The saga of great science news published/broadcasted in 2014 continues. Not all is good as you would expect. For example, chocolate is on a downfall and there isn't much we can do about it. If the human kind has managed to avoid so many conflicts these last few decades is because chocolate was here to protect us against the ups and downs of the endocrine system of manic politiciens. Before you start panicking yourself, take a peek at the good news also...!
People are eating way too much chocolate for God' sake! This is the overall idea transmitted by Mars, Inc and Barry Callebaut, the world's biggest chocolate-makers. Farms are producing less cocoa than what is in demand and the scenario only tends to get worse. In 2014 humans ate 70 thousand metric tons more cocoa than produced, but predictions reinstate that by 2020 we will have achieved a 14-fold increase! Reasons why? Us being all dopamine fiends, dry weather in Africa (like if it ever changed since I was born and put my eyes on the TV news), profitable farming being disrespected and profitless worldwide, the Chinese sweet teeth!!!!! The solution might come from research in Central Africa, but judge it by yourself by visiting this article by Roberto Ferdman published in the Washington Post last November 2014.
Gene therapy for bacteria could help solve consequences of the stupidity surrounding over-usage of broad-spectrum antibiotics. The idea is to develop such therapy that certain strains will almost act like PCR primers by producing sequence-specific antimicrobial effects. It's all part of a new trendy area of research that makes use of phage-based delivery techniques known to give bacteria resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics, such as ampicillin, for example.Take a look at this genuinely excellent post by Tim Sandle published in the Pharmaceutical Microbiology blog.
Opinions of hundred of UK scientists on what makes high-quality research delivered the word "rigorous/(extremely thorough and careful)", something that is difficult to attain in this modern academic-research world where time is money, ever more. Symptoms of a scientific career cancer that reveals what I have been saying from the start of this blog and before - Academia nowadays promotes unbearable competitive academic research, no job security and intolerable pressure. Most of my younger colleagues don't want to see it, thus suffering in an Ostridge-Blues kind of syndrome; the older ones are just too embedded in the system that don't even want to face it anymore. And all crashes violently with the "postdoctoral years". A discussion so important and intense that links to yet another impressive quality article on the "Shaping the future of research". This is a must-read. What do you want?, it's a Nature article from December 2014.