Warmer, saltier polar water could change global ocean currents

When ice shelves melt, they dump freshwater into the sea which lightens the salty water.

Melting ice shelves are changing the ocean’s chemistry at the South Pole and the result could be a change in global currents and increased glacial melt, according to scientists who are creating maps to feed into climate change models. At the North and South Poles, cold dense water sinks, powering the so-called global ocean conveyor belt, … Read more

Shelters with echoes thought to be preferred sites for prehistoric rock art

Scientists believe that rock art sites were chosen for their visual and acoustic properties.

The acoustic qualities of a rock shelter may have been a key factor in its selection as a site for rock art and indicate a spiritual significance to the practice, according to a recent study, while scientists are also looking into whether some caves were chosen as artistic sites because of the view. Professor Margarita … Read more

Maternal death audits in Africa win €1 mn innovation prize

A successful project to improve childbirth safety in Mali and Senegal will now be rolled out to Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso.

An audit committee that reviews deaths during childbirth has reduced the maternal mortality rate in hospitals in Mali and Senegal by 15%, and its founders have been awarded the €1 million EU Horizon Birth Day prize for a solution that saves the lives of mothers and their babies. More than 800 women die every day from preventable … Read more

Fighting cancer with nanobodies and computer simulations

Researchers in the Netherlands are hoping to move vaccine therapy from the lab to inside the body.

Stimulating or enhancing someone’s own immune system to fight cancer is not a new concept but scientists are taking it one step further by using nanoscience and computer simulations to improve existing treatments. Immunotherapy drugs are specifically designed to help the immune system respond to cancerous cells, something that it doesn’t naturally do. That’s because cancer cells … Read more

Life scientists unite to close EU’s innovation gap

Research excellence relies not only on funding but also on the right governance and culture, according to experts.

Nepotism, a lack of transparency and poor governance are among some of the challenging conditions faced by researchers in Central and Eastern Europe, according to a consortium of life scientists who have set up a project to raise the level of research excellence in those countries. ‘The importance of institutions in providing a favourable environment … Read more

Arsenic and permafrost microbes help hunt for life on Mars

Bacteria survive in the harsh conditions of the Andean lakes of Argentina among high concentrations of arsenic.

Studying environments that are similar to Mars, and their microbial ecosystems, could help prepare biologists to identify traces of life in outer space. In some of the most remote areas of our planet, scientists are examining how life can persist in the form of tiny microbes that inhabit a niche that would be fatal to … Read more