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Workers at the construction site of China's next-generation neutrino detector, Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory.

Hard at work building China’s Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO). JUNO hopes to be detecting neutrinos by the end of 2024.Credit: Qiu Xinsheng/VCG via Getty

Inside China’s underground neutrino lab

If all goes to plan, the US$376 million Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO) in China will be ready to start detecting by the end of this year. It is the frontrunner in a race to determine which type of neutrino has the highest mass and which has the lowest, one of the biggest mysteries in physics. Nature’s intrepid reporter Gemma Conroy donned her hard hat and took the 15-minute cable-car ride underground to take a look.

Nature | 6 min read

Ecologists say ‘Anthropocene’ still matters

Geologists might have voted against creating a new epoch called ‘Anthropocene’ in recognition of humans’ impact on the planet, but that hasn’t stopped the term from taking on a life of its own. For many people across the arts and sciences, the word captures the extent to which we have altered the world and helps to define our relationship with Earth. “It’s a term that belongs to everyone,” says palaeoecologist Jacquelyn Gill.

Nature | 4 min read

Roman skeleton hints at malaria’s history

Researchers have identified the first near-complete mitochondrial genome sequence of the pathogen that causes the deadliest form of malaria from an ancient Roman skeleton. They extracted the DNA of Plasmodium falciparum from the teeth of a Roman who lived in Italy in the second century AD. They were able to identify 5,458 pieces of unique genetic information that they combined to get a sequence covering 99.1% of the mitochondrial genome.

Nature | 3 min read

Reference: bioRxiv preprint (not peer-reviewed)

Features & opinion

How to land a job in industry

Chemist-turned-financial-consulting director Fawzi Abou-Chahine shares his tips for transitioning from a PhD programme to industry:

Be proactive: approach the hiring manager through LinkedIn or a cold e-mail before you apply.

Tailor your pitch: create a concise and coherent application that shows how your skills fit the requirements.

Shift your tone: use active, engaging language in your application.

Nature | 5 min read

Futures: Plutopalooza

Author Gretchen Tessmer takes a playful look at Pluto’s place in the Universe in the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series.

Nature | 6 min read

How loneliness haunts astronauts

In his heartfelt documentary Space: The Longest Goodbye, director Ido Mizrahy explores first-hand accounts of how leaving family behind can wreak havoc on an astronaut’s well-being. Interviews and candid videos offer a poignant look at the isolation and loss of connection that so many astronauts feel in space — and their advice for how to deal with it.

Nature | 5 min read

Why menopause keeps evolving in whales

Comparing data on toothed whale species that do, and do not, experience menopause suggests that prolonged female postreproductive life allows whales to improve their offsprings’ and grand-offsprings’ survival chances. Older female whales such as killer whales (Orcinus orca) share food and become “repositories of long-term ecological knowledge”, explains animal-behaviour researcher and study co-author Sam Ellis. Menopause also seems to reduce reproductive competition between mothers and daughters. The hormone changes killer whales go through are similar to those in menopausal humans, but “as to hot and cold flushes, we've got no way of telling yet”, Ellis says.

Nature Podcast | 27 min listen

Get the expert view from evolutionary demographer Rebecca Sear in the Nature News & Views article (7 min read, Nature paywall)

Reference: Nature paper

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Quote of the day

“I write e-mails, papers and grant drafts like I am taking an exam: with intense focus and high speed.”

Nutrition epidemiologist Lindsey Smith Taillie explains how having non-negotiable childcare deadlines supercharged her productivity. (Nature | 7 min read)