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27,752 articles from Guardian Unlimited Science

Gelatine capsule could prevent unplanned pregnancies caused by errors in daily pill use

A contraceptive pill that needs to be taken only once a month has been developed by scientists.

The gelatine capsule, which has so far only been tested on pigs, dissolves in the stomach to a release a six-armed star-shaped polylmer structure that sits in the stomach for at least three weeks and releases synthetic hormones to prevent pregnancy.

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Flying closer than any other mission, spacecraft set to unravel the sun’s mysteries

Nasa’s Parker Solar Probe, which has flown closer to the sun than any spacecraft, has beamed back its first observations from the edge of the sun’s scorching atmosphere.

The first tranche of data offers clues to long-standing mysteries, including why the sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona, is hundreds of times hotter than its surface, as well as the precise origins of the solar wind.

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An engrossing documentary about a breakthrough in molecular biology with enormous implications for treating genetic diseases

This documentary from Adam Bolt and Regina Sobel is about a revolution that has been quietly taking place in molecular biology and medicine: a revolution compared here to the invention of the internet but gaining a fraction of the attention. (The more pertinent comparison may be with nuclear energy.) It is the innovation of gene editing and CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), a crucial pattern of DNA sequences in micro-organisms that allows them to resist viral infection by replicating a section of the virus’s DNA and using it as a kind of “wanted” poster to fight off the invader.

This mechanism can be used to cut, copy and replace pieces of DNA – to “edit” DNA, like changing a piece of written text – and the technology has enormous implications for treating genetic diseases. Incredibly, it appears to have been developed first not by academic researchers or biotech geniuses, but a yoghurt and cheese manufacturer. Philippe Horvath and Rodolphe Barrangou of the food firm Danisco developed CRISPR while figuring out how to make their product less susceptible to bacteria.

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This dystopian bill would punish abortion with prison, and even death – and it’s where the United States is heading

It would almost be funny if it weren’t real: a bill introduced in Ohio that would require doctors to attempt to re-implant ectopic pregnancies – a medical impossibility – or face charges of “abortion murder” (a legal invention).

Related: Ohio bill orders doctors to ‘reimplant ectopic pregnancy’ or face 'abortion murder' charges

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Lying has never come easy to me. But to think how simple it would have been if I had just called in sick

I recently made the catastrophic mistake of being honest. Last year, I made the equally poor life decision to enhance my career by enrolling in a diploma for my field work. A requirement for the course was to attend eight study days each semester, broken up into two four-day slots totalling 16 on-campus days for the year. Are you following? If not, never mind, read on and I’ll get funny shortly.

As a registered nurse (RN), I work on a rotating roster of days and nights, weekdays and weekend, Christmas and New Year and so on. We’re lucky enough to have a system to take days off for important events such as beers with the boys and when Mum comes to visit.

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He Jiankui’s original research, published for the first time, could have failed, scientists say

The gene editing performed on Chinese twins to immunise them against HIV may have failed and created unintended mutations, scientists have said after the original research was made public for the first time.

Excerpts from the manuscript were released by the MIT Technology Review to show how Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui ignored ethical and scientific norms in creating the twins Lula and Nana, whose birth in late 2018 sent shockwaves through the scientific world.

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Slowdown this year in rising greenhouse gases does not negate long-term trend, finds carbon budget analysis

Carbon dioxide emissions rose weakly this year as the use of coal declined but natural gas took up the slack, a comprehensive study of the global “carbon budget” has found.

The rise in emissions was much smaller than in the last two years, but the continued increase means the world is still far from being on track to meet the goals of the Paris agreement on climate change, which would require emissions to peak then fall rapidly to reach net-zero by mid-century.

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Greenpeace says efforts to restore seas’ ecosystems would boost their capacity to absorb heat and store carbon

Halting overfishing and the plastic pollution of the oceans could help tackle the climate emergency by improving the degraded state of the world’s biggest carbon sink, a report has found.

The oceans absorb both the excess heat generated by our greenhouse gas emissions, and absorb carbon dioxide itself, helping to reduce the impacts of climate chaos. But we are rapidly reaching the limits of the oceans’ absorptive capacity as our pillage of marine life is disrupting vital ecosystems and the natural carbon cycle.

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Understanding risks early on could help protect from disease later in life and ‘offer chance to take statins or adjust diet’

All adults as young as 25, as well as older people, need to know of their “bad cholesterol” levels so they can change their lifestyle or take drugs to protect themselves against heart attacks or strokes in later life, say scientists.

A landmark study involving data from nearly 400,000 people in 19 countries has established for the first time that levels of non-HDL, or “bad cholesterol”, in the blood are closely linked to the risk of heart disease across the entire life course.

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TUESDAY 3. DECEMBER 2019


Scientists say creation could be used to circumvent nerve damage and help paralysed people regain movement

Scientists have created artificial neurons that could potentially be implanted into patients to overcome paralysis, restore failing brain circuits, and even connect their minds to machines.

The bionic neurons can receive electrical signals from healthy nerve cells, and process them in a natural way, before sending fresh signals on to other neurons, or to muscles and organs elsewhere in the body.

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The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific and philosophical concepts

How is it possible that the Voyager space probes, travelling at 15.4km a second or even faster, manage not to crash into anything on their journeys? Presumably even hitting the slightest space debris at that speed would obliterate them.

Jon Lloyd, London SE23

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Nasa satellite sends back images showing wreckage of Chandrayaan-2 mission, with debris found scattered nearly a kilometre away

A Nasa satellite orbiting the moon has found India’s Vikram lander, which crashed on the lunar surface in September, the US space agency said on Monday.

Nasa released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact and associated debris field, with parts scattered over almost two dozen locations spanning several kilometres.

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Experts say TBI could be consequence or cause of homelessness

Half of all homeless people may have suffered a traumatic brain injury at some point in their life, according to new research – which experts say could be either a consequence or even the cause of their homelessness.

Traumatic brain injury is sudden damage caused by a blow or jolt to the head, which can be caused by a motor accident, a fall or an assault. Sometimes it can cause long-term damage to the brain, leading to neurological and psychiatric disorders.

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MONDAY 2. DECEMBER 2019


Nancy Pelosi tells UN conference in Madrid that commitment is ‘iron-clad’

The US will take action on greenhouse gases and engage with other countries on the climate emergency despite Donald Trump’s rejection of international cooperation, a delegation from the US Congress has told the UN climate conference in Madrid.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, struck a defiant stance on Monday, declaring: “Congress’s commitment to action on the climate crisis is iron-clad. This is a matter of public health, of clean air, of clean water, of our children, of the survival of our economies, of the prosperity of the world, of national security, justice and equality. We now must deliver deeper cuts in emissions.”

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Peter Lock, a former probation officer, and psychotherapist Tricia Scott on jail conditions that can do more harm than good to prisoners

As a retired probation officer who was involved in the delivery of training programmes for the Criminal Justice Act 2003, I would suggest that the inadequacy of sentencing in Usman Khan’s case was rooted in the manner in which imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentences were used following their introduction in 2005. They were intended for cases where the circumstances of an offence fell short of the threshold for a life term, but there was evidence of an ongoing serious risk to the public.

Unfortunately, IPPs were passed in numerous cases where they were inappropriate and were likely to do more harm than good. In particular, they were handed out to damaged young men who were not only in need of therapy and rehabilitation, but were ill-equipped to deal with the open-ended nature of the sentence. This was compounded by the fact that the prison system was unable to offer the structured path available to lifers so those on IPPs were often stuck in busy jails or bounced around the system due to their problematic behaviour.

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Polycystic ovary syndrome is believed to affect about one in five women of reproductive age

Daughters of women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a common disorder that can cause excessive body hair, acne and fertility problems, are five times more likely than the average woman to develop the condition, a major study has found.

Researchers in Sweden examined the medical histories of nearly 30,000 women and their mothers. The records from national registries showed that 3.4% of women born to mothers with PCOS were later diagnosed themselves, compared with only 0.6% of women whose mothers did not have the condition.

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Ahead of Madrid climate change conference António Guterres says political will missing

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, contrasted the “leadership” and “mobilisation” shown by the world’s youth on the climate emergency with the lack of action by governments, which were failing to keep up with the urgency of the problem despite increasing signs that the climate was reaching breakdown.

Before the start of a critical conference on the climate crisis on Monday, he said the world had the technical and economic means to halt climate chaos, but what was missing was political will.

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350 experts call on PM to address president’s ‘dangerous’ and ‘irresponsible’ claims

Boris Johnson is being urged by 350 leading climate researchers to robustly challenge Donald Trump on his “dangerous” and “irresponsible” denial of the risks of climate change during the US president’s visit to the UK this week.

Putting the prime minister under more pressure over his stance on global heating, leading academics involved in climate research said he must try to persuade Trump to take strong domestic and international action.

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SUNDAY 1. DECEMBER 2019


Science and art meet on a mind-blowing visit to the European Organization for Nuclear Research, while the fairytale streets of the Swiss capital are a wonder, too

There is something retro and subterranean about the maze of narrow corridors ahead of us. Exposed steel pipes run along the ceilings, the floors are shiny linoleum and the doors are moulded wood. It looks as if it has barely changed since it was built back in the 1950s.

Welcome to the European Organization for Nuclear Research, better known as Cern, home to the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Beyond the design, what is more retro, liable to make you misty-eyed for a bygone era, is how it all came into being.

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SATURDAY 30. NOVEMBER 2019


Jeanne Calment was 122 when she died. But last year a Russian scientist claimed she was a con artist, sparking an international dispute over the woman who may still hold the secret to eternal life

If time makes fools of us all, you couldn’t blame André-François Raffray for taking it more personally than most. In 1965, Raffray, a lawyer in the southern French city of Arles, thought he had hit on the real-estate version of a sure thing. The 47-year-old had signed a contract to buy an apartment from one of his clients “en viager”: a form of property sale by which the buyer makes a monthly payment until the seller’s death, when the property becomes theirs. His client, Jeanne Calment, was 90 and sprightly for her age; she liked to surprise people by leaping from her chair at the hairdresser. But still, it couldn’t be long: Raffray just had to shell out 2,500 francs a month and wait it out.

Jeanne said she had met Van Gogh in her teens. He was ugly and dishevelled, she said; they called him ‘the dingo’

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FRIDAY 29. NOVEMBER 2019


Bench in Manchester celebrates BBC DJ’s cancer treatment and is part of Re-Write Cancer campaign

It is an established way to commemorate the dead: dedicating a bench to a loved one’s memory and placing it in one of their favourite locations.

But the BBC DJ Mark Radcliffe has been bestowed the honour in life after a bench bearing his name was installed in the grounds of Manchester University, where he studied in the late 1970s.

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We are producing and consuming fashion at a rate like never before – and mass shopping sales are simply fanning the flames

This morning I opened my inbox to find reams of emails – mid-season sale, 50% off, exclusive offer – enticing me to grab the best deal while it lasts. When we’re barraged by messages from the fashion industry to buy more, it’s hard to resist – and I have easily succumbed to these temptations in the past.

Related: Millions set for Thanksgiving disruption as storms sweep across US

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Dr Amy Dickman is an internationally renowned conservation biologist. She’s dedicated her life to saving big cats in the wild, working in Africa for over 20 years on carnivore ecology and how to resolve human-wildlife conflict. Amy talks to Nicola Davis about her career trying to bring a halt to the decline in big cat populations, including the role that trophy hunting might play

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IPPR says UK should shoulder burden due to major historical contribution to rising carbon emissions

The UK contribution to the UN’s climate fund should balloon to £20bn by 2030 if it plans to pay a “fair share” to helping tackle the global climate crisis, according to new research.

A report from the IPPR thinktank says the UK should “shoulder more of the burden” of the global climate crisis because of its major contribution to the world’s rising carbon emissions.

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THURSDAY 28. NOVEMBER 2019