Daily briefing: Step inside Japan’s trio of big-physics experiments

Take a rare look inside the world’s largest neutrino detector, the world’s most advanced gravitational-wave detector and the experiment that could revolutionize particle physics. Plus, dozens of COVID-19 coronavirus clinical trials take off in China and reintroduced bison churn up bones of their ancestors in Canada.

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COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak

Medics check on people with COVID-19 in Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, China.Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty

Dozens of clinical trials take off in China

• More than 80 clinical trials are running in China to test coronavirus treatments. As HIV drugs, stem cells and traditional Chinese medicines vie for a chance to prove their worth, the World Health Organization is working to ensure that studies follow strict standards for parameters such as control groups, randomization and measures of clinical outcomes. (Nature | 6 min read)

• The first case of the new coronavirus has been reported in Africa — in a person in Egypt. The case was detected as a result of the country’s programme to trace visitors who had come from affected countries. Researchers have been concerned about the virus arriving in African countries that are vulnerable because of their economic status or political instability. (Nature | continuously updated)

Reintroduced bison churn up bones of their ancestors

Three dozen bison reintroduced to Canada’s Banff National Park are rediscovering the places where their ancestors once roamed. The animals’ activity is churning up ancient bison bones, recreating wallowing spots and renewing habitats for other animals. The iconic species was nearly driven to extinction in the nineteenth century. “This is kind of neat to learn our lessons, to reverse a historic wrong on a small scale,” says wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer.

CBC | 5 min read

Research-integrity training starts at home

More training and clear guidelines to curb bad research practices could be wasted on researchers with established careers who are inherently dishonest. “It might be far too late to imbue them with integrity that they do not already have,” says bioethicist Priya Satalkar. She and a colleague interviewed 33 people working in the life sciences and medicine in Switzerland and concluded that the foundations of good ethics begin in childhood. They recommend that formal training in research integrity should start at the undergraduate level.

Nature Index | 4 min read

Reference: BMC Medical Ethics paper

Features & opinion

Step inside Japan’s trio of big-physics experiments

For more than half a century, Japan has been at the forefront of big physics, asking fundamental questions about the laws which govern the workings of the universe. Over three episodes, take a rare look inside three of its flagship experiments: Super Kamiokande, the world’s largest neutrino detector; KAGRA, the world’s most advanced gravitational-wave detector; and Belle II, the experiment that could revolutionize particle physics.

Nature | 3 ten-minute videos

‘She was as interested in the people who did the physics as in the physics itself’

Gloria Lubkin, who spent 46 years at Physics Today as an editor, editor-in-chief and editorial director, died last month at the age of 86. Colleagues and friends recall her warmth and unwavering commitment to accurate, clear science journalism. “Surrounding myself with interesting people is just the way I was raised,” writes Lubkin’s daughter, mathematician Sharon Lubkin. “Working hard to develop a joyful career in science was just what everyone did. What could be better?”

Physics Today | 14 min read

Research highlights: 1-minute reads

Rarer than gold: wobbling gold

For the first time, physicists have clearly observed a rare and complex motion of atomic nuclei called longitudinal wobbling. Researchers observed the motion -- like that of a spinning top -- in the nucleus of 187Au, which wobbles because of its odd number of protons and neutrons.

A teenager’s body clock can ring in school success

Teenagers tend to sleep later than people in other age groups, and so they would benefit educationally from later school start times. “On the whole, our findings indicate that the morning schedule starts too early relative to adolescents’ internal rhythms,” found a study of Argentinian young people.

We waste double the food that was thought

Globally, people waste an average of 527 calories each per day — more than twice as much food as scientists had thought. As household spending rises above roughly US$6.70 per day per person, the amount of food waste also goes up.

Giant extinct rodent had a tiny brain

An ancient South American rodent had the heft of a St Bernard dog — and a brain the weight of a golf ball. Neoepiblema acreensis, an 80-kilogram rodent related to chinchillas, lived ten million years ago in what is now Brazil.

Get more of Nature’s research highlights: short picks from the scientific literature.

Quote of the day

“Science was a place I ultimately left, not so much because I wanted to, but because I had to.”

Author Brandon Taylor writes movingly in answer to the question, ‘do you miss being a scientist?’ (BuzzFeed News)

Watch neuroscientist Antoina Groneberg depict zebrafish brain development in the form of dance and you’ll have no doubt why she won Science’s annual ‘Dance Your PhD’ prize.

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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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