(Left to right): istock.com/claudio.arnese; Stephan Schmitz; istock.com/OSTILL

Top stories: cycling and climate change, hidden pharma payments, and cursing surgeons

36 years of bike race footage reveals how Belgium’s climate is changing

Green-thumbed grandmothers the world over have noticed a disturbing trend: Spring seems to be arriving earlier every year. But without hard data, it’s difficult to back up those claims. Now, scientists have found a new source of data—old television footage of outdoor sporting events, which reveals how early trees and other plants are “leafing out” each year.

Hidden conflicts? Pharma payments to FDA advisers after drug approvals spark ethical concerns

An investigative report by Science has uncovered unpoliced potential conflicts of interest among members of Food and Drug Administration drug-review advisory panels. Some members have received significant postreview payments from drug manufacturers—or their competitors—despite the agency’s system to proactively identify possible financial conflicts of interest.

Yelling, cursing less likely to break out in operating rooms when female surgeons are present

A new study on how people interact in operating rooms—modeled after research on chimpanzees—has uncovered a surprising source of conflict: the gender balance of the surgical team. Conflict was most likely, occurring in 4% of interactions, when male surgeons led male-dominated surgical teams. Operations went more smoothly, with less yelling and other forms of conflict, when the surgeon was female or when male surgeons were surrounded by mostly women.

Prominent geneticist out at UC Irvine after harassment finding

The eminent evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala resigned from the University of California, Irvine, effective 1 July. The move comes on the heels of an investigation of alleged sexual harassment by Ayala that began last November and included complaints from four women—two professors, an assistant dean, and one graduate student—in the school of biological sciences. The biological sciences building was, until this week, named after Ayala, its benefactor.

In a first, astronomers witness the birth of a planet from gas and dust

In the first convincing observation of its kind, astronomers have directly imaged a newborn planet still forming around its star. The planet, hotter than any in our solar system, supports what astronomers have long believed: that such bodies are born of the disks of gas and dust that coalesce around young stars.