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Containing risk p137

The ad-hoc proliferation of high-security biological labs must be controlled, and should be tied in more closely to broader research and public-health goals.


No turning back p137

Spain should not use the recession as an excuse to stall plans to boost its scientific enterprise.


A healthy get together p138

The recently launched World Health Summit offers a rare chance for dialogue.



Research Highlights

Gene therapy: Nerve repair p140


Climate science: Volcano chills p140


Longevity: Sweet food, short life p140


Climate change: Kilimanjaro's loss p140


Neuroscience: Early stress marks genes p140


Astronomy: Galaxies far, far away p140


Biophysics: DNA stop and go p141


Atmospheric science: Industrial UV shield p141


Nanoscience: Release the goods p141


Genomics: Sequencing costs drop p141



Journal Club

Journal club p141

Robert Blelloch




News briefing: 12 November 2009 p142

The week in science


End of the road for Copenhagen? p144

Expectations are dropping as December's UN climate talks get closer.

Jeff Tollefson


Wellcome Trust makes it personal in funding revamp p145

People not projects are the focus of longer-term grants.

Natasha Gilbert


European biosafety labs set to grow p146

Bioterrorism and emerging diseases spur building boom, although some question the need for more facilities.

Declan Butler


Call to boost isotope supplies p147

Two dedicated plants are needed to meet demand, committee says.

Eric Hand


China moves to help high-tech firms p149

But initiatives meet with mixed response.

David Cyranoski


Snapshot: Glider eavesdrops on whales p151

Probe tunes in to cetacean song.

Rex Dalton


Britain sets up defence advisory group p151

Government seeks academic input on security issues.

Geoff Brumfiel


Report row ousts top Indian scientist p152

Ruckus over call for reform at national science agency raises questions about attracting expatriate talent.

K. S. Jayaraman


Correction p152



News Feature

Swine flu: One killer virus, three key questions p154

Nature visits the labs of researchers working to solve some of the most perplexing puzzles of swine-flu behaviour.




Weapons: the need to replace ageing and deteriorating stock p158

Jay Davis


Weapons: existing stockpile can be safely maintained p158

Gerald E. Marsh


Many types of action are required to tackle climate change p158

Mike Hulme


Decarbonization figures for India and China unconvincing p158

Roger A. Pielke, Jr.


No special cases in efforts to stop immigration fraud p159

Iain Scott


Emissions affected by trade among developing countries p159

Dabo Guan & David M. Reiner


Phosphorus decline could be good for water supplies p159

Michael J. Castellano




Universities need a new social contract p160

To reconcile solution-driven research and blue-skies thinking, academic institutions urgently need innovative collaborations and new funding models, says Indira V. Samarasekera.

Indira V. Samarasekera


Global Darwin: Revolutionary road p162

In China, under the threat of Western imperialism, interpretations of Darwin's ideas paved the way for Marx, Lenin and Mao, argues James Pusey in the third in our series on reactions to evolutionary theory.

James Pusey



Books and Arts

Fun with nuclear reactors p164

Two books reveal the spirit of adventure behind the history of nuclear technology, finds William J. Nuttall.

William J. Nuttall reviews Uranium Wars: The Scientific Rivalry that Created the Nuclear Age by Amir Aczel and Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power by James Mahaffey


Valuing the digital economy p165

John Gilbey reviews Wired for Innovation: How Information Technology is Reshaping the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson & Adam Saunders


Tips from the top of the career ladder p165

Asha Gopinathan reviews Beyond the Boys' Club: Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Working in a Male-dominated Field by Suzanne Doyle-Morris


Q&A: The algorist p166

Having moved from engineering to art, Jean-Pierre Hébert applies mathematical rules to generate artworks that explore themes of chaos and determinism. As resident artist at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, and with an exhibition on in Los Angeles, Hébert explains his interest in algorithms.

Daniel Cressey reviews Jean-Pierre Hébert: Drawings as Thoughts



News and Views

Drug discovery: Predicting promiscuity p167

Computational methods that reliably predict the biological activities of compounds have long been sought. The validation of one such method suggests that in silico predictions for drug discovery have come of age.

Andrew L. Hopkins


See also: Editor's summary

Astrophysics: A fossil record for exoplanets p168

Stars that host planets experience more mixing of their internal elements than do stars that lack such companions. This correlation may serve as a useful diagnostic in the search for planets around stars other than the Sun.

Marc Pinsonneault


See also: Editor's summary

Language evolution: The importance of being human p169

The FOXP2 gene is implicated in the development of human speech and language. A comparison of the human and chimpanzee FOXP2 proteins highlights the differences in function in the two species.

Martin H. Dominguez & Pasko Rakic


See also: Editor's summary

Condensed-matter physics: Dirac electrons broken to pieces p170

Graphene continues to surprise physicists with its remarkable electronic properties. Experiments now show that electrons in the material can team up to behave as if they are only fragments of themselves.

Alberto F. Morpurgo


See also: Editor's summary

Chemical biology: A Notch above other inhibitors p171

A tenet of drug discovery states that molecules greater than a certain size don't enter cells. But not only do certain synthetic peptides refute this idea, they also inhibit 'undruggable' biological targets.

Paramjit S. Arora & Aseem Z. Ansari


See also: Editor's summary



Predicting new molecular targets for known drugs p175

Drugs that are chemically quite similar often bind to biologically diverse protein targets, and it is unclear how selective many of these compounds are. Because many drug–target combinations exist, it would be useful to explore possible interactions computationally. Here, 3,665 drugs are tested against hundreds of targets; chemical similarities between drugs and ligand sets are found to predict thousands of unanticipated associations.

Michael J. Keiser, Vincent Setola, John J. Irwin, Christian Laggner, Atheir I. Abbas, Sandra J. Hufeisen, Niels H. Jensen, Michael B. Kuijer, Roberto C. Matos, Thuy B. Tran, Ryan Whaley, Richard A. Glennon, Jérôme Hert, Kelan L. H. Thomas, Douglas D. Edwards, Brian K. Shoichet & Bryan L. Roth


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

Direct inhibition of the NOTCH transcription factor complex p182

It is notoriously difficult to target transcription factors with aberrant activity in cancer. Inappropriate activation of the NOTCH complex of transcription factors is directly implicated in the pathogenesis of several disease states, including T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The design of synthetic, cell-permeable, stabilized alpha-helical peptides that disrupt protein–protein interactions in NOTCH is now described.

Raymond E. Moellering, Melanie Cornejo, Tina N. Davis, Cristina Del Bianco, Jon C. Aster, Stephen C. Blacklow, Andrew L. Kung, D. Gary Gilliland, Gregory L. Verdine & James E. Bradner


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Arora & Ansari



Enhanced lithium depletion in Sun-like stars with orbiting planets p189

Although a large range of lithium (Li) abundances is observed in solar-type stars, this range has proved theoretically difficult to understand. An earlier suggestion that Li is more depleted in stars with planets was weakened by the lack of a proper comparison sample of stars without detected planets. Here, Li abundances are reported for an unbiased sample of solar-analogue stars with and without detected planets. It is found that about 50% of the solar analogues without detected planets have on average ten times more Li that those with planets.

Garik Israelian, Elisa Delgado Mena, Nuno C. Santos, Sergio G. Sousa, Michel Mayor, Stephane Udry, Carolina Domínguez Cerdeña, Rafael Rebolo & Sofia Randich


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

Fractional quantum Hall effect and insulating phase of Dirac electrons in graphene p192

The fractional quantum Hall effect (FQHE) is the quintessential collective quantum behaviour of charge carriers confined to two dimensions but it has not yet been observed in graphene, a material distinguished by the charge carriers' two-dimensional and relativistic character. Here, and in an accompanying paper, the FQHE is observed in graphene through the use of devices containing suspended graphene sheets; the results of these two papers open a door to the further elucidation of the complex physical properties of graphene.

Xu Du, Ivan Skachko, Fabian Duerr, Adina Luican & Eva Y. Andrei


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

Observation of the fractional quantum Hall effect in graphene p196

The fractional quantum Hall effect (FQHE) is the quintessential collective quantum behaviour of charge carriers confined to two dimensions but it has not yet been observed in graphene, a material distinguished by the charge carriers' two-dimensional and relativistic character. Here, and in an accompanying paper, the FQHE is observed in graphene through the use of devices containing suspended graphene sheets; the results of these two papers open a door to the further elucidation of the complex physical properties of graphene.

Kirill I. Bolotin, Fereshte Ghahari, Michael D. Shulman, Horst L. Stormer & Philip Kim


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

Mapping GFP structure evolution during proton transfer with femtosecond Raman spectroscopy p200

Tracing the transient atomic motions that lie at the heart of chemical reactions requires high-resolution structural information on the timescale of molecular vibrations. Femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy is now shown to provide sufficiently detailed and time-resolved vibrational spectra of the electronically excited chromophore of green fluorescent protein to reveal skeletal motions involved in the proton transfer that produces the fluorescent form of the protein.

Chong Fang, Renee R. Frontiera, Rosalie Tran & Richard A. Mathies


See also: Editor's summary

Oxygen and hydrogen isotope evidence for a temperate climate 3.42 billion years ago p205

The study of stable oxygen isotope ratios (delta18O) of Precambrian cherts suggests that ocean temperatures during the Archaean era (about 3.5 billion years ago) were between 55 °C and 85 °C, but uncertainty about the delta18O of the primitive ocean has led to considerable debate regarding this conclusion. Here, a combined analysis of oxygen and hydrogen istopes sampled from 3.42-billion-year-old Buck Reef Chert rocks in South Africa indicates that the ancient ocean was much cooler than previously thought.

M. T. Hren, M. M. Tice & C. P. Chamberlain


See also: Editor's summary

Permeability of asthenospheric mantle and melt extraction rates at mid-ocean ridges p209

The timescale for segregation and transport of basaltic melts, which are ultimately responsible for formation of the Earth's crust, is critically dependent on the permeability of the partly molten asthenospheric mantle, yet this permeability is known mainly from semi-empirical and analogue models. A high-pressure, high-temperature centrifuge is now used to measure the rate of basalt melt flow in olivine aggregates; the resulting permeabilities are one to two orders of magnitude larger than predicted by current parameterizations.

James A. D. Connolly, Max W. Schmidt, Giulio Solferino & Nikolai Bagdassarov


See also: Editor's summary

Human-specific transcriptional regulation of CNS development genes by FOXP2 p213

The transcription factor FOXP2 is the only gene implicated in human speech, and yet it differs very little from the chimpanzee orthologue. Here, the two amino acids specific to humans are shown to alter FOXP2 function in vitro by conferring differential transcriptional regulation, and these observations are extended in vivo to human and chimpanzee brain. Together, these data identify transcriptional targets that may serve critical functions in language development.

Genevieve Konopka, Jamee M. Bomar, Kellen Winden, Giovanni Coppola, Zophonias O. Jonsson, Fuying Gao, Sophia Peng, Todd M. Preuss, James A. Wohlschlegel & Daniel H. Geschwind


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Dominguez & Rakic

Bidirectional plasticity in fast-spiking GABA circuits by visual experience p218

The contribution of individual circuit elements to experience-dependent synaptic plasticity in the brain remains unknown. An intracellular analysis of the changes that occur when an eye is deprived of vision in early life now reveals a counterintuitive initial shift towards the occluded eye followed by a late preference for the open eye. These results, combined with intracellular pharmacology, suggest that inhibitory neurons have a major role in shaping experience-dependent plasticity in the developing visual cortex.

Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama, Siu Kang, Hideyuki Câteau, Tomoki Fukai & Takao K. Hensch


See also: Editor's summary

Human DAZL, DAZ and BOULE genes modulate primordial germ-cell and haploid gamete formation p222

Defects in human germ-cell (oocyte and sperm) development are the leading cause of infertility in men and women. A germ-cell reporter is now used to quantify and isolate primordial germ cells derived from both male and female human embryonic stem cells. Human DAZL is observed to function in primordial germ-cell formation, whereas the closely related genes DAZ and BOULE promote later stages of meiosis and development of gametes.

Kehkooi Kee, Vanessa T. Angeles, Martha Flores, Ha Nam Nguyen & Renee A. Reijo Pera


See also: Editor's summary

Uptake through glycoprotein 2 of FimH+ bacteria by M cells initiates mucosal immune response p226

To evoke the mucosal immune system, which forms the largest part of the entire immune system, antigens on the mucosal surface must be transported across the epithelial barrier. The molecular mechanisms promoting this antigen uptake, called antigen transcytosis and mediated by specialized epithelial M cells, remain largely unknown. Here, glycoprotein 2, specifically expressed by M cells, is reported to serve as a transcytotic receptor for mucosal antigens.

Koji Hase, Kazuya Kawano, Tomonori Nochi, Gemilson Soares Pontes, Shinji Fukuda, Masashi Ebisawa, Kazunori Kadokura, Toru Tobe, Yumiko Fujimura, Sayaka Kawano, Atsuko Yabashi, Satoshi Waguri, Gaku Nakato, Shunsuke Kimura, Takaya Murakami, Mitsutoshi Iimura, Kimiyo Hamura, Shin-Ichi Fukuoka, Anson W. Lowe, Kikuji Itoh, Hiroshi Kiyono & Hiroshi Ohno


See also: Editor's summary

Cohesin acetylation speeds the replication fork p231

Cohesin inhibits the transcriptional machinery's interaction with and movement along chromatin, but does not prevent replication forks from duplicating the genome in S phase. Using single-molecule analysis, a replication complex is now found to affect acetylation of a subunit of cohesin, and this acetylation appears to be a central determinant of fork processivity. Loss of this regulatory mechanism leads to the spontaneous accrual of DNA damage.

Marie-Emilie Terret, Rebecca Sherwood, Sadia Rahman, Jun Qin & Prasad V. Jallepalli


See also: Editor's summary



Careers Q&A

Sheila Widnall p237

Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Widnall is the winner of the Arthur M. Bueche Award for expanding opportunities for women and minorities in engineering.

Virginia Gewin


Postdoc journal

Nice to be appreciated p237

Postdoc appreciation day has come and gone worldwide. Did anyone notice?

Julia Boughner


In Brief

UK engineering up p237

UK undergraduate admissions rise in physics and engineering programmes.


Eagle eye on resources p237

A new online research resources network for scientists is launched.


Chinese science online p237

Chinese government launches a website aimed at sharing science and technology resources.


Careers and Recruitment

A bridge to somewhere p238

Graduate students who head abroad to study face any number of challenges if they hope to prosper. Virginia Gewin provides a study guide.

Virginia Gewin




An open letter p242

To any impressionable young school leavers who are considering joining the space corps.

Martin Hayes


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