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New research uses artificial intelligence to identify epileptic seizures in real-time - Mental Daily

#artificialintelligence

New research in Scientific Reports conducted by Washington University shows how comprehending brain activity as a network rather than by electroencephalography readings, provides more accurate identification of epileptic seizures in real-time. The study, which mixes machine learning with systems theory, was steered by lead author Walter Bomela. "Our technique allows us to get raw data, process it and extract a feature that's more informative for the machine learning model to use," Bomela stated in a news release. "The major advantage of our approach is to fuse signals from 23 electrodes to one parameter that can be efficiently processed with much less computing resources." As explained by researchers, using an EEG, epileptic seizures can be observed through irregular brain activity in the form of spikes and waves during the measurement of electrical output.


Research reflects how AI sees through the looking glass

#artificialintelligence

Things are different on the other side of the mirror. Right hands become left hands. Intrigued by how reflection changes images in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, a team of Cornell researchers used artificial intelligence to investigate what sets originals apart from their reflections. Their algorithms learned to pick up on unexpected clues such as hair parts, gaze direction and, surprisingly, beards – findings with implications for training machine learning models and detecting faked images. AI learns to pick up on unexpected clues to differentiate original images from their reflections, the researchers found.


New Research Suggests Artificial Brains Could Benefit From Sleep

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Researchers from Duke University have developed an AI model capable of taking highly blurry, pixellated images and rendering them with high detail. According to TechXplore, the model is capable of taking relatively few pixels and scaling the images up to create realistic looking faces that are approximately 64 times the resolution of the original image. The model hallucinates, or imagines, features that are between the lines of the original image. The research is an example of super-resolution. As Cynthia Rudin from Duke University's computer science team explained to TechXplore, this research project sets a record for super-resolution, as never before have images been created with such feal from such a small sample of starting pixels.


Research reflects how AI sees through the looking glass

#artificialintelligence

Right hands become left hands. Intrigued by how reflection changes images in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, a team of Cornell University researchers used artificial intelligence to investigate what sets originals apart from their reflections. Their algorithms learned to pick up on unexpected clues such as hair parts, gaze direction and, surprisingly, beards -- findings with implications for training machine learning models and detecting faked images. "The universe is not symmetrical. If you flip an image, there are differences," said Noah Snavely, associate professor of computer science at Cornell Tech and senior author of the study, "Visual Chirality," presented at the 2020 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, held virtually June 14-19.


Improve alignment of research policy and societal values

Science

Historically, scientific and engineering expertise has been key in shaping research and innovation (R&I) policies, with benefits presumed to accrue to society more broadly over time ([ 1 ][1]). But there is persistent and growing concern about whether and how ethical and societal values are integrated into R&I policies and governance, as we confront public disbelief in science and political suspicion toward evidence-based policy-making ([ 2 ][2]). Erosion of such a social contract with science limits the ability of democratic societies to deal with challenges presented by new, disruptive technologies, such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, automation and robotics, and artificial intelligence. Many policy efforts have emerged in response to such concerns, one prominent example being Europe's Eighth Framework Programme, Horizon 2020 (H2020), whose focus on “Responsible Research and Innovation” (RRI) provides a case study for the translation of such normative perspectives into concrete policy action and implementation. Our analysis of this H2020 RRI approach suggests a lack of consistent integration of elements such as ethics, open access, open innovation, and public engagement. On the basis of our evaluation, we suggest possible pathways for strengthening efforts to deliver R&I policies that deepen mutually beneficial science and society relationships. Alignment of R&I objectives with societal benefits, which transcend exclusive economic value, is a globally relevant concern ([ 3 ][3]). Aspiration of stronger science and society interrelationships have been visible in U.S. research management efforts, as well as in Canada and Europe. In H2020, to which the European Commission (EC) allocated nearly €80 billion for the 2014–2020 funding period, the EC enumerated RRI as a priority across all of H2020 activities (a “cross-cutting issue”) to deepen science and society relationships and be responsive to societal challenges. To date, €1.88 billion have been invested across 200 different R&I areas (e.g., quantum computing, graphene nanotechnology, human brain research, artificial intelligence) in more than 1100 projects related to various dimensions of RRI (see the figure). Inclusion of RRI in H2020 reflected the commitment of the European Union (EU) to the precautionary principle with regard to R&I policy, and the deepening commitment of the EC to mainstream concerns related to science and society integration ([ 4 ][4], [ 5 ][5]). RRI principles and practices have been designed to enhance inclusive and democratic modes of conducting R&I to reflect current forms and aspirations of society ([ 4 ][4]). Formal adoption and exploitation of RRI in H2020 coalesced around six thematic domains of responsibility (“keys”): public engagement, gender equality, science education and science literacy, open access, ethics, and governance ([ 6 ][6]). As a relatively young concept, these six keys cover only a part of RRI as it is discussed in the academic literature. Their integration in the European R&I ecosystem was advanced by various political- and policy-level ambitions ([ 3 ][3]–[ 5 ][5]). The forthcoming Ninth Framework Programme, Horizon Europe (2021–2027), includes further mention of RRI, as well as additional efforts to increase responsiveness of science to society through elements of the so-called “three O's agenda” (i.e., open innovation, open science, openness to the world) ([ 7 ][7]). Despite this fairly extensive history of EC investment in mainstreaming activities, a recent survey of more than 3100 European researcher recipients of H2020 funding showed that a vast majority of respondents were not familiar with the concept of RRI ([ 8 ][8]). Although these findings by no means suggest that researchers are irresponsible, they raise questions about the success of the EC approach to embedding normative targets for responsibility into R&I. The need for systematic evaluation is clear ([ 9 ][9]). Our study contributes to a legacy of research on the efficacy of framework programmes in light of various EC ambitions ([ 10 ][10]). To answer our question about policy integration and implementation of RRI in H2020, we conducted a mixed method investigation in three stages: (i) desktop research, (ii) interviews, and (iii) case research [see supplementary materials (SM) S10 for details]. First, we collected and reviewed relevant documentation of the four H2020 Programme Sections (Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership, Societal Challenges, Diversity of Approaches) and 19 respective subthemes available on the websites of the EC. This included reviews of documents at the following levels: policy, scoping, work package, calls, projects, proposal templates, and evaluations. Review of documents extended to all three periods of H2020 (2014–2015, 2016–2017, and 2018–2020) and employed the six EC RRI keys as indicators. Second, we conducted interviews with representatives ( n = 257) of seven stakeholder groups within the 19 subthemes of H2020. Third, using natural language processing algorithms, we obtained and analyzed texts describing project objectives of all the H2020 projects (ongoing and finished, n = 13,644) available on the CORDIS Portal, which provides information on EU-funded R&I activities. We examined how proposal language and RRI policies translate into project activities across H2020 using text-mining approaches. We carried out keyword frequency analysis by applying a selection of 10 to 12 keywords (SM S8) associated with each of the six RRI keys. This resulted in an “RRI score” for each of six keys for each H2020 project (SM S13). This subsequent case research covered all three H2020 periods (i.e., 2014–2015, 2016–2017, and 2018–2020). At each of these stages we produced reports for each corresponding subtheme (SM S11). The resulting body of 19 reports was then systematically reviewed for levels of policy integration. The policy-integration levels were qualitatively assessed with the EC's own indicator assessment ([ 6 ][6]). ![Figure][11] How well is Responsible Research and Innovation represented in Horizon 2020? Limited high-quality reference to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) suggests that it has largely been referred to without proper understanding, or as an empty signifier. Data combine all four Horizon 2020 (H2020) program sections and reflect the amount and quality of representation of six RRI keys and three “O's,” across three levels: samples of internal H2020 program documents, H2020 stakeholder interviews, and H2020 project objectives. Comparison across keys within a given level is straightforward; all values are drawn from the same underlying materials. Comparison across levels within a given key should focus on relative proportions of the four colors within a given level, not on absolute values; analyses drew upon different types and amounts of underlying materials in each level. See supplementary materials for details. GRAPHIC: X. LIU/ SCIENCE This assessment demonstrates which elements of the RRI framework were initially defined by the policy-makers (desktop level), which RRI attributes the stakeholders were most aware of (interview level), and which RRI elements were manifested in project proposals (case level) (SM S12; see the figure). RRI as a concept has been present in most of the four Programme Sections of H2020, and particular RRI policy elements emerge as prominent in certain subthemes, especially those addressing societal challenges or explicitly promoting the uptake of RRI. But RRI overall has largely been referred to either without proper understanding of its definition, or as empty signifier, suggesting lack of compliance with the EC's interpretation of the RRI concept (see the figure; SM S9). Integration of the three O's agenda, contemplated as a successor to the RRI framework, lagged behind that of the six RRI keys; a finding consistent with introduction of the agenda in the later stages of H2020. Our results suggest that the integration of the RRI framework into H2020 has fallen short of stated EC ambitions. Our data show substantial discrepancies between the inclusion of RRI concepts within official subtheme documents (e.g., on policy and work programme levels), and awareness of RRI by interviewees working on projects funded by such subthemes (see the figure). Absence of RRI keys across the majority of programme subtheme evaluation criteria is a telling example. Such evidence suggests that (i) the RRI framework is still an evolving concept, the development of which hinders its proper understanding by those who are supposed to use it; (ii) such individuals have only superficial understanding of the notion for its effective exploitation; and (iii) although the RRI framework is present on the declarative, strategic policy level (scoping and subtheme general description), it wanes in funding calls (policy operationalization) and is largely absent in evaluation criteria used in proposal assessment. Collectively, these points further suggest that applicants have little in the way of consistently aligned incentives to regard RRI as relevant in proposal design and submission. Although (i) and (ii) are primarily a matter of a lack of adequate information, awareness and training, (iii) points to limitations of European science policy efforts related to the pursuit of RRI. Such translation failures are typically caused by interplay of different logics of negotiation at the different levels ([ 11 ][12]), a linear model of innovation appealing to scientific excellence in R&I ([ 12 ][13]), actors' resistance to change, path dependencies, cognitive boundaries, and competing policy agendas ([ 13 ][14]). As the issues covered by RRI are normatively claimed to be of high relevance by political decision-makers, as evidenced in several EC documents, we conclude that the problem is one of policy integration strategy and implementation ([ 14 ][15]). The lack of clarity in conceptualizing RRI for research policy and governance, the limited understanding among key stakeholders, and the concept's conflation with other—often conflicting—policy goals (e.g., scientific excellence, economic value, technological readiness) hinder the emergence of a specific RRI-oriented policy frame ([ 15 ][16]). Such conflicting policy goals are palpable at the core of European research funding (e.g., supporting either mission-oriented innovation or curiosity-driven basic research in key funding instruments) and highlight the structural tensions between the normative ideals and potential instrumentalization ([ 3 ][3]). There are some limitations of this study that must be taken into account when interpreting results. First, the measurements were cross-sectional and though representative, are not exhaustive. Generalizability of findings could be increased if the study were to extend in a longitudinal fashion and possibly to better elaborate causal relationships among factors. Second, although we employed mixed methods in our investigation, the number of interviews and case studies could be further increased to provide additional qualitative information about the dynamics of RRI at the project level. Third, as the framework programme remains ongoing, our analysis was not able to evaluate the entire H2020 corpus. Although the results indicate evidence of patchy RRI implementation, highlighting the need for more consistent support to help align EC science policy and societal values, the progress made is nontrivial, given the history of science ([ 1 ][1]). A clear discrepancy exists between the expressed strong normative position on RRI and its integration in concrete policies and practices. Fully integrating RRI as a strong normative position into research funding and governance is a necessary but not sufficient first step to creating a working policy system that drives RRI integration. Longer-lived investments are needed for building a shared understanding and awareness of the relevance of responsibility in R&I among key stakeholders. Integrating responsibility into research funding further requires RRI to shift from a “cross-cutting issue” to a “strategic concern” that receives consistent and sustained embedding in call texts and project selection criteria. This will require “policy entrepreneurs” who can stimulate interactions across subthemes to foster alignment of RRI integration and translation. In addition, a range of integration policies are required at the system level and within subthemes, in which the issue of RRI is adopted as a goal. This is pertinent as, in case of such integration failures, it is often the normative position that is called into question instead of the implementation strategy, or actual integration pathway. The EC would benefit from enhancing previous efforts to integrate RRI and so affirm its role as a leader of ethically acceptable and societally responsible R&I on the world stage. Otherwise Europe needlessly undercuts its ability to direct research toward tackling societal challenges in ways compatible with its values. [science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6499/39/suppl/DC1][17] 1. [↵][18]1. M. Polanyi, 2. J. Ziman, 3. S. Fuller , Minerva 38, 1 (2000). [OpenUrl][19][CrossRef][20][Web of Science][21] 2. [↵][22]1. N. Mejlgaard et al ., Science 361, 761 (2018). [OpenUrl][23][FREE Full Text][24] 3. [↵][25]1. R. von Schomberg, 2. J. Hankins 1. R. von Schomberg , in International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: A Global Resource, R. von Schomberg, J. Hankins, Eds. (Edward Elgar, 2019), pp. 12–32. 4. [↵][26]1. R. Owen, 2. P. Macnaghten, 3. J. Stilgoe , Sci. Public Policy 39, 751 (2012). [OpenUrl][27][CrossRef][28][Web of Science][29] 5. [↵][30]1. D. Simon, 2. S. Kuhlmann, 3. J. Stamm, 4. W. Canzler 1. R. Owen, 2. M. Pansera , in Handbook on Science and Public Policy, D. Simon, S. Kuhlmann, J. Stamm, W. Canzler, Eds. (Edward Elgar, 2019), pp. 26–48. 6. [↵][31]DGRI, “Indicators for promoting and monitoring responsible research and innovation: Report from the expert group on policy indicators for responsible research and innovation” (Report, European Commission, 2015); [http://ec.europa.eu/research/swafs/pdf/pub\_rri/rri\_indicators\_final\_version.pdf][32]. 7. [↵][33]DGRI, Open innovation, open science, open to the world: A vision for Europe” (Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Union, 2016); . 8. [↵][34]1. S. Bührer et al ., “Monitoring the evolution and benefits of responsible research and innovation: Report on the researchers' survey – Study” [Report KI-1-18-886-EN-N, Directorate-General for Research; Innovation (European Commission), 2018]. 9. [↵][35]1. A. Rip , J. Responsib. Innov. 3, 290 (2016). [OpenUrl][36] 10. [↵][37]1. H. Rodríguez, 2. E. Fisher, 3. D. Schuurbiers , Res. Policy 42, 1126 (2013). [OpenUrl][38] 11. [↵][39]1. M. Howlett, 2. J. Vince, 3. P. Del Río , Politics Gov. 5, 69 (2017). [OpenUrl][40] 12. [↵][41]1. K. Rommetveit, 2. R. Strand, 3. R. Fjelland, 4. S. Funtowicz , “What can history teach us about the prospects of a European research area? Joint Research Centre scientific and policy reports” (Report JRC84065, European Commission, 2013). 13. [↵][42]1. H. Colebatch , Public Policy Admin 33, 365 (2017). [OpenUrl][43] 14. [↵][44]1. B. G. Peters et al ., Designing for Policy Effectiveness: Defining and Understanding a Concept (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2018). 15. [↵][45]1. R. Owen, 2. E.-M. Forsberg, 3. C. Shelley-Egan , “RRI-practice policy recommendations and roadmaps: Responsible research and innovation in practice” (Report, RRI-Practice Project, 2019); [www.rri-practice.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/RRI-Practice\_Policy\_recommendations.pdf][46]. Acknowledgments: This project received funding from the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 741402. We acknowledge all the consortium members who contributed to the data collection and writing of the reports (SM S11), which this study is based on. We express our gratitude to H. Tobi and N. Mejlgaard, as well as to the reviewers, for their helpful and constructive comments. [1]: #ref-1 [2]: #ref-2 [3]: #ref-3 [4]: #ref-4 [5]: #ref-5 [6]: #ref-6 [7]: #ref-7 [8]: #ref-8 [9]: #ref-9 [10]: #ref-10 [11]: pending:yes [12]: #ref-11 [13]: #ref-12 [14]: #ref-13 [15]: #ref-14 [16]: #ref-15 [17]: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6499/39/suppl/DC1 [18]: #xref-ref-1-1 "View reference 1 in text" [19]: {openurl}?query=rft.jtitle%253DMinerva%26rft.volume%253D38%26rft.spage%253D1%26rft_id%253Dinfo%253Adoi%252F10.1023%252FA%253A1026591624255%26rft.genre%253Darticle%26rft_val_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Ajournal%26ctx_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ctx_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Actx [20]: /lookup/external-ref?access_num=10.1023/A:1026591624255&link_type=DOI [21]: /lookup/external-ref?access_num=000165793800001&link_type=ISI [22]: #xref-ref-2-1 "View reference 2 in text" [23]: {openurl}?query=rft.jtitle%253DScience%26rft.stitle%253DScience%26rft.aulast%253DMejlgaard%26rft.auinit1%253DN.%26rft.volume%253D361%26rft.issue%253D6404%26rft.spage%253D761%26rft.epage%253D762%26rft.atitle%253DEurope%2527s%2Bplans%2Bfor%2Bresponsible%2Bscience%26rft_id%253Dinfo%253Adoi%252F10.1126%252Fscience.aav0400%26rft_id%253Dinfo%253Apmid%252F30139865%26rft.genre%253Darticle%26rft_val_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Ajournal%26ctx_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ctx_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Actx [24]: /lookup/ijlink/YTozOntzOjQ6InBhdGgiO3M6MTQ6Ii9sb29rdXAvaWpsaW5rIjtzOjU6InF1ZXJ5IjthOjQ6e3M6ODoibGlua1R5cGUiO3M6NDoiRlVMTCI7czoxMToiam91cm5hbENvZGUiO3M6Mzoic2NpIjtzOjU6InJlc2lkIjtzOjE0OiIzNjEvNjQwNC83NjEtYiI7czo0OiJhdG9tIjtzOjIxOiIvc2NpLzM2OS82NDk5LzM5LmF0b20iO31zOjg6ImZyYWdtZW50IjtzOjA6IiI7fQ== [25]: #xref-ref-3-1 "View reference 3 in text" [26]: #xref-ref-4-1 "View reference 4 in text" [27]: {openurl}?query=rft.jtitle%253DSci.%2BPublic%2BPolicy%26rft_id%253Dinfo%253Adoi%252F10.1093%252Fscipol%252Fscs093%26rft.genre%253Darticle%26rft_val_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Ajournal%26ctx_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ctx_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Actx [28]: /lookup/external-ref?access_num=10.1093/scipol/scs093&link_type=DOI [29]: /lookup/external-ref?access_num=000312510500007&link_type=ISI [30]: #xref-ref-5-1 "View reference 5 in text" [31]: #xref-ref-6-1 "View reference 6 in text" [32]: http://ec.europa.eu/research/swafs/pdf/pub_rri/rri_indicators_final_version.pdf [33]: #xref-ref-7-1 "View reference 7 in text" [34]: #xref-ref-8-1 "View reference 8 in text" [35]: #xref-ref-9-1 "View reference 9 in text" [36]: {openurl}?query=rft.jtitle%253DJ.%2BResponsib.%2BInnov.%26rft.volume%253D3%26rft.spage%253D290%26rft.genre%253Darticle%26rft_val_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Ajournal%26ctx_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ctx_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Actx [37]: #xref-ref-10-1 "View reference 10 in text" [38]: {openurl}?query=rft.jtitle%253DRes.%2BPolicy%26rft.volume%253D42%26rft.spage%253D1126%26rft.genre%253Darticle%26rft_val_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Ajournal%26ctx_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ctx_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Actx [39]: #xref-ref-11-1 "View reference 11 in text" [40]: {openurl}?query=rft.jtitle%253DPolitics%2BGov.%26rft.volume%253D5%26rft.spage%253D69%26rft.genre%253Darticle%26rft_val_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Ajournal%26ctx_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ctx_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Actx [41]: #xref-ref-12-1 "View reference 12 in text" [42]: #xref-ref-13-1 "View reference 13 in text" [43]: {openurl}?query=rft.jtitle%253DPublic%2BPolicy%2BAdmin%26rft.volume%253D33%26rft.spage%253D365%26rft.genre%253Darticle%26rft_val_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Ajournal%26ctx_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ver%253DZ39.88-2004%26url_ctx_fmt%253Dinfo%253Aofi%252Ffmt%253Akev%253Amtx%253Actx [44]: #xref-ref-14-1 "View reference 14 in text" [45]: #xref-ref-15-1 "View reference 15 in text" [46]: http://www.rri-practice.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/RRI-Practice_Policy_recommendations.pdf


Tracing cell trajectories in a biofilm

Science

Born in 1881 on a farm in Pennsylvania, Alice C. Evans dedicated her life to studying bacteria in dairy products. Early in her career, Alice became convinced that most bacteria display multicellular behavior as part of their life cycles. At the time, the morphological changes observed in bacterial life cycles created confusion among scientists. In 1928, as the first female president of the American Society for Microbiology, Alice wrote to the scientific community: “When one-celled organisms grow in masses, … individual cells influence and protect one another.” She continued, “Bacteriologists need not feel chagrinned … to admit that… forms they have considered as different genera are but stages in the life cycle of one species” ([ 1 ][1]). Nearly 100 years later, on page 71 of this issue, Qin et al. ([ 2 ][2]) make a substantial leap forward in deciphering cell dynamics in biofilms—groups of microorganisms that adhere to a surface, and each other, by excreting matrix components. In the interim period, microbiologists have learned that many bacteria organize in groups. This allows bacterial cells to achieve collectively what individuals in isolation cannot, thus conferring a selective advantage on the individuals. Multicellular behaviors help cells to migrate ([ 3 ][3]), resist antibiotic treatments ([ 4 ][4]), and protect themselves from predators ([ 5 ][5]). In recent years, microbiologists have begun to unravel the mechanisms behind these multicellular behaviors, by studying single-cell gene expression, growth rate regulation, and cell-to-cell interactions ([ 6 ][6]–[ 9 ][7]), as well as by developing tools to investigate the morphology and growth of entire bacterial biofilms ([ 10 ][8], [ 11 ][9]). A multicellular aggregate starts with a single founder cell that grows into a mature biofilm. Despite substantial progress, scientists still lack a detailed understanding of how bacterial cells are programmed to build multicellular structures. Each cell makes individual decisions—whether to divide, move, excrete chemicals, exert forces, or express extracellular matrix components—in response to its local environment. In turn, the local environment is determined by the collective decisions of all of its cells, played out as a mosaic over time in a three-dimensional (3D) space. A primary challenge to unraveling the mystery of how cells are programmed to produce a mature functional biofilm is that researchers lack the experimental tools needed to study how the dynamics of individual cells drive biofilm formation and structure. ![Figure][10] The building of biofilms A fountain-like flow of bacterial cells drives biofilm expansion. CREDIT: V. ALTOUNIAN/ SCIENCE In their elegant study, Qin et al. developed dual-view light-sheet microscopy to reconstruct single-cell trajectories in 3D Vibrio cholerae biofilms initiated by a single founder cell. This method fluorescently labeled cellular puncta, giving isotropic single-cell resolution in the biofilm with much less photobleaching than that seen with previous methods. This advance allowed the authors to carry out simultaneous imaging of 10,000 V. cholerae cells for the 16 hours it takes for the biofilm to develop, with 3-min intervals between subsequent images. This frequent imaging made it possible to track the trajectories of micrometer-sized cells, giving an unprecedented view into the behaviors of individual cells as the biofilm developed (see the figure). The measurements revealed a qualitative transition in an individual cell's behavior, in which Brownian motion changes to ballistic motion as the biofilm develops. This transition corresponds to a new phase of collective growth, when the biofilm as a whole begins its vertical expansion away from the substrate. In this phase, cells displayed two types of trajectories. Some of the cells expanded ballistically outward, whereas others became trapped at the substrate. Overall, these trajectories gave rise to a collective fountain-like flow, which transported some cells to the biofilm front, while bypassing the cells trapped at the substrate. This fountain-like flow allowed for fast lateral expansion of the biofilm. Cell tracking allowed Qin et al. to precisely quantify the dynamics of various cells, while also assessing how these dynamics differ for mutant cells that overproduce matrix components. To interpret the results, the authors built a mathematical model for the mechanics of biofilm expansion, balancing growth with substrate friction. By modeling different surface frictions and comparing the predicted cell motion with the observed cell motion, Qin et al. were able to explain the observed behavior as long as friction between the cells and surface was a dominant effect. This study of V. cholerae offers an exciting insight into how collective behavior can arise from processes operating at the single-cell level. The mechanisms uncovered with a gram-negative bacterial species likely will be generalizable across other bacterial types. For example, the qualitative transitions in biofilm expansion observed in this study have analogs in other bacterial biofilms. With the gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis , a qualitative change in colony expansion is triggered by a cellular bistable switch in which cells expressing flagella produce extracellular matrices ([ 12 ][11], [ 13 ][12]). Osmolarity associated with matrix production drives colony expansion ([ 14 ][13]). More broadly, this study demonstrates the great potential for advances in imaging technology and computer vision to help unravel how collective behavior arises from the activity of individual cells and their interactions. However, there is much more going on inside a biofilm that cannot yet be seen. More complete information would allow researchers to not only reconstruct the motion of cells but also uncover their phenotypic states. Previous work on B. subtilis with fluorescent labeling of genetic components shows detailed spatial arrangement of various cell types, with cells carrying out different biological functions in distinct parts of the biofilm ([ 3 ][3], [ 15 ][14]). One can only hypothesize about the diversity of cellular types and functions inside the beautiful fountain revealed in the present study. A deeper understanding of bacterial multicellular behavior will increase our ability to treat bacterial infections, control natural bacterial communities, and engineer synthetic ones for specific purposes. 1. [↵][15]1. A. C. Evans , J. Bacteriol. 17, 63 (1929). [OpenUrl][16][FREE Full Text][17] 2. [↵][18]1. B. Qin et al ., Science 369, 71 (2020). [OpenUrl][19][Abstract/FREE Full Text][20] 3. 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News from a postpandemic world

Science

We asked young scientists to imagine this scenario: You are a science writer in the year 2040 working on a news story that answers this question: What do you hope or fear will be the long-term effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic? A selection of their responses, arranged as a newpaper, is below. Follow NextGen Voices on Twitter with hashtag #NextGenSci. Read previous NextGen Voices survey results at . —Jennifer Sills Today, scientists confirm that 1000 previously endangered species have been removed from the Vulnerable list. Biodiversity renewal has been under way since the COVID-19 pandemic 20 years ago led many governments to reevaluate their priorities. Hunting practices and bushmeat consumption were constrained to limit the transmission of new pathogens through human contact with the meat and biofluids of wild animals. Deforestation was restricted worldwide when it became clear that land-use modifications and climate change were important drivers of vector-borne diseases. COVID-19 claimed many lives, but the political and environmental changes the pandemic inspired have likely saved many more by protecting the world's biodiversity. Joel Henrique Ellwanger Department of Genetics, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, 91501-970, Brazil. Email: joel.ellwanger{at}gmail.com Science and technology research budgets, now classified as an arm of the national defense force, could rival traditional military spending in a few years' time. This newfound prioritization of science was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made clear that the previous conception of military force is impractical when the enemy is invisible and formidable. The unprecedented redirection of financial resources to scientific communities to help find a cure and vaccines, along with the increased demand for scientific experts, expanded technological frontiers and gave science a well-deserved space in governance. Mpho Diphago Stanley Lekgoathi The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. Email: mpho.lekgoathi{at}necsa.co.za In response to the 50th wave of COVID-19, which hit New York City last month, the U.S. government has announced that the first spaceship designated for in-orbit medical treatment of COVID-19 patients will soon transport 10,000 residents from high-risk zones to Space. Scientists say that prolonged stay in Space colonies with exposure to controlled gamma radiation from cosmic dust may help weaken the virus's strong affinity to lung tissue. “We will do all we can to protect our residents on Earth. Unlike 2019, we are prepared for this challenge,” said the President in a Capitol Hill address. The Senate has voted to fund the treatment expenses for everyone on the flight. Kartik Nemani Layered Materials and Structures Lab, Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA. Email: snemani{at}purdue.edu Workers at major corporations staged a walk-out today, the 20th anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, to protest what some have deemed invasive monitoring. Many fears subsided when the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was broadly distributed in 2023, but subsequent zoonotic viruses emerged faster than society could prepare for them. With the world economy precariously weak, a cautious arrangement was reached: Workers could return to their jobs if they submitted to routine infection checks. At first, these were relatively innocuous temperature probes and cough tracking. However, with the 2029 advent of low-cost RNA wastewater screening by smart toilets and ubiquitous wall-mounted infrared heat sensors, infected employees could be pinpointed before displaying acute symptoms. Later, an eCommerce/fitness-tracking consortium released artificial intelligence algorithms that combined smartwatch health metrics and recent online search history. Corporate Wellness Boards used the results to justify mandatory quarantines. Employees cried foul. The debate rages on in our courts and on the Giganet about whether the public good is served by exposing the “viral status” of the few. Michael A. Tarselli Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening, Oak Brook, IL 60523, USA. Email: mtarselli{at}slas.org Earlier this month, 21 individuals were quarantined in Kampala, Uganda, after a man was diagnosed with Marburg hemorrhagic fever by the local laboratory of the International Center for Disease Prevention (ICDP). The patient, who has now fully recovered, may have been infected at the veterinary clinic where he worked in close contact with possible animal carriers. “This is a virus that spreads easily through bodily fluids and historically has been transmitted to caregivers,” said Dr. Icuaf, director of the ICDP. Once again, the localized presence of centers with efficient testing capabilities made it possible to identify patient zero and contain the outbreak at its inception. As a result, “no deaths occurred, and everyone who might have been exposed has been quarantined while we monitor their health,” added Dr. Icuaf. The ICDP was instituted in 2021 as a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which marked a revolution in public awareness of science-based policy. The cost of crisis prevention is now routinely compared with the predicted price of managing such a crisis after it has occurred. Ahmed Al Harraq Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA. Email: aahme22{at}lsu.edu One of the world's leading universities is launching a large-scale screen of potential antiviral and antibacterial drugs on human volunteers. The substances show promising results in vitro but have not been tested on animals. To compensate for the risk of side effects, all volunteers will receive generous payment. “Drugs showing promising effects on mice could be ineffective on humans, making drug development expensive and slow,” explained the leading scientist of the drug screen. Human rights experts warned against granting permission to conduct the study. “Offering payment for causing physical harm targets the economically vulnerable and violates basic human rights,” they argued. However, doctors and politicians praise the idea, referring to the COVID-19 epidemic. “Developing a new drug through the traditional process can take years. Testing multiple potential candidates on coronavirus-infected people saved thousands of lives before basic research had a chance to catch up. Next time, we want to be prepared,” explained the health minister. Anna Uzonyi Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 7610001, Israel. Email: anna.uzonyi{at}weizmann.ac.il Results published today from a 20-year experiment show that a “lottery” grant funding scheme is superior to traditional peer-review assessment panels. For decades, researchers have debated the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of selecting grant recipients through a peer-review process, given the documented biases that hinder diversity and equitable decision-making. “It was a controversial move at the time, but the results are clear,” said the lead author of the study. The funding experiment, which began in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was introduced to preserve the workforce employed on short-term contracts. During that year, pandemic-related budget cuts and social restrictions impeded the traditional peer-review process. “The lottery not only reduced peer-review bias but also added millions of dollars per year to the sector in hours saved by academics no longer devoting time to peer review,” said the lead author. “That time was spent on doing more experiments, mentoring colleagues, or achieving a healthier work-life balance.” Ken Dutton-Regester Department of Genetics and Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia. Twitter: @stemventurist As the debate continues on the efficacy of educational methods, most universities now use a combination of in-person, remote, and technology-enhanced classrooms. The rapid expansion of evidence-based strategies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, audio and video tools, three-dimensional environments, and simulations across disciplines began during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to move education to a computer-based environment to protect the health and safety of students and staff transformed the educational conversation. In the increasingly technology-enhanced world, discussions about how to teach a science class online, how to facilitate lab experiences, and how to conduct experiments with new constraints swept the research community. A nuanced understanding emerged about true online pedagogy versus synchronous, remote meetings. Two decades later, we see the results of this transformation. Rachel Yoho Department of Environmental and Global Health, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32603, USA. Twitter: @rachel_yoho A stunning 200,000 people attended the grand opening ceremony of the 2040 Olympics yesterday in New Delhi, India. It has been 20 years since such a public event could take place safely. Only with the recent release of clothing and shoes made of technologically advanced materials that instantly kill viruses could the social distancing that began with the COVID-19 pandemic be relaxed. For added peace of mind, all attendees at the ceremony consented to the skin implantation of Viroclean, a new chip-based device that sounds an alarm when it detects viruses in the air. Sudhakar Srivastava Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, 221005, India. Email: sudhakar.srivastava{at}gmail.com This weekend, at the Coachella 2040 music festival, three aerosol biosurveillance sensors detected a SARS-like virus in the air. Smartphone tracing, using the opt-in U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) geospatial health app developed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, identified two potential index cases. The CDC outbreak prevention team mobilized regional contact tracers to intercept and test both individuals within an hour of first detection. One individual tested positive for a variant of the 2019 SARS-CoV-2 strain, previously thought to be eradicated, and is undergoing treatment in quarantine. Michael Strong Center for Genes, Environment, and Health, National Jewish Health and University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Denver, CO 80206, USA. Email: strongm{at}njhealth.org Last week's 15th annual Pan-global Remote Integrated Sciences Meeting (PRISM) attracted more than 100,000 attendees from more than 160 countries. Scientists, educators, students, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and industry experts from fields spanning the physical, biological, and social sciences logged on to the online venue, enabled by virtual reality. Advanced machine learning algorithms provided recommendations for presentations relevant to each participant based on both their expertise and potential for interdisciplinary collaboration. As usual, the highlight of the meeting was the virtual poster sessions, driven by interactivity and streamlined to optimize small-group scientific conversation across fields. Many junior scientist attendees were surprised to learn that such events were nearly unheard of before PRISM grew from the increasing move toward virtual conferences during the coronavirus pandemic over 20 years ago. “My adviser told me that when she was a grad student, big conferences were all held in person,” writes one anonymous Ph.D. student. “Can you imagine having a giant conference like this in some random convention center, with tens of thousands of scientists spending hundreds of dollars on fuel-inefficient flights and hotel booking, lugging around printed posters and just milling around for a week trying to find the optimal talks to attend? Insane.” Yifan Li Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Twitter: @iWonderWhyly Today, cell-based meat consumption has surpassed farm-produced meat for the first time. The transition began with the meat shortages and near collapse of the meat supply chain during the COVID-19 outbreak. With thousands of workers packed into poorly ventilated and unhygienic facilities, meat processing plants were hotspots for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A global meat shortage emerged as production rates were slashed. Most people turned to the plant-based meat alternatives available at the time. The meat industry's demise was sealed when cell-based meat entered the mainstream market the following year. Clean meat eliminated the negative effects of the meat industry, from pollution caused by runoff and antibiotics, to worker and animal cruelty, to the carbon footprint of livestock, which contributed 18% of greenhouse gas emissions at the time. Cell-based meat has been growing in popularity ever since, as traditional meat became ethically and environmentally unpalatable. JiaJia Fu Whittle School and Studios, Washington, DC 20008, USA. Email: jjnaturalist{at}gmail.com Global seafood supply now relies entirely on aquaculture. The turning point came when researchers optimized the breeding techniques for edible crabs, enabling high-valued crab species such as mud crabs and blue crabs to be mass-produced in full aquaculture settings. The prioritization of aquaculture was made possible by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. A 12-month closure of fisheries during the wave of global stay-at-home orders led to the rejuvenation of overexploited species such as sardines and mackerels, which had been on the verge of extinction, and made people recognize the fragility of the supply chain. Full investment in aquaculture research began the following year. Khor Waiho Institute of Tropical Aquaculture and Fisheries, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Kuala Nerus, Terengganu, 21030, Malaysia. Email: waiho{at}umt.edu.my Next week, the United Nations will meet to assess whether the goals of the 2040 Agenda for Sustainable Development have been achieved. Unfortunately, reasons for optimism are scarce. Overexploitation of natural resources, CO2 emissions, and plastic waste continue to soar. The wealthiest sector of the population consumes 80% of the resources, and the poorest people increasingly suffer from extreme weather events, famines, and freshwater scarcity. We were already heading in this direction early in the century, when the short-term vision of corporations and policy-makers prioritized economic benefits over human and environmental health. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the negative trends. Since 2020, an array of wasteful practices increased, including the proliferation of single-use products and travel in private vehicles to avoid physical contact. After reviewing the past decade, the UN countries will discuss commitments to decrease inequality and pollution by 2050. Isabel Marín Beltrán Laboratory of Environmental Technologies, Centro de Ciências do Mar do Algarve, Universidade do Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro, 8005-139, Portugal. Email: imbeltran{at}ualg.pt For the first time, global average air temperature is more than 2°C higher than the 20th-century global average. Scientists suggest that decisions made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to today's disastrous climate consequences. After the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, scientists were hopeful. National governments were implementing increasingly ambitious measures to meet their commitments. But the economic fallout of the pandemic led growing economies such as India to relax environmental clearance guidelines for industries and infrastructure projects and cut funding allocated to environmental reforms. First-world countries such as the United States and China, instead of shifting toward renewable energy, boosted investment in fossil fuels, which in turn increased greenhouse gas emissions. Even after multiple warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, G20 nations neglected to follow the advice of scientists. Akash Mukherjee Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, Pune, Maharashtra, 411008, India. Twitter: @aghori_AM A government report released yesterday warns of a potential spike in counterfeit immunity passports entering the market this coronavirus season. According to Jane London, the U.K. health minister, “There is a substantial increase in the number of illegal immunigrants crossing provincial and municipal borders. The public should be aware that just scanning someone's immunity passport is not enough anymore.” This report comes just 6 months after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first released notice that the “NextGen Immunity Passport” brand had been hacked, allowing scammers and tech-savvy citizens to falsify the immunity data they carry with them by law. Asked how businesses and town-guards were detecting falsified immunity passports at checkpoints, minister of national movement John Petersfield told journalists, “This is a police matter. Any further information about detection at this time will only help counterfeiters.” Widespread counterfeiting, as well as last year's false-negative scandal, has generated substantial public distrust in the use of the immunity passport system in movement legislation, now 19 years old. “We learned our lesson about free movement back in 2020,” said one government official who wished to remain anonymous, “but the immunity passport system is cracking, and we don't see a fix yet.” Tyler D. P. Brunet Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 3RH, UK. Email: tdpb2{at}cam.ac.uk


What jumps out in a photo changes the longer we look

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What seizes your attention at first glance might change with a closer look. That elephant dressed in red wallpaper might initially grab your eye until your gaze moves to the woman on the living room couch and the surprising realization that the pair appear to be sharing a quiet moment together. In a study being presented at the virtual Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference this week, researchers show that our attention moves in distinctive ways the longer we stare at an image, and that these viewing patterns can be replicated by artificial intelligence models. The work suggests immediate ways of improving how visual content is teased and eventually displayed online. For example, an automated cropping tool might zoom in on the elephant for a thumbnail preview or zoom out to include the intriguing details that become visible once a reader clicks on the story.


'DeepSqueak' A.I. Decodes Mice Chatter

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In what is somehow the cutest science story of the new year so far, scientists at the University of Washington have announced a new artificial intelligence system for decoding mouse squeaks. Dubbed DeepSqueak, the software program can analyze rodent vocalizations and then pattern-match the audio to behaviors observed in laboratory settings. As such, the software can be used to partially decode the language of mice and other rodents. Researchers hope that the technology will be helpful in developing a broad range of medical and psychological studies. Published this week in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the study is based around a novel use of sonogram technology, which transforms an audio signal into an image or series of graphs.


IIT Hyderabad Researchers Use Machine Learning Algorithms To Study Supply Chain Network Of Biofuels

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IIT Hyderabad Researchers are using computational methods to understand the factors and impediments in incorporating biofuels into the fuel sector in India. This work has been spurred by the increasing need to replace fossil fuels by bio-derived fuels, which, in turn, is driven by the dwindling fossil fuel reserves all over the world, and pollution issues associated with the use of fossil fuels. The model developed by the IIT Hyderabad team has shown that in the area of bioethanol integration into mainstream fuel use, the production cost is the highest (43 per cent) followed by import (25 per cent), transport (17 per cent), infrastructure (15 per cent) and inventory (0.43 per cent) costs. The model has also shown that feed availability to the tune of at least 40 per cent of the capacity is needed to meet the projected demands. A unique feature of this work is that the framework considers revenue generation not only as an outcome of sales of the biofuel but also in terms of carbon credits via greenhouse gas emission savings throughout the project lifecycle.