Your stories

Researchers are advancing discovery in many ways, and Springer Nature is committed to supporting them.

Below you can read the stories from the research community.

How researchers around the world are advancing discovery


Methicillin use not to blame for MRSA

Genome Biology, BMC

Research undertaken by the University of St Andrews and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has found that  Staphylococcus Aureus acquired the gene that confers methicillin resistance as early as the mid-1940s, fourteen years before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice. They suggest that it was the widespread use of earlier antibiotics such as penicillin which caused MRSA to emerge.

Mist rising from lake

Potential for natural evaporation as a reliable renewable

Nature Communications

Each day, our Sun pours its energy down onto the Earth's surface, turning vast expanses of open water into vapour. This research studied the energy available from natural evaporation to predict the potential of this ubiquitous resource. The findings show the surprising degree to which this clean and renewable process could be used to produce electricity – estimating that up to 325 GW of power is potentially available in the United States. The research also suggests that water evaporation farms, though still hypothetical, could provide power densities three times greater than wind power, and significantly reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.

Smell of an old book

Documenting the distinctive smell of our culture

Heritage Science, Springer Open journal

Researchers at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage have developed a framework to try and catalogue the particular smells of our shared heritage. One of the techniques used was to ask people to describe the smell of old books. The terminology they used, such as woody, smoky, earthy and chocolatey, has then been combined with a chemical analysis of the breakdown of cellulose and lignin that happens as book age. The research has created a Historic Book Odour Wheel that scientists hope will help us to conserve smells for future generations.


Recreating the sound of silence

While most anechoic chambers are used for acoustic research, UCL's is used in phonetics - the scientific study of the human voice. Researchers make precise recordings of voices, using both microphones and laryngographs. This latter device, developed by one of the academics who used this chamber, measures the opening and closing of the voice box while the subject speaks. Linguists at UCL use the recordings to identify the root causes of speech abnormalities in children.


How chameleons change colour   

Nature Communications

Chameleons are well known for their potential to change colour but recent research on panther chameleons is the first to find two layers of crystal containing cells, each with a potentially different purpose. Researchers from the University of Geneva have speculated that the deeper crystal containing cells may help with the regulation of temperature, whilst the more superficial layer of colour changing cells could be responsible for camouflage or mating displays.


Antarctica meltdown could double sea level rise


Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have been considering how quickly a glacial ice melt in Antarctica would raise sea levels. By updating models with new discoveries and comparing them with past sea-level rise events they predict that a melting Antarctica could raise oceans by more than 3 feet by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continued unabated, roughly doubling previous total sea-level rise estimates. Rising seas could put many of the world’s coastlines underwater or at risk of flooding and storm surges.


Robots that learn to limp


Like most computers, robots are highly efficient until something goes wrong. A team of scientists from Pierre and Marie Curie University have been deliberately sabotaging walking robots and then seeing whether an algorithm that catalogued all the potential range of behaviours, could help them to adapt to mechanical faults. The research found that the injured robot would use the catalogue and a trial and error approach to find the fastest and straightest option. Typically it took under a minute for a hexapod with a broken leg to learn to limp.

- Antoine Cully / Pierre and Marie Curie University


Paying people helps them overcome phobias

Nature Human Behaviour

A study by neuroscientists from the university of Cambridge along with Japanese and US colleagues has found that there could be a devastatingly simple way to cure people of their fears and phobias. Even modest financial rewards subconsciously reduced fear among participants. The method known as decoded neurofeedback is being hailed as a viable and less traumatic replacement of aversion therapy.

Stem cells

Regulation of stem cells maintenance during ageing

As part of their mission to increase the healthy years of life, researchers at the Buck Institute are studying stem cells in the midgut of the fruit fly to see how stress and aging influences their ability to self-renew, and whether optimising stem cell activity can influence the aging process. Fruit flies share striking similarities to mammalian stem cells and it is hoped that this research will ultimately have application to human conditions.


Tracking glacier response to climate change

Currently about half of Greenland’s ice losses are through the release of icebergs into the ocean, a process known as calving - rather than by surface melt. In order to investigate the complex response of Arctic glaciers to warming of the atmosphere and ocean, the  CRIOS project (Calving Rates and Impact on Sea Level), recorded data from key locations including Kronebreen, a fast-flowing glacier in Svalbard, Arctic Norway. Data from the project is now being used to develop improved predictive glacier models as part of a NERC-funded project


How to date a fossil

Springer Encyclopaedia of scientific dating methods

In geological sciences, biology and archaeology the discovery of an ancient artefact, mineral or fossil is only half the story – being able to accurately date the find provides crucial understanding of its significance in the context of earth’s history. By bringing together the world’s leading experts and contributors in fields including sedimentation, tectonics, volcanism and glaciation – today's researchers are able to have access to the very latest thinking on scientific dating methods.

Particle Accelerator

Accelerating the path to new discoveries

Particle Accelerators enable scientists to pursue inspirational goals, such as discovering the nature of dark matter, but with beams of light 10,000 times brighter than the sun they can also be used to probe the nature of more everyday things. Scientists at the UK’s Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire have used the accelerator on experiments designed to help the fight against cancer, improve air safety and energy efficiency and even design a much safer vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease.


Facial recognition tool for Lemurs developed

BMC Zoology

Being able to identify individual animals is a key part of understanding the demographic and evolutionary processes that occur in populations, and yet current techniques are expensive and often impractical for large scale studies. To try and overcome these problems a team of lemur biologists and computer scientists have developed and tested a facial recognition system that can identify individual lemurs in the wild with a high degree of accuracy. It is hoped that once optimized, this system can provide a rapid, cost-effective, and accurate method for individual identification.