Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Dec 8, 2022

Volume 612 Issue 7939

nature – December 8, 2022 issue:

Oil-palm farms that spare rainforests menace grasslands instead

Programmes to avoid deforestation could have unintentional impacts on a variety of ecosystems.

Fruit-fly inspired robots hold steady in a gust of wind

Flying devices weighing only 10 milligrams could be controlled by an unconventional set of instruments.

‘Prisoner’s dilemma’ pinpoints plants that cooperate

Game theory helps to identify genetic variants that give plants the ability to thrive in crowded conditions.

The search for new physics gets a new partner: the Sun

A fifth fundamental force predicted by some alternative theories of gravity has not been seen in the solar interior

Molten rock lurks not far below Yellowstone tourists’ feet

The magma chamber of an enormous volcano lies closer to Earth’s surface than previously estimated.

Research Preview: Science Magazine – Dec 9, 2022

Science Magazine – December 9, 2022 issue:

Alzheimer’s drug stirs excitement—and concerns

Antibody slows cognitive decline, but deaths, brain bleeds, and swelling mar results

NASA radar altimetry mission to study hidden ocean swirls

Enhanced resolution of SWOT satellite will highlight how small eddies soak up heat and carbon

Image problems besiege Stanford president

Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s early papers are subject of school and journal investigations

In China, ‘zero COVID’ has become a Catch-2

Population chafes at control measures, but lifting them now would carry huge risks

New U.S. law aims to light up medical research on cannabis

Biden signs bill streamlining pot studies and production

Christmas 2022 Events: Krampuslauf In Salzburg

Travel and Adventure Studios (December 2022) – The wild jangling of bells, shaggy pelts, curved horns and terrifying masks: When Krampus and Perchten run down the street, growling, half dancing, half stamping, every single spectator is left just a little unsettled.

Krampus- and Perchten parades truly are an unforgettable experience, as much a part of Salzburg’s Christmas season as the famous Christkindlmarkt and the almost meditative Advent Singing. From the end of November until the beginning of December, you can also experience this unique folk custom in the City of Salzburg itself.

While no one would claim Perchten parades are peaceful, they will definitely leave you with lasting memories. An ancient tradition you can only experience in this part of the Alpine world.

Preview: New Scientist Magazine – Dec 10, 2022

New Scientist Default Image

New Scientist – December 10, 2022 issue:

Self-knowledge: How to know your true personality and why it matters

When it comes to knowing yourself, your own perception of your personality doesn’t necessarily align with that of people around you. But which is more accurate? And can discovering your true nature lead to a better life?

What the world’s largest liquid mirror telescope means for astronomy

The International Liquid Mirror Telescope, perched high in the Himalayas, has finally started making observations. If it succeeds, we could one day put a much larger liquid telescope on the moon

Flying squirrels carve nuts to store them securely in tree branches

Buried nuts would quickly rot in the tropical rainforests of Hainan Island, so flying squirrels have taught themselves carpentry instead

Travel Views: A Cycling Tour Of The Slovenia Green Gourmet Route

 The documentary film Slovenia Green presents Slovenia’s green story and, through the stories of locals, destination representatives, and tourism providers, tell viewers that Slovenia is a safe destination with a sustainable offer and unspoiled nature.

The film follows a cyclist on a Slovenia Green Gourmet Route, a cycling route created in 2021 in cooperation between the Slovenian Tourist Board and the Slovenia Green Consortium and the destinations it passes through. This route takes the cyclist among sustainable food providers in Slovenia from Ljubljana to Posočje, Goriška Brda, Vipava Valley, and Karst, and back through the capital to Sevnica, Podčetrtek, Ptuj, and Maribor. It takes place exclusively between destinations with the Slovenia Green Destination label – a label that recognizes destinations that pay particular attention to responsible tourism development and sufficiently meet the criteria of the international Green Destinations standard.

Film Director: Andro Kajzer, Matej Lavka & Miha F Kalan
Production Company: Zveza Karata Film
Client: Slovenian Tourist Board

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Reviews: The Ten Best Science Books Of 2022

Smithsonian Magazine – Ten Best Science Books of 2022 – December 7, 2022: From a detective story on the origins of Covid-19 to a narrative that imagines a fateful day for dinosaurs, these works affected us the most this year

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong

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In An Immense World, science journalist Ed Yong dives into the vast variety of animal senses with a seemingly endless supply of awe-inspiring facts. As humans, we move through the world within our Umwelt—a term for subjective sensory experience Yong borrows from the Baltic German biologist Jakob von Uexküll. But every creature on Earth has its own Umwelt that we can scarcely imagine. Through interviews with scientists around the globe, Yong teases out the astonishing details of other animals’ perceptions, introducing us to their fantastic Umwelten. Scallops, for example, have up to 200 eyes with impressive resolution, but their brains are likely not complex enough to receive and process such crisp images. Some butterflies can perceive ultraviolet color patterns on their wings that distinguish them from other species. And hammerhead sharks have receptors that scan the seafloor for the electric fields emitted by hidden prey, “as one might use metal detectors,” Yong writes. But many creatures’ senses have been thrown off by human activity, he notes. For example, our visually centered society has erected artificial lights that disorient migrating birds and hatchling sea turtles.

Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage by Rachel E. Gross

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Perhaps no aspect of our anatomy is both more fascinating and misunderstood than the vagina—down to the very common usage of what that word means. A vagina isn’t the whole of a woman’s reproductive anatomy. Instead, the vagina is a muscular canal that’s part of many people’s reproductive systems, of varying genders, whether they were born with it or had it surgically constructed. Nuance exists in this territory that is so often overwhelmed by a tangle of science, myth and cultural perceptions, and journalist Rachel E. Gross has composed an enthralling, sensitive book that’s relevant to everyone no matter what your personal topography looks like.

The pages of Vagina Obscura contain plenty of cutting-edge popular science and historic reflection on everything from how ovaries were once miscategorized as female testicles to how operations for individuals injured in war paved the way for gender-affirming surgeries. The book is arranged by anatomical part, and Gross details the function each part carries out. Gross’ work stands out because the unfolding story is couched in what we’ve been wrong about, how our ideas have changed, and how every person—no matter their sex—shares far more in common than we often recognize. Everyone’s reproductive anatomy, as Gross notes, is made up of the same parts in different arrangements, a quirk of human development that underscores commonality. Gross’ exploration is far more than a natural history of human anatomy, but a narrative that busts myths and celebrates all that we’ve come to know about vaginas and their associated parts during a time when such clarity on sex, gender and bodily autonomy is more needed than ever. Where the popular understanding of human anatomy is sometimes shallow, Vagina Obscura brings depth. (Riley Black)

Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus by David Quammen

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In Breathless, David Quammen has constructed a masterful book about scientists’ efforts to understand SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Make no mistake, the book is not about healthcare and our response to Covid-19. The main character in this tale is the virus, and Quammen crafts a detective tale about the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by chronicling the efforts of scientists around the world to identify it, search for its origins, understand how it mutates and respond to it. He interviewed 95 scientists and allows readers to look over the shoulders of many of them as they use their specialized expertise to study the virus. To show how the scientific process works on a global scale, he details the work of a genomic epidemiologist here, an evolutionary virologist there and a computational biologist somewhere else. Each expert adds or refutes some important detail about the rapidly evolving virus that has created a pandemic. Each discovery builds on those that came before.

Quammen has said he wrote the book with no outline, instead allowing each addition to naturally form on the next, in the way a crystal forms. He has the skills and knowledge to do this thanks to decades spent writing captivating science books, on everything including evolution and the spillover of disease from animals into humans. What results from his immense effort is a solid, reliable and entertaining scientific thriller about a shifty and prolific virus that is still very much evolving. (Joe Spring)

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Front Page: The New York Times – December 8, 2022

Germany Arrests 25 Suspected of Planning to Overthrow Government

Among those detained were a German prince, a former far-right member of Parliament, an active soldier and former members of the police and elite special forces.

A Pastor and Politician Who Sees Voting as a Form of Prayer

Raphael Warnock, a son of Savannah public housing who rose to become Georgia’s first Black senator, secured a full six-year term and a spot among Democrats’ rising stars.

Supreme Court Seems Split Over Case That Could Transform Federal Elections

The justices are considering whether to adopt the “independent state legislature” theory, which could give state lawmakers nearly unchecked power over federal elections.

China Eases ‘Zero Covid’ Restrictions in Victory for Protesters

Beijing’s costly policy of lockdowns has pummeled the world’s second-largest economy and set off mass public protests that were a rare challenge to China’s leader, Xi Jinping.