It’s time for the hotly anticipated Nature’s 10 — our annual list of ten people who mattered in science this year. They might have achieved amazing discoveries, brought attention to crucial issues or even gained notoriety for controversial actions. This year’s selection includes Brazil’s science defender, a quantum-computer builder and a fossil hunter who revealed the face of an ancient human relative.
Russia will inject around 50 billion roubles (US$790 million) over the next 5 years into quantum-computing research. The windfall is part of a 258-billion-rouble programme for research and development in digital technologies. The country joins the European Union, China and the United States in the race to build practical quantum computers.
Papers are less likely to include positive terms such as ‘novel’, ‘unique’ or ‘unprecedented’ when both the first and last authors are women. Researchers looked at more than 6 million life-sciences articles and categorized the gender of the authors on the basis of their first names. Gender disparities in how positively research was framed were greatest in the highest-impact journals, and positive presentation of research findings was associated with higher citation rates after publication. “Perhaps an obvious response to these findings is to encourage women to act more like men and be more positive,” said an accompanying BMJ editorial, which cautioned against “this ‘fix the women’ approach”.
Features & opinion
Marjan Minnesma, a pioneer in sustainable innovation, has spent the past decade fighting the first lawsuit to force a government to act on global warming. As she and her 800-plus co-plaintiffs await the final ruling in the Supreme Court of the Netherlands on 20 December, she recounts the moments of disappointment and triumph they have faced so far.
The lubricating layer between an ice-skate and the ice surface has surprised physicists by turning out to be … not just water. It had been thought that the formation of a layer of water lets the skate glide over the surface, but physicist Daniel Bonn explains that this lubricating layer has surprising flow properties that seem to sit somewhere between liquid water and ice.
Four scientists who were first-time lead authors in 2019 reveal their key lessons from the process. “You have to be passionate about your idea to get past the stumbling blocks,” says environmental social scientist Christina Hicks. “Passion gives you stamina.”
Where I work
“As an amphibian biologist, I’m particularly obsessed with frogs,” says Jodi Rowley, who can often be found outdoors collecting data to inform conservation strategies. “It’s so important to get out of the office and actually see the animals. That said, field expeditions have been some of the hardest times of my life.”
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