Volkswagen begins recalling diesels in Europe

The good news for Volkswagen is that it delivered almost 7.5 million vehicles to customers during the first three quarters of 2015. The bad news is that 8.5 million of VW’s cars will most likely be subject to a mandatory recall — and that’s just in Europe.The fallout from the Volkswagen emissions scandal continues to reverberate, four weeks after revelations about the installation of “defeat device” software in diesel-powered cars slammed the newswires. Now, the world’s largest automaker is facing a global public relations crisis. This includes its home base: 2.8 million of the recalled vehicles were sold in Germany.

Global Ocean found in Saturn's Moon Enceladus

A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus, according to new research using data from NASA's Cassini mission. Researchers found the magnitude of the moon's very slight wobble, as it orbits Saturn, can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior, meaning a global ocean must be present. The finding implies the fine spray of water vapor, icy particles and simple organic molecules Cassini has observed coming from fractures near the moon's south pole is being fed by this vast liquid water reservoir. The research is presented in a paper published online this week in the journal Icarus.

Study points to new opportunities to fight cancer

New research by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists raises the prospect of cancer therapy that works by converting a tumor's best friends in the immune system into its gravest enemies.In a study published in the journal Science, an international collaboration of investigators from Dana-Farber, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children's Hospital, and the University of Strasbourg uncovered a mechanism that allows key immune system cells to keep a steady rein on their more belligerent brother cells, thereby protecting normal, healthy tissue from assault. The discovery has powerful implications for cancer immunotherapy researchers say: by blocking the mechanism with a drug, it may be possible to turn the attack-suppressing cells into tumor-attacking cells.

Dates of lunar impacts refined

Phenomenally durable crystals called zircons are used to date some of the earliest and most dramatic cataclysms of the solar system. One is the super-duty collision that ejected material from Earth to form the moon roughly 50 million years after Earth formed. Another is the late heavy bombardment, a wave of impacts that may have created hellish surface conditions on the young Earth, about 4 billion years ago.Both events are widely accepted but unproven, so geoscientists are eager for more details and better dates. Many of those dates come from zircons retrieved from the moon during NASA's Apollo voyages in the 1970s.

Is tattoo ink safe?

Tattoos really are more than skin deep—and that raises questions about their safety.Many people enjoy the aesthetic beauty of tattoos. But the brightly colored inks that make tattoos so vibrant and striking also carry health concerns, report authors of a new paper related to tattoo safety.According to the Pew Research Center, 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo; roughly $1.65 billion is spent on tattoos each year in the U.S.

EPA and the regulation of greenhouse gasses

This week, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined private and public sector leaders for a second annual White House roundtable discussion about the progress made and new steps taken to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning. Administrator McCarthy announced several new actions the agency will take to help support a smooth transition to climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs."EPA is working closely with industry leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to climate-friendly refrigerants, and deploy advanced refrigeration technologies,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The powerful combination of EPA’s regulatory actions and innovations emerging from the private sector have put our country on track to significantly cut HFC use and deliver on the goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan.”

Ebola may be transmitted by sexual contact

Although researchers have known since 1999 that traces of the Ebola virus could remain in semen for months, two papers published in The New England Journal of Medicine today offer more detail about the frightening possibility that survivors of an infection could rekindle outbreaks. One study focuses on nearly 100 men in Sierra Leone who survived the dreaded viral illness, whereas the second one documents a clear case of sexual transmission of Ebola virus.In the Sierra Leone study, researchers found Ebola viral RNA in semen samples from almost half the 93 men they tested.  The likelihood of finding viral RNA declined as time from disease onset increased: All nine men who were tested 2 to 3 months after they fell ill had evidence of Ebola RNA in their semen, but the researchers  found it in only 26 of 40 men whose infections had started 4 to 6 months earlier and in 11 of 43 men whose infections had started 7 to 9 months earlier. The result from one Ebola patient tested 10 months after disease onset was indeterminate.

The future of wildfires in a warming world

The history of wildfires over the past 2,000 years in a northern Colorado mountain range indicates that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate, according to a new study led by a University of Wyoming doctoral student.“What our research shows is that even modest regional warming trends, like we are currently experiencing, can cause exceptionally large areas in the Rockies to be burned by wildfires,” says John Calder, a Ph.D. candidate in UW’s Program in Ecology and the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

Spring will be springing earlier in the US

Scientists have projected that the onset of spring plant growth will shift by a median of three weeks earlier over the next century, as a result of rising global temperatures.The results, published today (Wednesday 14th October), in the journal Environmental Research Letters, have long term implications for the growing season of plants and the relationship between plants and the animals that depend upon them.

Re-thinking plant and insect diversity

New research by biologists at the University of York shows that plant and insect diversity is more loosely linked than scientists previously believed. Insects and flowering plants are two of the most diverse groups of organism on the planet. For a long time the richness of these two lineages has been regarded as linked, with plant-feeding insect groups considered unusually species rich compared with their nearest relatives. In a new analysis, based on the most complete tree of insect relationships to date, researchers at the University have shown that there is not a simple relationship between insect diet and diversity.