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The Orion spacecraft captured stunning photographs as it swooped just 130 kilometres above the lunar surface on 21 November. It’s the closest a capsule designed to hold people has been to the Moon in half a century. The Artemis I mission is a test for a future crewed Moon mission. It flew directly over Tranquility Base, the site of humanity’s first steps on the Moon, and has sent back views of Earth.
A sweep of genomes from viruses called phages has found that thousands contain CRISPR–Cas systems, similar to those used as gene-editing tools in the lab. Some of the Cas enzymes are small and compact, and able to edit plant and animal cells. The viruses probably acquired the systems from bacteria they infect, and evidence suggests “these are systems that are useful to phages”, says biochemist Jennifer Doudna. Viral Cas enzymes could join a growing collection of gene-editing tools discovered in microbes.
Reference: Cell paper
Workers across the ten University of California (UC) campuses are demanding higher pay, childcare subsidies and stronger protection against harassment. Around 48,000 academic workers are involved in what they say is the largest higher-education strike in US history. “Of course I’m worried about my lab,” says Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez, a biology faculty member at UC Davis, who joined the protests in solidarity with the demonstrators. “But I’m more worried about having an environment of integrity in my lab.”
The men’s football World Cup could remind researchers of Qatar’s world-class infrastructure and resources for science. Education City, the location of one of the World Cup stadiums, features state-of-the-art buildings and laboratories hosting satellite branches of seven foreign universities. Qatar’s scientific advancements are marred, however, by the country’s human-rights record, including its treatment of foreign workers. Extramarital sex is illegal and LGBT+ rights are nonexistent. Physician Nasser Mohamed, who is one of very few openly gay Qataris and who sought asylum in the United States, says that will be a factor for any LGBT+ scientists or students thinking about visiting or relocating there. “You’re going to have to choose your career over who you are.”
Features & opinion
“As a metaresearcher studying peer review, I am struck by how vague the concept is,” writes Olavo Amaral. He suggests splitting the task so that a paper’s data are consistent — perhaps using automated tools — before reviewers take time to evaluate its conclusions. “In the long run, this could make published science more trustworthy, and could prove more viable than the current system, in which peer review drains hundreds of millions of hours from researchers but delivers little,” argues Amaral.
One undoubted step forward at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt came with the historic agreement to create a ‘loss and damage’ fund, notes a Nature editorial. For the first time, countries that have suffered devastation as a result of climate change will be helped with the associated costs, such as those of rebuilding homes and businesses destroyed by floods. This represents a totally new kind of fund, going beyond existing (if imperfectly implemented) mechanisms for funding the costs of mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. The size of the fund, who will contribute and which countries will benefit have not yet been discussed. To help settle at least some of the points of disagreement, the editorial supports an idea from a group of climate-vulnerable countries. They will be asking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to assemble an expert synthesis of the relevant scientific literature on loss and damage, and to publish its findings in a special report.
Jennifer Geddes-McAlister founded Moms in Proteomics to create a network of colleagues who could support one another, discuss opportunities for transformation and initiate changes in practice. In the past year, her starting team of seven has grown tenfold. Along the way, she has learnt three key lessons about creating a thriving and useful network: be open to a wide range of perspectives; learn how to spread the word about your idea; and focus on turning words into practice.
Where I work
Rebecca Struthers is a watchmaker and historian at Struthers Watchmakers in Birmingham. She is the only independent female watchmaker in the United Kingdom. “I made and repaired watches during both my master’s and doctoral programmes,” she says. “It’s great to have a qualification to back up what you do — my studies have enriched my work.” (Nature | 3 min read)