It is rocket science…

As technology advances at a seemingly exponential rate, it can be hard to keep up – and journalists don’t always get it right.

A report from 2017 found that over half of newspaper articles surveyed on scientific studies were factually incorrect. This was mainly due to journalists writing on initial findings without checking back for follow-ups or meta-studies, which could put a new spin on those first results.

That’s a shame. When done right, science journalism is a regular provider of Upside news, revealing the technologies, medicines and other breakthroughs that promise to make life more thrilling, intriguing and agreeable.



InSight’s first image of the dusty Martian landscape. Photograph: Reuters

Just this week, Nasa’s InSight probe sent back its first images from Mars, while our reporter Oliver Holmes investigated the burgeoning nanosatellite industry and the promise it holds for research in space.

In health matters, a new powdered polio vaccine offered hope of a final eradication of the illness in stubborn holdouts like Nigeria and Pakistan; and lab-grown placentas promised to transform research into the causes of miscarriages and stillbirths.

HIV has proven one of the deadliest viruses ever to afflict mankind. But even here there is optimism. Sarah Boseley reported that the UK has met the UN’s targets to diagnose and treat over 90% of HIV cases, while Jack Flanagan writes on new research that could mean a cure is in sight. Fewer people now die of Aids around the world than at any point this century.


We’re now attempting find the ‘holy grail’ of HIV research.” Satish Pillai.

What we liked

In Cornwall, a new energy project has begun drilling the UK’s deepest ever borehole in the hopes of using heat from hot rocks as a zero-carbon source of electricity, the Guardian’s Adam Vaughan reports.



The UK’s first geothermal power plant near Redruth, Cornwall. Photograph: Geothermal Engineering Ltd/PA

In the world of startups, 20-year-old Reyn Aubrey has founded PocketChange, a fundraising platform and browser extension that allows for real-time donations based on stories or posts you might be reading. For those who like a coffee while they browse, Halo Coffee is planning to make new capsules from biodegradable material, mindful that this year the world will use more than 50bn coffee capsules made of plastic or aluminium.

What we heard


Thank you for being one of the only main established media to give such a place in their work to constructive journalism,” Théophile Cabre-Hamache via email


I recently enjoyed a fascinating report about young women on a cycling mission in Cairo, organizing food for slum areas, which they distribute by bike. They call themselves Cairo Cycling Geckos,” Jennifer Clayton-Chen via email

Where was the Upside?

In la France profonde, where customers can now pay for postal workers to check on their elderly relatives during rounds. Angelique Chrisafis reported that with letter writing declining in the digital era and a growing number of the elderly living alone, especially in rural areas, this initiative could be a solution to a particularly modern scourge: loneliness.



The personal touch … French postman Nicolas Dezeure with Janine. Photograph: Elisabeth Blanchet for the Guardian

We hope you are enjoying this weekly digest of Upside journalism. If you value this approach, and would like to help us to uncover more valour, enterprise, altruism and innovation, please support our journalism with a single or recurring contribution. Support the Guardian.

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