s surface and underground.

Nature | 6 min read

A Christian climate scientist changes hearts and minds

US climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe is building trust and sharing knowledge with a community that is sometimes at odds with scientists: her fellow evangelical Christians. “We all care about our families,” Hayhoe told the US Congress. “We care about our communities. We care about people who are suffering today — poverty, hunger and more. And those are the exact values we need to care about a changing climate.”

The Washington Post | 10 min read

Experience Apollo 11 in real time

If the 50th anniversary coverage of the first Moon landing is getting you inspired, step back in time to the real thing. Apollo 11 in Real Time is a website that will drop you into the mission in progress at that very second, exactly 50 years ago (as I write this, I’m 16 minutes from the nail-biting launch). The website streams photos, television broadcasts, film shot by the astronauts and transcripts of the mission in real time — including, for the first time, 50 channels of mission-control audio.

Apollo 11 in Real Time | 9 days of real-time fun


“It will change how the world sees astronomy, forever.”

Theoretical physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein urges astronomers to reject the involvement of the US National Guard in the construction of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. (Medium)

It’s 50 years ago today since Apollo 11 blasted off on its mission to the Moon. My pick of the coverage is this kid-made LEGO stop-motion animation of the launch. (Right now we happen to be offering the chance to win LEGO doppelgangers of Apollo computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, the lunar module and a Saturn V rocket — enter here.)

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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