Reviews & Analysis

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  • Nucleosomes bundle up the DNA in a cell's nucleus, wrapping it around a complex of histone proteins. Studies of histone modifications and the proteins that bind to them reveal a mechanism that may control this packing.

    • Joel C. Eissenberg
    • Sarah C. R. Elgin
    News & Views
  • Information is pouring in about Mars. These are thrilling times for those who are proposing — and challenging — ideas about the chemical evolution of the planet and its potential for having harboured life.

    • Mark A. Bullock
    News & Views
  • By changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere, human activity has both a warming and a cooling effect on the planet. According to new calculations, that latter influence is large, but it is likely to be declining.

    • Jim Coakley
    News & Views
  • Three species of Aspergillus fungi are the latest organisms to have their genome sequenced. Comparison of the genomes sheds light on, among other things, what endows them with pathogenic or beneficial features.

    • André Goffeau
    News & Views
  • Flint fragments from eastern England constitute the earliest known evidence of human occupation of Britain. The climate was balmy, and the environment was home to a wide range of animals and plants.

    • Wil Roebroeks
    News & Views
  • The mixing of festive sweetmeats and the stirring of cream into coffee are toothsome examples of the irreversibility of physical processes. In certain systems, however, the concept gets its just desserts.

    • Troy Shinbrot
    News & Views
  • Vertebrate embryos from fish to mammals seem to use different routes to work out which way is up and which side is front. Yet a novel system involved in defining the dorsal side of fish might be conserved in mammals.

    • Wolfgang Driever
    News & Views
  • Peripheral nerve injury activates cells in the spinal cord called microglia. But how do such cells cause the ensuing chronic pain? It seems that they release a small protein that disrupts normal inhibition of pain signalling.

    • Carole Torsney
    • Amy B. MacDermott
    News & Views
  • Rivers are the great conveyor belts that carry sediment from mountains to the sea. In the Punjab — the Land of Five Rivers — a wholesale shift occurred in the past that re-routed sediment to different oceans.

    • Philip A. Allen
    News & Views