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News Brief: US counts old growth forests, Canadian scientists march for higher wages, and condor dung reveals ancient history of birds | The science




US increased the number of old forests

Last year, President Joe Biden surprised forest scientists by ordering an Earth Day inventory of state holdings of mature and old-growth forests. This sparked a fight from the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to create a formal definition of what constitutes “mature” and “old growth” forests and apply those definitions to millions of hectares. Meeting the April 22 deadline last month, the agencies released their findings in a report noting that of the nearly 72 million hectares of forest they manage, 45% are mature and 18% are old-growth. Figures that exceed estimates published by non-federal researchers include 9 million hectares of pine-juniper forest (pictured here in Utah), a type of forest rarely previously classified as old-growth. The report’s findings are likely to spark a heated debate on how to manage old forests and make them resilient to climate change.


The chemist received house arrest

United States District Judge Last week, former Harvard University chemist Charles Lieber was sentenced. to 6 months house arrest and fined $50,000 for lying to federal agencies about his dealings with a Chinese university and failing to report payments from it. The ruling ended the most notorious case of about two dozen recent prosecutions of American academic scientists with research ties to China. In December 2021, Lieber’s connections with Wuhan University of Technology led to his conviction in court. Prosecutors have asked for a 90-day jail sentence and a $150,000 fine for 64-year-old Lieber, who has terminal blood cancer and left Harvard earlier this year. His lawyers requested that he not be sentenced to prison due to his poor health. The case was initiated by the Chinese government, aimed at curbing economic espionage by the US rival. The campaign was renamed last year to clarify that it applies to cancerous subjects from anywhere in the world. The government has a controversial reputation for harassing academics; several were acquitted or had their cases dismissed, while several were found guilty of offenses similar to Lieber’s and sentenced to prison.


unknown underwater

Scientists suspect they have described less than 10% of the marine species on Earth. To learn more about the ocean’s remaining inhabitants, researchers, businesses and philanthropists have teamed up to identify some 100,000 new sea creatures from an estimated 2 million as yet unidentified species over the next decade. V ocean census, launched last week, will combine DNA sequencing with machine learning to create a kind of cyber-taxonomy, classifying organisms collected on expeditions across the world’s seas. The results could help conservation and give scientists a better understanding of the role marine life plays in oxygen and food production, and in the carbon cycle. With financial support from the Nippon Foundation, Japan’s largest philanthropic organization, the British Institute of Marine Science and Conservation, called Nekton, will coordinate the collection of ships, divers, submarines and deep-sea robots. Ocean Census will make its data, along with 3D digital images of all new species, available to both researchers and the public. With the disappearance of corals, sharks and other marine species in recent decades, “we are in a race against time,” says project leader Alex Rogers, a marine biologist at the University of Oxford.


Welsh fossils highlight early life

This 462-million-year-old fossil represents a new species, a clam-like creature with long appendages.JOE BOTTING

In Wales, paleontologists have discovered a rich source of 462-million-year-old fossils that show a greater match than expected between animals that evolved in the Cambrian explosion 40 million years ago and the ancestors of modern species. The researchers thought these ancestors had replaced the Cambrian creatures, but the new site – a small quarry in a sheep field – shows a much more gradual transition, say Jo Botting and Lucy Muir of the Amgedfa Simru National Museum in Wales. Among the many fossils, the couple cataloged 170 marine species, including glass sponges, crustaceans called horseshoe shrimp, and six-legged arthropods that may have given rise to insects. Nearly all of the animals are tiny, many ranging from the size of a sesame seed to a pencil eraser, and their soft bodies are perfectly preserved, giving insight into what they ate and how they lived, the research team reports this week in Ecology of nature and evolution. The quarry, according to Julien Kimmig, a paleontologist at the Karlsruhe State Museum of Natural History, who was not involved in the work, “could certainly be as famous” as the famous Burgess Shale in Canada, a rich source of Cambrian fossils from 500 million years ago.


Indian classes got rid of Darwin

Scientists in India are protesting the decision to exclude discussion of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution from the textbooks used by millions of ninth and tenth graders. More than 4,000 people have signed a petition from the Society for Breakthrough Sciences to recover the material. The non-profit advocacy group for science reports that the National Council for Educational Research and Training, an autonomous government group that sets curricula for India’s 256 million primary and secondary school students, has dropped the theme as part of a “content rationalization” process. The removal “distorts the idea of ​​a comprehensive secondary education,” says evolutionary biologist Amitabh Joshi of the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Science. Others fear it indicates a growing interest in pseudoscience among Indian officials and see it as unlikely that NCERT will back down.


EU trial defense fund blown up

The European Union was ill-prepared to increase funding for defense research report published last week own financial supervisory authority. Between 2017 and 2019, the EU spent around €90m on 18 projects under the Defense Research Preparatory Action, a fund designed to “pave the way” for the much larger €8bn European Defense Fund, which began operations in 2021 and will last until 2027. But the European Audit Chamber report says the previous pilot fund did not fully function as a “test bed” for the larger program as projects were shelved and made “limited progress”. The auditors also warned that the European Commission is too understaffed to cope with rising spending on defense research.


Condor feces reveal their history

Andean condor in flight
Andean condor nests hold a messy archive of their diet going back thousands of years.JACK DIKING/NPL/MINDEN PICTURES

To find out how the Andean condor’s diet has changed over millennia of environmental change, researchers climbed a cliff in Argentina’s Patagonia region to collect samples of bird droppings from a donut-shaped mound. Based on radiocarbon dating and other clues, scientists have found that condors have nested on this slope for about 2,200 years. However, guano has shown that between about 300 and 1300 AD. Andean condors became scarce as ash from nearby volcanic eruptions covered the landscape and killed the animals whose carcasses they hunted. The scientists also learned that the careers of condors have changed over the years. Traces of llama DNA predominate in older layers of guano deposits, while introduced sheep and cattle are more visible in more recent layers. The researchers say the findings illustrate the value of studying long-term nesting sites for reconstructing a species’ ecological history.


Demand for Canadian PhDs on the rise

Thousands of scientists across Canada left work May 1 to protest against the low wages of graduate and doctoral students. At an event on Parliament Hill in Canada, Sarah Laframboise, Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of Ottawa. A student and executive director of the grassroots organization Support Our Science cited a study that found 86% of graduate students were stressed and worried about their finances. The organization behind the one-day protest is asking the federal government to increase pay for graduate and postdoc students, who are funded by federal scholarships and fellowships. In August 2022, he sent an open letter to the government asking for more investment in the next generation of scientists. But there were no such changes in this year’s federal budget, released in March.


FDA approves first RSV vaccine



The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first vaccine for prevent lower respiratory tract infections respiratory syncytial virus for adults aged 60 and over on Wednesday.

RSV is a common and contagious virus that causes infections in the lungs and airways. According to Centers for Disease Control and PreventionMost people with RSV have mild cold symptoms that take one to two weeks to recover.

GSK’s single-dose Arexvy vaccine could be available by fall to people aged 60 years and older, a demographic at higher risk of developing severe illness from RSV. CNN reports. However, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices should still recommend its use.

“Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease or a weakened immune system, are at high risk of severe illness from RSV.” This was stated by the director of the FDA’s Center for Biological Evaluation and Research, Peter Marks. Press release on Wednesday.

According to the CDC, Between 6,000 and 10,000 adults aged 65 and over die from RSV each year in the United States. RSV is also common in children, with 100 to 300 deaths in children under the age of 5 each year. The virus is also the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children under 1 year of age in the US.

FDA approval follows “triple” surge cases of RSV, COVID-19 and influenza at the end of 2022

“Today’s approval of the first RSV vaccine is a major public health achievement for preventing a potentially life-threatening disease and reflects the FDA’s continued commitment to promoting the development of safe and effective vaccines for use in the United States,” Marks said. Press release.

In accordance with CNN, a vaccine has been in development for the past 60 years. A clinical trial discovered that the vaccine was 83% effective in protecting against lower respiratory disease caused by RSV and 94% effective in preventing severe disease in the elderly.

An FDA press release states that one study in which some of the 2,500 participants received Arexvy, at the same time as the FDA-approved flu vaccine, two participants developed a rare type of inflammation that affects the brain and spinal cord called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.

Another study with 2,500 participants found that after taking Arexvy, one participant developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare condition in which the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, which can lead to muscle weakness and even paralysis.

According to a press release, the FDA is asking GSK to conduct a post-marketing study to further assess the risks of Guillain-Barré Syndrome and ADEM.

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VLA to search for radio signals from alien civilizations



The NSF Carl J. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), a powerful radio telescope located about 80.5 km (50 miles) west of Socorro, New Mexico, is joining the hunt for technosignatures of alien civilizations.

A VLA post to search for radio signals from alien civilizations first appeared on Sci.News: Breaking Science News.

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In a 1st-century burial, a Roman physician is buried with medical instruments, including “high quality” scalpels.



In Hungary, the grave of a physician who died about 2000 years ago was discovered, along with needles, tongs, scalpels and other tools that he used in his profession.

A set of medical instruments dating from the first century AD is a rare find. statements (will open in a new tab) released April 25 by Eötvös Lorand University (ELTE) in Budapest. Similar finds were made only in the Roman city Pompeii.

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