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  • News and Views Feature |

    The invention of oxygenic photosynthesis was a small step for a bacterium, but a giant leap for biology and geochemistry. So when and how did cells first learn to split water to make oxygen gas?

    • John F. Allen
    •  & William Martin
  • News and Views Feature |

    Transposable elements were long dismissed as useless, but they are emerging as major players in evolution. Their interactions with the genome and the environment affect how genes are translated into physical traits.

    • Christian Biémont
    •  & Cristina Vieira
  • News and Views Feature |

    The social activities and organization of bacteria are crucial to their ecological success. But it is only in recent years that we have begun to study these secret societies.

    • Roberto Kolter
    •  & E. Peter Greenberg
  • News and Views Feature |

    How did dinosaurs stand and move? Computer simulation and other methods have told us much about how dinosaurs did and did not move, but they have not yet reached their full potential.

    • John R. Hutchinson
    •  & Stephen M. Gatesy
  • News and Views Feature |

    To realize the potential of the genome for identifying candidate drugs we must move beyond individual genes and proteins. The signalling pathways in cells provide the right level for such analyses.

    • Mark C. Fishman
    •  & Jeffery A. Porter
  • News and Views Feature |

    The term RNAi — short for RNA interference — crops up again and again in biology research these days. This is in part because of its power as a laboratory tool, and in part because it is a widespread natural phenomenon.

    • Carl D. Novina
    •  & Phillip A. Sharp
  • News and Views Feature |

    What determines how long we will live? Studies of simple organisms, single cells and mammals hint that certain shared principles underlie ageing, and raise the possibility of devising ways to extend life — if we want to.

    • Shino Nemoto
    •  & Toren Finkel
  • News and Views Feature |

    Why, when the human race shows comparatively little genetic variation, are cultural differences so widespread and enduring? Thinking about cultures in terms of biological species provides some provocative answers.

    • Mark Pagel
    •  & Ruth Mace
  • News and Views Feature |

    A neglected mathematical theory is enjoying new popularity, thanks to its relevance to network dynamics in biological systems. The beating of a leech's heart is just one example that has a mathematical basis in ‘groupoid theory’.

    • Ian Stewart
  • News and Views Feature |

    Matter dominates antimatter, at least in our corner of the Universe. Part of the explanation could be an imbalance between the two at the level of fundamental interactions, encapsulated in the phenomenon of CP violation.

    • John Ellis
  • News and Views Feature |

    Why is the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus now exploding in most populations, but not in Europeans? The genetic and evolutionary consequences of geographical differences in food history may provide the answer.

    • Jared Diamond
  • News and Views Feature |

    Evidence for the existence of dark matter in the Universe is overwhelming. But how close are we to finding out what it really is?

    • Masataka Fukugita
  • News and Views Feature |

    Natural philosophers have speculated on the existence of worlds around other suns for millennia. Now that real data are available, we find a diversity far beyond that expected by scientists, or science-fiction writers.

    • Jack J. Lissauer
  • News and Views Feature |

    It is seven years since the first bacterial genome was completely sequenced, and more than 60 others have now been determined. What has been the impact of these projects on pure science and public welfare?

    • Russell F. Doolittle
  • News and Views Feature |

    Plant stem cells, contained in specialized structures called meristems, have amazing regenerative powers. They enable plants to grow and produce new organs throughout lifetimes that can span hundreds of years.

    • Detlef Weigel
    •  & Gerd Jürgens
  • News and Views Feature |

    Supramolecular chemistry has grown in importance because it goes beyond the molecule — the focus of classical chemistry. It also offers a fresh interface with biological and materials science.

    • Gautam R. Desiraju
  • News and Views Feature |

    The study of how cells communicate impinges on all aspects of biology, from development to disease. At first glance it's a horrendously complicated business, but some simple themes are emerging.

    • Julian Downward
  • News and Views Feature |

    Quantum theory is 100 years old and still going strong. Combininggeneral relativity with quantum mechanics is the last hurdle to be overcomein the 'quantum revolution'.

    • Giovanni Amelino-Camelia
  • News and Views Feature |

    The p53 tumour-suppressor gene integrates numerous signals that control cell life and death. As when a highly connected node in the Internet breaks down, the disruption of p53 has severe consequences.

    • Bert Vogelstein
    • , David Lane
    •  & Arnold J. Levine
  • News and Views Feature |

    Studies of stem cells will help in understanding the development and function of organs in mammals. They may also offer a way of treating diseases ranging from liver failure to Parkinson's disease.

    • Ron McKay
  • News and Views Feature |

    Discoveries of comets that behave like asteroids and asteroids that behave like comets are making us reassess our view of Earth's smallest neighbours.

    • Don Yeomans
  • News and Views Feature |

    It is now possible to make clones, or exact genetic copies, of sheep, cows, goats, mice and, probably, humans. This opens the way towards the production of replacement body parts from adult cells.

    • J. B. Gurdon
    •  & Alan Colman
  • News and Views Feature |

    The latest microscopes provide a new level of sophistication not only in imaging but also for interacting with matter at the atomic scale.

    • Ali Yazdani
    •  & Charles M. Lieber
  • News and Views Feature |

    We know how many drugs of abuse – cocaine, heroin and nicotine – work, but less about how they lead to addiction. Studies of the brain-learning systems concerned are addressing the causes of addiction, with the intent of developing better treatments.

    • Trevor W. Robbins
    •  & Barry J. Everitt
  • News and Views Feature |

    The inventor of the term ‘black hole’, John Wheeler, has a gift for memorable phrases. ‘Getting its from bits’ is another of his creations. It refers not to an object, but to a vision of a world derived from pure logic and mathematics. That vision has to a remarkable extent been embodied in modern physics — here is a progress report.

    • Frank Wilczek
  • News and Views Feature |

    The ability to commit suicide is a fundamental property of animal cells. This overview considers recent progress in understanding the nature of the suicide process and how it is controlled.

    • Martin Raff
  • News and Views Feature |

    One of the most versatile and universal signalling agents in the human body is the calcium ion, Ca2+. How does this simple ion act during cell birth, life and death, and how does it regulate so many different cellular processes?

    • Michael J. Berridge
    • , Martin D. Bootman
    •  & Peter Lipp
  • News and Views Feature |

    The four large moons of Jupiter form the most coherently organized planetary system known. Over the past two years, the Galileo spacecraft has illuminated both the interconnections between these worlds and the uniqueness of each, challenging theories of moon formation and evolution.

    • William B. McKinnon
  • News and Views Feature |

    At the beginning of this month, Stanley Prusiner of the University of California, San Francisco, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the infectious agent that causes spongiform encephalopathies _ the prion. His ‘protein-only’ theory now has many advocates, and the advances that have been made, the questions that remain and the ways in which these could be addressed are discussed in this feature.

    • Adriano Aguzzi
    •  & Charles Weissmann
  • News and Views Feature |

    Projections of future climate change depend largely on the results of computer models. Such models are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but they do not offer the certainties that policy-makers would like.

    • Kevin E. Trenberth
  • News and Views Feature |

    Neurons and their networks underlie our perceptions, actions and memories. The latest work on information processing and storage at the single-cell level reveals previously unimagined complexity and dynamism.

    • Christof Koch
  • News and Views Feature |

    A scheme for trapping molecules in strong infrared laser beams has been described theoretically by two chemists. Experimental proof awaits. When it comes, molecular spectroscopy will be transformed.

    • John Maddox