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Brief Communications


Brief Communications Arising

Theoretical biology: Comparing models of species abundance pE1

Jérôme Chave, David Alonso and Rampal S. Etienne


Theoretical biology: Comparing models of species abundance (Reply) pE1

Igor Volkov, Jayanth R. Banavar, Fangliang He, Stephen P. Hubbell and Amos Maritan




Making the paper: Anna Qvarnström pxi

Is the female flycatcher a material girl?


Abstractions pxi


Quantified: Reviews pxi




Painful transition at the NIH p1

Elias Zerhouni has a mixed track record as director of the world's largest research agency — but the thrust of his reform effort should be supported.


Small first step p2

France's technology plans hold modest promise.


Amateur night p2

Ending an inhumane punishment.



Research Highlights

Research highlights p4


Correction p5




US posts sensitive climate report for public comment p6

Scientists concerned by online publication of IPCC draft.

Jim Giles


Sidelines p7


Will medics' qualms kill the death penalty? p8

US judges are starting to acknowledge that lethal injection could be an excruciating way to die. Emma Marris investigates whether the medical community's refusal to assist could help end the practice.


Tempers flare at hurricane meeting p11

Researchers debate effects of climate change.

Alexandra Witze


Chemists get out begging bowl to avert closure p12

Plan to close university department attracts international criticism.

Mark Peplow


News in brief p14



News Features

Biomedical research: Facing the opposition p17

Elias Zerhouni has one of the biggest jobs in biomedical research — running the massive US National Institutes of Health. But is he leading the agency up the right path? Erika Check examines his tenure.


It's a postdoc's life p20

Does the respected US National Institutes of Health meet the needs of young postdoc researchers? Jacqueline Ruttimann investigates.




The quiet rise of the clinical contractor p22

More and more drug trials are being farmed out to contractors, but who's benefiting from the change? Meredith Wadman investigates.


In brief p23


Market watch p23

Colin Macilwain




Computing: report leaps geographical barriers but stumbles over gender p25

Martha E. Pollack, Susanne E. Hambrusch, Carla Schlatter Ellis, Barbara J. Grosz, Jessica Hodgins, Ruzena Bajcsy, Carla E. Brodley, Luigia Carlucci Aiello, Maria Paola Bonacina, Lori A. Clarke, Julia Hirschberg, Manuela M. Veloso, Nancy Amato, Liz Sonenberg, Elaine Weyuker, Lori Pollock, Mary Jane Irwin, Lin Padgham, Barbara G. Ryder, Tiziana Catarci, Kathleen F. McCoy, Maria Klawe, Sandra Carberry, Laura Dillon, Kathleen McKeown and Mary Lou Soffa


Computer 'recycling' builds garbage dumps overseas p25

G. Agoramoorthy


A logical alternative for biological computing p25

Derek Partridge


Colossus was the first electronic digital computer p25

Jürgen Schmidhuber



Books and Arts

A Palaeozoic whodunnit p27

What caused a mass extinction event 250 million years ago?

Michael Benton reviews Extinction: How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago by Douglas H. Erwin


The source of the problem p28

Ganesh Pangare reviews When Rivers Run Dry: Water — The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century by Fred Pearce


A martian mystery p28

John F. Kerridge reviews The Rock from Mars: A Detective Story on Two Planets by Kathy Sawyer


A search for meaning p29

Daniel Nettle reviews The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt


Science in culture: A sense of civic beauty p30

A Renaissance painting from Urbino reveals the ideal city.

Martin Kemp


See also: Editor's summary


News and Views

Particle Physics: The first axion? p31

For almost 30 years, the hunt has been on for a ghostly particle proposed to plug a gap in the standard model of particle physics. The detection of a tiny optical effect might be the first positive sighting.

Steve Lamoreaux


Cell biology: Divining cancer cell weaknesses p32

Tumour cells tend to carry many gene mutations, but at a potential cost to their overall fitness. Studying the interactions between genes on a large scale could be a way of identifying the chinks in the tumour cell armour.

William G. Kaelin


See also: Editor's summary

Planetary Science: A new spin on Saturn p34

Measuring the rotation of a gaseous planet is no easy task. For Saturn, do observations of its magnetic field — which indicate that it is spinning more slowly than thought — mark a revolution in our understanding?

David J. Stevenson


See also: Editor's summary

Molecular biology: Chromosome guardians on duty p35

Curiously, in cell division the proper separation of chromosomes into daughter cells needs set periods when they are stuck together. So how do they come apart at the right time and place? Their 'guardian spirits' intercede.

Paul Megee


Materials science: Polymers show they're metal p37

Although certain polymers have long been known to conduct electricity, they seemed to differ from metals in other electronic and optical properties. A new form of polymer turns that relation on its head.

Richard Friend


See also: Editor's summary


Brief Communications

Animal communication: Complex call production in the túngara frog p38

An intricate vocal anatomy underlies the subtleties of this animal's melodic mating calls.

M. Gridi-Papp, A. S. Rand and M. J. Ryan


See also: Editor's summary



The search for signs of recovery of the ozone layer p39

Elizabeth C. Weatherhead and Signe Bech Andersen


See also: Editor's summary



Shugoshin collaborates with protein phosphatase 2A to protect cohesin p46

Tomoya S. Kitajima, Takeshi Sakuno, Kei-ichiro Ishiguro, Shun-ichiro Iemura, Tohru Natsume, Shigehiro A. Kawashima and Yoshinori Watanabe


See also: News and Views by Megee

Protein phosphatase 2A protects centromeric sister chromatid cohesion during meiosis I p53

Christian G. Riedel, Vittorio L. Katis, Yuki Katou, Saori Mori, Takehiko Itoh, Wolfgang Helmhart, Marta Gálová, Mark Petronczki, Juraj Gregan, Bulent Cetin, Ingrid Mudrak, Egon Ogris, Karl Mechtler, Laurence Pelletier, Frank Buchholz, Katsuhiko Shirahige and Kim Nasmyth


See also: News and Views by Megee



A regular period for Saturn's magnetic field that may track its internal rotation p62

G. Giampieri, M. K. Dougherty, E. J. Smith and C. T. Russell


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Stevenson

Metallic transport in polyaniline p65

Kwanghee Lee, Shinuk Cho, Sung Heum Park, A. J. Heeger, Chan-Woo Lee and Suck-Hyun Lee


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Friend

Towards molecular electronics with large-area molecular junctions p69

Hylke B. Akkerman, Paul W. M. Blom, Dago M. de Leeuw and Bert de Boer


See also: Editor's summary

Weakening of tropical Pacific atmospheric circulation due to anthropogenic forcing p73

Gabriel A. Vecchi, Brian J. Soden, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Isaac M. Held, Ants Leetmaa and Matthew J. Harrison


See also: Editor's summary

A primitive fish provides key characters bearing on deep osteichthyan phylogeny p77

Min Zhu, Xiaobo Yu, Wei Wang, Wenjin Zhao and Liantao Jia


See also: Editor's summary

Climate change and population declines in a long-distance migratory bird p81

Christiaan Both, Sandra Bouwhuis, C. M. Lessells and Marcel E. Visser


See also: Editor's summary

Testing the genetics underlying the co-evolution of mate choice and ornament in the wild p84

Anna Qvarnström, Jon E. Brommer and Lars Gustafsson


See also: Editor's summary

A distal enhancer and an ultraconserved exon are derived from a novel retroposon p87

Gill Bejerano, Craig B. Lowe, Nadav Ahituv, Bryan King, Adam Siepel, Sofie R. Salama, Edward M. Rubin, W. James Kent and David Haussler


See also: Editor's summary

A small-molecule screen in C. elegans yields a new calcium channel antagonist p91

Trevor C. Y. Kwok, Nicole Ricker, Regina Fraser, Allen W. Chan, Andrew Burns, Elise F. Stanley, Peter McCourt, Sean R. Cutler and Peter J. Roy


See also: Editor's summary

Downstream nuclear events in brassinosteroid signalling p96

Grégory Vert and Joanne Chory


See also: Editor's summary

Differential roles of MDA5 and RIG-I helicases in the recognition of RNA viruses p101

Hiroki Kato, Osamu Takeuchi, Shintaro Sato, Mitsutoshi Yoneyama, Masahiro Yamamoto, Kosuke Matsui, Satoshi Uematsu, Andreas Jung, Taro Kawai, Ken J. Ishii, Osamu Yamaguchi, Kinya Otsu, Tohru Tsujimura, Chang-Sung Koh, Caetano Reis e Sousa, Yoshiharu Matsuura, Takashi Fujita and Shizuo Akira


A loss-of-function RNA interference screen for molecular targets in cancer p106

Vu N. Ngo, R. Eric Davis, Laurence Lamy, Xin Yu, Hong Zhao, Georg Lenz, Lloyd T. Lam, Sandeep Dave, Liming Yang, John Powell and Louis M. Staudt


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Kaelin

RNAi-mediated gene silencing in non-human primates p111

Tracy S. Zimmermann, Amy C. H. Lee, Akin Akinc, Birgit Bramlage, David Bumcrot, Matthew N. Fedoruk, Jens Harborth, James A. Heyes, Lloyd B. Jeffs, Matthias John, Adam D. Judge, Kieu Lam, Kevin McClintock, Lubomir V. Nechev, Lorne R. Palmer, Timothy Racie, Ingo Röhl, Stephan Seiffert, Sumi Shanmugam, Vandana Sood, Jürgen Soutschek, Ivanka Toudjarska, Amanda J. Wheat, Ed Yaworski, William Zedalis, Victor Koteliansky, Muthiah Manoharan, Hans-Peter Vornlocher and Ian MacLachlan


See also: Editor's summary

The depolymerizing kinesin MCAK uses lattice diffusion to rapidly target microtubule ends p115

Jonne Helenius, Gary Brouhard, Yannis Kalaidzidis, Stefan Diez and Jonathon Howard


Corrigendum: Genome sequencing in microfabricated high-density picolitre reactors p120

Marcel Margulies, Michael Egholm, William E. Altman, Said Attiya, Joel S. Bader, Lisa A. Bemben, Jan Berka, Michael S. Braverman, Yi-Ju Chen, Zhoutao Chen, Scott B. Dewell, Alex de Winter, James Drake, Lei Du, Joseph M. Fierro, Robin Forte, Xavier V. Gomes, Brian C. Godwin, Wen He, Scott Helgesen, Chun Heen Ho, Stephen K. Hutchison, Gerard P. Irzyk, Szilveszter C. Jando, Maria L. I. Alenquer, Thomas P. Jarvie, Kshama B. Jirage, Jong-Bum Kim, James R. Knight, Janna R. Lanza, John H. Leamon, William L. Lee, Steven M. Lefkowitz, Ming Lei, Jing Li, Kenton L. Lohman, Hong Lu, Vinod B. Makhijani, Keith E. McDade, Michael P. McKenna, Eugene W. Myers, Elizabeth Nickerson, John R. Nobile, Ramona Plant, Bernard P. Puc, Michael Reifler, Michael T. Ronan, George T. Roth, Gary J. Sarkis, Jan Fredrik Simons, John W. Simpson, Maithreyan Srinivasan, Karrie R. Tartaro, Alexander Tomasz, Kari A. Vogt, Greg A. Volkmer, Shally H. Wang, Yong Wang, Michael P. Weiner, David A. Willoughby, Pengguang Yu, Richard F. Begley and Jonathan M. Rothberg


Corrigendum: A phosphatase complex that dephosphorylates bold gammaH2AX regulates DNA damage checkpoint recovery p120

Michael-Christopher Keogh, Jung-Ae Kim, Michael Downey, Jeffrey Fillingham, Dipanjan Chowdhury, Jacob C. Harrison, Megumi Onishi, Nira Datta, Sarah Galicia, Andrew Emili, Judy Lieberman, Xuetong Shen, Stephen Buratowski, James E. Haber, Daniel Durocher, Jack F. Greenblatt and Nevan J. Krogan


Corrigendum: A high-mobility electron gas at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterointerface p120

A. Ohtomo and H. Y. Hwang


Erratum: Significant primordial star formation at redshifts z approximately 3–4 p120

Raul Jimenez and Zoltan Haiman





Thinking big p121

Policy leaders look at career paths of young scientists.

Paul Smaglik


Postdocs and Students

Misconduct mayhem p122

Thinking about scientific misconduct before tangling with a real case will help you protect your own career and promote research integrity. Kendall Powell investigates a few case studies.

Kendall Powell


Career Views

William Harris, president and chief executive, Science Foundation Arizona p124

The chemist who builds research programmes.

Virginia Gewin


Postdoc prep p124

Diversity committee improves postdoc world for women and ethnic minorities

Jabbar Bennett


On Mozart's wavelength p124

Grad student gets the hang of presentations.

Andreas Andersson



Highlight: The National Institutes of Health




Taking good care of myself p126

Someone to watch over me.

Ian R. MacLeod


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