Daily briefing: Pfizer–BioNTech COVID vaccine works for high-risk groups
Hello Nature readers, would you like to get this Briefing in your inbox free every day? Sign up here
A neglected approach to quantum computing is gaining traction in the quest to build a commercial quantum computer. The technique uses ions trapped in electric fields as the basis of its quantum bits, or ‘qubits’. Trapped-ion computing has long been sidelined by major companies such as IBM and Intel in favour of tiny superconducting loops. Tech-focused conglomerate Honeywell is leading the way, and smaller spin-out firms are making inroads, on a trapped-ion machine.
Signs of the gas phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere — which offered the tantalizing suggestion of life — have faded, but they’re not gone completely. A new data analysis from the team that made the original exciting announcement confirms the phosphine signal, but it’s fainter than before. Astronomer Jane Greaves said she and her team redid the work because they learnt that some of the original data contained a spurious signal that could have affected the results. A separate analysis of old data from the NASA Pioneer mission also found evidence that could point to phosphine.
Features & opinion
Growing use of surveillance technology has prompted calls for bans and stricter regulation. Researchers, as well as civil-liberties advocates and legal scholars, are among those who are disturbed by facial recognition’s rise. Computer scientists have flagged examples of its inaccuracies and racial biases. Legal challenges have emerged in Europe and parts of the United States, where critics of the technology have filed lawsuits to prevent its use in policing. And opponents point to the surveillance in China’s Xinjiang province as an example of how it can be used to limit freedoms.
A stunning fossil that shows a Triceratops entwined with a Tyrannosaurus rex will finally be available for study by palaeontologists. The iconic rock was found by commercial fossil hunters in 2006 and remained in private hands, locked away during years of legal battles. Now a consortium of funders is buying the specimen for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “There will literally be thousands of studies done on these fossils,” says palaeontologist Tyler Lyson.
Happy LGBTQ+ STEM day! Chemist Abhik Ghosh profiles Martin Gouterman, a porphyrin chemist who was a leading figure in Seattle’s gay-rights movement of the 1960s. Gouterman’s four-orbital model, “which explained why blood (heme) is red and grass (chlorophyll) is green, remains influential to this day”, writes Ghosh.
We’ve got a few more days to vote for the winner of the American Society for Microbiology’s Agar Art contest. Among the stunning candidates are a Mona Lisa reproduced in Staphylococcus aureus and a glow-in-the dark black hole representing graduate school.
I hope this newsletter has been growing on you. Let me know what you think of it at email@example.com.