Physical sciences


Physical sciences are those academic disciplines that aim to uncover the underlying laws of nature - often written in the language of mathematics. It is a collective term for areas of study including astronomy, chemistry, materials science and physics.


Latest Research and Reviews

  • Reviews |

    Recent advances in areas such as natural product biosynthesis, synthetic biology and the development of biosensors are providing new opportunities to directly harness evolutionary pressure to identify and optimize compounds with desired bioactivities. This article describes innovations in the key components of such strategies, highlights pioneering examples that indicate their potential, and discusses the scientific gaps and challenges that remain to be addressed to realize this potential more broadly in drug discovery.

    • Andrew M. Davis
    • , Alleyn T. Plowright
    •  & Eric Valeur
  • Reviews |

    Glucose-responsive insulin is a therapeutic that modulates its potency, concentration or dosing relative to a patient’s dynamic glucose concentration. This Perspective summarizes some of the recent accomplishments in this field as well as discussing new computational algorithms that may aid in the development of such therapeutics.

    • Naveed A. Bakh
    • , Abel B. Cortinas
    • , Michael A. Weiss
    • , Robert S. Langer
    • , Daniel G. Anderson
    • , Zhen Gu
    • , Sanjoy Dutta
    •  & Michael S. Strano
    Nature Chemistry 9, 937–943
  • Reviews |

    Host-directed therapy (HDT) aims to interfere with host cell factors that are required by a pathogen for replication or persistence. In this Review, Kaufmann et al. describe recent progress in the development of HDTs for the treatment of viral and bacterial infections and the challenges in bringing these approaches to the clinic.

    • Stefan H. E. Kaufmann
    • , Anca Dorhoi
    • , Richard S. Hotchkiss
    •  & Ralf Bartenschlager
  • Research |

    A molecular machine that can be programmed to position a substrate at one of two directing sites on a molecule, which control the stereochemistry of addition to the substrate, demonstrates complexity, precision and function previously only observed in nature.

    • Salma Kassem
    • , Alan T. L. Lee
    • , David A. Leigh
    • , Vanesa Marcos
    • , Leoni I. Palmer
    •  & Simone Pisano
    Nature 549, 374–378

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    Ejecting electrons from negative ions using light can create structures that very closely resemble the transition states of bimolecular reactions. Now, using this technique, trapped quantum states, or 'resonances', have been observed in a seven-atom reaction, and theory has been shown to be up to the task of capturing such complex phenomena.

    • Robert E. Continetti
    Nature Chemistry 9, 931–932
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Dieter Ackermann explains why element 110 occupies a significant place in the superheavy corner of the periodic table.

    • Dieter Ackermann
  • News and Views |

    Water is increasingly recognized as being of paramount importance in biological processes, yet its exact role remains difficult to elucidate. Now, the motion of water molecules within and around a synthetic peptide-amphiphile nanofibre has been precisely determined, showing significant differences between its core and surface.

    • Yoshimitsu Itoh
    •  & Takuzo Aida
    Nature Chemistry 9, 934–936
  • News and Views |

    DNA double helical structures are supramolecular assemblies that are typically held together by classical Watson–Crick pairing. Now, nucleotide chelation of silver ions supports an extended silver–DNA hybrid duplex featuring an uninterrupted silver array.

    • Pascal Auffinger
    •  & Eric Ennifar
    Nature Chemistry 9, 932–934
  • News and Views |

    Household dust contaminated with common flame retardants used in everyday household items has been found to be associated with increased risk of developing smaller, as well as more aggressive forms of papillary thyroid cancer in humans. These findings emphasize the need to consider the exposome when evaluating the increased incidence of thyroid cancer.

    • Bilal B. Mughal
    •  & Barbara A. Demeneix