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Healthy people can have a biological age lower than their chronological one.Credit: Al Bello/Getty
A new measure of chronic, systemic inflammation aims to pinpoint whether your immune system is not as perky as it used to be. Inflammation is one of the key signs of ageing, because older people’s cells become damaged and emit inflammation-causing molecules. People who have a healthy immune system are able to neutralize this inflammation to some extent, whereas others will age faster. Because inflammation is treatable, the new tool — called iAge — could help doctors to determine who would benefit from intervention to stay healthy for longer.Nature | 4 min read Several studies have reported signs of lasting symptoms that could be characterized as ‘long COVID’ in children — even though they rarely have severe initial symptoms of COVID-19. But estimates of how common long COVID is in children vary wildly. Part of the problem is that long COVID itself is still poorly understood and vaguely defined. And it’s hard to tease apart the effects of the infection from other factors, such as pandemic-related stress. Researchers say that the answers are crucial, because decisions about school closures and vaccine roll-outs can hinge on the risk that the virus poses to children.Nature | 9 min read Reference: Acta Paediatrica paper and 6 more papers and preprintsThe European Union has announced legislation that it hopes will help to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Among the proposals are tighter emission limits that would effectively end sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035, import tariffs on carbon-heavy materials, such as steel and concrete, and ambitious targets for expanding renewable energy. The draft proposals are likely to face months of negotiations and will need approval from the bloc’s 27 member states and the European Parliament. “We’re going to ask a lot of our citizens,” says EU climate-policy chief Frans Timmermans. “We’re also going to ask a lot of our industries, but we do it for a good cause. We do it to give humanity a fighting chance.”BBC | 5 min readFeatures & opinionRichard Lewontin, a geneticist best known for bringing molecular tools into evolutionary biology, has died aged 92. Lewontin wrote and campaigned extensively against the use of biology to justify racist ideology, especially with regard to IQ testing, writes historian of science Michael Dietrich. Lewontin also disliked biography and its celebration of the individual. When asked how he’d like to be commemorated, “he pulled out of his desk a list of every graduate student, postdoc and visitor at his laboratory — more than 100 people — and said I should write about all of them”, writes Dietrich. “They were his greatest source of pride as a scientist.”Nature | 5 min read Learning to pronounce names you’re not familiar with doesn’t have to be awkward, as long as it comes from a place of mutual respect, writes infectious-disease researcher Ilinca Ioana Ciubotariu. Ask upfront how colleagues want to be named, practise (on your own time) and be humble when you make a mistake, she advises. She urges researchers to stand up for the correct pronunciation of their names and to make it easier by providing some phonetic support when appropriate.Nature | 6 min read An experimental interface for Google returns results for the same query from worldwide versions of the search engine. For example, an image search for the word ‘God’ — automatically translated into local languages — reflects the obvious global variation in dominant religions. But it also reveals that far-apart countries might see the same results, whereas neighbours could be shown different images because they’re separated by an ‘information border’. The project is available to only a few people at the moment, but researchers are considering how to widen access.Wired | 7 min read
Quote of the day
England’s plan to lift public-health restrictions on 19 July, despite rising cases of COVID-19, risks further mutations of the coronavirus, argues clinical operational researcher Christina Pagel. (The Guardian | 7 min read)