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Buzz Lightyear gestures at Woody in a still from the film Toy Story

Pixar's Toy Story, released in 1995, was Hollywood's first fully computer-animated feature filmBuena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection/Alamy

Computing ‘Nobels’ go to graphics wizardry

Special-effects pioneers Patrick Hanrahan and Edwin Catmull won the US$1 million A. M. Turing Award “for fundamental contributions to 3-D computer graphics”. Beginning with Pixar Animation Studios’ 1995 Toy Story — the first feature-length film made entirely of computer animations — the two computer scientists have had leading roles in designing and applying software to create ever-more-realistic renderings and to simulate physics and materials.

Wired | 5 min read

680 billion

Tonnes of ice the Greenland ice sheet lost over the hot summer of 2019 — enough to raise average sea level by 2.2 millimetres. (The Guardian | 5 min read)

Reference: Geophysical Research Letters paper

COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak

Rome's Town Hall is lit up with the colours of the Italian flag to show solidarity for coronavirus battle.

More than a third of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in Italy.Credit: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

The covert cases unwittingly infecting others

• Research teams are racing to understand a crucial epidemiological puzzle — what is the proportion of infected people who have mild or no symptoms and might be unknowingly passing the virus on to others. Some of the first detailed estimates of these covert cases suggest that they could represent some 60% of all infections, implying the need for strong social-distancing measures. This is different from the groups who are trying to understand the number of unreported cases — those that are missed because authorities aren’t doing enough testing, or ‘preclinical cases’ in which people are incubating the virus but not yet showing symptoms. (Nature | 5 min read)

• France will set up a €50-million (US$54-million) emergency fund to tackle COVID-19 and invest an extra €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) in research to prepare the country for future epidemics over the next decade. (Reuters | 2 min read)

• Nationalism and scientific cooperation are in a tug-of-war over the fate of a future vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. Propaganda, pride and the prospect of treating your own citizens first sit on one side. On the other, unprecedented scientific collaboration — even among pharmaceutical companies that are ordinarily fierce competitors — and the desire to get the vaccine to where it can make the most difference epidemiologically. (The New York Times | 9 min read)

• If you want to hear what software squillionaire and vaccine-funding philanthropist Bill Gates thinks about it all, he (and two of his foundation's scientific advisors) did an ‘ask me anything’ session on Reddit yesterday. No Earth-shattering insights, but a nice round-up of the current state of things (especially in the United States) from someone who has the ears of all the major players. (Reddit | 6 min read)

Read the latest coronavirus news, continuously updated on Nature.

Notable quotable

“The fight against cancer continues in lockdown.”

Molecular geneticist Alberto Bardelli described tears, resilience and a Friday evening virtual cocktail hour after shutting down his laboratory in northern Italy. (Nature | 4 min read)

Features & opinion

How the Universe’s carbon came to be

A new particle-accelerator experiment is testing whether some of the Universe’s carbon-12 — the building block of life — was forged during supernova blasts or the collisions of neutron stars. Most carbon is thought to have formed mainly inside the quietly burning cores of stars. But the process — in which three helium-4 nuclei come together to form one stable carbon atom — can theoretically happen more efficiently when enhanced by neutrons in more cataclysmic stellar processes.

Scientific American | 5 min read


This week, the coronavirus-free Nature Podcast speaks to actress Rosamund Pike about her experience portraying Marie Skłodowska Curie, and explores how science in Russia is changing after years of decline.

For your hit of coronavirus news, listen to the Podcast Extra — this week epidemiologists, genomicists and social scientists discuss how they're working to tackle the coronavirus and what they've learned so far.

Nature Podcast | 19 min listen

Podcast Extra | 18 min listen

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Books & culture

Layers of a 6-8 cell human embryo.

Scanning electron microscope image of a human embryo in the early stages of cell division.Credit: P. M. Motta & S. Makabe/SPL

From egg to animal, through a scientist’s eyes

In her new book, pioneering developmental biologist Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz reflects on an epic journey studying the start of life. Drafted over 15 years, the book’s main narrative is the remarkable transformation, in just a few days, of a single spherical mammalian egg cell to a tube containing all the types of stem cell needed for a full body plan. The addition of an honest and passionate depiction of the complexity of science as a vocation makes the book even more appealing, writes reviewer Sarah Franklin.

Nature | 5 min read

Where I work

Andreia Martins stands among some trees in which sit a few golden lion tamarins

Andreia Martins is field coordinator for the metapopulation programme of the Golden Lion Tamarin Association in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Credit: Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for Nature

Quote of the day

“We need to think about whether we’ve removed ourselves too far from the story, to the point that nobody believes us.”

People trust the facts more when an imaginary scientist told a story in first person about how they became interested in the topic, found journalism researcher Amanda Hinnan and her colleague, public-health researcher Lise Saffran. (Nature | 5 min read)Reference: PLOS One paper