DAILY DOSE: Hundreds fall ill at World Scout Jamboree in South Korea due to heat; Another groundbreaking study bites the dust due to “errors.”

The World Scout Jamboree in South Korea has been hit by an extended heatwave, causing widespread heat-related illnesses among attendees. Of the 43,000 young Scouts from 158 countries attending the event, over 600 have required treatment for symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and exhaustion. The jamboree is taking place in the southern county of Buan, where temperatures are expected to reach around 35C (95F). The site offers little natural shade, and even under artificial covers, the heat remains intense. An anonymous volunteer reported the challenging conditions. During the opening ceremony, 108 people suffered heat-related illnesses. The UK Foreign Office is closely monitoring the situation due to the large UK contingent present. As the heat persists, the jamboree’s organizers have requested the cancellation of large crowd events. Lee Sang-min, the interior minister, issued a directive to implement additional measures against heat-related issues. Meanwhile, Choi Chang-haeng, secretary general of the event’s organizing committee, ensured further cooling devices and medical personnel on-site. The country’s heatwave has claimed at least 23 lives, significantly higher than last year’s record of seven. (The Guardian)

A groundbreaking study suggesting the potential of microbiome-based cancer diagnostics is under scrutiny due to alleged “major data analysis errors.” The 2020 paper, published in Nature, claimed distinct microbial communities associated with various types of cancer, and has since provided data for further studies and commercial ventures. Critics assert the authors failed to filter out human DNA from a database of sequenced cancer tissues, resulting in human sequences being wrongly classified as microbial. The critics also argue a computational error generated cancer-specific patterns where none existed. Steven Salzberg, one of the critics, labels the paper’s “major conclusions as completely wrong.” Rob Knight, senior author on the Nature paper and co-founder of the company Micronoma, denies these criticisms, stating they have already been addressed. He also refers to a 2022 paper which reaffirmed the original findings. Observers suggest the new criticisms are comprehensive and compelling, indicating the need for careful critique in microbiome studies that rely on computational approaches. (Science)

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New research suggests that waves are getting taller and surf exceeding 13 feet is becoming more frequent off California’s coast due to global warming. Peter Bromirski, an oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, used seismic records from 1931 onwards to measure wave height changes, a method that was more extensive than previous methods relying on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that only dated back to 1980. The study found that average winter wave heights have grown by about a foot since 1970, and larger swells are happening twice as often as they did between 1949 to 1969. These changes could lead to increased flooding, coastal erosion, and infrastructure damage. The study contributes to evidence that climate change is causing significant changes in the world’s oceans, including taller and more powerful waves. (Associated Press)

Five Greenpeace activists were arrested after protesting on the rooftop of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire mansion to highlight the potential environmental impact of new oil drilling projects. The protesters draped Sunak’s home with oil-black fabric, aiming to deter the Prime Minister from supporting increased oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea. The activists peacefully ended their protest and were subsequently arrested. Sunak, who was away on holiday, had recently announced the UK would “max out” oil and gas reserves, a move criticized by environmental experts as potentially devastating for the climate. Greenpeace hopes to prevent Sunak’s approval of Rosebank, the largest undeveloped oil and gas field in the North Sea, the extraction from which would reportedly exceed the UK’s carbon budgets. Some have criticized the protest as a major security breach. (The Guardian)

Archaeologists have reconstructed a 9,000-year-old necklace discovered at a burial site in southern Jordan, unveiling insights into Neolithic burial customs and possible social hierarchies. The necklace, found in the ancient settlement of Ba’ja, was adorned with stone, shell, and fossilized amber beads, and belonged to an eight-year-old girl. The complexity of the ornament suggests the emergence of social elites within Neolithic societies. The girl’s high-status burial could indicate her special position within the community. Researchers had to meticulously restore the over 2,500 beads found at the site, some of which originated from distant locations, reflecting early trade networks. The reconstructed necklace, now displayed at the Petra Museum, is one of the oldest and most impressive examples of Neolithic jewelry ever discovered. The research signifies a significant contribution to understanding ancient burial customs and societal structures. (Science)

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

WORDS: The Biology Guy.

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