Innovations In |

The biggest questions in science

In recent centuries we have learned so much about the worlds around and within us that it may sometimes seem that no nook is left unexplored. The truth is, though, that every new discovery leads us to ever deeper questions. Innovations In: The Biggest Questions in Science is a special report on the state of inquiry into these questions—the latest research on the nature of spacetime, the identity of dark matter, the origins of life, the source of consciousness, and more.

This special report from Nature and Scientific American is editorially independent. It is produced with third-party financial support. About this content.

Features and comment

  • Nature | Innovations In

    Physicists believe that at the tiniest scales, space emerges from quanta. What might these building blocks look like?

    • George Musser
  • Nature | Innovations In

    An elusive substance that permeates the universe exerts many detectable gravitational influences yet eludes direct detection.

    • Lisa Randall
  • Nature | Innovations In

    Scientists are beginning to unravel a mystery that has long vexed philosophers.

    • Christof Koch
  • Nature | Innovations In

    Untangling the origins of organisms will require experiments at the tiniest scales and observations at the vastest.

    • Jack Szostak

More from Nature Research

  • Nature Ecology & Evolution | Article

    The evolutionary origin of the enzyme-catalysed Krebs cycle is unclear. Here, the authors identify non-enzymatic intermediates that replicate key elements of the cycle, suggesting that inorganic catalysts may have driven the origin of metabolic processes.

    • Markus A. Keller
    • , Domen Kampjut
    • , Stuart A. Harrison
    •  &  Markus Ralser
  • Nature Chemistry | Article

    Current mineral-based theories do not fully address how enzymes emerged from prebiotic catalysts. Now, iron–sulfur clusters can be synthesized by UV-light-mediated photolysis of organic thiols and photooxidation of ferrous ions. Iron–sulfur peptides may have formed easily on early Earth, facilitating the emergence of iron–sulfur-cluster-dependent metabolism.

    • Claudia Bonfio
    • , Luca Valer
    • , Simone Scintilla
    • , Sachin Shah
    • , David J. Evans
    • , Lin Jin
    • , Jack W. Szostak
    • , Dimitar D. Sasselov
    • , John D. Sutherland
    •  &  Sheref S. Mansy
  • Nature Reviews Neuroscience | Review Article

    Several brain regions and physiological processes have been proposed to constitute the neural correlates of consciousness. In this Review, Koch and colleagues discuss studies that distinguish the neural correlates of consciousness from other neural processes that precede, accompany or follow it, and suggest that the neural correlates of consciousness are localized to posterior cortical regions.

    • Christof Koch
    • , Marcello Massimini
    • , Melanie Boly
    •  &  Giulio Tononi
  • Nature Reviews Neuroscience | Opinion

    Uncovering the neural basis of consciousness is a major challenge to neuroscience. In this Perspective, Tononi and colleagues describe the integrated information theory of consciousness and how it might be used to answer outstanding questions about the nature of consciousness.

    • Giulio Tononi
    • , Melanie Boly
    • , Marcello Massimini
    •  &  Christof Koch
  • Nature | News & Views

    An experiment to estimate when stars began to form in the Universe suggests that gas temperatures just before stars appeared had fallen well below predicted limits, and that dark matter is not as shadowy as was thought.

    • Lincoln Greenhill