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Information overload p551

A report released last week by the US National Academies makes recommendations for tackling the issues surrounding the era of petabyte science.


The shale revolution p551

The vast reserves of US natural gas must be used judiciously to ease the transition to clean energy.


Inspiring non-scientists p552

Those wishing to reveal scientific ideas should learn from the engaging style of TED conference talks.



Research Highlights

Biology: Chill bill p554


Phytology: Tree carbon recalibrated? p554


Nanochemistry: Protein fondue p554


Cancer biology: Cancer's metabolic roots p554


Microfluidics: The sounds of science p554


Earth monitoring: Tsunamis from space p555


Chemistry: A one-pot shot p555


Behaviour: Why 'there's never just one' p555


Physics: A cold shake p555


Development: Starting from scratch p555



Journal Club

Journal club p555

Pavel Jungwirth




Biodefence lab criticized p556

US lawmakers investigate site choice of planned facility.

Elie Dolgin


Physicians fight back against disclosure rules p556

Pressure group calls for stronger links with industry.

Cassandra Willyard


European body told to cut free p557

Review highlights hurdles faced by Europe's research council.

Natasha Gilbert


LHC students face data drought p558

Computer simulations are the only option when the world's largest particle accelerator isn't working.

Geoff Brumfiel


Italy introduces performance-related funding p559

Agency to evaluate research is launched.

Alison Abbott


Forest growth studies begin to turn up the heat p559

Researchers aim to assess the effects of rising air temperature.

Heidi Ledford


Mice made from induced stem cells p560

Technical feat shows that the different route to stem cells can indeed make a full mammal body.

David Cyranoski


Legal battle may reshape nanotechnology firm p561

Oxonica loses appeal over fuel additive.

Katharine Sanderson


US puts flu vaccines on trial p562

NIAID director Anthony Fauci explains testing strategy.

Declan Butler


German research bodies draft synthetic-biology plan p563


Step-by-step rating system set to improve African labs p563


UK government urged to disclose evidence base p563


Mauna Kea adds to its family of telescopes p563


Genetic barcode for plants close to agreement p563


Lucky find of undersea methane bubbles p563



News Features

Wind power: High hopes p564

A vast supply of energy is racing around the planet far above the surface. Erik Vance meets the engineers trying to bring the power of high-altitude wind down to earth.


Immunology: Lights, camera, infection p568

Multiphoton microscopy is allowing immunologists to watch infections as they happen. Jeanne Erdmann pulls up a seat.




Flu: vaccinate to cut risk of chimaeric virus emerging p571

Ilaria Capua & Giovanni Cattoli, OIE


Flu: weighing up conflicting expert information p571

Erwin van Rijswoud


Where will we find the tritium to fuel hybrid reactors? p571

J. H. Evans




The invention of heroes p572

The Western public's misapprehension that genius in science is always male and caucasian is partly a legacy of Victorian politics, says Christine MacLeod.

Christine MacLeod



Books and Arts

A break from the bench p574

Nature regulars give their recommendations for relaxed, inspiring holiday reading and viewing — from climate-change history to Isaac Newton the detective.

David Poeppel, Mike Brown, Susan Solomon, Jerry A. Coyne, Ming-Wei Wang, Jonathan Zittrain, Carl Zimmer, Felice Frankel, Hugh Young Rienhoff, Bruce Hood, Neil Shubin, Eugenie Scott, Sandra Knapp & Adam Kepecs



News and Views

Optics: All smoke and metamaterials p579

An illusion device, placed near but not enclosing an object of arbitrary shape, manipulates and transforms light scattered off the object so as to give it the appearance of a completely different object.

John Pendry


Structural biology: Trimeric ion-channel design p580

Cavernous chambers, intricate passages, a gate with a curious lock — the structure of an ATP-activated ion channel reveals its architecture. And this intriguing interior design is found in another type of ion channel too.

Shai D. Silberberg & Kenton J. Swartz


See also: Editor's summary

Oceanography: A fishy mix p581

Ocean life is in almost constant motion, and such activity must surely stir things up. Innovative investigations into this concept of 'biogenic mixing' show a role for jellyfish and their brethren.

William K. Dewar


See also: Editor's summary

Planetary science: Windy clues to Saturn's spin p582

Saturn's rotation period has been a mystery. An estimate based on its meteorology comes with implications for our understanding of the planet's atmospheric jet streams and interior structure.

Adam P. Showman


See also: Editor's summary

Earth science: Trickle-down geodynamics p583

Analysis of the platinum-group elements in a particular type of ancient volcanic rock provides clues about Earth's early history as well as a fresh approach to understanding mantle dynamics.

Nicholas Arndt


See also: Editor's summary

Developmental biology: Skeletal muscle comes of age p584

A regulatory protein thought to be crucial for maintaining the muscle stem-cell pool throughout life is shown to be dispensable in the adult. Muscle biologists are left wondering what fundamental things apply as time goes by.

Terry Partridge


See also: Editor's summary

Supramolecular chemistry: Phosphorus caged p585

Violent criminals are imprisoned to keep them under control. Similarly, incarceration in a molecular jail stops white phosphorus from bursting into flames — but on release, it regains its fiery character.

Kenneth N. Raymond




Recent progress in the biology and physiology of sirtuins p587

Toren Finkel, Chu-Xia Deng & Raul Mostoslavsky


See also: Editor's summary


Brief Communications Arising

Biased reptilian palaeothermometer? pE1

J. M. Kale Sniderman


Re-calibrating the snake palaeothermometer pE2

Anastassia M. Makarieva, Victor G. Gorshkov & Bai-Lian Li


Can the giant snake predict palaeoclimate? pE3

Mark W. Denny, Brent L. Lockwood & George N. Somero


Head et al. reply pE4

Jason J. Head, Jonathan I. Bloch, Alexander K. Hastings, Jason R. Bourque, Edwin A. Cadena, Fabiany A. Herrera, P. David Polly & Carlos A. Jaramillo




Crystal structure of the ATP-gated P2X4 ion channel in the closed state p592

P2X receptors are ATP-gated cation channels that are implicated in diverse physiological processes, from synaptic transmission to inflammation to the sensing of taste and pain. The crystal structure of the zebrafish P2X4 channel is now solved in its closed state, revealing some of the molecular underpinnings of ligand-binding, cation entry and channel gating.

Toshimitsu Kawate, Jennifer Carlisle Michel, William T. Birdsong & Eric Gouaux


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Silberberg & Swartz

Pore architecture and ion sites in acid-sensing ion channels and P2X receptors p599

Like P2X receptors, acid-sensing ion channels are trimeric in structure; however, they belong to an entirely different family. Here, the structure of an acid-sensing ion channel is presented and compared to the structure of P2X4, suggesting that these functionally distinct channels use similar mechanistic principles.

Eric B. Gonzales, Toshimitsu Kawate & Eric Gouaux


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Silberberg & Swartz



Resonant stripping as the origin of dwarf spheroidal galaxies p605

The origin of dwarf spheroidal galaxies is one of the outstanding puzzles of how galaxies form. Previous theories require that they orbit near giant galaxies like the Milky Way, but some dwarfs have been observed in the outskirts of the Local Group. Here, simulations of encounters between dwarf disk galaxies and somewhat larger dwarfs yield results that may account for some of the observed properties of dwarf spheroidals in the Local Group.

Elena D'Onghia, Gurtina Besla, Thomas J. Cox & Lars Hernquist


See also: Editor's summary

Saturn's rotation period from its atmospheric planetary-wave configuration p608

The rotation period of a gas giant's magnetic field (the System III reference frame) is commonly used to infer its bulk rotation, but this approach cannot be used for Saturn because its dipole magnetic field is not tilted relative to its rotation axis. Consequently, the surrogate measure of long-wavelength radiation is used to fix the System III rotation period. The period as recently measured by the Cassini spacecraft is up to 7 minutes longer than the value measured 28 years ago by Voyager. Here, a determination of Saturn's rotation period is reported, based on an analysis of potential vorticity.

P. L. Read, T. E. Dowling & G. Schubert


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

A 'granocentric' model for random packing of jammed emulsions p611

A simple underlying mechanism for the random assembly of granular particles, analogous to crystalline ordering, remains unknown. Here however, three-dimensional measurements of packings of polydisperse emulsion droplets are used to build a statistical model where the complexity of the global packing can be understood in terms of two simple, local parameters — the available space around a particle and the ratio of contacts to neighbours.

Maxime Clusel, Eric I. Corwin, Alexander O. N. Siemens & Jasna Brujic acute


See also: Editor's summary

Carbon respiration from subsurface peat accelerated by climate warming in the subarctic p616

The feedback between the terrestrial carbon cycle and climate is one of the largest uncertainties in current projections of future climate, with the long-term sensitivity of carbon in peatlands remaining unclear. The combination of non-disturbing in situ measurements of carbon dioxide respiration rates and isotopic composition of respired CO2 in subarctic peatland experiments now shows that warming accelerates respiration rates of these subsurface carbon reservoirs to a much larger extent than was previously thought.

Ellen Dorrepaal, Sylvia Toet, Richard S. P. van Logtestijn, Elferra Swart, Martine J. van de Weg, Terry V. Callaghan & Rien Aerts


See also: Editor's summary

Progressive mixing of meteoritic veneer into the early Earth's deep mantle p620

Komatiites are ancient volcanic rocks, mostly from the Archaean era, that formed through high degrees of partial melting of the mantle and therefore provide reliable information on bulk mantle compositions. Here it is shown that most early Archaean komatiites from the Barberton greenstone belt of South Africa and the Pilbara craton of Western Australia are depleted in platinum group elements (PGEs) relative to late Archaean and younger komatiites, and the variations of this depletion with time suggests that PGE-enriched cosmic material was progressively mixed into the deep mantle.

Wolfgang D. Maier, Stephen J. Barnes, Ian H. Campbell, Marco L. Fiorentini, Petri Peltonen, Sarah-Jane Barnes & R. Hugh Smithies


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

A viscosity-enhanced mechanism for biogenic ocean mixing p624

Sir Charles Darwin, grandson of the famous evolutionary pioneer, was a physicist who suggested that swimming animals might contribute significantly to the mixing of water in the ocean. Here, observations of swimming jellyfish are used to create and validate a theoretical model for the relative contributions of Darwinian mixing and turbulent wake mixing. The contribution of living organisms to ocean mixing is found to be substantial — in the same order of magnitude as winds and tides.

Kakani Katija & John O. Dabiri


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

Adult satellite cells and embryonic muscle progenitors have distinct genetic requirements p627

The myogenic determinant Pax7 is thought to have a critical role in adult muscle stem cells (satellite cells), but a formal demonstration has been lacking in vivo. Here it is shown that, unexpectedly, when Pax7 is inactivated in adult mice, mutant satellite cells are not compromised in muscle regeneration. Multiple time points of gene inactivation reveal that Pax7 is only required up to the juvenile period, indicating an age-dependent change in the genetic requirement for muscle stem cells.

Christoph Lepper, Simon J. Conway & Chen-Ming Fan


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

Presenilins are essential for regulating neurotransmitter release p632

Mutations in the presenilin genes are associated with familial cases of Alzheimer's disease, but the precise site and nature of the synaptic dysfunction remain unknown. Using a genetic approach to selectively inactivate presenilins in a mouse model, it has been possible to demonstrate that they act in the presynaptic compartment to control the activity-dependent efficacy of neurotransmitter release, a process essential for neuronal computation, learning and memory.

Chen Zhang, Bei Wu, Vassilios Beglopoulos, Mary Wines-Samuelson, Dawei Zhang, Ioannis Dragatsis, Thomas C. Südhof & Jie Shen


See also: Editor's summary

Macrophage elastase kills bacteria within murine macrophages p637

Macrophages possess several substances with which they can kill bacteria, including reactive oxygen species, nitric oxide, and antimicrobial proteins. Here, macrophage elastase, an enzyme implicated in several disease processes including emphysema, is shown to have direct antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.

A. McGarry Houghton, William O. Hartzell, Clinton S. Robbins, F. Xavier Gomis-Rüth & Steven D. Shapiro


See also: Editor's summary

MicroRNA-mediated switching of chromatin-remodelling complexes in neural development p642

During development of the vertebrate nervous system, a switch in the subunit composition of the BAF chromatin-remodelling complex occurs when cells lose multipotency and begin to develop stable connections that will persist for a lifetime. Here, the switch in BAF subunits is shown to be mediated by two microRNAs that are selectively expressed in post-mitotic neurons.

Andrew S. Yoo, Brett T. Staahl, Lei Chen & Gerald R. Crabtree


See also: Editor's summary

Evidence of Xist RNA-independent initiation of mouse imprinted X-chromosome inactivation p647

Female mammals undergo silencing of most genes on one of their two X chromosomes in a process termed X-chromosome inactivation (XCI). In placental mammals, the non-coding RNA Xist is thought to trigger XCI. Here it is demonstrated that silencing of the paternal X chromosome (Xp) is able to initiate in the absence of paternal Xist; Xist is, however, required to stabilize silencing along the Xp.

Sundeep Kalantry, Sonya Purushothaman, Randall Bryant Bowen, Joshua Starmer & Terry Magnuson


See also: Editor's summary



Hedgehog signalling is essential for maintenance of cancer stem cells in myeloid leukaemia p652

Chen Zhao, Alan Chen, Catriona H. Jamieson, Mark Fereshteh, Annelie Abrahamsson, Jordan Blum, Hyog Young Kwon, Jynho Kim, John P. Chute, David Rizzieri, Michael Munchhof, Todd VanArsdale, Philip A. Beachy & Tannishtha Reya





Balancing belief and bioscience p654

Can religious belief really be reconciled with a life in science? Gene Russo contemplates the contradictions.

Gene Russo



California scrambles to find money for pay p654

Many fear university's science enterprise will crumble.

Karen Kaplan


Careers Q&A

Lucila Ohno-Machado p655

Inaugural chief of the Division of Biomedical Informatics at the University of California, San Diego.


Postdoc journal

A lack of funding p655

Feeling the effects of the economic downturn.

Julia Boughner


In Brief

Germany seeks applicants p655

Third phase of excellence awards is launched.


UK bioscience boost p655

Research council set to award 16 fellowships.


Stimulus for US science p655

Energy research gets boost in US stimulus funds.




Hard man to surprise p658

A birthday treat.

David Marusek


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