Top stories: Duke’s grant dispute, ghost imaging, and how mites hitch rides with slugs | Science

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(Left to right): PIXABAY; DAVID MACK/SCIENCE SOURCE; SOLVIN ZANKL/MINDENPICTURES

Duke’s mishandling of misconduct prompts new U.S. government grant oversight

This month, the U.S. National Institutes of Health imposed unusual new requirements on researchers based at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In response to Duke’s handling of recent cases involving research misconduct and grant management, its researchers must now obtain prior approval for any modifications to new and existing grants and, for some new grant applications, submit detailed budgets justifying the cost.

 X-ray ‘ghost images’ could cut radiation doses

A team of physicists in China has made detailed x-ray images using a statistical technique called ghost imaging, first pioneered 20 years ago in infrared and visible light. Researchers in the field say future versions of this system could take clear x-ray photographs using cheap cameras and less cancer-causing radiation than conventional techniques.

Why do your knuckles crack? Engineers say they finally figured it out

The pop of a good knuckle crack fills a room, but what actually makes the noise? We know that bubbles form in the fluid-filled spaces between the finger bones and the hand bones during the act of knuckle-cracking, and some scientists think that the subsequent collapse of those bubbles is what causes the popping sound. A new study used mathematical formulas to test that idea, confirming that bubble collapse does indeed produce sound waves that look just like the ones created by real-life knuckle-crackers.

Asteroid-bound spacecraft finds signs of life—on Earth

Nearly 30 years ago, the Galileo spacecraft flew past Earth on its journey to Jupiter, prompting astronomer Carl Sagan to develop a novel experiment: to look for signs of life on Earth from space. Now, astronomers have repeated the experiment, this time with an asteroid-bound spacecraft that swung around Earth in late 2017. It also found Earth to be teeming with life, but with an unsettling corollary: Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and methane were far higher than they were during the Galileo flyby.

This mite’s method of hitchhiking is not recommended

If you’re a mite looking to travel, consider getting swallowed by a slug. The spherical arachnids, most shorter than a millimeter, can trek up to 4 meters in the belly of a gastropod—about 2000 times farther than they can get on their own, according to a new study. And remarkably, most live to tell the tale: Researchers collected slugs from forests in Germany and found that 70% of the mites in slug feces were alive and well.



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