Physics Today’s online staff summarize the most important and interesting news about science from the world's top media outlets.
BBC: The UK's scientific community is up in arms over an immigration proposal presented by Home Secretary Theresa May. Currently, foreign students who graduate from UK universities can remain in the UK for up to four months while they look for employment. In comparison, countries such as Australia, Canada, and the US allow foreign graduates to stay for up to 12 months after completion of their studies. May's proposal would eliminate the UK's current four-month period, forcing graduates to immediately return to their home countries even if they are pursuing jobs in the UK. Many groups and scientists have questioned the proposal, which comes a week after the government released its Science and Innovation Strategy, in which it sets a goal of becoming "the best place in the world to do science." Sarah Main of the Campaign for Science and Engineering says that sending foreign graduates home would significantly hinder the UK's ability to recruit international talent.
Science: A review of articles rejected from three top-tier medical journals—Annals of Internal Medicine, the BMJ, and the Lancet—reveals that some of the rejects that were published elsewhere have been cited more times than any of the accepted articles. Kyle Siler of the University of Toronto in Canada and his colleagues reviewed the histories of 1008 articles submitted to the three journals. They found that 722 were "desk rejected" before the peer-review stage, and of the ones that made it to peer review, only 62 were accepted. Of the total 946 articles that were rejected, 757 were eventually published in other journals. Siler's team found that on average the 62 articles published in the top-tier publications were more frequently cited than the 757 published elsewhere. They also found that the articles that made it to peer review before being rejected were more highly cited than those that were rejected early on. However, the 14 most cited articles overall were among those that had been rejected by the three top-tier journals, and all but two before the peer-review stage. The study's authors suggest several possible reasons for this: Articles about unconventional research may be more prone to rejection by the top-tier journals, highly technical articles tend to be cited less often even if their scientific value is greater than that of a less technical article, and a high citation count is not necessarily a sign of an article's importance.
New Scientist: Following the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, several studies examined satellite data to determine the ability of mangrove forests to protect communities from the destructive effects of such seismic sea waves. One study found an 8% reduction in fatalities in villages protected by mangrove forests. Another found that a 100-m-wide band of dense mangrove growth could reduce the strength of a tsunami by up to 90%. In the years since the tsunami, several groups have worked to restore and expand mangrove forests along shorelines of countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The most successful appears to be the Green Coast project run by Oxfam Novib and Wetlands International. The organizations planted mangroves in the Indonesian province of Aceh and provided loans to residents to establish new businesses in their villages. The villages were left in charge of maintaining the new mangrove trees. If 75% of the trees were still growing after 2 years, the loan debts were written off. Almost 2 million trees were planted near 70 villages, and five years after the end of the project most of the businesses are still operating.
Telegraph: A study earlier this year revealed a higher rate of skin cancer in pilots than in the general population. A new study by Martina Sanlorenzo of the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues shows that every 56 minutes that airline pilots spend at a normal cruising altitude of 30 000 ft (9144 m) exposes them to as much UV radiation as a 20-minute session in an average tanning bed. They measured UV-A exposure at ground level and in cockpits during flights to Los Vegas, Nevada, in April 2014. For every 2952 ft (900 m) of altitude gained above sea level, the radiation exposure increased by 15%. At the typical cruising altitude for commercial aircraft, UV levels were more than twice those on the ground.