Blog Layout

Most plastic recycling produces low-value materials – but we’ve found a way to turn a common plastic into high-value molecules

Bales of plastic waste destined for recycling. Koron/Getty Images Susannah Scott, University of California Santa Barbara If you thought those flimsy disposable plastic grocery bags represented most of our plastic waste problem, think again. The volume of plastic the world throws away every year could rebuild the Ming Dynasty’s Great Wall of China – about 3,700 miles long. In the …

Read More »

A second pathway into cells for SARS-CoV-2: New understanding of the neuropilin-1 protein could speed vaccine research

The Spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 must bind to proteins on the surface of human cells to trigger an infection. KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images Rajesh Khanna, University of Arizona and Aubin Moutal, University of Arizona When it comes to how the coronavirus invades a cell, it takes three to tango. The dance began with the ACE2 receptor, a …

Read More »

Coronavirus vaccine trials won’t tell us if they save lives, prevent serious illness or stop transmission – here’s why

Sarah L Caddy, University of Cambridge There are currently at least six COVID-19 vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials – the final phase of testing. These trials all aim to compare the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines versus a placebo. However, as Peter Doshi, associate editor at the BMJ, asks in a new report, what does “effective” actually mean? …

Read More »

The war against plastic is distracting us from pollution that cannot be seen

FocusDzign / shutterstock Thomas Stanton, Nottingham Trent University; Matthew Johnson, University of Nottingham, and Paul Kay, University of Leeds The war against plastic may be overshadowing greater threats to the environment. In a collaboration with experts from the environmental sciences, engineering, industry, policy and charities, we have written a paper in the journal WIREs Water which highlights concerns that relatively …

Read More »

How to stay socially connected as lockdown returns – according to science

giuseppelombardo/Shutterstock Pascal Vrticka, University of Essex and Philip J. Cozzolino, University of Essex After a fairly relaxed summer, more and more places are bringing back tighter restrictions in response to rising COVID-19 cases, with some even returning to full or near-full lockdowns. We all know that social distancing makes sense: the fewer people we meet (and the further away from …

Read More »

Peace in Sudan: patience is required for the long road ahead

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, left, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok at an October 2020 ceremony celebrating the peace deal. Ebrahim Hamid/AFP via Getty Images David E Kiwuwa, University of Nottingham “End the wars” and “peace in our land” were the rallying cries for the protests that ultimately ousted Sudan’s long-ruling strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The country had been afflicted …

Read More »

Gaining knowledge is what makes a degree valuable, not graduate salaries or transferable skills

PhotoSky/Shutterstock Paul Ashwin, Lancaster University The unexpected social and economic challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic have given increased urgency to questions about the purposes of a university education and the kinds of graduates that society needs. Much of this debate has focused on the extent to which university degrees lead to graduate jobs and higher graduate salaries. For example, …

Read More »

Healthy soil for healthy plants for healthy humans

The human gut microbiome is a complex system of gazillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists and archaea that has an enormous effect on our metabolism, health and well‐being. The same holds true for the plant rhizosphere, where the roots are immersed in a soil microbiome that provides plants with important nutrients, protects them from disease and pathogens, and helps them …

Read More »

Aerial images detect and track food security threats for millions of African farmers

An early warning system detects and prevents diseases in banana, a key food security crop in Africa. It relies on machine learning and imagery collected by mobile phones, drones and satellites INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR TROPICAL AGRICULTURE (CIAT) IMAGE: A GROUND-LEVEL VIEW OF A BANANA PLANT AFFECTED BY XANTHOMONAS WILT OR (BXW). view more  CREDIT: MICHAEL SELVARAJ / INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR TROPICAL AGRICULTURE New …

Read More »