Science news May 2018

Unethical arrest of a murderer and rapist??

The ‘Golden State Killer’, active over 30 years ago in California, has at last been caught and convicted. One of his relatives used a genealogy site, and from this, detectives managed to trace him.  This case comes soon after the Facebook personal data debacle. The question is, is it ever unethical to use a resource to catch a killer? Society needs to debate this and catch up with the scientific advances.

Bees can start buzzing again

The neonicotinoid (neonics) insecticides kill bees.

European Union States will no longer be able to use them outdoors from the end of 2018. This is very good news for the bees and the plants they pollinate, but not so good for farmers who have come to rely on them.

Do you know how these chemicals kill the bees? Do you know what the alternative insecticides are? Our society is dependant on our farmers producing quality crops in high yield. But they have to be safe to eat in the short term and the long term. And they must not kill off the very insects that pollinate them. What will farmers use instead? Did you know neonics are in the same family of poisons as the chemical used in the attack in Salisbury?

The neonics are very toxic and have caused the collapse of bee numbers. However the debate remains highly contentious and polarised. The supporters of the use of these chemicals are paid by the companies that make them, and they are still arguing.

Do you know the difference between a honey bee and a bumble bee and a loner?

Best city for University students named

For the first time, London has topped the charts as the best city for students to live and study, and this is despite the high cost of living there. It is inclusive and welcoming with more top class educational institutions than any other city. Tokyo came second and Melbourne third: tough competition indeed. Last year’s top place city, Montreal, slipped to fourth place. As usual, American universities dominated the academic rankings with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology topping the list.

Well done London


Aim high, think wide. A guide to the best universities in the world The Young Darwinian, issue 1, 33-34.

Livers that last longer

Do you think a liver, removed from the body, would survive better on ice or perfused with a physiological solution at body temperature? For the last 30 years, transplant livers have been preserved by the cooling method. A recent study of 220 transplants from the UK, Spain, Belgium and Germany has shown that in fact they survive better by the other method. More livers are available to transplant because the viability of the liver can be assessed before transplant, 50% fewer are discarded, and livers can be used from people who have died from a greater variety of reasons. Now that a ‘gold standard ‘ randomised control trial has been done, the protocol can be safely changed and more lives can be saved.


Nature vol 557 May 2018 pp50-56





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