Daily briefing: Learn to take exceptional scientific photos

You only need a mobile phone or a flatbed scanner. Plus: Neanderthals and Denisovans lived together in Denisova Cave and how Hollywood can get climate change right.

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4 scientists excavating Pleistocene deposits in East Chamber of Denisova Cave, 2010.

Denisova cave in southern Siberia has been a rich source of ancient-human remains.Credit: IAET SB RAS

Neanderthals and Denisovans lived together in Denisova Cave

Neanderthals and Denisovans probably lived side by side for tens of thousands of years during their 300,000-year occupation of Denisova Cave in Siberia. Homo sapiens might have called the cave home, too, with evidence suggesting that modern humans moved in about 49,000 years ago. The namesake cave is where the Denisovan species was discovered in 2010, as well as the first-ever known ‘hybrid’ of two ancient-human groups, a woman whose mother was a Neanderthal and father a Denisovan.

Nature | 4 min read

Reference: Nature paper 1 & Nature paper 2

How Brexit threatens Irish science’s cross-border collaboration

Peace and common membership of the European Union have allowed scientists in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to build a unique, cross-border research system. Brexit now risks upsetting that community by potentially bringing back a hard border between the Republic of Ireland in the EU and Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. The issue also brings up painfully recent memories of conflict. “The worst Brexit outcome would be a resumption of violence,” says Tom Molloy, director of public affairs at Trinity College Dublin. But there is a bright side for the republic: Ireland would become the only English-speaking country with full access to the EU single market and EU research programmes.

Nature | 7 min read

Black-hole jets reveal some antimatter secrets

Astrophysicists have for the first time calculated how individual particles of matter and antimatter swirl around a rotating black hole. The computer simulations provide crucial insight into how black holes shoot out jets of matter at nearly light speed. The results lend support to two previously proposed mechanisms for how mysterious jets are powered: turbulent currents of positrons and electrons, and particles with negative energy.

Nature | 5 min read


A wetsuit inspired by otters with rubber quills

This image of engineered hairs was created using a technique called focus stacking, which combines multiple images taken from the same viewpoint, with different focal planes.Credit: Felice Frankel

How to get your work on the cover of a journal

First, do some great science, obviously. Next, take some advice from scientific photographer Felice Frankel and learn to take an exceptional photo with only a mobile phone or a flatbed scanner. Kelly Krause, creative director of Nature and the Nature journals, walks you through some of the stunning images and top tips from Frankel’s new book.

Nature | 5 min read

Chinese scientists and the call of the motherland

Two of China’s most revered physicists, Nobel laureate Chen-Ning Yang and his lifelong friend, nuclear pioneer Deng Jiaxian, saw their lives and careers diverge when they faced the call to return to “the motherland” after the Second World War. Yang became a US citizen while Deng spent time in a gulag. Particle physicist Yangyang Cheng explores how Yang and Deng navigated idealism, patriotism and politics — and says their dilemmas are not dissimilar to ones facing scientists today.

SupChina | 15 min read

How Hollywood can get climate change right

“For many of us, climate change isn’t a disaster movie. It’s a kitchen sink drama,” says climate scientist Kate Marvel, who has been watching disaster films with three other scientists for the podcast Anthropocinema. She argues for stories about how “rising temperatures upend expectations, shatter dreams, and create new worlds”.

Scientific American | 5 min read


“Andy, a multi-millionaire and celebrity, shared photos of his PIVs and probably had no idea just how sub-optimal his vascular access care was.”

A photo showing top tennis player Andy Murray recovering from hip surgery reveals a laundry list of flaws in the placement of his peripheral intravenous catheters (PIVs), says the Association for Vascular Access.

Can you guess the animal from only its fascinating X-ray taken at a regular check-up at the Oregon Zoo? Warning: it gets way, way harder. Let me know how you do — and any other feedback — at

Thanks for reading!

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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