Table of Contents

Volume 529 Number 7587 pp437-560

28 January 2016

About the cover

A Go board depicted as a computer chip embedded on an integrated circuit board. The layout is taken from the final position of the historic Go game played on 5 October 2015 between Fan Hui (black stones) and AlphaGo (white), representing the first time a computer program has ever beaten a professional player on a full, 19 × 19 board, in even games with no handicap. The victory in 1997 of the chess-playing computer Deep Blue in a six-game series against the then world champion Garry Kasparov was seen as a significant milestone in the development of artificial intelligence. An even greater challenge remained — the ancient game of Go. Despite decades of refinement, until recently the strongest computers were still playing Go at the level of human amateurs. Enter AlphaGo. Developed by Google DeepMind, this program uses deep neural networks to mimic expert players, and further improves its performance by learning from games played against itself. AlphaGo has achieved a 99% win rate against the strongest other Go programs, and defeated the reigning European champion Fan Hui 5–0 in a tournament match. Cover: Google DeepMind

This Week


  • Digital intuition

    A computer program that can outplay humans in the abstract game of Go will redefine our relationship with machines.

  • In praise of parks

    Our affection for national parks is well founded, but many more areas need protection.

  • Found out

    Self-doubt is a pernicious affliction that can overwhelm researchers.

World View


Seven Days


News in Focus




Books and Arts

  • In retrospect: The selfish gene

    Matt Ridley reassesses Richard Dawkins's pivotal reframing of evolution, 40 years on.

    • Review of The Selfish Gene
      Richard Dawkins
  • History: Archive of wonders

    Philip Ball browses remnants of the celebrated library of mathematician and occultist John Dee.

    • Review of Scholar, Courtier, Magician: The Lost Library of John Dee





  • Psychology: Faking it

    In the face of routine rejection, many scientists must learn to cope with the insidious beast that is impostor syndrome.

    • Chris Woolston


  • Turning point: Louis Picker

    Louis Picker pursued an unusual HIV vaccine that is now in clinical trials, and was once considered a fool's errand.

    • Virginia Gewin

naturejobs job listings and advertising features






  • Mastering the game of Go with deep neural networks and tree search

    • David Silver
    • Aja Huang
    • Chris J. Maddison
    • Arthur Guez
    • Laurent Sifre
    • George van den Driessche
    • Julian Schrittwieser
    • Ioannis Antonoglou
    • Veda Panneershelvam
    • Marc Lanctot
    • Sander Dieleman
    • Dominik Grewe
    • John Nham
    • Nal Kalchbrenner
    • Ilya Sutskever
    • Timothy Lillicrap
    • Madeleine Leach
    • Koray Kavukcuoglu
    • Thore Graepel
    • Demis Hassabis

    A computer Go program based on deep neural networks defeats a human professional player to achieve one of the grand challenges of artificial intelligence.


  • Formation of new stellar populations from gas accreted by massive young star clusters

    • Chengyuan Li
    • Richard de Grijs
    • Licai Deng
    • Aaron M. Geller
    • Yu Xin
    • Yi Hu
    • Claude-André Faucher-Giguère

    Three massive star clusters in the Magellanic Clouds show clear evidence of burst-like star formation that occurred a few hundred million years after their initial formation era; such clusters could have accreted sufficient gas to form new stars while orbiting in their host galaxies’ gaseous disks throughout the period between their initial and more recent bursts of star formation.

    See also
  • Measurement noise 100 times lower than the quantum-projection limit using entangled atoms

    • Onur Hosten
    • Nils J. Engelsen
    • Rajiv Krishnakumar
    • Mark A. Kasevich

    Quantum entanglement is thought to offer great promise for improving measurement precision; now a spin-squeezing implementation with cold atoms offers levels of sensitivity unavailable with any competing conventional method, sensing microwave induced rotations a factor of 70 beyond the standard quantum limit.

  • Fully integrated wearable sensor arrays for multiplexed in situ perspiration analysis

    • Wei Gao
    • Sam Emaminejad
    • Hnin Yin Yin Nyein
    • Samyuktha Challa
    • Kevin Chen
    • Austin Peck
    • Hossain M. Fahad
    • Hiroki Ota
    • Hiroshi Shiraki
    • Daisuke Kiriya
    • Der-Hsien Lien
    • George A. Brooks
    • Ronald W. Davis
    • Ali Javey

    By merging plastic-based skin sensors with silicon integrated circuits, a flexible, wearable perspiration analysis system is presented that measures skin temperature and the metabolites and electrolytes in human sweat and analyses the information in situ.

    See also
  • Lithium-ion battery structure that self-heats at low temperatures

    • Chao-Yang Wang
    • Guangsheng Zhang
    • Shanhai Ge
    • Terrence Xu
    • Yan Ji
    • Xiao-Guang Yang
    • Yongjun Leng

    Here we report a lithium-ion all-climate battery that very efficiently heats itself up in extremely cold environments by diverting current through a strip of metal foil to generate heat of resistance and then reverts to normal high-power operation.

  • No iron fertilization in the equatorial Pacific Ocean during the last ice age

    • K. M. Costa
    • J. F. McManus
    • R. F. Anderson
    • H. Ren
    • D. M. Sigman
    • G. Winckler
    • M. Q. Fleisher
    • F. Marcantonio
    • A. C. Ravelo

    Core isotope measurements in the equatorial Pacific Ocean reveal that although atmospheric dust deposition during the last ice age was higher than today’s, the productivity of the equatorial Pacific Ocean did not increase; this may have been because iron-enabled greater nutrient consumption, mainly in the Southern Ocean, reduced the nutrients available in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and hence also productivity there.

  • Proton-gated Ca2+-permeable TRP channels damage myelin in conditions mimicking ischaemia

    • Nicola B. Hamilton
    • Karolina Kolodziejczyk
    • Eleni Kougioumtzidou
    • David Attwell

    Ischaemia damages nerve myelin by depriving neurons and their myelinating oligodendrocytes of oxygen and glucose; here it is shown that ischaemic damage is caused through the H+-dependent activation of TRPA1 channels, and not via glutamate receptors of the NMDA type, as previously thought, providing a new mechanism and promising therapeutic targets for diseases as diverse and prevalent as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, stroke and multiple sclerosis.

    See also
  • Mitofusin 2 maintains haematopoietic stem cells with extensive lymphoid potential

    • Larry L. Luchsinger
    • Mariana Justino de Almeida
    • David J. Corrigan
    • Melanie Mumau
    • Hans-Willem Snoeck

    The role of mitochondria in haematopoietic stem-cell maintenance has not been examined in detail; here mitofusin 2, which modulates mitochondrial fusion and tethering of endoplasmic reticulum to the mitochondria, is shown to be necessary for the maintenance of haematopoietic stem cells with extensive lymphoid potential.

  • Graded Foxo1 activity in Treg cells differentiates tumour immunity from spontaneous autoimmunity

    • Chong T. Luo
    • Will Liao
    • Saida Dadi
    • Ahmed Toure
    • Ming O. Li

    The transcription factor Foxo1 is shown to be involved in the determination of distinct subsets of regulatory T (Treg) cells, and the differentiation of activated phenotype Treg cells is associated with the repression of the Foxo1-dependent transcriptional program; constitutively active Foxo1 expression triggers depletion of activated Treg cells in peripheral tissues and leads to CD8 T-cell-mediated autoimmunity and anti-tumour immunity.

  • Structure of the E6/E6AP/p53 complex required for HPV-mediated degradation of p53

    • Denise Martinez-Zapien
    • Francesc Xavier Ruiz
    • Juline Poirson
    • André Mitschler
    • Juan Ramirez
    • Anne Forster
    • Alexandra Cousido-Siah
    • Murielle Masson
    • Scott Vande Pol
    • Alberto Podjarny
    • Gilles Travé
    • Katia Zanier

    Structural details of how oncogenic human papilloma viruses induce cancer by targeting the tumour suppressor p53 for ubiquitin-mediated degradation.

  • Structure of a HOIP/E2~ubiquitin complex reveals RBR E3 ligase mechanism and regulation

    • Bernhard C. Lechtenberg
    • Akhil Rajput
    • Ruslan Sanishvili
    • Małgorzata K. Dobaczewska
    • Carl F. Ware
    • Peter D. Mace
    • Stefan J. Riedl

    The first structure of fully active HOIP of the RBR family of RING-type E3 ligases in its transfer complex with an E2~ubiquitin conjugate provides insights into its mechanism of action, including the ideal alignment of the E2 and E3 catalytic centres for ubiquitin transfer and the allosteric regulation of the RBR family.

  • Structure of transcribing mammalian RNA polymerase II

    • Carrie Bernecky
    • Franz Herzog
    • Wolfgang Baumeister
    • Jürgen M. Plitzko
    • Patrick Cramer

    The first high-resolution, cryo-electron microscopy structure of mammalian RNA polymerase II, in the form of a transcribing complex comprising DNA template and RNA transcript.