Daily briefing: Why 300 scientists are going adrift in the Arctic

They’re going wherever the ice takes them. Plus: highly impractical advice from XKCD’s Randall Munroe and a quiz to test your green-lab credentials.

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A pig of pig farmer Han Yi at a village in Changtu county, Liaoning province, China January 17, 2019.

Antibiotics are given to farmed pigs to to promote growth and prevent infections.Credit: Ryan Woo/Reuters

Antimicrobial resistance follows meat boom

Farm animals in India and northeast China are becoming more resistant to common antimicrobial drugs — a worrying trend that is rising as meat production increases in the developing world. Hotspots of drug resistance are also emerging in Kenya, Uruguay and Brazil, according to a study of antimicrobial resistance in livestock.

Nature | 3 min read

Reference: Science paper

Why 300 scientists are going adrift

Germany’s biggest research vessel, Polarstern, is on its way to get trapped in the Arctic sea ice for a year — on purpose. The ship will host a rotating crew of some 300 scientists from 17 countries to give them their closest ever look at how the polar climate, and its fragile ecosystems, are changing. “We will go and do science wherever the ice might carry us,” says chief scientist Markus Rex.

Nature | 5 min read

Misconduct in ‘mind-reading’ research

A prominent neuroscientist committed scientific misconduct in his study of ‘locked in’ patients, says Germany’s main research agency, the DFG. Niels Birbaumer’s high-profile work investigated whether a brain-monitoring technique could determine whether people with a paralysing neurodegenerative condition were silently answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to simple questions. The DFG says the data in the study were incomplete — but Birbaumer stands by his results.

Nature | 4 min read

Quiz: how green is your lab?

Is your lab full of sustainability champions or single-use scientists? Take our quiz to find out.

Produced in partnership with Nature, scientists and members of the CU Green Labs Program at the University of Colorado Boulder, this short quiz highlights a collection of actions being put into practice by researchers taking part in the laboratory-sustainability movement.

Take the quiz on


Look to the oceans

For many, the sea is out of sight and out of mind, says policy adviser Janis Searles Jones. That means the dangers that oceans face from climate change — and their immense potential to help solve it — are often overlooked. This month, for the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will issue a stand-alone assessment of oceans and coasts. Let this open the doors to action, urges Searles Jones.

Nature | 5 min read

Highly impractical advice

Cartoonist Randall Munroe of XKCD fame tells the Nature Podcast about his new book of bizarre thought experiments, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems.

Nature Podcast | 15 min listen

Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on iTunes or Google Podcasts.

100-year-old roots of the Green New Deal

In December 1919, John Maynard Keynes’s hastily-penned critique of globalization and inequity, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, helped give rise to the twentieth century’s golden age of economic stability, writes reviewer Ann Pettifor. Pettifor explores its astonishing contemporary resonance a century later.

Nature | 4 min read


“So now we can say with certainty that the most metal bird is the raven.”

Ravens, eagles and vultures top the list of birds name-checked in heavy-metal songs, according to a delightfully detailed linguistic analysis in the humourous (but not peer-reviewed) Journal of Geek Studies.


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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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