• EarthquakesU.S. Most Widely Felt Earthquake: 10 Years On

    Ten years ago, millions of people throughout the eastern U.S. felt shaking from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia. No lives were lost, and it was not the strongest earthquake to have occurred in the eastern U.S., let alone the western U.S., but the Virginia earthquake was likely felt by more people than any earthquake in North America’s history.

  • COVID-19 originsDebate over Origins of COVID-19 Continues

    At the end of the month, the U.S. intelligence community (IC) will submit a report to President Joe Biden offering the IC’s conclusions regarding the origins of COVID-1. The report is not likely to put an end to the debate, especially since China is refusing access to key materials and personnel.

  • China watchMembers of Scientific Journal Editorial Board Resign over China Genetics Papers

    Eight members of the editorial board of Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine have resigned after the journal published several controversial papers which “critics fear could be used for DNA profiling and persecution of ethnic minorities in China.”

  • COVID originsVirus Likely Naturally Occurring: NIH

    The NIH says that based on the scientific literature, its view is that “SARS-CoV-2 infection in people most likely resulted from zoonotic transmission from animals to humans.” Current evidence does not support the assertion that the virus was engineered, but the NIH does not rule out the possibility of a laboratory accident, in which a naturally occurring virus was unintentionally released during research activities.

  • COVID originsLab-Leak of Genetically Modified Virus: Lawmakers’ Report

    Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) released on Monday a third installment in his investigation into the origins of the virus. The report says that the preponderance of evidence suggests that the pandemic outbreak stemmed from a genetically modified virus which leaked from Wuhan Institute of Virology.

  • COVID originsNatural Origin or Genetic Manipulation? We “Can't Say for Sure Yet”: David Baltimore

    David Baltimore, president emeritus of Caltech and Distinguished Professor of Biology, is a virologist who received the Nobel Prize for his research into viral genetics. He says that “But the fact that evolution might have been able to generate SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t mean that that’s how it came about. I think we very much need to find out what was happening in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. I think that we can’t say for sure yet whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from natural origins or if it was genetically manipulated somehow.”

  • Truth decayMisplaced Trust: Trust in Science May Foster Pseudoscience

    Trusting science is, in principle, a good thing, but there is a catch: A new study finds that people who trust science are more likely to believe and disseminate false claims containing scientific references than people who do not trust science. In other words, says one researcher, trust in science “makes people vulnerable to pseudoscience.”

  • UFOsUFOs and Aliens in Germany

    By Matthias von Hein

    The U.S. government’s release of a report on unidentified aerial sightings has been met with much interest in Germany. Enthusiasts believe UFOs have been sighted here, too. “We’re just a small blue planet in the middle of an infinite universe,” UFO researcher Robert Fleischer says. “Anything is possible out there.”

  • ARGUMENT: Research SecurityRethinking Research Security

    How can or should the United States protect the gains of innovation without damaging the very research base it wants to protect? Ainikki Riikonen and Emily Weinstein write that the U.S. government has rightfully identified the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an adversary intent on stealing technology for its national interests, and the Department of Justice established the China Initiative as a countermeasure. “But the China Initiative misses the mark on an effective approach to research security. It is out of alignment with evolving research security initiatives in the rest of the federal government…. In its current form, research security under the China Initiative may damage America’s ability to innovate and continue defining the cutting edge of technological research in the long term.”

  • Gain-of-function researchWhy Gain-of-Function Research Matters

    By David Gillum and Rebecca Moritz

    There are unanswered questions about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, so both the U.S. government and scientists have called for a deeper examination of the validity of claims that a virus could have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. Much of the discussion surrounds “gain-of-function” research. What is gain-of-function research? What are the benefits of this research, and how risky is it?

  • Lab safetyIt’s Time to Talk about Lab Safety

    A new website, GlobalBioLabs.org, is an interactive web-based map of global Biosafety Level 4 facilities and biorisk management policies. Only 17 of the 23 countries that house BSL-4 laboratories have national biosafety associations or are members of international partnerships.

  • COVID-19 originsLet Scientific Evidence Determine Origin of SARS-CoV-2: Presidents of the National Academies

    Earlier this week, the leaders of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a statement about the ongoing debate regarding the origins of the COVID-19 virus. “We urge that investigations into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 be guided by scientific principles, including reliance on verifiable data, reproducibility, objectivity, transparency, peer review, international collaboration, minimizing conflicts of interest, findings based on evidence, and clarity regarding uncertainties” they write.

  • BiolabsHere’s What Scientists Learn from Studying Dangerous Pathogens in Secure Labs

    By Jerry Malayer

    There are about 1,400 known human pathogens – viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and helminths that can cause a person’s injury or death. But in a world with a trillion individual species of microorganisms, where scientists have counted only one one-thousandth of one percent, how likely is it researchers have discovered and characterized everything that might threaten people? Not very likely at all. And there’s a lot to be gained from knowing these microscopic enemies better.

  • EarthquakesWorld's Largest Outdoor Earthquake Simulator Undergoes Major Upgrade

    A major upgrade to the world’s largest outdoor earthquake simulator reached a milestone mid-April when the facility’s floor—all 300,000 lbs of it—was put back into place. When completed this fall, the simulator will have the ability to reproduce multi-dimensional earthquake motions with unprecedented accuracy to make structures and their residents safer during strong shakes.

  • Nuclear weaponsResearchers Look at Nuclear Weapon Effects for Near-Surface Detonations

    Researchers have taken a closer look at how nuclear weapon blasts close to the Earth’s surface create complications in their effects and apparent yields. Attempts to correlate data from events with low heights of burst revealed a need to improve the theoretical treatment of strong blast waves rebounding from hard surfaces.