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The concentration of methane in the atmosphere has reached an all-time high. Data from a network of sampling stations operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show concentrations of the potent greenhouse gas are rising, with an accelerating rate of increase. Methane comes from natural sources, such as wetlands, and from human activities, including oil and gas extraction and livestock farming. “Here we are. It’s 2020, and it’s not only not dropping. It’s not level. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growth rates we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” says climate scientist Drew Shindell.
Read more: Methane leaks from US gas fields dwarf government estimates (Nature, from 2018)
Reference: NOAA report
Open-source machine-learning can now cut the time it takes to complete certain chemical analyses from eight hours to one minute. The software tool, called DP4-AI, takes nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) data and automatically suggests the most probable structure from a set of candidates. The tool’s creators say chemists shouldn’t worry that automation will lead them to lose their skills in teasing out what their spectra show. “Calculators have not stopped people doing arithmetic, but rather have allowed people to perform complex arithmetic more quickly and accurately,” says synthetic-chemist Jonathan Goodman.
Image of the week
If you find yourself stuck inside with a lot of extra time (and toilet paper), get inspired by this epic TP-powered Rube Goldberg machine built by engineer Mathieu Carillat.
I don’t support toilet-paper hoarding, but I do love to have a folder full of your feedback. Please send your opinions on this newsletter to
Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing
With contributions by Nicky Phillips, Smriti Mallapaty and Davide Castelvecchi