12 must-read science stories of the week

Welcome to your weekly science update – a curated list of this week’s most interesting stories in science.

Winners and losers in American science spending. The US Congress agreed a science budget $661 million below President Obama’s request. The National Science Foundation gets a small rise but the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA all see cuts.

US turns its back on Earth. NASA’s $7 million science budget cut won’t affect the mission to study Jupiter’s moon Europa, which gets $100 million more than was requested by President Obama. This is being interpreted as a move to reduce NASA’s research on climate change and focus on space exploration.

EU Science Panel plans. The European Commission announced plans to protect science funding and to recruit a panel of leading scientists to advise EU leaders.

First genetic-testing standards. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed “reference materials” for labs to check that their machines and software are properly analyzing a person’s genome. This is the first effort to regulate genetic testing services offered directly to consumers.

Ready for the Robots. Here’s what to expect from next month’s finale of the epic DARPA Robotics Challenge which has focused the minds of researchers around the globe on building a heroic humanoid robot.

Antibiotics given to babies linked to disease in adulthood. A University of Minnesota study has shown how antibiotics given to infants affect bacteria in their guts and are associated with higher rates of infectious diseases, allergies, and obesity.

A global fund for antibiotics. Meanwhile, a UK panel reviewing solutions to antibiotic resistance has concluded that a global fund of $2 billion is needed in order to boost R&D.

Research in India and Cuba. Nature profiles science in India while Science Magazine reviews research in Cuba.

Ignorance is fish. Just when we thought we knew it all comes news of a warm-blooded fish. What else is out there that we don’t know we don’t know?

Public pressure against animal research is growing. The EU Parliament debated a ban on using animals in research in the face of a 1.6 million-strong petition. The Parliament was unconvinced and the global science community spoke out in support of animal research. The debate comes on the heels of a German scientist’s decision to quit primate research.

Why it’s good to be wrong. Nautilus interviews physicist David Deutsch on why we should embrace our fallibility.

Microbial fingerprint. The collective DNA of the microbes that colonize a human body can uniquely identify someone, researchers have found, raising privacy issues.

Author: David Gleicher is Senior Programme Manager, Science and Technology, at the World Economic Forum

Image: A museum staff member takes photos of an artwork named “3D Display Cube” by James Clar during a media preview at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo April 23, 2008. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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