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Central Library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico called La Universidad y el México actual, among jacaranda trees.

A number of the accused academics are based at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.Credit: Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto/Getty

Scientists accused of ‘organized crime’

In what many scientists claim is a politically motivated move, Mexico’s government prosecutor has accused 31 scientists and officials of organized crime and money laundering. The allegations centre on the finances of a scientific advisory board called the Foro Consultivo. The accused to whom Nature spoke deny the claims, and so far a judge has not approved formal charges. But scientists say the move is part of a fear campaign to silence researchers opposing government policies. These charges, typically reserved for narcotics traffickers, can result in incarceration in a maximum-security prison without bail.

Nature | 11 min read

Recycled Li-ion batteries are as good as new

Lithium-ion batteries with recycled cathodes can be as good or better than ones that use freshly mined material. Researchers shredded old batteries and reclaimed a mixture of nickel, manganese and cobalt that is commonly used for the cathodes of electric car batteries. When tested with industry-standard methods, the recycled batteries could store as much energy as a conventional one, and could be charged and discharged more times before needing to be replaced.

IEEE Spectrum | 4 min read

Reference: Joule paper

Heavy fishing has skewed ocean chemistry

Industrial fishing has affected the ocean’s carbon cycle by curbing one of nature’s most effective carbon-sequestration mechanisms: fish poop. Models show that, before industrial fishing began in the late nineteenth century, ‘fish’ (including some commercially targeted invertebrates, such as squid) accounted for around 10% of all biologically sequestered carbon in the deep ocean. By 1990, as the biomass of these fish declined, the carbon sequestration, nutrient transport and chemical effects associated with their faeces fell by roughly half. These drops led to changes in the ocean’s chemistry comparable to those caused by human-induced climate change, say researchers.

The Scientist | 8 min read

Reference: Science Advances paper

Features & opinion

How cigarettes became a civil-rights issue

Pushing Cool, a new book by medical historian Keith Wailoo, documents how the US tobacco industry methodically and deliberately drew in Black cultural figures, civil-rights leaders and politicians in its bid to drive up menthol sales among Black smokers. The health impacts are stark, writes reviewer and Nature journalist Nidhi Subbaraman: Black Americans are more likely than white ones to die from diseases linked to smoking.

Nature | 5 min read

Tough times for science sleuths

In May, high-profile microbiologist Didier Raoult filed a criminal complaint against research-integrity specialist Elisabeth Bik after she publicly flagged concerns about his published work. The dispute illustrates the tension between the ideal of science as a self-correcting process, and the mostly unpaid, unsung work of fact-checking the scientific record. “I’m convinced there is a chilling effect,” says Bik. “I’m feeling the cold, too.”

Buzzfeed News | 20 min read

Read more: Scientific image sleuth faces legal action for criticizing research papers (Nature | 6 min read, from May)

Where I work

Carla Daniel on the beach in Barbados, measuring a turtle's shell while the turtle is nesting, in June 2021.

Carla Daniel is field director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, based at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados.Micah B. Rubin for Nature

Turtle-breeding seasons mean long nights for Carla Daniel, the field director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, based at the University of the West Indies. Wandering hatchlings and hurricane-swamped nests are among the issues that Daniel and her team deal with. “We aim to leave no turtle behind,” she says. (Nature | 3 min read)

Quote of the day

“If our civilisation doesn’t persist, for whatever reason… it is possible that whoever presses that button eliminates meaning in a galaxy for ever.”

Considering how rare complex, intelligent life might be, the end of civilization on Earth could imply the death of meaning in our galaxy, muses physicist Brian Cox. (The Guardian | 5 min read)