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The Big Questions

There are a lot of outstanding questions and issues, both academic and practical, facing the world, and Harvard University's George Whitesides tells Technology Review that one intellectual question he'd like to better understand is the origin of life — how does something go random chemicals to a "set of reactions that are getting more complicated spontaneously."

Additionally, Whitesides says that another issue is translating university research to the real world. "The idea that publically funded science should have some measure of 'I'm doing it because, and this is where it might end up being useful,' strikes me as being perfectly reasonable," he later adds. "I think it'll actually make for better science, too, because it's very easy in academic science to end up working on projects that are just little extensions of previously known stuff, and that's sort of a waste of time."

The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.