Articles to 2018-06-17

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Science issue 6390 has a special section on resistance in agriculture and medicine. Ash delivers a short introduction.


Intensive fishing predominantly of the largest individuals has led to a widespread decline in average fish size. As Barneche et al. now demonstrate, the consequences are far more serious than so far assumed.


There are dozens of medications to lower fever, but nor one to raise body temperature. With fever being the best known way to enhance the body's immune capabilities I have never understood that lack. Dieting lowers the base rate of metabolism and this turns out a mostly self defeating exercise. A slight raise in temperature would be the easiest way to burn off more calories. The newest result by Jeong et al., that it also lowers appetite makes it even more desirable. When will the long wait be over and we finally get a pharmacological solution for a slight raise of body temperature?


Manning et al. have identified and quantified another source of uncertainty for radiocarbon dating. Although they have managed to identify the time ranges when the error is likely to occur and to determine its average size, that result is of little help in practice. The spread of errors of the individual dates is many times its average value (supplementary figure S5). So unless you have hundreds of measurements on a wide spread of different material, something never ever realized in practice, no attempt at correction is feasible. Figure S3 also shows that the concentration of the errors on plateaus and reversals is more imagined than real, an artifact of the usual diagrammatic representation.


To alleviate the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide you have to reduce the burning of fossil fuels and to achieve that you need to store renewable energy. It is irrelevant for this goal, how you store it. The fixation on using the tiny concentration of carbon dioxide itself as a storage medium is purely religious in nature. Of course career politicians are all accomplished performers, they know all about confidence tricking and little about science. So if the main goal of the project is grasping as large a slice of the public subsidy cake as you can get, then carbon dioxide is the way to go.

The step from electricity, the highest quality form of energy we know, to something else is always the easy one. The difficulties lie in the reverse step back to electricity. So unless you can do this first and easy part with an efficiency of 90 % or more, the whole process can be dismissed as unsuitable for storage purposes. All Dinh et al. and Ager & Lapkin have been able to achieve so far are 34 % and that excludes the extraction of the product from its aqueous solution.

Their second justification “Ethylene is an important commodity chemical for plastics” is equally irrelevant. Only a tiny fraction of mineral oil is used as chemical feed stock, the rest is simply burnt outright. Substituting that minute subset at huge energetic cost resulting in more fossil burning is nonsensical. The energy directly used may be renewable, but when squandered on this it can't substitute generation elsewhere and thus will indirectly emit more than is directly converted. Nice show effect for the gullible masses, but nothing more.

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