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Back page gossip from the 28 June issue of Research Fortnight

Big Bang CSA The government is understood to have settled on a replacement for Mark Walport as chief scientific adviser. The successful candidate’s name is being kept under lock and key, but it is said to be a physicist and from outside the government’s existing network of departmental scientific advisers. We strongly urge the winning candidate to take inspiration from Bob May, the last physicist to hold the CSA position in 1995. When asked by journalists whether he had been appointed to the hallowed position, May had no hesitation in confirming his new role, before the announcement from 10 Downing Street.

Fake news The search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) has been proceeding for 40 years, so long that René Heller, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany, is tired of waiting. In April he pretended to have received a message from outer space and challenged the public to decipher it. The fake alien message, 2 million digits long, was duly posted on Twitter and Facebook. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before he was rumbled: 66 of some 300 respondents had managed to decrypt the message.

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