Reviews & Analysis

Filter By:

  • It emerges that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has evolved to mimic one of the histone proteins that package DNA in the cell nucleus. This mimicry leads to disrupted gene transcription and a diminished antiviral response.

    • Lisa Thomann
    • Volker Thiel
    News & Views
  • An artificial-intelligence approach known as AlphaTensor found exact matrix-multiplication algorithms that are more efficient than those previously known for many matrix sizes. The technique advances understanding of this fundamental operation and opens up the potential to accelerate ubiquitous computations that involve matrix multiplications.

    Research Briefing
  • Human activities produce airborne particles called aerosols that can brighten clouds and cool the planet, but the magnitude of this effect is unclear. A study of shipping’s influence on clouds suggests that aerosols could have a large impact on climate by increasing the amount of water contained in clouds.

    Research Briefing
  • The acidity of the Arctic Ocean currently peaks in winter. A modelling study suggests that this peak could shift to the summer in the future — this is bad news for ecosystem functions, food webs and Indigenous communities.

    • Victoria Qutuuq Buschman
    • Claudine Hauri
    News & Views
  • Oscillations in the light emanating from three Sun-like stars reveal the presence of strong magnetic fields deep in their interiors. The discovery could explain a quirk of stellar dynamics that has so far eluded understanding.

    • Lisa Bugnet
    News & Views
  • Two groups have grown self-organizing models of mouse embryos from stem cells in vitro. The models mimic mid-gestation embryos, providing an unparalleled opportunity to study early embryonic development.

    • Neal D. Amin
    • Sergiu P. Pașca
    News & Views
  • An analysis of faculty members employed at academic institutions in the United States reveals that most employees were trained at just a few universities. The finding provides insights into how hiring perpetuates inequalities.

    • Cassidy R. Sugimoto
    News & Views
  • Efforts to probe the biological functions of carbohydrates have long been limited by the lack of such molecules with well-defined structures. An automated carbohydrate synthesizer has been developed that could remedy this.

    • Hanchao Cheng
    • Peng George Wang
    News & Views
  • Observations reveal the presence of large volumes of ionized gas surrounding four galaxy clusters. The properties of these ‘megahaloes’ are distinct from those of similar haloes near the clusters, implying different formation mechanisms.

    • Kenda Knowles
    News & Views
  • Computational simulation of interactions of each of 75 million molecules with a model structure of the 5-HT2A receptor, which mediates the actions of psychedelic drugs, identified molecules that selectively activate the receptor. When tested in mice, two of these compounds had antidepressant-like actions without the side effects of psychedelic drugs.

    Research Briefing
  • Scarce evidence indicates that key evolutionary steps for jawed vertebrates occurred during or before the Silurian period, 444 million to 419 million years ago. Fossil finds pull back the curtain on this interval.

    • Matt Friedman
    News & Views
  • An experimental platform that uses two different tools for controlling neutral atoms with laser light combines speed with scalability. The approach provides a crucial step towards realizing innovative quantum algorithms and simulations.

    • Giulia Semeghini
    News & Views
  • When plants recognize disease-causing organisms, they activate immune responses through mechanisms that are poorly understood. Resolving the structure of a plant receptor-protein complex in wheat that detects fungus-derived molecules reveals that the corresponding receptor family is structurally conserved during evolution.

    Research Briefing
  • How certain subgroups of a childhood brain tumour called a medulloblastoma arise has been unclear. Evidence now implicates a cell type found only in developing human brains as the originator of these tumours.

    • Timothy N. Phoenix
    News & Views
  • After the Roman Empire collapsed, Europe underwent substantial cultural changes and saw large-scale migrations. A genome-wide ancient-DNA analysis of hundreds of individuals from early medieval England shows that they derived an average of 76% of their ancestry from people from Europe. Burial practices varied slightly between the different heritage groups, especially for women.

    Research Briefing
  • A structure with precisely engineered layers produces a giant strain in an electric field. The interplay between structural distortions and electric dipoles at the interfaces between layers could aid material and device design.

    • David A. Egger
    News & Views
  • A soft sheet has been constructed that can be driven by electromagnetic forces to continuously change its shape, mimicking the behaviour of soft tissues in living organisms. The control system uses imaging data and an optimization algorithm to enhance the material’s morphing ability.

    Research Briefing