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A game-changing technique for imaging molecules has produced its sharpest pictures yet — and, for the first time, has discerned individual atoms in a protein. The cryo-electron microscopy breakthrough, reported by two laboratories late last month, will ultimately help researchers to understand how proteins work in health and disease, and will lead to better drugs with fewer side effects. “It’s really a milestone, that’s for sure. There’s really nothing to break anymore. This was the last resolution barrier,” says biochemist and electron microscopist Holger Stark.
Features & opinion
A new pandemic was not unexpected to scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What shocked many observers was how poorly the organization coordinated its response. “Here is an agency that has been waiting its entire existence for this moment,” said public-health researcher and policymaker Peter Lurie. “And then they flub it. It is very sad. That is what they were set up to do.”
Some ‘non-lethal’ weapons, such as those that have been used by police against Black Lives Matter protesters in the United States, can cause serious injury, permanent disabilities or death. “Calling tear gas and rubber bullets non-lethal weapons is flat-out wrong,” says emergency-medicine physician Rohini Haar. Rubber bullets are often not made from rubber — but from metal and other hard materials. And irritants in pepper spray or tear gas can cause bouts of sneezing and coughing, which can speed up the spread of virus particles from people infected with COVID-19.
Read more: chemical-weapons expert Dan Kaszeta calls on lawmakers to restrict the use of riot-control chemicals. (Nature, from September)
No, not Roger Penrose — the mathematical physicist who helped to establish the theory of black holes — but a software tool named after him. The tool automatically creates diagrams from a formula. Users can choose the type of visualization they want, such as 3D geometry or a Venn diagram, and can tweak the output to make it clearer to read and easy on the eyes. The authors hope that their tool will encourage writers to include more diagrams: because making figures is time consuming, typical maths papers have around only one figure every ten pages, they write.
Source: SIGGRAPH preprint
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With contributions by Nicky Phillips, Smriti Mallapaty, David Cyranoski and Davide Castelvecchi