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Daily briefing: Global teams shy away from risky science – Nature.com

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Physicists hoped that he Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, would discover more new particles that could be studied by a newer collider.Credit: Julien Ordan/CERN

Plans for the world’s next major particle accelerator have been dealt a blow, after Japan said that it is not ready to commit to hosting it. The International Linear Collider (ILC) would be a straight, 20-kilometre-long collider that would make detailed studies of the Higgs boson, the last puzzle piece in physicists’ standard model. Japan has been the only country in the running to build the US$7-billion machine and would be responsible for around half the bill.

Nature | 5 min read

Internationally co-authored research tends to play it safe and pursue more conventional lines of enquiry, finds an analysis of around four million articles published between 2001 and 2005. Top researchers are more likely to work at the international level, and “those with big reputations work to retain them, rather than ‘make’ them”, says science-policy analyst Caroline Wagner.

Nature Index | 6 min read

Reference: Research Policy paper

Read more: Small teams tend to produce more disruptive research (Nature)

Many species of marine ribbon worm have the ability to regrow their heads — an unprecedented example of related animals independently mastering the trick of regeneration. Researchers found that head replacement arose at least four times in separate worm lineages.

Nature Research Highlights | 1 min read

Reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B paper

Get more of Nature’s Research Highlights: short picks from the latest papers.

FEATURES & OPINION

As the world’s mega-cities become increasingly affected by rising sea levels, scientists can look to artists to help understand what the future holds and how to adapt to the changes, argues architecture scholar Paul Dobraszczyk. He explores how portrayals of submerged urban futures in science fiction and speculative art “engage our imaginations in thinking through a radically different kind of future urban life”.

Nautilus | 13 min read

Mathematician Simon Norton, who went from mathematical prodigy to passionate campaigner for public transport, has died aged 66. “At five, he changed his name to 5,” writes his biographer Alexander Masters, who profiled Norton in his book The Genius in My Basement. At the University of Cambridge, Norton produced the Monstrous Moonshine conjecture with John Conway, which bridged the disparate fields of finite-group and complex-function theory. Later, as his mathematics career stalled, Norton dedicated himself to supporting fair public-transport services.

The Guardian | 7 min read

BOOKS & ARTS

A new book takes three authors’ perspectives to examine the contested history of Mileva Marić’s influence on her husband Albert Einstein’s work. Co-authors Allen Esterson and Ruth Lewin Sime, tells the Nature Podcast about Marić’s tenacious pursuit of an almost unattainable education.

Nature Podcast | 21 min listen

Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on iTunes or Google Podcasts.

Barbara Kiser’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes how research erases women, the prehistory of Polynesia, and everything you wanted to know about beer.

Nature | 2 min read

INFOGRAPHIC OF THE WEEK

Sources: space-track.org/The Aerospace Corporation

SCIENTIFIC LIFE

Five career advisers with scientific backgrounds explore how they help PhD students and postdocs, and share their best tips, books and online tools. “My top tip: don’t let someone else define your career success,” says adviser Michael Matrone.

Nature | 11 min read

Medical student Sanam Mirwani was feeling frustrated with her degree and anxious about her performance when she took the opportunity to be mentored by a more senior researcher in another country. The structure, support and guidance were all invaluable, says Mirwani, but her mentor’s main achievement “was helping me to realise that I was the one who had to overcome my fears and see things from a wider perspective”.

Nature | 5 min read

Briana Konnick went from a biology postdoc to becoming a career-development adviser. “I realized that I enjoyed helping to develop programmes for graduate students and postdocs more than I did my laboratory work,” she says about the move. She shares how she found a way to “do what you love, love what you do”.

Nature | 5 min read

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/Naturepl.com

Happy International Women’s Day! Last month, I asked for your female science icons, and the story of one particular unsung hero stuck with me. Insect ecologist Susan Worner spent “huge amounts of time with her students, continued her lecturing on a smaller scale as her courses were progressively ‘chopped’, and worked long hours into the night to keep up with her own research publishing,” writes her husband, retired biology teacher Graeme Worner. Now retired, “her past students revere her, and owe her everything, and so do I.” Share the women in STEM who inspire you on our Twitter thread, or write to me at briefing@nature.com

Thanks for reading!

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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