Elsewhere in Science, 20 December 2013

Each week, Science publishes a few articles that are likely to be of interest to career-minded readers. But because those articles aren’t featured on Science Careers, our readers could easily overlook them.

To remedy that, every Friday we’re pointing readers toward articles appearing in Science—the print magazine as well as the other Science-family publications (ScienceInsider, ScienceNOW, Science Translational Medicine—Sci. TM—and Science Signaling)—that hold some relevance or nuggets of advice for readers interested in furthering their careers in science. (Please note that while articles appearing in ScienceInsider and ScienceNOW can be read by anyone, articles appearing in Sci. TM, Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS membership/Science subscription or a site license.)

• Last Friday at ScienceInsider, Jeffrey Mervis and David Malakoff collaborated on a post about the impacts on science of the budget agreement in the United States. And on Wednesday, as ScienceInsider reported, the budget deal reached the finish line when the Senate passed the 2-year budget agreement previously passed by the House of Representatives. The agreement falls short of a full repeal of sequestration, but pro-science lobbyists expressed optimism, saying that the new budget is certain to be an improvement over the previous status quo. The detailed impact on science budgets, however, is not yet known.

• On Tuesday, the European Commission announced the appointment of French mathematician Jean-Pierre Bourguignon as president of the European Research Council (ERC), the European Union’s main funding agency for basic research. Bourguignon will oversee a historically large ERC budget under the recently finalized Horizon 2020 program, which will fund European science for the next 7 years. In an interview with Martin Enserink, published on ScienceInsider, Bourguignon expressed strong support for basic research in Europe, adding that he will urge national governments to provide steady, reliable support for research now that the ERC is around to fund specific scientists and projects.

• Also at ScienceInsider, Emily Underwood reported the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) specific plans for funding neuroscience research under the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative. The agency is committing $40 million per year for 3 years to research in six high-priority areas. “We hope that there will be additional funds that will become available, but obviously that depends upon what our budget is,” says Story Landis, who is the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, quoted in the article. The article also includes descriptions and links to requests for applications for each of the six areas.

• A new study reported at ScienceInsider reveals—wait for it—that old raw data is harder to access than new raw data. The study, which was published in Current Biology, aimed to measure, in effect, the half-life of experimental data. The authors’ conclusion: For every year that passes after a study, the chance of recovering its data falls by about 17%, partly because it becomes harder to track down authors and partly because the authors who are contacted cannot provide the data.

• It wasn’t a good year to work in the U.S. government. In the annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey that was released this week, satisfaction with government employment dropped by 3 points on a scale of 100, as Jeffrey Mervis reported on Thursday at ScienceInsider. But NIH did much worse: NIH’s score fell by 6.5 points. Still, most NIH employees are happy enough: Even after the drop, job satisfaction there stood at 62.7. The National Science Foundation earned a nearly identical score—62.8—but that reflects an increase of 1.4 over last year’s score. It hasn’t been a great year at NASA either, but it’s still, apparently, a great place to work. NASA’s score was the highest among large government agencies—those with 15,000 or more employees—at 74.

• In the Random Sample section, paleontologist Steve Brusatte, a consultant on the new computer-animated film Walking with Dinosaurs, “explains how the creators incorporate fresh science—from feathered characters to Late Cretaceous climate patterns—into a family-friendly adventure.”

• Astronomers with limited resources, and from small and midsized institutions, may soon have fewer opportunities to study the night sky. In News & Analysis, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee wrote about the likely closure of five telescopes that for years have served scientists with limited access, and also researchers in training.” ‘I am extremely dismayed at this choice,’ says M. Virginia McSwain, an astronomer at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, whose graduate students routinely use the Kitt Peak telescopes for their research. ‘This will have major negative effects on training.’ Students and researchers at institutions like Lehigh, McSwain says, would have to travel to public facilities in Hawaii or Chile to conduct optical observations, trips some could not afford. ‘If I did receive observing time in Chile, do you think I would send a graduate student there? No, of course not,’ she says. ‘This is not just about the loss of jobs for people who manage these five telescopes. It’s about the loss of a generation of astronomers.’ “

• Also in News & Analysis comes one of the better Science headlines of recent years: “Scientists Campaign Against Killer Robots.”

• And in the it’s-good-to-be-humble department, Adrian Cho writes about an emerging controversy surrounding the theory of high-temperature superconductivity, where Robert Laughlin—returning to work after a decade or so away from research—claims to be in the process of revolutionizing the field. “What’s playing out here is something that happens rarely in physics,” Laughlin writes in an e-mail to Science. “A deeply rooted consensus belief [is being] smashed by one man using logic.” Laughlin, of course, is that man. His papers are in press, in Physical Review Letters and Physical Review B.

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