Thanks for subscribing to Axios Science. Please consider inviting your friends, family and colleagues to sign up.
I appreciate any tips, scoops and feedback — simply reply to this email or send me a message at email@example.com.
What's new: Tiny plastic pieces from broken down bags and packaging are now being detected in another element: the air.
Why it matters: The findings bring new urgency to efforts already underway to assess the potential human health impacts from exposure to plastics and the cascading consequences of plastic pollution for ecosystems.
What they did: Researchers examined atmospheric particles collected between November 2017 and March 2018 near a meteorological station in the Pyrenees.
But, but, but: The new study is limited in scope, having looked at just one small plot of land, and additional field and modeling studies are needed to understand the scale of the airborne microplastics problem, the study's authors tell Axios.
"It is potentially everywhere, it’s where you breathe… and everywhere the wind blows. So what you do impacts everywhere in the world."— Deonie Allen, study co-author and researcher in the School of Agricultural and Life Sciences in Toulouse, France
The big picture: It's not just microplastics. Pollution from macroplastics — bags, cartons and other debris — has also increased sharply in the North Atlantic.
Gael Jesus Pino Alva, a 2-year-old treated with gene therapy, with his mother, Giannina Alva. Photo: Peter Barta/St. Jude
Eight children with "bubble boy" disease — the rare genetic disorder that causes a male baby to be born with little or no immune response — appear to be "cured," scientists reported this week.
The big picture: Only 40–100 babies are born each year with this disorder, but almost all die within 2 years unless they are diagnosed early and placed into sterile environments, like those dramatized in movies, Eileen Drage O'Reilly writes.
Background: The genetic disorder — known as X-SCID (X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency) — arises from a mutation in a single gene on the X chromosome.
What they did: Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Benioff Children’s Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco used the same engineered virus in 8 children, ages 2 months to 14 months, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
What they found: James Downing, president and CEO of St. Jude, said in a press conference that the trial had "outstanding results" with children "responding to vaccines and able to live normal lives."
What they're saying: Rebecca Hatcher Buckley, immunology professor at Duke University School of Medicine who was not part of this study, says the vector in particular is "very promising," particularly as the treatment so far has not produced leukemia.
What's next: The trial is ongoing and St. Jude has signed an exclusive license with Mustang Bio. They hope to determine if the immunotherapy can be commercialized for other genetic disorders, including sickle cell disease.
Read the rest of Eileen's story.
Why it matters: The research bolsters confidence in NASA's dataset, which climate change doubters have been trying to poke holes in for years, in part because it tends to find greater Arctic warming than NOAA. The study also signals how global observations might be conducted in the future.
What they did: Researchers took two global surface temperature data sets generated from independent instruments — based on land and in space — and compared them for the first time.
What they found: AIRS data closely matched the Goddard observations during the period of overlap, from 2003 through 2018, except for one key detail. The satellite data shows greater warming in the Arctic, particularly across the data-sparse Arctic Ocean, suggesting GISTEMP may be underestimating global warming there.
What they're saying: “These findings should help put to rest any lingering concerns that modern warming is somehow due to the location of sensors in urban heat islands or other measurement errors at the surface,” Zeke Hausfather, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley who was not involved in the new study, told the Washington Post.
Illustration by Robin Dienel, courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science
Scientists revive some brain cells in pigs — 4 hours after death (Eileen O'Reilly)
NASA astronaut to set record for longest spaceflight by a woman (Miriam Kramer)
NASA's new planet-hunter TESS finds its first Earth-sized world (Miriam Kramer)
Wall Street reckons with climate risk (Steve LeVine)
A great white shark near The Neptune Islands, South Australia. Photo: Brad Leue/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Want to escape global warming? These cities promise cool relief (Kendra Pierre-Louis, NYT)
It turns out, great white sharks are scared of something, too (Kayla Epstein, Washington Post)
Snailfish is first animal from extreme ocean depths to get genome sequenced (Erin I. Garcia de Jesus, Nature News)
Move over, San Andreas: There's an ominous new fault in town (Geoff Manaugh, Wired)
The Southern Crab Nebula. Image: NASA, ESA, and STS
The Hubble Space Telescope took a new photo of a multi-colored, hourglass-shaped nebula for its 29th birthday.
Details: The Southern Crab Nebula is the creation of interactions between white dwarf and red giant stars at its center.
“The red giant is shedding its outer layers in the last phase of its life before it too lives out its final years as a white dwarf,” the European Space Agency said in a statement. “Some of the red giant’s ejected material is attracted by the gravity of its companion.”
The new photo is just the most recent in a long history of Hubble birthday photos taken by the intrepid space telescope, which is expected to keep on trucking in space through at least the mid-2020s.
Thanks for reading! Happy Easter and Happy Passover to those celebrating. See you again next Thursday. Have a great week!