Hello Nature readers, would you like to get this Briefing in your inbox free every day? Sign up here.
There are way more bats than we thought
A genomic analysis suggests that there are probably dozens of unknown species of horseshoe bats in southeast Asia. Researchers examined hundreds of bats representing 11 species. Variations in their DNA suggest that each of the 11 species was probably actually multiple species. There is a downside to this plethora of Rhinolophidae: the family is considered to be the reservoir of many viruses that can jump from animals to people, including close relatives of SARS-CoV-2. Identifying bat species correctly might help to pinpoint geographical hotspots with a high risk of zoonotic disease and could support the search for the origins of COVID-19.
Reference: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution paper
Biden tries again to boost science funding
US President Joe Biden released his latest budget request to lawmakers yesterday, calling for significant investment in clean energy and public health. But the proposal faces long odds. Although Congress modestly increased funding for most science agencies in 2022, it heavily scaled back some of the administration’s most ambitious proposals.
Turning CO2 into stuff
Many companies are chasing an alluring idea: divert greenhouse gases away from the atmosphere and use them to make products that are both virtuous and profitable. Some are boutique items for the climate-conscious shopper — vodka or diamonds, for example. Most are staples of the global economy: fuels, polymers, other chemicals and building materials. But there are tough questions about whether CO2 recycling genuinely benefits the climate: most of the products made this way will lock the gas away only temporarily.
Features & opinion
Study conspiracy theories with compassion
“Conspiracy theories are more about values than about information,” says Elżbieta Drążkiewicz, who studies those related to vaccine hesitancy and COVID-19. “Debunking statements might occasionally be effective, but does little to tackle their root cause.” For example, a history of reproductive injustice in Ireland had undermined trust in the HPV vaccine. A public-health campaign that aimed to build trust, instead of just debunking rumours, helped to raise vaccination rates by 20%. Key to this approach is empathy, says Drążkiewicz.
When to say ‘no’ to opportunities
Many young scientists and principal investigators have a difficult time saying ‘no’ to offers to collaborate or join seemingly important committees — often thinking “something is better than nothing”. But it is important to prioritize, say two researchers who work at a busy academic medical centre. They outline four techniques to help ensure that you focus on the right projects to benefit your career.
Image of the week
Under the icy White Sea
Marine biologist Alexander Semenov fell in love with the strange beauty of cold-water invertebrates when he joined the White Sea Biological Station in Primorskiy, Russia. He started photographing them as a hobby; he’s now a professional photographer and leads the scientific diving team at the station. In a beautifully illustrated feature, he shares his tips for taking photos for your own research.