Abstracts: HIV, Standing Rock, Spacecraft, and More

A roundup of science news from around the web — and around the world.

• One morning next September, the Cassini spacecraft — which has spent the past 12 years exploring the Saturnian system — will crash into the clouds of Saturn and burn up. But this Wednesday, Cassini will begin a string of dives to collect new samples. (New York Times)

If the vaccine proves to be 50 or 60 percent effective, drugmakers could be being licensing it.

Visual by iStock.com

• Second time’s the charm: Scientists have improved the next iteration of HIV vaccines in hopes that this new concoction will prevent the disease from spreading. They began inoculating thousands of South African volunteers early this week. (Washington Post)

• On Monday, North Dakota’s governor Jack Dalrymple ordered an emergency evacuation of protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock camp, but both the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have said there are no plans for “forcible removal.” (LA Times)

• A comprehensive report by the Arctic Council last Friday suggests that Arctic warming has reached a “tipping point,” and there may be no going back. The next step for nearby communities is adaptation. (Christian Science Monitor)

• A new bill known as “21st Century Cures” is now on the table, and Congress is likely to approve it. As the name suggests, the bill could jumpstart a myriad of research endeavors, including treatments tailored to a patient’s specific gene set. (Science)

• What if a computer program could automatically identify inconsistencies in scientific papers? Although that question is no longer up for debate, this one is: Would you want it to? (Nature)

• When there is a waiting list and an appointment delay past Christmas, it’s clear that university mental health counseling needs to reevaluate the effectiveness of the current system. (The Guardian)

• On November 8, California became the seventh state to approve placing taxes on e-cigarettes. But some fear that when it becomes more expensive to vape than smoke, this “safe alternative” will decline in popularity. (Washington Post)

• As 2016 draws to a close, it’s time to reflect back on the year’s most “dramatic” escapades into outer space — those missions that were lost, found, ending, and just beginning. (Seeker)