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Top stories: Superdrugs for superbugs, mummy DNA, and Trump’s Paris climate deal departure


(Left to right): U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Gage Skidmore/Flickr; LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)

By Ryan CrossJun. 2, 2017 , 5:15 PM

Superantibiotic is 25,000 times more potent than its predecessor

The world’s last line of defense against disease-causing bacteria just got a new warrior: vancomycin 3.0. Its predecessor—vancomycin 1.0—has been used since 1958 to combat dangerous infections. But as the rise of resistant bacteria has blunted its effectiveness, scientists have engineered more potent versions of the drug—vancomycin 2.0. Now, version 3.0 could give doctors a powerful new weapon against drug-resistant bacteria and help researchers engineer more durable antibiotics.

Scientists thought ancient Egyptian mummies didn’t have any DNA left. They were wrong

Ancient Egyptian mummies preserve many details of the deceased: facial features, signs of illness, even tattoos. But not, it seemed, DNA. After trying repeatedly to extract it, may scientists were convinced that the hot desert climate and, perhaps, the chemicals used in mummification destroyed any genetic material. Now, a team of ancient DNA specialists has successfully sequenced genomes from 90 ancient Egyptian mummies, giving scientists their first insight into the genetics of ordinary ancient Egyptians—which changed surprisingly little through centuries of conquests.

Scientists discover a sixth sense on the tongue—for water

Viewed under a microscope, your tongue is an alien landscape, studded by fringed and bumpy buds that sense five basic tastes: salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami. But mammalian taste buds may have an additional sixth sense—for water, a new study suggests. The finding could help explain how animals can tell water from other fluids, and it adds new fodder to a centuries-old debate: Does water have a taste of its own, or is it a mere vehicle for other flavors?

Trump dumps Paris climate deal: reaction

As expected, President Donald Trump announced he is withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord. In a speech from the White House Rose Garden, Trump made a largely economic case for withdrawing from the agreement, arguing the nonbinding accord was unfair to U.S. workers and U.S. competitiveness. Trump’s decision represents a new obstacle to the Paris agreement’s goal of keeping planetary warming by 2100 below the 2°C ceiling that many consider safe. Science collected a sampling of reactions to Trump’s announcement from members of the scientific community and others.

LIGO’s latest: Space ripples may untangle black hole tango

Physicists working with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory have spotted a third merger of black holes, the ultraintense gravitational fields left behind when massive stars collapse. This time, the subtle tremor of spacetime that signaled the merger also revealed a key feature of the black holes: their spins, which were out of kilter. That could help reveal how the black holes paired up in the first place.

Source: Science Mag