We host news of discoveries in various fields of science with the focus on space, medical treatments, fringe science, microbiology, chemistry and physics, while providing commercial and cultural contexts and deeper insight. @http://koyalgroupinfomag.com/blog/

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Koyal Group Info Mag: Ebola experts worry virus may spread more easily

U.S officials leading the fight against history's worst outbreak of Ebola have said they know the ways the virus is spread and how to stop it. They say that unless an air traveler from disease-ravaged West Africa has a fever of at least 101.5 degrees or other symptoms, co-passengers are not at risk.

"At this point there is zero risk of transmission on the flight," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said after a Liberian man who flew through airports in Brussels and Washington was diagnosed with the disease last week in Dallas.

Other public health officials have voiced similar assurances, saying Ebola is spread only through physical contact with a symptomatic individual or their bodily fluids. "Ebola is not transmitted by the air. It is not an airborne infection," said Dr. Edward Goodman of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where the Liberian patient remains in critical condition.

Yet some scientists who have long studied Ebola say such assurances are premature — and they are concerned about what is not known about the strain now on the loose. It is an Ebola outbreak like none seen before, jumping from the bush to urban areas, giving the virus more opportunities to evolve as it passes through multiple human hosts.

Dr. C.J. Peters, who battled a 1989 outbreak of the virus among research monkeys housed in Virginia and who later led the CDC's most far-reaching study of Ebola's transmissibility in humans, said he would not rule out the possibility that it spreads through the air in tight quarters.

"We just don't have the data to exclude it," said Peters, who continues to research viral diseases at the University of Texas in Galveston.

Dr. Philip K. Russell, a virologist who oversaw Ebola research while heading the U.S. Army's Medical Research and Development Command, and who later led the government's massive stockpiling of smallpox vaccine after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, also said much was still to be learned. "Being dogmatic is, I think, ill-advised, because there are too many unknowns here."

If Ebola were to mutate on its path from human to human, said Russell and other scientists, its virulence might wane — or it might spread in ways not observed during past outbreaks, which were stopped after transmission among just two to three people, before the virus had a greater chance to evolve. The present outbreak in West Africa has killed approximately 3,400 people, and there is no medical cure for Ebola.

"I see the reasons to dampen down public fears," Russell said. "But scientifically, we're in the middle of the first experiment of multiple, serial passages of Ebola virus in man.... God knows what this virus is going to look like. I don't."

Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the CDC in Atlanta, said health officials were basing their response to Ebola on what has been learned from battling the virus since its discovery in central Africa in 1976. The CDC remains confident, he said, that Ebola is transmitted principally by direct physical contact with an ill person or their bodily fluids.

Skinner also said the CDC is conducting ongoing lab analyses to assess whether the present strain of Ebola is mutating in ways that would require the government to change its policies on responding to it. The results so far have not provided cause for concern, he said.

The researchers reached in recent days for this article cited grounds to question U.S. officials' assumptions in three categories.

One issue is whether airport screenings of prospective travelers to the U.S. from West Africa can reliably detect those who might have Ebola. Frieden has said the CDC protocols used at West African airports can be relied on to prevent more infected passengers from coming to the U.S.

"One hundred percent of the individuals getting on planes are screened for fever before they get on the plane," Frieden said Sept. 30. "And if they have a fever, they are pulled out of the line, assessed for Ebola, and don't fly unless Ebola is ruled out."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Koyal Group Info Mag News: Some Creepy and other Not-so-Believable Science Research Discoveries

Have you ever imagined what the future would be like? Here is a hint as to what the latest discoveries will unfold within our lifetime. Unfortunately, we also found some unlikely stories about the past that try to make the advances of scientific development a kind of joke. Read on!

1. Last year, personalized embryonic stem cells became experimentally more viable with the successes made by the Oregon Health and Science University in cloning human embryos and collecting stem cells from them. Using those derived cells, they were able to produce cells into specialized cells usable for the skin or heart. This will allow doctors in the future to use such cells to generate entire organs or parts of them for transplant procedures.

Cut off your finger with a knife or lost an eye in an accident? A replacement can be generated, perhaps, in a matter of days or weeks, perhaps, using your own body as the source of original cells to produce cloned body parts since they claim that they may be able to generate such cells without using embryos. It is like real-life imitating fiction. Exciting but a bit scary and reminiscent of Frankenstein.

2. Was there water on Mars? Well, if NASA has it right, there might have been. Or wasn’t there? NASA’ Curiosity rover allegedly found a lake on the red planet which “could have supported” life more than three billion years ago. But the conclusion appears to be a big leap of faith, so to speak, for researchers to claim. Just because there is water does not mean there could have been life on Mars. Comets, perhaps hundreds or thousands of them. are basically made of ice and where they got that water somewhere in outer space would lead us to suppose that there is a lot of life out there. So far, we seem to be alone.

Besides, where is all that supposed lake water now? Could that lake have been formed by some other liquid or fluid, more volatile than water, such as methane, ammonia or some kind of mineral-based acid? Or could that lake have been merely a crater formed by an asteroid like many meteor-formed lakes we have on our planet?

In fact, the photo has all the evidences of a crater formed from a ballistic impact of a meteor rather than a lake that once held water. Notice the exact center where the tell-tale rebound of rock materials formed a small peak. Remember the popular slow-mo drop of water rebounding out? That is what happens with a meteor impact on solid ground. It forms a small peak on the center from the debris that are is thrown upward. A more exacting scientific inquiry and not speculations should be made before coming out with such “desperate” conclusions.

This piece of news is far from being a vindication of NASA. We need more proof of life — intelligent, if possible — to make us applaud. Even a college student will see through this unfounded claim.

3. A skull discovered in the Republic of Georgia apparently showed more ancient and more recent human characteristics. Evolutionists would feel confounded by this news as it would disrupt there belief that there was progression in the development of the Homo Sapiens species that we are. The conclusion the scientists reached, rather conveniently, was that more archaic humans apparently mated with the more advanced Homo Erectus or the first primitive erect humans before our “species” emerged.

Now this might be a rather surprising admission; but it is again a desperate and illogical hypothesis that throws cold water on the whole Theory of Evolution. It is basically saying that because some fossils show mixtures of pre-evolved and post-evolved characteristics then it could have only been the result of the reproduction of the two. But that is exactly like saying that a “zebronkey” – a mutant zebra that had features of a zebra and a donkey documented in Manila back in the 1970’s – was the product of the mating of a zebra and a donkey.

Again, it seems evolutionary scientific research has a lot of credibility check it has to undergo before we can accept its farfetched conclusions. Besides, a single toe bone does not a whole human being or so-called whole humanoid. With such sparse evidence, we wonder how scientists could confidently brag about their “latest discoveries”.

There are, to be sure, legitimate and amazing scientific discoveries out there; but these few we found online seem to be more like press release materials for fund-raising purposes rather than acceptable results of serious scientific inquiry.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Koyal Group Info Mag: 29-Year 100 Billion Animal Study Reinforces Safety Of GM Foods


Visit almost any anti-GMO website and you will find alarming headlines about the alleged dangers of GMO foods. They kill pigs, cows and sheep on farms and in lab studies! Humans are next!

“Monsanto’s GMO Feed Creates Horrific Physical Ailments in Animals,” screams a typical article, in AlterNet, a popular anti-GMO site. It touts “new research” but as is typical of such articles and such sites, it neither quotes a study nor links to any independent research.

Although there have been more than 2,000 studies documenting that biotechnology does not pose an unusual threat to human health and genetically modified foods are as safe or safer than conventional or organic foods, questions remain in the minds of many consumers.

What does the research say?

Animal feeding studies are the basis for evaluating the safety of GMO crops. One-off studies of lab animals have occasionally shown some problems. Gilles-Eric Séralini, in his retracted GM corn study (later republished in a non-peer-reviewed anti-GMO journal), claimed rats fed genetically engineered corn developed grotesque cancerous tumors—the kind no farmer would miss among his animals if this cause-effect was genuinely in place.

Anti-GMO crusader Jeffrey Smith, on his personal website, the Institute for Responsible Technology, lists more than a dozen cases in which he claims animals fed GMOs exhibited abnormal conditions, including cancer and early death. He also references his own self-published book, and anecdotal evidence that pigs fed GM feed turned sterile or had false pregnancies and sheep that grazed on BT cotton plants often died.

“Nearly every independent animal feeding safety study on GM foods shows adverse or unexplained effects,” he writes. “But we were not supposed to know about these problems…the biotech industry works overtime to try to hide them.”

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine—an alternative medicine group that rejects GMOs and believes that vaccines are dangerous—claims, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

Is there any basis to these allegations? After all, globally, food-producing animals consume 70% to 90% of genetically engineered crop biomass, mostly corn and soybean. In the United States alone, animal agriculture produces over 9 billion food-producing animals annually, and more than 95% of these animals consume feed containing GE ingredients. The numbers are similar in large GMO producing countries with a large agricultural sector, such as Brazil and Argentina.

Estimates of the numbers of meals consumed by feed animals since the introduction of GM crops 18 years ago would number well into the trillions. By common sense alone, if GE feed were causing unusual problems among livestock, farmers would have noticed. Dead and sick animals would literally litter farms around the world. Yet there are no anecdotal reports of such mass health problems.

But we don’t need to depend on anecdotes to address these concerns. Writing in the Journal of Animal Science, in the most comprehensive study of GMOs and food ever conducted, University of California-Davis Department of Animal Science geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam and research assistant Amy E. Young reviewed 29 years of livestock productivity and health data from both before and after the introduction of genetically engineered animal feed. [NOTE: article is behind a paywall until October 1.]

The field data represented more than 100 billion animals covering a period before 1996 when animal feed was 100% non-GMO, and after its introduction when it jumped to 90% and more. The documentation included the records of animals examined pre and post mortem, as ill cattle cannot be approved for meat.

What did they find? That GM feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. There was no indication of any unusual trends in the health of animals since 1996 when GMO crops were first harvested. Considering the size of the dataset, it can reasonably be said that the debate over the impact of GE feed on animal health is closed: there is zero extraordinary impact.

The Van Eenennaam study corresponds to other reviews of animal feeding data, some multi-generational and as long two years.

Several recent comprehensive reviews from various authors summarize the results of food-producing animal feeding studies with the current generation of GE crops (Deb et al., 2013; Flachowsky, 2013; Flachowsky et al., 2012; Tufarelli and Laudadio, 2013; Van Eenennaam, 2013). Studies have been conducted with a variety of food-producing animals including sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, quail, cattle, water buffalo, rabbits and fish fed different GE crop varieties. The results have consistently revealed that the performance and health of GE-fed animals were comparable with those fed near isogenic non-GE lines and commercial varieties.

Here is a comprehensive list of animal feeding studies. Many of these studies are independent. The list included systematic reviews, all of which conclude that GMO feed is safe.

As Dr. Steven Novella notes on his blog Neurologica:

[T]his data is observational, meaning the authors are looking at data collected out there in the world and not part of any controlled prospective experiment. Observational data is always subject to unanticipated confounding factors. However, robust observational data is still highly useful, and has the potential to detect any clear signals.

The findings also comport with long-term GMO feeding laboratory studies. The GENERA database, found at Biology Fortified online, lists more than three-dozen examples of multi-year studies. A recent review of 24 of these studies by Snell et. al found: “Results…do not suggest any health hazards and, in general, there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed.” There have been a few outlier studies, such as the retracted GMO corn research. But if Séralini’s data were real and 80% of food was poison, animals and people would be dropping like flies.

The authors also found no evidence to suggest any health affect on humans who eat those animals. No study has revealed any differences in the nutritional profile of animal products derived from GE-fed animals. Because DNA and protein are normal components of the diet that are digested, there are no detectable or reliably quantifiable traces of GE components in milk, meat, and eggs following consumption of GE feed.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Koyal Group Info Mag Millions of patients given flu drugs with little or no benefit, study finds

Millions of patients may have taken influenza drugs that have little or no benefit to them, according to an Australian-led study.

The study found that researchers paid by pharmaceutical companies were more likely to recommend antiviral drugs for flu and produced different recommendations to independent researchers conducting the reviews.

The study analysed 26 systematic reviews, a type of study considered to be the gold standard of evidence because they assess all existing studies on a topic using stringent guidelines.

Adam Dunn, lead author of the study and a health informatics expert at the University of NSW, said: “Systematic reviews summarise available evidence following strict protocols, so we expect findings from them to be consistent.

“But we found reviewers with ties to pharma introduced bias, as we found a disconnect between what their results showed and what they went on to recommend.”

The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that benefits of the class of drugs, known as neuraminidase inhibitors, may eventually be found to have been inflated, which could prove highly costly to governments.

“Global stockpiling of antivirals was recommended by a panel from the World Health Organisation in 2002 and in 2009, governments around the world spent $6.9bn building stockpiles of oseltamivir [Tamiflu], an investment that remains poorly supported by available clinical evidence,” the study said.

Almost 80% of reviews written by researchers with financial ties were favourable towards the drugs, while 17% on independent reviews were positive, the study found.

Ray Moynihan, a senior research fellow at Bond University who has authored books on the pharmaceutical industry and overdiagnosis, described the work of Dunn and his colleagues as “highly valuable, critical work”.

“It’s incredibly encouraging to see this issue being examined in Australia, and that our researchers are at the cutting edge of some of the big, international debates occurring in medical and scientific evidence,” Moynihan said.

“We know from very reliable evidence that clinical trials that are sponsored by pharma tend to favour the sponsor’s drug, but what this paper is showing is that this bias has crept into what is considered the most reliable form of medical evidence, the systematic review.”

It was a worrying finding for patients, he said.

There needed to be a stronger push for independent research to be conducted without drug industry funding, he said, adding that public funding available through bodies like the National Health and Medical Research Council should be used instead.

“It is clear we have likely been misled about the benefits and harms of these drugs because so much of the evidence is tainted by a pro-industry or pro-drug bias,” Moynihan said.

“This is a cause for alarm as billions of dollars of public money has been invested into these drugs.”

Addressing concerns that harmful movements, like the anti-vaccination campaign, may use papers like Dunn’s as evidence not to trust doctors and medical advice, Moynihan said the study reinforced the importance of scientific evidence.

“Far from making people sceptical about science, this should reinforce its value in medicine,” Moynihan said.

“What we have in medicine is unfortunately a lot of marketing disguised as science, and this paper helps us realise that bring the best of the scientific methods forward to debate medical evidence can improve our knowledge.”

Much greater transparency in medical and scientific research and by drug companies was also needed, he said.

Dr Florence Bourgeois, a co-author of the paper and emergency medicine specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital in the US, said it was important that doctors talk to their patients about the safety and efficacy of the drugs.

But she acknowledged that could be difficult given the contradictions and uncertainties around them.

“The best thing is for patients to have a conversation with their healthcare provider about whether these drugs are the right choice for them,” she said.


“Clinicians, in turn, should decide on a case-by-case basis which patients are good candidates for the drugs, weighing the benefits and harms.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Koyal Group Info Mag Marijuana and Your Health: What 20 Years of Research Reveals

People who drive under the influence of marijuana double their risk of being in a car crash, and about one in 10 daily marijuana users becomes dependent on the drug, according to a new review.

Marijuana use has become increasingly prevalent over the years, and the review of marijuana studies summarizes what researchers have learned about the drug's effects on human health and general well-being over the past two decades.

In the review, author Wayne Hall, a professor and director of the Center for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland in Australia, examined scientific evidence on marijuana's health effects between 1993 and 2013.

He found that adolescents who use cannabis regularly are about twice as likely as their nonuser peers to drop out of school, as well as experience cognitive impairment and psychoses as adults. Moreover, studies have also linked regular cannabis use in adolescence with the use of other illicit drugs, according to the review, published today (Oct. 6) in the journal Addiction.

Researchers in the studies still debated whether regular marijuana use might actually lead to the use of other drugs, Hall wrote in the study. However, he pointed to longer-term studies and studies of twins in which one used marijuana and the other did not as particularly strong evidence that regular cannabis use may lead to the use of other illicit drugs. [Marijuana vs. Alcohol: Which Is Worse for Your Health?]

The risk of a person suffering a fatal overdose from marijuana is "extremely small," and there are no reports of fatal overdoses in the scientific literature, according to the review. However, there have been case reports of deaths from heart problems in seemingly otherwise healthy young men after they smoked marijuana, the report said.

"The perception that cannabis is a safe drug is a mistaken reaction to a past history of exaggeration of its health risks," Hall told Live Science.

However, he added that marijuana "is not as harmful as other illicit drugs such as amphetamine, cocaine and heroin, with which it is classified under the law in many countries, including the USA."

The risks of using marijuana

Marijuana use carries some of the same risks as alcohol use, such as an increased risk of accidents, dependence and psychosis, he said.

It's likely that middle-age people who smoke marijuana regularly are at an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack, according to the report. However, the drug's "effects on respiratory function and respiratory cancer remain unclear, because most cannabis smokers have smoked or still smoke tobacco," Hall wrote in the review.

Regular cannabis users also double their risk of experiencing psychotic symptoms and disorders such as disordered thinking, hallucinations and delusions — from about seven in 1,000 cases among nonusers to 14 in 1,000 among regular marijuana users, the review said. And, in a study of more than 50,000 young men in Sweden, those who had used marijuana 10 or more times by age 18 were about two times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia within the next 15 years than those who had not used the drug.

Critics argue that other variables besides marijuana use may be at work in the increased risk of mental health problems, and that it's possible that people with mental health problems are more likely to use marijuana to begin with, Hall wrote in the review.

However, other studies have since attempted to sort out the findings, he wrote, citing a 27-year follow-up of the Swedish cohort, in which researchers found "a dose–response relationship between frequency of cannabis use at age 18 and risk of schizophrenia during the whole follow-up period."

In the same study, the investigators estimated that 13 percent of schizophrenia cases diagnosed in the study "could be averted if all cannabis use had been prevented in the cohort," Hall reported.

As for the effects of cannabis use in pregnant women, the drug may slightly reduce the birth weight of the baby, according to the review.

More THC?

The effects of euphoria that cannabis users seek from the drug come primarily from its psychoactive ingredient, called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, Hall wrote in the review. During the past 30 years, the THC content of marijuana in the United States has jumped from less than 2 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent in 2006.

The THC content of the drug has also likely increased in other developed countries, Hall wrote in the report.

It is not clear, however, whether increased THC content may have an effect on users' health, the report said. [The Drug Talk: 7 New Tips for Today's Parents]


Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Koyal Group Info Mag: Nobel Prize for work on brain's navigation system



STOCKHOLM (AP) — How do we remember where we parked the car? And how do we figure out a shortcut to work when there's a big traffic jam?

The brain, it turns out, has a GPS-like function that enables people to produce mental maps and navigate the world — a discovery for which three scientists won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday.

Husband-and-wife scientists Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser of Norway and New York-born researcher John O'Keefe were honored for breakthroughs in experiments on rats that could help pave the way for a better understanding of human diseases such as Alzheimer's.

"We can actually begin to investigate what goes wrong" in Alzheimer's, said O'Keefe, a dual British-American citizen. He said the findings might also help scientists design tests that can pick up the very earliest signs of the mind-robbing disease, whose victims lose their spatial memory and get easily lost.

It was in London in 1971 where O'Keefe discovered the first component of the brain's positioning system.

He found that a certain type of nerve cell was always activated when a rat was at a certain place in a room. Other nerve cells were activated when the rat moved to another place. He demonstrated that these "place cells" were building up a map, not just registering visual input.

Decades later, in 2005, the Mosers identified another type of nerve cell — the "grid cell" — that generates a coordinate system for precise "positioning and path-finding," the Nobel Assembly said.

"I made the initial discovery over 40 years ago. It was met then with a lot of skepticism," the 74-year-old O'Keefe said. "And then slowly over years, the evidence accumulated. And I think it's a sign of recognition not only for myself and the work I did, but for the way in which the field has bloomed."

John Kubie of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York said this GPS system in the brain is used in such everyday tasks as remembering where a car is parked or taking a new shortcut on the way home. Kubie also said learning about it may teach scientists more about how the brain learns and remembers, even apart from navigating.

Born in Harlem and raised in the South Bronx, O'Keefe received his doctoral degree in physiological psychology at McGill University in Canada before moving to England for postdoctoral work at the University College London.

"If you can survive the South Bronx, you can survive anything," he said.

Monday's award was the fourth time that a married couple has shared a Nobel Prize and the second time in the medicine category.

"This is crazy," an excited May-Britt Moser, 51, said by telephone from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, where she and her husband work.

"This is such a great honor for all of us and all the people who have worked with us and supported us," she said. "We are going to continue and hopefully do even more groundbreaking work in the future."

Edvard Moser, 52, said: "It is really a joint work. Not only are we two people, but we are complementary as well."

The Nobel Assembly said the laureates' discoveries marked a shift in scientists' understanding of how specialized cells work together to perform complex cognitive tasks. They have also opened new avenues for understanding cognitive functions such as memory, thinking and planning.

"Thanks to our grid and place cells, we don't have to walk around with a map to find our way each time we visit a city, because we have that map in our head," said Juleen Zierath, chair of the medicine prize committee.

Half the Nobel prize money of 8 million Swedish kronor (about $1.1 million) goes to O'Keefe and the other half to the Mosers. Each winner also receives a gold medal.

The Nobel Prizes will be handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

This year's Nobel announcements continue with the physics award on Tuesday, followed by chemistry, literature and peace later this week. The economics prize will be announced next Monday.

For more science news from The Koyal Group Info Mag, visit our facebook page and follow us on twitter @koyalgroup.



Friday, October 10, 2014

The Koyal Group Info Mag Scientists got it wrong on gravitational waves

It was announced in headlines worldwide as one of the biggest scientific discoveries for decades, sure to garner Nobel prizes. But now it looks likely that the alleged evidence of both gravitational waves and ultra-fast expansion of the universe in the big bang (called inflation) has literally turned to dust.

Last March, a team using a telescope called Bicep2 at the South Pole claimed to have read the signatures of these two elusive phenomena in the twisting patterns of the cosmic microwave background radiation: the afterglow of the big bang. But this week, results from an international consortium using a space telescope called Planck show that Bicep2’s data is likely to have come not from the microwave background but from dust scattered through our own galaxy.

Some will regard this as a huge embarrassment, not only for the Bicep2 team but for science itself. Already some researchers have criticised the team for making a premature announcement to the press before their work had been properly peer reviewed.

But there’s no shame here. On the contrary, this episode is good for science. This sequence of excitement followed by deflation, debate and controversy is perfectly normal – it’s just that in the past it would have happened out of the public gaze. Only when the dust had settled would a sober and sanitised version of events have been reported, if indeed there was anything left to report.

That has been the standard model of science ever since the media first acknowledged it. A hundred years ago, headlines in the New York Times had all the gravitas of a papal edict: “Men of science convene” and so forth. They were authoritative, decorous and totally contrived.

That image started to unravel after James Watson published The Double Helix, his racy behind-the-scenes account of the pursuit of the structure of DNA. But even now, some scientists would prefer the mask to remain, insisting that results are announced only after they have passed peer review, ie been checked by experts and published in a reputable journal.

There are many reasons why this will no longer wash. Those days of deference to patrician authority are over, and probably for the better. We no longer take on trust what we are told by politicians, experts and authorities. There are hazards to such scepticism, but good motivations too. Few regret that the old spoonfeeding of facts to the ignorant masses has been replaced with attempts to engage and include the public.

But science itself has changed too. Information and communications technologies mean that not only is it all but impossible to keep hot findings under wraps, but few even try. In physics in particular, researchers put their papers on publicly accessible pre-print servers before formal publication so that they can be seen and discussed, while specialist bloggers give new claims an informal but often penetrating analysis. This enriches the scientific process and means that problems that peer reviewers for journals might not notice can be spotted and debated. Peer review is imperfect anyway – a valuable check but far from infallible, and notoriously conservative.

Because of these new models of dissemination, we were all able to enjoy the debate in 2011 about particles called neutrinos that were alleged to travel faster than light, in defiance of the theory of special relativity. Those findings were announced, disputed and finally rejected, all without any papers being formally published. The arguments were heated but never bitter, and the public got a glimpse of science at its most vibrant: astonishing claims mixed with careful deliberation, leading ultimately to a clear consensus. How much more informative it was than the tidy fictions that published papers often become.

Aren’t some premature announcements just perfidious attempts to grab priority, and thus fame and prizes? Probably. But it’s time we stopped awarding special status to people who, having more resources or leverage with editors, or just plain luck, are first past a post that everyone else is stampeding towards. Who cares? Rewards in science should be for sustained creative thinking, insight and experimental ingenuity, not for being in the right place at the right time. A bottle of bubbly will suffice for that.

What, then, of gravitational waves? If, as it seems, Bicep2 never saw them bouncing from the repercussions of the big bang, then we’re back to looking for them the hard way, by trying to detect the incredibly tiny distortions they should introduce in spacetime as they ripple past. Now the Bicep2 and Planck teams are pooling their data to see if anything can be salvaged. Good on them. Debate, discussion, deliberation: science happening just as it should.