Table of Contents

Japanese Table of Contents

Volume 479 Number 7372 pp149-260

10 November 2011

About the cover

Any future artificial transporters and robots operating at the nanoscale are likely to require molecules capable of directional translational movement over a surface. Even the design of such molecules is a daunting task, however, as they need to be able to use light, chemical or electrical energy to modulate their interaction with the surface in a way that generates directional motion. Kudernac et al. now unveil just such a molecule, made by attaching four rotary motor units to a central axis. Inelastic electron tunnelling induces conformational changes in the rotors and propels the molecule across a copper surface. By changing the direction of the rotary motion of individual motor units, the self-propelling molecular 'four-wheeler' structure can follow random or preferentially linear trajectories. This design provides a starting point for the exploration of more sophisticated molecular mechanical systems, perhaps with complete control over their direction of motion.

This Week


  • Academic freedom

    A court decision in the United States rescinding an order to turn over academic e-mails in response to a freedom-of-information request is welcome.

  • Innovative vision

    Bill Gates gave the G20 summit a workable plan to boost development around the world.

  • Hubble cleared

    A painstaking study absolves US astronomer Edwin Hubble of censoring a Belgian rival.

World View


Seven Days

  • Seven days: 4–10 November 2011

    The week in science: China's first docking in space; six men complete 520-day virtual mission to Mars; and GSK pays US$3billion to settle investigations.

News in Focus


  • Seth Stein: The quake killer

    The US government says that a huge earthquake risk lurks in the heart of the country, where a series of large shocks hit 200 years ago. Seth Stein says that kind of warning is dead wrong.

    • Richard Monastersky


Books and Arts

  • Art history: Sight and salvation

    Martin Kemp sifts the evidence that Leonardo da Vinci painted the newly emerged work Salvator Mundi.

    • Review of Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan
  • In retrospect: The art of influence

    Thomas Dietz reassesses Robert Cialdini's revolutionary treatise on the science of decision-making.

    • Review of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
      Robert B. Cialdini
  • Q&A: Botanical ceramicist

    Artist Rob Kesseler adorns porcelain, glass and books with incredibly detailed close-ups of pollen, seeds, leaves and fruit, created in collaboration with botanists in London and Lisbon. As he exhibits Jardim Porcelanico, a collection of tableware decorated with magnified sections of plants he collected in Portugal, he discusses the changing face of botany in art.

    • Review of Jardim Porcelanico at AWARD



  • Part-time balance

    Flexible academic positions help women to juggle work and family. Kate O'Brien and Karen Hapgood explain how to avoid the 'female ghetto' when working part time.

    • Kate O'Brien
    • Karen Hapgood


  • Turning point: Qin Liu

    Biostatistician leaves medical career in China for cancer research in the United States.

    • Virginia Gewin

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