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Social scientists who mine social-media sites such as Twitter and Instagram for information on human health and behaviour are struggling to deal with online bots designed to imitate people. Bots can contaminate online data that scientists gather about a community’s reaction to an event, a disaster or issues such as smoking or vaccines. “You might be artificially giving the bots a voice by treating them as if they are really part of the discussion, when they are actually just amplifying something that may not be voiced by the community,” says health-disparities researcher Amelia Jamison. Bot detectors can help weed out fake accounts, but bots are also becoming more complex and harder to detect.
Eighty-one of Australia’s top scientists have called on their government to take the lead on fighting climate change in light of the recent disastrous bush fires. “Australia’s current visibility as ground zero for both climate impacts and climate policy uncertainty presents a unique opportunity for us to emerge as a leader on this challenge,” wrote the Australian Research Council laureates in an open letter sent to the leaders of the country’s four main political parties.
Reference: ARC laureates open letter
Charles Lieber, the chair of the chemistry and chemical biology department at Harvard University, has been charged with lying to the US Department of Defense (DOD) about his participation in China’s Thousand Talents programme. The DOD alleges that Lieber hid his lucrative involvement with the programme and with a leading Chinese university. According to the DOD, Lieber’s lab has received more than US$15 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the DOD since 2008, and as part of that he was obliged to reveal any non-US funding or collaborations.
Features & opinion
At 11 p.m. on 31 January, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. A future research relationship must be built on continued collaboration — and compromise, argues a Nature editorial.
Now that it’s actually happening, negotiators have less than a year to agree on how the country will participate in EU research programmes. Nature answers the Brexit questions British scientists are asking.
An early-career scientist and an experienced leadership expert join forces to outline five ‘power skills’ — the crucial abilities that enable a leader to connect with people, communicate effectively, adapt to the unexpected and be open-minded. “Being talented in your field is important, but your impact can be much greater if you also know how to lead and motivate the next generation,” say Sarah Groover and Ruth Gotian.
5G — the fifth generation of wireless communications technology — is Nature Electronics’ 2020 technology of the year. Explore the underlying technology, its potential applications, and its wider political context — and what 6G could look like.
Rarely has the fate of the dinosaurs been so adorably (and tragically) recounted as in the one-minute song ‘Dinosaurs in Love’ by four-year-old Fenn Rosenthal.
Heal my broken dinosaur-loving heart by sending me your feedback on this newsletter. Your opinion is always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.