Carbon emissions from the Higgs boson and a COVID nasal spray


SARS-CoV-2 particles (green) are attached to olfactory cells in the nose.Credit: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg/Getty

Could a nasal spray a day ward off COVID?

Vaccines protect against severe COVID-19, but they are less able to prevent infection. This has led many scientists to seek a needle-free alternative: nasal sprays to ward off SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The sprays would act quickly and be applied frequently, perhaps once or twice a day, to the site where the virus first takes hold – the throat and nasal lining (pictured, virus particles infecting olfactory receptors) Unlike vaccines, which train the recipient’s immune system to build long-lasting protection, sprays are short-lived compounds that would directly block the ability of the virus to enter cells. Several research teams have shown that such sprays effectively prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals.

But these sprays have a long way to go. Pharmaceutical company funding and interest in human trials has been limited, in part because trials to determine the effectiveness of prophylactics are large and expensive, says Anne Moscona, a molecular virologist at Columbia University. from New York, who is working on such a spray. And the sprays have to do the difficult job of coating any surface a virus might attach to, because once virus particles get into even a few cells, a large-scale infection can progress rapidly.

Employees wearing white lab coats and face masks working in a research lab in India

Researchers say removing rewards will demoralize the scientific community.Credit: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg/Getty

“Demoralizing”: 300 scientific prizes abolished in India

Indian scientists were surprised to learn that the government planned to scrap nearly 300 science awards.

Many scholars acknowledge problems in the way award winners are selected, such as a lack of inclusiveness and transparency. But they say the decision to scrap the prizes won’t solve the problems.

The government has yet to announce the decision, but the minutes of a meeting chaired by Home Minister Ajay Bhalla and attended by senior officials from the science and health ministries in September reveals details. For example, the Department of Science and Technology, the country’s main funding body in these fields, will retain only 4 of its 207 awards.

The researchers say elective awards, many of which come with small cash prizes or grants, are important for the motivation and recognition they provide. Scientists are concerned about the message the decision will send to young scientists. “Removing them will demoralize the scientific community and weaken the pursuit of science in India,” says Soumitro Banerjee, a physicist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata and secretary-general of the Breakthrough Science Society.

What is the carbon footprint of a Higgs boson?

Physicists around the world are vying to build the planet’s next super collider – and the carbon footprints of different designs could be very different, according to an analysis led by a physicist at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics near Geneva, in Swiss.

CERN already hosts the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In 2012, LHC physicists discovered the Higgs boson, and researchers now want a multi-billion dollar “Higgs factory” dedicated to producing the particles.

Patrick Janot of CERN and Alain Blondel, a particle physicist at the University of Geneva, used published details of five super-collider designs to calculate the energy consumption of each per Higgs boson produced. They examined CERN’s proposed machine, the Future Circular Collider (FCC), and the Electron-Positron Circular Collider (EPCC) proposed by China, as well as three proposals for linear colliders: an International Linear Collider (ILC) in Japan , CERN’s own Compact Collider Linear Collider (CLIC) and the Cool Copper Collider (C3), a compact accelerator based in the United States.

The FCC would use only a sixth of the energy of its most energy-intensive rivals, according to the study (P. Janot and A. Blondel EUR. Phys. J.More 137, 1122; 2022).

ALMOND PROPOSALS OF POWER.  Chart comparing the carbon footprints of five collider designs

Source: P. Janot and A. Blondel EUR. Phys. J.More 137, 1122; 2022.


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