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  • A neat technique, applied to the brightest transiting extrasolar planet known, identifies an indisputable signature of water vapour in the planet's atmosphere. The method might be used to probe a nearby habitable world.

    • Drake Deming
    News & Views
  • The brain relies on blood to supply oxygen and glucose for energy. Surprisingly, neuronal activity, acting via supporting cells called astrocytes, can increase or decrease blood flow depending on whether oxygen levels are low or high.

    • Catherine N. Hall
    • David Attwell
    News & Views
  • In situ electron microscopy observations of the extrusion of single nanocrystals from graphitic cages show that these crystals deform near their theoretical strength limits. The question is how this happens.

    • Subra Suresh
    • Ju Li
    News & Views
  • The workhorse of cell biology, yeast, is a surprisingly cooperative organism. It uses an unusual means of identifying partners — a 'green-beard gene', which encodes a tag that must match among cooperating cells.

    • David C. Queller
    News & Views
  • Electric fields offer an innovative means of controlling condensed-matter systems. The approach has been applied to nanoscale oxide interfaces, for studying the physics of two-dimensional superconductors.

    • Darrell G. Schlom
    • Charles H. Ahn
    News & Views
  • Early middle age is a difficult time, not least for male fruitflies when sperm production falls. The unexpected reason for this decline seems to be that, as tissues age, maintaining functional stem cells becomes difficult.

    • Allan C. Spradling
    News & Views
  • The mammalian egg coat participates in fertilization and prevents more than one sperm from entering the egg. Structural data pinpoint a region common to egg-coat proteins that might mediate these functions.

    • Paul M. Wassarman
    News & Views
  • Memories are encoded by efficient signalling between neurons. The myosin V proteins help this process by shuttling receptors and membranes to make synaptic junctions better detectors of incoming signals.

    • Yukiko Goda
    News & Views
  • Light reflected off a dust cloud in the vicinity of the relic of Tycho Brahe's supernova, whose light first swept past Earth more than four centuries ago, literally sheds light on the nature of this cosmic explosion.

    • Andrea Pastorello
    • Ferdinando Patat
    News & Views
  • Can every tumour cell propagate human cancers or is this property exclusive to an elite subset? Findings are divided. The latest set shows that — depending on circumstances — both perspectives can be correct.

    • Connie J. Eaves
    News & Views
  • The credit crunch is forcing people to tighten their belts, but chemists have long known the benefits of being economical with atoms. The latest synthesis of an anticancer agent shows how effective parsimony can be.

    • André B. Charette
    News & Views
  • A highly precise calculation of the masses of strongly interacting particles, based on fundamental theory, is testament to the age-old verity that physical reality embodies simple mathematical laws.

    • Frank Wilczek
    News & Views
  • Genomic instability often underlies cancer. Analyses of proteins implicated in a cancer-predisposing condition called Bloom's syndrome illustrate the intricacies of protein interactions that ensure genomic stability.

    • Robert M. Brosh Jr
    News & Views
  • Replacing the 'micro' in microscope with 'nano', and using invisible light instead of visible, won't give scientists an instrument that can image nanostructures — unless they first beat the system's diffraction limit.

    • Paul Planken
    News & Views
  • Gibberellins regulate many aspects of plant growth and development. Crystal structures of their receptors provide a view in unprecedented detail of how these hormones operate at the molecular level.

    • Peter Hedden
    News & Views