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Eighteen graduate students who were part of the epic MOSAiC research expedition to study the Arctic have voiced concern about a ban on “too tight or too revealing” clothes for women on board a research vessel, as well as other sexual discrimination issues. E&E News journalist Chelsea Harvey, who was present when the clothing rules were announced on the Akademik Fedorov ship, reports that women were told that “the rules prohibiting tight clothing were a ‘safety issue’” — implying that this would avoid sexual abuse by men on the ship. Days before, several women reported they’d been harassed. The mission’s chief scientist, Thomas Krumpen, has since said the dress code was not related to the harassment report, was not aimed at women and contradicted claims that it was safety-related, reports E&E News.
Amateur footage posted on Chinese social-media site Weibo seems to show a rocket booster crashing near a school. The booster was part of a Long March 4B rocket that successfully launched a remote-sensing satellite on Monday. Orange clouds in the video might be toxic hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, which fuel the rocket’s first stage. The government routinely warns populations near the Xichang Satellite Launch Center of potential risks, but debris from past launches have damaged homes, and reportedly led to the deaths of at least six people in 1996. Most countries build launch sites near a coast to avoid such dangers, but China placed three sites deep inland for security reasons during the cold war.
Features & opinion
A controversial case led to DNA database GEDMatch tightening its rules on sharing data with law-enforcement agencies. For Parabon Nanolabs, a company which relies on such data, that meant pivoting to a different product: mugshots generated from the scant DNA left behind in crime-scene samples. Both techniques raise a myriad of ethical quandaries, made all the more stark by examples of the state imposing compulsory DNA collection on vulnerable groups in the United States and China. “Because DNA is so powerful, we tend to see it as a silver bullet,” says biologist and engineer Yves Moreau. “It’s like a knife — people underestimate just how sharp they can be.”
Researchers outside China might be curious about how scientists are using one of the world’s most popular social networks: WeChat. In a 2019 Springer Nature survey, 94% of 528 respondents in China indicated that they had used WeChat in a professional context. An informal questionnaire by Nature Methods reveals some of the ways that its readers use the platform to nurture collaborations and share results.
Meticulous work by chemist Stephanie Horovitz, who purified and measured the atomic weights of lead chloride, revealed the first direct evidence for the existence of isotopes. She also proved that a recently discovered element – ionium – didn’t exist. Despite long-time support from her supervisor and co-author Otto Hönigschmid, Horovitz’s contribution to chemistry has been almost forgotten. Her death at the hands of the Nazis at Treblinka in 1942 was mourned by her contemporaries, but Horovitz wasn’t even mentioned in a 1946 Nature Obituary of Hönigschmid. Nevertheless, her name lives on in the scientific record of the extraordinary accuracy of her painstaking work.