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Illustration showing 3 inky swirls morphing into a mouse, human and elephant

Illustration by Alberto Seveso

Tiny timekeepers in our cells

Biologists are uncovering how tiny ‘clocks’ in our cells might help govern body size, lifespan and ageing. (Mouse cells seem to run faster than human cells, which tick faster than whale cells.) A wave of research is starting to yield answers for one such timepiece: the ‘segmentation clock’. It helps developing embryos to form repeating body segments, such as vertebrae. Researchers want to understand how differences in developmental pace give rise to organisms with such different bodies and behaviours.

Nature | 11 min read

A helicopter’s view of Mars

Ingenuity, the helicopter that has made the first powered flight on another world, has shared its own perspective of Mars. It snapped a photograph of the Perseverance rover, which carried the tucked-up drone on its belly on the journey from Earth.

BBC | 3 min read

Blown-up detail of an image from Mars shows the Perseverance rover as seen by Ingenuity.


COVID-19 coronavirus update

Coronapod: Kids and COVID vaccines

Scientists are seeking answers to important questions about how safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are in children by launching the first trials in this age group. In this week’s Coronapod, Nature’s Benjamin Thompson and Ewen Callaway discuss the ongoing clinical trials to test COVID-19 vaccines in young children, and ask what scientists want to know about side effects, and how effective these vaccines might be at preventing disease and transmission.

The Nature Podcast’s special three-part series, Stick to the Science: when science gets political, has been shortlisted for a Webby award. It’s well worth a listen — and, if you liked it, please consider casting your vote in our favour.

Nature Coronapod Podcast | 16 min listen

Read more: COVID vaccines and kids: five questions as trials begin (Nature | 7 min read)

Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

Eurovision mingling draws critics

Rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest and a football match are among the large events being tested for COVID-19 safety in field experiments in the Netherlands. Critics say the events, attended by up to 5,000 people with recent negative SARS-CoV-2 tests, are not safe. A letter signed by more than 350 scientists calls out the studies for their lack of transparency and peer review, as well as ethical failings. So far, at least 25 people have tested positive for coronavirus 5 days after an event, although it is not certain that’s where they picked up the infection.

Science | 6 min read

Numbers might downplay India’s real toll

The record-breaking COVID-19 numbers in India — the government reports more than 300,000 daily infections — do not reflect the true extent of the country’s terrible second wave, reports The New York Times. With hospitals overwhelmed in some places, the daily death toll appears to be much higher than the 2,000 reported in official figures. “It’s a complete massacre of data,” says epidemiologist Bhramar Mukherjee. “From all the modeling we’ve done, we believe the true number of deaths is two to five times what is being reported.”

The New York Times | 8 min read

Features & opinion

Can we talk to animals?

Researchers are using machine-learning algorithms to decode communication between animals, and possibly connect us with intelligent species such as dolphins, elephants and our fellow great apes. But some researchers doubt that genuine translation is possible between species that don't share fundamental perceptual and cognitive processes. “You can’t just have a Skype conversation,” says physicist and dolphin researcher Marcelo Magnasco. “We will need to understand what it is to be a dolphin.”

The New Yorker | 15 min read

Quote of the day

“Whether or not my university recognizes what I’ve done ultimately doesn’t matter. It won’t be a reflection of what I have accomplished.”

Historian Koritha Mitchell writes about valuing one’s own work as a Black woman in academia amid unjust standards for promotion. (Time | 5 min read)