Daily briefing: An early setback might boost your career in the long run

A near loss can lead to a big win, coral-watching satellites track bleaching in Hawaii and veggie meals tempt meat fans, too.

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Coral head, in the ocean near Hawaii

Symbiotic algae provide coral with nutrients and oxygen, and their bright colours.Credit: Kimberly Jeffries/Coral Reef Image Bank

Satellites monitor Hawaii reef bleaching

A major marine heatwave that began in August is bleaching corals across Hawaii, and scientists are watching the devastation unfold in unprecedented detail. They are using a network of 140 small satellites and experimental deep-learning algorithms to track the event in near-real time. The technique aims to help identify where reefs need protection most and discover the factors that make some corals more resilient than others.

Nature | 4 min read

More women nominated for Nobels

More women are being nominated for Nobel prizes this year, following changes to encourage a diverse range of nominees, says Göran Hansson, the head of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prizes. Of the 607 Nobel prizes awarded for science, only 20 have gone to women. The academy has been trying to tackle the imbalance — for example, by explicitly asking nominators to consider diversity in gender, geography and topic — and last year, more women than men were elected to the academy for the first time ever. The first winners for 2019 will be announced on Monday.

Nature | 5 min read

Veggie options tempt meat-eaters, too

Putting more plant-based meals on the menu leads people to eat less meat — and the effect is greatest in the biggest meat fans. Researchers analysed thousands of meals served at cafeterias at the University of Cambridge. They found that doubling the proportion of meat-free options boosted sales of those meals by up to 80%, without lessening the number of meals sold overall. Increases in plant-based dining were largest in people who usually shied away from veggie meals.

Nature Research Highlights | 1 min read

Reference: PNAS paper

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A near loss can lead to a big win

A setback early in your scientific career might boost your success in the long run. Researchers looked at junior scientists who just missed out on a US National Institutes of Health R01 grant and found that they were more likely to later write a high-impact paper than were those who narrowly won the funding. That is, if they stayed in science at all: narrowly losing out on the prestigious grant also significantly increases attrition. The attrition might be part of the reason for the overall effect: those who don’t quit have the grit and other qualities necessary to triumph.

Harvard Business review | 5 min read

Reference: Nature Communications paper

Mother’s influence leapfrogs speciation

Female strawberry poison frogs (Oophaga pumilio) prefer mates that are the same colour as their mother — whereas male frogs are more aggressive towards rivals that are the same colour as their mother. Biologist Yusan Yang tells the Nature Podcast how the effect can act similarly to natural selection to maintain variation in traits and mate preferences.

Nature Podcast | 25 min listen

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Reference: Nature paper


Multi-generational women living together

Despite stereotypes, women in and past menopause rarely report feeling ‘deficient’ or disempowered.Credit: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty

The advantages and annoyances of menopause

In her new book The Slow Moon Climbs, historian Susan Mattern seeks to change the perception of menopause, stressing the natural-selective advantage of living well beyond the reproductive years. Reviewer Julia Prague, an endocrinologist, says the advantages of the change are apparent from her own research with women enjoying their period-free renaissance. But Prague questions Mattern’s idea that many of the less enjoyable side-effects of menopause are cultural constructs.

Nature | 5 min read

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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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