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Top stories: A push to build affordable electron microscopes, coronavirus is not a global emergency yet, and the voice of an ancient mummy

‘We need a people’s cryo-EM.’ Scientists hope to bring revolutionary microscope to the masses

Scientists hope that cryo–electron microscopy (cryo-EM), an expensive technique that allows scientists to study proteins at high resolution, gets more affordable soon. Today, a top microscope costs about $7 million, and long waits to use these machines hinder biomedical research. In his lab at the Laboratory for Molecular Biology in the United Kingdom, molecular biologist Richard Henderson and his colleagues have developed a cheaper microscope that could bring the technology to more laboratories around the globe. Building these more affordable machines would democratize the field, he says.

WHO says no need—yet—to declare spread of novel virus is an international emergency

The world is on red alert as a novel coronavirus spreads throughout China and has jumped to a dozen other countries. But the World Health Organization earlier this week, to the surprise of many global health experts, decided the outbreak does not merit the loudest siren it can sound, a declaration called a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The dead speak! Scientists re-create voice of 3000-year-old mummy

It may not sound like much, but the audio clip in this story is the first reconstruction of an ancient human voice—one belonging to a 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy named Nesyamun. To recover this echo from the past, scientists placed the mummy in a computerized tomography scanner. This allowed them to create a 3D model of his vocal tract, the dimensions of which shape the unique sound of a person’s voice.

DNA from child burials reveals ‘profoundly different’ human landscape in ancient Africa

Central Africa is too hot and humid for ancient DNA to survive—or so researchers thought. But now the bones of four children buried thousands of years ago in a rock shelter in the grasslands of Cameroon have yielded enough DNA for scientists to analyze. It’s the first ancient DNA from humans in the region, and it holds multiple surprises.

The microbes in your gut could predict whether you’re likely to die in the next 15 years

The microbes in our guts have been linked to everything from arthritis to autism. Now, scientists say they can even tell us about our future health. Two new studies find that our “microbiome”—the mix of microbes in our gut—can reveal the presence of many diseases better than our own genes can—and can even anticipate our risk of dying within the next 15 years.