Capitalists in Football Shirts

Alan Dent

Culture Matters | October 08, 2020

Capitalists in football shirts

One of Britain’s most highly regarded footballers is Tom Finney. Born into the working-class town of Preston in 1922, he spent his playing years at his home club, Preston North End, and represented England seventy times. He earned relatively modestly as a player, yet helped attract crowds of thirty thousand to Deepdale. Offered a contract as a junior in 1937, his pay was to be two pounds ten shillings per week. His father insisted he complete his apprenticeship as a plumber before signing. His professional career began in earnest in 1946 when his pay was fourteen pounds a week. The average male manual wage (according to ONS statistics) was six pounds.Read More »


Seven Ways the Election Will Shape the Future of Science, Health and the Environment

Andrea Thompson, Tanya Lewis, Lee Billings, Sophie Bushwick, Clara Moskowitz, Kate Wong

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN | October 30, 2020

Seven Ways the Election Will Shape the Future of Science, Health and the Environment
Combination of pictures shows President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden during the final debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., on October 22, 2020. Credit: Photos by Jim Watson and Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

When all the votes are cast and counted in this year’s momentous November 3 election, the results will have deep and potentially long-lasting impacts on numerous areas of society, including science. President Donald Trump and his challenger, former vice president Joe Biden, have presented vastly different visions for handling crucial issues—ranging from the deadly coronavirus pandemic to the damaging impacts of climate change and immigration policies.Read More »


Who are Science’s Frequent Flyers? Climate Researchers

Nature | October 28, 2020

A Ryanair jet taking off from Leeds Bradford airport
Flying to conduct fieldwork is one reason climate researchers might travel more than other scientists.Credit: Andrew McCaren/LNP/Shutterstock

In recent years, a growing number of climate-change researchers have made the conscious decision to reduce their carbon footprints by avoiding air travel or flying less. But an analysis suggests that, despite these efforts, climate researchers travel and fly more than those who work in other disciplines.

The study, published on 8 October in Global Environmental Change1, surveyed more than 1,400 scientists across disciplines from 59 countries to find out how often they fly and why. The surveys were conducted in 2017, before the coronavirus pandemic caused widespread travel restrictions. Most respondents were from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Australia.Read More »


These Bizarre Ancient Species are Rewriting Animal Evolution

Traci Watson

Nature | October 28, 2020

Artistic reconstruction of Fractofusus on the H14 surface, Bonavista Peninsula

Organisms named Fractofusus cover the sea floor some 560 million years ago, in a reconstruction of fossils from Newfoundland, Canada. Credit: Dr Charlotte G. Kenchington

The revolutionary animal lived and died in the muck. In its final hours, it inched across the sea floor, leaving a track like a tyre print, and finally went still. Then geology set to work. Over the next half a billion years, sediment turned to stone, preserving the deathbed scene. The fossilized creature looks like a piece of frayed rope measuring just a few centimetres wide. But it was a trailblazer among living things.

This was the earliest-known animal to show unequivocal evidence of two momentous innovations packaged together: the ability to roam the ocean floor, and a body built from segments. It was also among the oldest known to have clear front and back ends, and a left side that mirrored its right. Those same features are found today in animals from flies to flying foxes, from lobsters to lions.Read More »


Ancient Dog DNA Reveals 11,000 Years of Canine Evolution

Ewen Callaway

Nature | October 29, 2020

Papua-New-Guinea singing dog captive, Papua-New-Guinea.
New Guinea singing dogs are related to Australian dingoes.Credit: Daniel Heuclin/NPL

Human history is for the dogs. The largest-ever study of ancient genomes from the animals suggests that where people went, so did their four-legged friends — to a point. The research also identified major regional shifts in human ancestry that left little mark on dog populations, as well as times when dogs changed, but their masters didn’t.

The analysis of more than two dozen Eurasian dogs also suggests the animals were domesticated and became widespread around the world well before 11,000 years ago. But it does not make any claims as to when or where domestication from wolves happened, an issue that has vexed researchers and sparked sometimes heated debate.Read More »


‘Like Froth on a Cappuccino’: Spacecraft’s Chaotic Landing Reveals Comet’s Softness

Nature | October 28, 2020

Artist’s impression of Rosetta’s lander Philae on the surface of a comet
Rosetta’s lander Philae on the surface of a comet (artist’s impression).Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

The chaotic crash-landing of a robotic spacecraft called Philae has yielded serendipitous insights into the softness of comets.

In 2014, the pioneering European Space Agency (ESA) lander touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, after a ten-year journey aboard its mothership, Rosetta. But rather than fix itself to the surface, Philae bounced twice and ended up on its side under a shady overhang, cutting its mission short.Read More »