Protests, A Retracted Paper, and a Super-Earth Planet

A month’s worth of cool science stories, summed up.
Alistair Jennings, Contributor

(Inside Science) -- This has been a month of protest, and academia is no exception. Scientists of color have been sharing their experiences of working in an academic environment that can hold them back -- often in unintended ways. A paper published at the beginning of this month found that Black scientists, matched to white scientists in gender, career stage, degree type, institute prestige and area of expertise, were 25% less likely to receive funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. This month has been a wake-up call for anyone who imagined science to be free of systemic racism. It is not.

COVID-19 continues to spread. Last month we reported on a number of studies testing potential treatments for COVID-19. But since then, one of those studies has come under intense scrutiny. A paper purported to include data from over 96,000 COVID-19 patients and it helped convince the World Health Organization to stop chloroquine trials. But if you look at the methods, you can see the data was not collected by the researchers. Rather, it came from the database of a company called Surgisphere. Companies collaborating with researchers is nothing new, but an investigation by the Guardian newspaper revealed that Surgisphere was not all it seemed.

Maybe life would be simpler with a move to a quieter neighborhood out in space. How about the habitable zone of GJ887, a red dwarf star a mere 11 light-years away, with two recently revealed super-Earth-sized planets? Now, unfortunately, these planets orbit quite close to their star, making their surface too hot for liquid water -- not ideal for habitation. But there may be a third planet.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Ali Jennings has his PhD in neuroscience from University College London.