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In September, astronomers cautiously announced evidence that phosphine had been detected in Venus’s atmosphere. But some scientists say they were not careful enough about a finding that raised the thrilling prospect of life on the planet. Other researchers have questioned the data-analysis methods used in the original work. An International Astronomical Union (IAU) committee released a statement, later disavowed by the IAU executive, chastising the press for overhyping the potential implications. And another group apologized after submitting a paper that suggested the original publication should be retracted.
Features & opinion
In her new book, sociologist Janet Vertesi lifts the curtain on the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Mars Exploration Rovers and shows that what gets discovered depends on how scientists collaborate. Battles over data sharing, the challenges of remote working and the malign effects of sexism are among the lessons these missions offer for teams more generally.
Four dams built to produce hydroelectricity along the Klamath River in Northern California will soon be taken down. The removal could restore crucial habitat for salmon and other migratory fish, and support the livelihood of the Yurok people, who have sustainably fished along the river for millenia. “These dam removal efforts are as much to remove the dams for the ecology and benefits of salmon restoration as they are to the wrongs that took place in this country for the last 150, 200 years against Native Americans,” says Frankie Myers, vice-chairperson of the Yurok tribe.
Physicist Masatoshi Koshiba was one of the driving forces behind the Kamiokande family of neutrino detectors, which led to two Nobels — for him in 2002 and for his former student Takaaki Kajita in 2015. Koshiba, who has died aged 94, was also “a great guy to be around, filled with insight and energy and humour”, says colleague Dave Wark.
“There are things in the world you can achieve despite poor academic records,” said Koshiba, who graduated near the bottom of his University of Tokyo class in 1951. “I’m not saying those who have good grades should slack off. What counts most is adopting an active attitude toward studying.”
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With contributions by Smriti Mallapaty