Editorial | Published:

Three cheers

    This issue of Nature includes several reasons for editorial celebration.

    This is, above all, the issue of the chimp. It is not just the formal publication of the genome and related analyses, which would be ample cause for celebration. By a happy coincidence, the first fossil chimp has been found. This cornucopia of new science is introduced on page 47. Elsewhere in the issue, and in our free-access news service (http://www.nature.com/news), readers can find a range of discussions of comparative genomics, threats to chimp populations, a timeline of chimp research, and an introduction to famous chimps.

    “The current series of ‘Futures’ concentrates on developments that might occur within the next 50 years, roaming widely from the effects of climate change to how the dead might be reunited as spam filters.”

    Alongside all this progress in chimp biology there are some provocative but essential questions raised about the future of conservation and of research, in Commentaries by Pascal Gagneux and colleagues (on page 27) and by John VandeBerg and Stuart Zola (on page 30).

    What else to celebrate? In its role as a journal, Nature has historically focused on the formal reporting of research results and, like all journals, has ignored the process of discovery. In one small way we breached that barrier a few years ago by inviting authors to spell out their individual contributions at the end of the paper. After a slow start, more and more authors are responding to this invitation.

    This week we go one step further, with the launch of our weekly ‘Authors’ page (page xiii). This is intended to show the joys, dead-ends and happenstance that lead to the ‘eureka moment’ of discovery. In ‘Making the Paper’, two authors tell how a hunt for some stone tools led them to a chimp tooth that has major implications for evolution. The ‘Abstractions’ column highlights individual contributions. This week, a computer programmer and database administrator recounts how she wrestled with an overabundance of chimp and human genome data and explains the difficulties in running a comparative analysis. Finally, ‘Quantified’ discusses some timely statistical data about Nature papers and provides some context behind the numbers.

    So much for science fact. Regular readers will know that we have also been publishing a series of short science-fiction stories under the ‘Futures’ banner. The current series — a successor to that published at the turn of the Millennium — concentrates on developments that might occur within the next 50 years, roaming widely from the effects of climate change and genetic engineering to how the dead might be reunited as spam filters. The third cheer this week is for recognition by the European Science Fiction Society, which has bestowed its award of Best Publisher to the series editor Henry Gee and to Nature.

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