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Scales on the wings of moths form acoustic camouflage that hides the insects from the sonar of bats. Researchers examined the Chinese tusar moth (Antheraea pernyi) and Dactyloceras lucina, a large African moth. These species have no ears to hear approaching predators. Instead, they defend themselves using a dense array of tiny, thin scales that each resonate at a particular frequency. Together, the scales absorb at least three octaves of sound — the first known natural acoustic metamaterial. The intricate arrangement and structure of the scales could inspire ultrathin sound-absorbing materials: think sound-absorbing wallpaper instead of panels, say researchers.
“Between 1997 and 2001, ten prescription drugs were withdrawn from the US market, and eight of those were more dangerous for women than for men,” notes gender and science researcher Londa Schiebinger. Today, the European Commission published its second report on Gendered Innovations, produced by a 25-person expert group that Schiebinger chaired. The report provides guidance for how researchers can incorporate sex and gender analyses across the gamut of research topics funded by its Horizon Europe programme. “This kind of analysis is not about women — it’s about getting the research right, and it benefits everyone,” says Schiebinger.
Next week, the European Space Agency star-mapping satellite Gaia will update its map of the Universe, built from 1.6 million quasars and more than 1 billion stars. The Gaia data offer a fixed reference frame against which astronomers can fine-tune their observations to account for the position of Earth and all its celestial neighbours. The Gaia reference frame has already helped the New Horizons probe to snag images of a Kuiper Belt object, Arrokoth, while both were almost 7 billion kilometres away.
Features & opinion
Oday Abushalbaq is a PhD candidate in molecular neuroscience in the United States and co-leads a molecular-neuroscience team in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem. “So, I am a student and mentor at the same time,” says Abushalbaq. Leading a team from 9,000 kilometres away while completing PhD training would not be possible without three key habits, he says: communication through regular e-mails and virtual meetings, setting a weekly schedule and leaning on his own mentors.
After human–robot interaction researcher Anna Henschel swapped universities mid-PhD, she realized that having mentors beyond her supervisor was invaluable. “Try to imagine different mentors in the positions of role model (a person in your outer circle who inspires you), career guide (someone who infrequently supports your career progression) and personal adviser (someone who provides psychosocial support)”, she recommends. She also offers tips on how to find mentors, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The people of the Swinomish tribe in Washington State have a deep knowledge of how climate change is affecting their coast — after all, the People of the Salmon have fished there for 10,000 years. They have responded with a climate strategy that takes the long view, restoring salmon habitat, rebuilding oyster reefs and managing wetlands while taking social and cultural beliefs into account. “It’s a different worldview,” says resource management scientist Jamie Donatuto, the tribe’s environmental-health officer. “The salmon and the crabs and the clams are relatives. They’re living relatives. They’re not just resources.”