The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose new greenhouse gas emissions standards for existing power plants this week, and one of the technologies getting attention is hydrogen as a power source. Hannes van der Watt, an energy scholar at the University of North Dakota, explains how hydrogen – the most abundant element in the universe – can be an ingredient for industry, a greener fuel for ships and potentially a way for natural gas electricity plants to keep operating under tougher emissions standards.

Frequent readers of this newsletter are likely aware of the burgeoning field of ancient DNA research. Scientists are becoming adept at sequencing DNA from people and other organisms that lived thousands of years ago. But an interesting study published last week took things a step further. A team of anthropologists, archaeogeneticists and biochemists sequenced billions of ancient DNA fragments from the microbes that lived in the tartar of a human’s tooth tens of thousands of years ago and then recreated the natural compounds encoded in bacterial genes. They hope their technique will let scientists hunt in archaeological samples for new – but old – antimicrobial compounds that can help modern medicine.

And let me point you to three recent stories on our site that made me smile. A biologist penned what amounts to an ode to webbing clothes moths – click in to see why she loves the sweater-ruining pests that I personally want to annihilate. An environmental humanities scholar wondered about the internal motivations and experiences of a “vagrant” Steller’s sea eagle that’s exploring places thousands of miles away from home. And a mechanical engineer weighed in on the Transportation Security Administration’s refusal to allow an airplane passenger to have more than 3.4 ounces of peanut butter in his carryon bag – the physics fits with the TSA’s ruling.

Maggie Villiger

Senior Science + Technology Editor

Ancient DNA preserved in the tooth tartar of human fossils encodes microbial metabolites that could be the next antibiotic. Werner/Siemens Foundation

Reconstructing ancient bacterial genomes can revive previously unknown molecules – offering a potential source for new antibiotics

Christina Warinner, Harvard University; Alexander Hübner, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Pierre Stallforth, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Ancient microbes likely produced natural products their descendants today do not. Tapping into this lost chemical diversity could offer a potential source of new drugs.

Hydrogen has potential, but it faces some big challenges, including a lack of pipeline infrastructure. Petmal/iStock/Getty Images Pluss plus

What is hydrogen, and can it really become a climate solution?

Hannes van der Watt, University of North Dakota

Hydrogen is getting a lot of attention as the EPA prepares to propose new greenhouse gas emissions rules for existing U.S. power plants.

Tineola bisselliella can survive on as little as a hairball and some vitamin B. Olaf Leillinger/Wikimedia Commons

Clothes moths: Why I admire these persistent, destructive, difficult-to-eradicate and dull-looking pests

Isabel Novick, Boston University

An appreciation for the moths that chomp holes in your clothes. They eat the inedible, occupy the uninhabitable and overcome every evolutionary obstacle in their way.

Vagrant, machine or pioneer? How we think about a roving eagle offers insights into human attitudes toward nature

Adriana Craciun, Boston University

A Steller’s sea eagle, native to the Asian Arctic, has traveled across North America since 2021. A scholar questions whether the bird is lost – and how well humans really understand animals’ actions.

I unintentionally created a biased AI algorithm 25 years ago – tech companies are still making the same mistake

John MacCormick, Dickinson College

One researcher’s experience from a quarter-century ago shows why bias in AI remains a problem – and why the solution isn’t a simple technical fix.

FDA’s approval of the world’s first vaccine against RSV will offer a new tool in an old fight – 4 questions answered

Annette Regan, University of San Francisco

The newly approved RSV vaccine could be rolled out by fall 2023, in time for the typical winter surge in RSV infections.

Peanut butter is a liquid – the physics of this and other unexpected fluids

Ted Heindel, Iowa State University

A mechanical engineer explains why you need to go with the flow. The TSA pronouncement that peanut butter is a liquid is scientifically sound.

Obesity in children is rising dramatically, and it comes with major – and sometimes lifelong – health consequences

Christine Nguyen, University of Southern California

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently released new obesity management guidelines in order to help address the growing obesity crisis in children.

Disinfectants and cleaning products harboring toxic chemicals are widely used despite lack of screening for potential health hazards

Courtney Carignan, Michigan State University

Quaternary ammonium compounds, also known as QACs or quats, are commonly used antimicrobials also found in many household products. Soap and water may be a safer bet when cleaning surfaces.