Too smart for their own good: Russia is waging a war against its own scientists
An increasing number of high-calibre researchers are being accused of treason in today’s Russia, mostly without official charges, landing behind bars for decades. And the main beneficiary of their imprisonment is the Federal Security Service (FSB), which deprives them not only of their freedom and ability to work, but sometimes of their lives.

In recent weeks, the star has at times shone more than 50 percent brighter than normal, drawing renewed attention from amateur sky watchers and professional astronomers alike. They hopefully await a historic celestial event. Someday, Betelgeuse will explosively end its life in a supernova—and from our planetary perch just 650 light-years away, we Earthlings will have front-row seats to this spectacular cosmic cataclysm. Here's an image that gives an idea of Betelguese’s size:

Ancient books in northern Italy frozen to salvage them from flood damage
Volunteers have been transporting the books and other precious documents, which became submerged in water and mud in flooded libraries in the worst-affected areas, to Cesena, where the items will be placed on shelves in temperatures of -25C in industrial-size freezers provided by Orogel, a company that specialises in frozen food.

Paralysed man can walk again through a ‘brain–spine interface’ connecting his brain with muscles
Neuroscientists and neurosurgeons have re-established the communication between the patient's brain and spinal cord with a wireless 'digital bridge', allowing a paralysed person to walk again naturally. The device enabled him to regain control over the movement of his paralysed legs, allowing him to stand, walk, and even climb stairs, a report published in Nature says. The study is here:

The entire academic board of the journal 'Neuroimage', including professors from Oxford University, King’s College London and Cardiff University resigned after Elsevier refused to reduce publication charges. Academics around the world have applauded what many hope is the start of a rebellion against the huge profit margins in academic publishing, which outstrip those made by Apple, Google and Amazon.

Drivers overtaking bicyclists: Objective data on the effects of riding position, helmet use, vehicle type and apparent gender. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 39(2), 417–425 | 10.1016/j.aap.
>5. Conclusions > >Overtaking motorists pass closer to a bicyclist when the rider wears a helmet, rides away from the edge of the road, is male, or when the vehicle concerned is a bus or heavy goods vehicle. Based on previous work on drivers’ perceptions of bicyclists, we have suggested that many of these effects are the result of motorists making assumptions about bicyclists’ behaviours based on a brief visual assessment of their likely experience levels. We argue that these assessments can only ever provide a poor guide to the likelihood of a collision occurring and would encourage efforts to warn motorists of the assumptions they are making and the fallibility of these.

Endangered Māori construction methods pass modern seismic testing
Construction techniques traditionally used by the Mātauranga Māori, indigenous people of New Zealand, can withstand major earthquakes, a study by the University of Auckland has shown. “[The Māori] had a deep knowledge of building and creating strength and tension in structures, so we have recreated those techniques that have been lost and use them to [achieve] greater seismic resilience,” says scientist Anthony Hoete.

"A new discovery raises an important question: from an evolutionary perspective, who really has the stranger wings?"

Self-driving cars must learn the language of cyclists to keep roads safe
Human-computer interaction specialists from the University of Glasgow are highlighting the need for new systems in autonomous vehicles (AVs) capable of replicating the complex social interactions between human car drivers and cyclists on UK roads.

‘Humanity as a multi-planetary species’: Is sex in space being taken seriously by the emerging space tourism sector?
Sex in space is a real possibility with the expected growth in space tourism over the next decade, says a Cranfield University-led paper. This appears to pose several risks that have not yet been considered, those of a biological nature such as embryo developmental risks and those of a commercial nature such as liability, litigation, and reputational damage.

A study focusing on the sources of information within the field of environmental science has shown ChatGPT perpetuates the Matthew Effect in science, where the rich get richer in terms of citations. It tends to cite highly-cited publications and exhibits a preference for older publications, and predominantly refers to well-respected journals in the field, with Nature being the most cited journal by GPT. Interestingly, GPT seems to exclusively rely on citation count data from Google Scholar for the works it cites, rather than utilizing citation information from other scientific databases such as Web of Science or Scopus. The author Eduard Petiska warns that this can lead to a lack of diversity in the field, as certain researchers and institutions become more dominant and others are marginalized. This can limit the range of perspectives and approaches that are considered in environmental science research. It can also an perpetuate existing power imbalances, as those who are already in positions of power and influence continue to accumulate more resources and recognition. This can make it difficult for new voices and perspectives to be heard and taken seriously in the field. The study (12pages) is here:

The first of four gravity assist flybys in the inner Solar System will take place in August 2024 with a lunar-Earth gravity-assist – a flyby of the Moon followed 1.5 days later by one of Earth. Juice is planned to arrive at Jupiter in July 2031.

> Researchers from Tel Aviv University, Israel, have created a micro-robot the size of a single biological cell that navigates using both electricity and magnetic fields and can identify and capture a single cell, opening the door to a vast array of applications.

"I’m not living the best days of my life right now,” Florence Débarre says. "But being truthful is essential." The day after she published her findings, the relevant data had been made inaccessible, apparently at the request of the Chinese researchers who include the top virologist George Gao, a former director general of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. “We were shocked,” says Débarre. “But not surprised.” The next step will be to investigate the illegal supply chains that brought the animals to the Wuhan market during winter 2019 and see whether they might lead closer to the virus’s original reservoir.

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