Top stories: Cancer’s ‘good fat,’ predicting earthquakes, and rapid climate change

(Left to Right): COURTESY OF LUCA CARTURAN/UNIVERSITY OF PADOVA; BEN SALTER/FLICKR/CREATIVE COMMONS; F-BBVA CELL BIOLOGY PROGRAM OF THE SPANISH NATIONAL CANCER RESEARCH CENTER (CNIO), MADRID, SPAIN

Top stories: Cancer’s 'good fat,' predicting earthquakes, and rapid climate change

David is the Online News Editor of Science.

Report: Climate changing more rapidly than at any point on record

A new look at the “vital signs” of Earth’s climate reveals a stark picture of declining health. As global temperatures rise, so do sea level and the amount of heat trapped in the ocean’s upper layers. Meanwhile, mountain glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting away beneath an atmosphere where concentrations of three key planet-warming greenhouse gases continue to rise.

Sexual harassment is common in scientific fieldwork

Universities and other workplaces have codes of conduct guarding against sexual harassment. But what about the more casual venue of scientific fieldwork—which is also a workplace? A new survey finds that sexual harassment and assaults occur frequently in the field, with little consequence for the perpetrators or explicit prohibitions against such conduct. The study reveals that the primary targets were young women who were harassed, assaulted, and even raped by people who were usually senior to them in rank, although men also reported harassment.

'Bad fat' may be good for cancer patients

Obesity researchers have been studying ways to turn the body’s energy-storing “bad fat” into energy-burning “good fat.” Now, scientists are reporting that the flip side of that approach could address a huge killer of cancer patients—the muscle wasting, emaciation, and frailty known as cachexia, which kills 30% to 80% of people in the advanced stages of cancer.

New map fingers future hot spots for U.S. earthquakes

U.S. Geological Survey scientists have released the most recent earthquake hazard assessments for the country. Although the picture hasn’t changed much on a national scale since the last report in 2008, the devil is in the details, the report’s authors say—and some areas in the country are now considered to be at higher risk for powerful quakes than once thought.

Want a grant? First review someone else's proposal

After 32 years as a program officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF), George Hazelrigg knows the rules governing peer review, especially the one that says a researcher can’t be both an applicant and a reviewer in the same funding competition. Last year, however, he got permission to throw the rules out the window. His experiment, aimed at easing the strain on NSF staff and reviewers produced by a burgeoning number of proposals and declining success rates, not only allowed applicants to serve as reviewers, but it also required them to assess seven competing proposals in exchange for having their own application reviewed.

Posted in Scientific Community