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Labs around the world are increasingly using a revolutionary technique known as cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, to determine the 3D shape of proteins. Such structures are useful for uncovering how proteins work, how they malfunction in disease and how they can be targeted with drugs. The technique involves bombarding flash-frozen proteins with electrons to produce images of individual molecules that can be used to reconstruct a 3D shape. Last week, a database of protein structures determined by cryo-EM, received its 10,000th entry. The popularity of the database is largely driven by the growth in the number of labs with cryo-electron microscopes, say researchers.
The Berlin Institute of Health’s 7,000 researchers are being offered an extra €1,000 (US$1,090) in funding if they publish null results, replication studies, pre-registered preclinical studies or papers that reuse data previously published by others. There are also financial incentives available for scholars who publish their raw data. “We are trying to nudge the process to get them to consider different factors and ideas,” says neurologist Ulrich Dirnagl. “We are perhaps rewarding things that should be normal process, but it needs to be done.”
Nests that are 100 million years old seem to offer the oldest fossil evidence for modern bees. The tunnels and structures inside the nests closely match those created by modern bees in the Halictidae family — also called sweat bees — and particularly to the Halictini tribe. The finding supports other evidence showing that bees and flowers diversified around the same time, during the early Cretaceous.
Features & opinion
Across the globe, drained peatlands are emitting billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Scotland — the first country to declare a climate emergency — is taking the lead in restoring bogs to health. Restoration is tough work that takes years to bear fruit, but the rewards could be enormous: scientists are investigating whether the process could go beyond just stopping the drained peatlands emitting carbon and reviving them such that they can suck up more.
Physicist Brian Greene’s new book offers a grand vision of the Universe, rooted in physics, that lifts it above many accounts of the cosmic story. The resulting journey through space and time is sometimes breathtaking, necessarily selective — and occasionally superficial, writes reviewer Philip Ball.
I’m horrified that I wrote yesterday that NASA astronaut Jessica Meir had recently returned from the International Space Station. It was, of course, Meir’s all-female spacewalk companion Christina Koch who completed the longest-ever single spaceflight by a woman last week. Meir is still on the ISS, smashing it.
In abject apology, I offer a bumper bonus of delightful science sign-off links (since so many of you have written to tell me this is your favourite part!) Please enjoy this stunning naturally pink manta ray and the wing-tip vortices of two raptors as they pass through a mist of helium-filled bubbles. Hats off to ArrrStats — a Twitter account that translates tweets about Rstats into pirate talk. And finally, if you fancy following Meir and Koch onto the ISS, NASA astronaut applications open on 2 March.
Thanks to all the readers who spotted my blunder. Your feedback is always welcome at email@example.com.