Reviews & Analysis

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  • The variety of mineral species has increased since the birth of the Solar System and the development of terrestrial planets. A refreshing view likens the steady rise in mineral diversity to biological evolution.

    • Minik T. Rosing
    News & Views
  • Various aspects of turtle evolution are the subject of vigorous debate among vertebrate palaeontologists. A newly described fossil species, the oldest yet discovered, adds grist to the mill.

    • Robert R. Reisz
    • Jason J. Head
    News & Views
  • Photonic circuits can allow light to be tightly confined on a chip. A clever experiment reveals how this process can be exploited to create optical forces that drive a nanoscale mechanical oscillator.

    • Tobias J. Kippenberg
    News & Views
  • Both astrophysicists and particle physicists are in on the hunt for the elusive dark matter that is thought to pervade the Universe. A high-altitude balloon-borne experiment offers the latest hints as to what it could be.

    • Yousaf M. Butt
    News & Views
  • How cells build their internal structures remains one of the central mysteries in cell biology. If the cell nucleus is anything to go by, stochastic assembly and self-organization seem to be key.

    • Tom Misteli
    News & Views
  • Squares may be unfashionable, but for electronic circuitry no other shape will do. A method for making square arrays of polymeric nanoparticles could herald the next generation of miniature silicon chips.

    • Anthony J. Ryan
    News & Views
  • Physiological studies in mice demonstrate a surprising role for a kidney protein related to the rhesus factor of red blood cells. Similar research would aid further annotation of mammalian genomes.

    • Mark A. Knepper
    News & Views
  • Protein-digesting enzymes are kept on a tight leash to stop them from wantonly attacking targets. Two crystal structures show how an inhibitory protein domain gags one such enzyme without being chewed up itself.

    • Ronald L. Mellgren
    News & Views
  • Reconstruction of most of the genome sequence of the woolly mammoth illustrates how such investigations will pave the way for a deeper understanding of the biology and evolution of extinct species.

    • Michael Hofreiter
    News & Views
  • Short episodes of warming and cooling occurred throughout the last glaciation. An innovative modelling study indicates that ocean-circulation changes produced much of the causative variation in greenhouse gases.

    • Thomas F. Stocker
    • Adrian Schilt
    News & Views
  • Fed up with sitting in the doctor's surgery among all those sneezy patients, waiting for the results of a health check? With the latest technology, you could one day perform bioassays on your home compact-disc player.

    • Jeffrey S. Erickson
    • Frances S. Ligler
    News & Views
  • For now, quantum information processing systems remain a dream. Step by step, however, progress towards that goal is being made, with one promising route involving a novel means of manipulating electron spin.

    • Keiichi Edamatsu
    News & Views
  • Sequence data on a second species of diatom provide abundant insights into the evolution and metabolic capabilities of this group, as well as into mechanisms of gene acquisition and diversification.

    • Ronald P. Kiene
    News & Views
  • Decoding the workings of voltage-gated sodium channels is crucial because their mutation leads to severe disease and their activity is modulated by toxins and drugs. An innovative approach now allows such investigations.

    • J. R. Bankston
    • R. S. Kass
    News & Views
  • Solid catalysts speed up many industrial chemical reactions and steer them towards making desired products. A microscopy technique could reveal the changes in composition that catalysts undergo as they perform.

    • Alexis T. Bell
    News & Views
  • A jack of all trades is a master of none, as the saying goes. But a protein has been discovered that shuns specialism, and that multitasks to give flexibility to its biosynthetic repertoire.

    • Jan C. M. van Hest
    News & Views
  • Cooling a specific cluster of neurons in songbirds' brains slows song tempo without changing other acoustic features. This clever technique could be used for understanding neural control of other complex behaviours.

    • Chris M. Glaze
    • Todd Troyer
    News & Views
  • In tadpoles, the number of neurons expressing the neurotransmitter dopamine increases on exposure to light. Such plasticity might allow animals to match their brains' response to environmental stimuli.

    • Stefan Thor
    News & Views