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The world is running two years behind schedule to finalize a new global framework on biodiversity conservation. Representatives from almost 200 member states of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity were set to meet in Kunming, China, in October 2020. COVID-19 scuppered that plan, and China’s battle against rising cases means that the meeting, tentatively rescheduled for late August or early September, is in doubt. “The longer we wait, the more diversity is lost,” says conservation biologist Alice Hughes.
More than 120 confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox, a chickenpox-like infection, have been reported in at least 11 non-African countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain, in the past week. The disease is very rare and is most often found in West or Central Africa. The emergence of the virus in separate populations across the world in places where it doesn’t usually appear has alarmed scientists — and sent them racing for answers. Any new viral behaviour is worrying, but researchers are not panicked: the disease is generally mild, most people recover in a few weeks without treatment and monkeypox is vulnerable to vaccines and treatments that were developed for smallpox.
Scientists think that galaxies cannot form without the gravitational pull of dark matter. But astronomers might have observed a line of 11 galaxies that don’t contain any dark matter, which could all have been created in an ancient collision. Some are unconvinced that the claim is much more than a hypothesis. “If proven right, this could certainly be exciting for galaxy formation. However, the jury is still out,” says astronomer Chervin Laporte.
NASA’s Voyager 1 mission seems to be confused about its location in space and is sending back junk telemetry data. But the venerable spacecraft has not gone into safe mode or sounded an alarm. Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is now 23.3 billion kilometres away from Earth and traversing the high-radiation environment of interstellar space. Engineers are investigating the issue, but it is a slow process: it takes almost two days to send a message from Earth to Voyager 1 and to receive the craft’s response. “A mystery like this is sort of par for the course at this stage of the Voyager mission,” says Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager 1 and its twin Voyager 2.
Features & opinion
Andrew Robinson’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes a sparkling survey of female dominance in the animal kingdom, an absorbing memoir that explores science’s biggest media controversies and a journey with trilobites.
In this week’s Nature Podcast, we hear the stories of scientists whose lives have been affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including researchers who have become refugees, soldiers and activists in the face of conflict.
Physicist Albert Einstein resisted efforts to commercialize his identity when he was alive. Now, his image earns millions for the university that he co-founded, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem — which maintains “extremely aggressive and litigious” control over it. With a patchwork of laws governing ‘publicity rights’ — which didn’t exist as a concept when Einstein died — the situation has ignited endless legal clashes. “If I were looking for a problem to put on a final law exam that would put my students through their paces,” says legal scholar Roger Schechter, “Einstein would be it.”