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When police officers killed two unarmed black men — Michael Brown and Eric Garner — in 2014, it sparked a national reckoning over the use of deadly force by police in the United States and several ambitious projects to collect more data. Nature explores how social scientists and public-health researchers are mining the numbers to address pressing questions, such as whether the police are disproportionately quick to shoot black civilians and those from other minority groups.
Two new techniques bring us closer to the dream of inferring adaptation, migration and population history from whole genome sequences. Both methods involve estimating how long ago two people shared a common ancestor at a specific genetic location. And both work quickly and efficiently with the huge data sets being produced by projects such as the UK Biobank and the 1000 Genomes Consortium. Population geneticist Kelley Harris examines how these powerful methods “streamline the study of mutation, selection and genetic drift: the trifecta of forces that cause genetic variation to be created, maintained and destroyed”.
FEATURES & OPINION
A new book by physicist Sean Carroll examines “one of the most bizarre yet fully logical ideas in human history”: the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Reviewer Robert Crease explores why physicists find the idea so attractive, despite its brain-bending implications.
Agile and Scrum project-management concepts have made their way from software development companies to science labs. Discover how concepts such as regular ‘stand-ups’ and the ‘minimum viable product’ can be applied in the lab environment, and learn where the system can fall down.
After political scientist Amy Erica Smith led two investigations into gender inequality for a recent Washington Post series, she discovered that some of her colleagues found her findings “more depressing than empowering”. She aims to overturn that feeling by sharing exactly what women and men can do to make a change, whether you’re a sleepless and overworked graduate student or at the top of your profession (and maybe still sleepless and overworked).