Authors, editors aren’t asking women to peer review as often

Authors, editors aren’t asking women to peer review as often

Authors, editors aren’t asking women to peer review as often

Although women make up the majority of students in many fields of science, they’re underrepresented in terms of things like faculty hiring, invitations to conferences, grant awards, and nominations for professional awards. Another professional activity important for career advancement is participating in the peer review process, but, since that’s generally anonymous, it’s harder to track.

A new comment paper published in Nature shows that women are disproportionately underutilized as reviewers. This bias likely results from authors and editors who suggest female reviewers less often.

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For $500, this ‘breathing’ robot might help you sleep better

For $500, this ‘breathing’ robot might help you sleep better

For $500, this ‘breathing’ robot might help you sleep better

There are so many things that could go wrong when you’re sleeping with a robot. Your partner might freak out in a burst of 21st century jealousy. Or you could accidentally push the robot off the edge of the bed and smash it into a million pieces. In my case, the robot woke me up at 5AM saying “goodnight” in Dutch and started breathing.

I’m talking about Somnox, “the world’s first sleep robot,” as it’s been touted in pretty successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. It’s actually more of a peanut-shaped pillow than a humanoid robot that can perform backflips a la Boston Dynamics. But for a machine with no arms, legs, or even a face, it actually feels pretty human. That’s because Somnox breathes in and out to help you fall asleep effortlessly, or so the Dutch company claims.

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Brains of former football players donated to science are rife with disease

Brains of former football players donated to science are rife with disease

Brains of former football players donated to science are rife with disease

Signs of a degenerative brain disease were widespread among a sample of donated brains of former football players, researchers reported Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The finding bolsters the connection between playing American football and developing Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is linked to repeated blows to the head and was first described in boxers. However, the large study provides little new information about the disease, its progression, or prevalence.

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Vaping probably isn’t good for you but at least it’s better than smoking

Vaping probably isn’t good for you but at least it’s better than smoking

Vaping probably isn’t good for you but at least it’s better than smoking

Electronic cigarettes may be less risky than the regular kind, but that still doesn’t mean they’re safe, according to the most exhaustive review of the research yet.

The booming, $10-billion vaping industry is expected to grow to $34 billion by 2021, but there’s still a lot scientists don’t know about how e-cigarettes affect health. So Congress asked a panel of experts to wade through more than 800 scientific studies. The result, published today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, reports that swapping e-cigarettes for the regular kind reduces some of the health risks associated with smoking. But overall, the report calls for more research into the health effects of vaping, especially since e-cigarettes are the favored tobacco product of middle and high school-aged students.

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When attacked, tomato plants release a chemical that make caterpillars eat each other instead

When attacked, tomato plants release a chemical that make caterpillars eat each other instead

When attacked, tomato plants release a chemical that make caterpillars eat each other instead

Perhaps you’ve heard that millennials are obsessed with plants. For a long time I remained unimpressed, considering plants can’t make sound, attack robbers, or even move. But I was wrong. Plants can do something beyond the abilities of mere cats*, dogs, and birds: they secrete a chemical that makes the caterpillars that eat them eat each other instead.

It’s common for caterpillars to eat each other when they’re stressed out by the lack of food. (We’ve all been there.) But why would they start eating each other when the plant food is right in front of them? Answer: because of devious behavior control by plants.

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New bill would let companies force workers to get genetic tests, share results

New bill would let companies force workers to get genetic tests, share results

New bill would let companies force workers to get genetic tests, share results

It’s hard to imagine a more sensitive type of personal information than your own genetic blueprints. With varying degrees of accuracy, the four-base code can reveal bits of your family’s past, explain some of your current traits and health, and may provide a glimpse into your future with possible conditions and health problems you could face. And that information doesn’t just apply to you but potentially your blood relatives, too.

Most people would likely want to keep the results of genetic tests highly guarded—if they want their genetic code deciphered at all. But, as STAT reports, a new bill that is quietly moving through the House would allow companies to strong-arm their employees into taking genetic tests and then sharing that data with unregulated third parties as well as the employer. Employees that resist could face penalties of thousands of dollars.

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New EPA head is awfully friendly with the industry he should regulate, emails show

New EPA head is awfully friendly with the industry he should regulate, emails show

New EPA head is awfully friendly with the industry he should regulate, emails show

The new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, closely worked with major oil and gas companies, electric utilities, and political groups to undo environmental regulations, according to more than 7,000 pages of emails made public today. Pruitt now leads the government agency responsible for protecting the environment and regulating pollution.

Pruitt was ordered to release the emails by an Oklahoma judge, in response to a lawsuit by the Center for Media and Democracy. Democrats had urged the Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to delay Pruitt’s confirmation hearing until after the emails were released, but with no success. Pruitt was confirmed as head of the EPA just five days ago.

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We can learn from fruit fly brains to improve our search algorithms

We can learn from fruit fly brains to improve our search algorithms

We can learn from fruit fly brains to improve our search algorithms

The key to better computer algorithms might be found in the brains of fruit flies, researchers say.

Computers are always doing searches that involve comparing similar things. Think about when you go on YouTube to listen to Coldplay and it recommends a song by Radiohead. (This is called a “similarity search.”) Fruit flies do a version of this to survive: if they learned that the smell of an orange indicates food, they will know in the future that a similar smell is also food they can eat. In a study published today in the journal Science, scientists found that the way their brains do this is different from how most computer algorithms do it — and by using the fly method, we can make our computer programs better.

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This Pacific island is covered in 38 million pieces of trash — mostly plastic

This Pacific island is covered in 38 million pieces of trash — mostly plastic

This Pacific island is covered in 38 million pieces of trash — mostly plastic

If you wonder where your plastic toothbrushes and cigarette lighters go after you trash them, here’s your answer: many end up in the ocean, which means that they either sink to the bottom or wash up on beaches — like this remote, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Henderson Island, which is located between New Zealand and Chile, was found to be covered in an estimated 38 million pieces of trash, most of it plastic, according to a new study. The density of debris was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, the authors say.

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We can learn from fruit fly brains to improve our search algorithms

We can learn from fruit fly brains to improve our search algorithms

We can learn from fruit fly brains to improve our search algorithms

The key to better computer algorithms might be found in the brains of fruit flies, researchers say.

Computers are always doing searches that involve comparing similar things. Think about when you go on YouTube to listen to Coldplay and it recommends a song by Radiohead. (This is called a “similarity search.”) Fruit flies do a version of this to survive: if they learned that the smell of an orange indicates food, they will know in the future that a similar smell is also food they can eat. In a study published today in the journal Science, scientists found that the way their brains do this is different from how most computer algorithms do it — and by using the fly method, we can make our computer programs better.

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