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  • The elusive pear shapes of certain nuclei, which are challenging to predict theoretically, have at last been measured precisely. Two experts offer their views on what the results mean for nuclear physics and particle physics. See Article p.199

    • C. J. (Kim) Lister
    • Jonathan Butterworth
    News & Views Forum
  • Physicists have come up with a way to characterize and command untrusted quantum systems. Two experts discuss the significance of these findings for fundamental science and for practical quantum computation and cryptography. See Article p.456

    • Stefano Pironio
    • Dorit Aharonov
    News & Views Forum
  • Our planet's soils teem with microorganisms that regulate processes from crop productivity to carbon sequestration. Molecular analysis contributes hugely to the characterization of microbial communities, but how can we better understand their ecological functions? Two microbiologists discuss the advantages of data-mining approaches versus targeted experiments.

    • Janet K. Jansson
    • James I. Prosser
    News & Views Forum
  • A process called long-term potentiation mediates information storage — learning and memory — at the level of neurons. An in vitro study turns the molecular understanding of this process on its head. But researchers' opinions differ as to what can be inferred from these data. See Article p.495

    • Morgan Sheng
    • Roberto Malinow
    • Richard Huganir
    News & Views Forum
  • Some worker fire ants will tolerate multiple queens in their colony, but others only one. It turns out that this behaviour is governed by a gene cluster on an unusual pair of chromosomes. Two scientists describe what these findings mean to the fields of social evolution, genetics and beyond. See Letter p.664

    • Andrew F. G. Bourke
    • Judith E. Mank
    News & Views Forum
  • Synthetic chemistry has long been used to prepare useful compounds — especially those that are hard to obtain from natural sources. But synthetic biology is coming of age as an alternative strategy. A biologist and two chemists debate the merits of their fields' synthetic prowess.

    • Jay D. Keasling
    • Abraham Mendoza
    • Phil S. Baran
    News & Views Forum
  • Fossils found in rocks of the Ediacaran period in Australia have been previously characterized as early marine organisms. But a report suggests that these rocks are fossilized soils. So did some of these Ediacaran organisms in fact live on land, like lichens? A palaeontologist and a geologist weigh up the evidence. See Letter p.89

    • Shuhai Xiao
    • L. Paul Knauth
    News & Views Forum
  • A phylogenetic reconstruction of the diversification of birds across space and time provides a novel resource for evolutionary studies. But the methods used to construct this tree, and what insights can be inferred from it, are a source of debate. Two evolutionary biologists provide opinions on how to draw the lines. See Letter p.444

    • Robert E. Ricklefs
    • Mark Pagel
    News & Views Forum
  • Anthropogenic aerosols in the atmosphere undoubtedly influence climate. But do the approaches taken in climate models to account for the effects of aerosols provide meaningful estimates of those effects? Two climate scientists offer their opinions.

    • Bjorn Stevens
    • Olivier Boucher
    News & Views Forum
  • The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project dishes up a hearty banquet of data that illuminate the roles of the functional elements of the human genome. Here, six scientists describe the project and discuss how the data are influencing research directions across many fields. See Articles p.57, p.75, p.83, p.91, p.101 & Letter p.109

    • Joseph R. Ecker
    • Wendy A. Bickmore
    • Eran Segal
    News & Views Forum
  • New research backs the contentious idea that solid tumours are not masses of equivalent cells, but instead contain cancer stem cells that support tumour maintenance. Here, two experts provide complementary views on the findings and on the implications for potential therapies. See Letters p.522 & p.527

    • Richard J. Gilbertson
    • Trevor A. Graham
    News & Views Forum
  • Predicting plant responses to increasing temperatures is integral to assessing the global impact of climate change. But the authors of a comparative study assert that warming experiments may not accurately reflect observational data. Climate and ecosystem scientists discuss how impact prediction should proceed. See Letter p.494

    • This Rutishauser
    • Reto Stöckli
    • Lara Kueppers
    News & Views Forum
  • A meta-analysis of agricultural systems shows that organic yields are mostly lower than those from conventional farming, but that organic crops perform well in some contexts. Agricultural scientists discuss whether the conclusions of the study should change farming practices and management. See Letter p.229

    • John P. Reganold
    • Achim Dobermann
    News & Views Forum
  • An article suggesting that allergic responses may not be an accident of an off-target immune system, but rather a deliberate defence against potential harm, provokes the question of whether our understanding of allergy needs an overhaul. Immunologists provide their opinions. See Perspective p.465

    • David Artis
    • Rick M. Maizels
    • Fred D. Finkelman
    News & Views Forum
  • An analysis of the intensity and polarization of sunlight reflected by Earth reveals signatures of life on our planet. What prospects are there for using similar measurements to find life on planets outside the Solar System? Planetary scientists offer some answers. See Letter p.64

    • Christoph U. Keller
    • Daphne M. Stam
    News & Views Forum
  • In the cell, genomic DNA is transcribed into various types of RNA. But not all RNAs are translated into proteins. Does this give protein-coding RNAs greater credibility in terms of function? Views differ.

    • Monika S. Kowalczyk
    • Douglas R. Higgs
    • Thomas R. Gingeras
    News & Views Forum
  • Purkinje cells in the brain region known as the cerebellum act by inhibiting their target neurons. A paper in this issue provides an explanation for how this inhibition might be used to control the timing of action potentials. But experts are not equally convinced about the functional relevance of this finding. See Letter p.502

    • Javier F. Medina
    • Kamran Khodakhah
    News & Views Forum
  • Materials that refract light backwards are thought to be required for making super-resolution lenses. An alternative proposal — that conventional, positively refracting media can do the job — has met with controversy. Two experts from either side of the debate lay out their views on the matter.

    • Tomáš Tyc
    • Xiang Zhang
    News & Views Forum
  • The collapse of the Maya civilization is often attributed to drought, but is the explanation really as simple as that? On the basis of evidence from their respective fields, an archaeologist and a palaeoclimatologist call for a more nuanced assessment.

    • James Aimers
    • David Hodell
    News & Views Forum
  • A technique called somatic-cell nuclear transfer has been applied to human oocytes, resulting in the generation of personalized stem cells, albeit genetically abnormal ones. Two experts discuss the biomedical significance of this work and the ethical issues surrounding the use of human oocytes in research. See Article p.70

    • George Q. Daley
    • Jan Helge Solbakk
    News & Views Forum