Reviews & Analysis

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  • The mechanisms and origins of fast radio bursts are reviewed in connection with data and insights from the neighbouring fields of gamma-ray bursts and radio pulsars.

    • Bing Zhang
    Review Article
  • Understanding what contributes to the development of severe COVID-19 would be of great clinical benefit. Analysis of people in whom this occurred pinpoints a key role for the signalling pathway mediated by type I interferon proteins.

    • Eric Meffre
    • Akiko Iwasaki
    News & Views
  • The Philae spacecraft was meant to anchor itself to the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, but instead bounced into a hidden grotto. The telltale markings of its passage reveal details of the comet’s fragile boulders.

    • Erik Asphaug
    News & Views
  • The enzyme caspase-8 can induce cell death or promote survival and the expression of inflammatory proteins. The discovery of a previously unknown caspase-8 target solves one mystery about immune-defence regulation.

    • Igor E. Brodsky
    News & Views
  • A genetic analysis reveals that some people who have severe reactions to the SARS-CoV-2 virus inherited certain sections of their DNA from Neanderthals. However, our ancestors can’t take all the blame for how someone responds to the virus.

    • Yang Luo
    News & Views
  • Mismatches are alterations in DNA that prevent the bases on each strand of the double helix from aligning correctly. It emerges that mismatches can bend DNA into favourable conformations for binding by proteins.

    • Kale Kundert
    • James S. Fraser
    News & Views
  • A structural-biology technique called cryo-electron microscopy has attained the ability to locate individual atoms within a protein. What are the implications of this advance?

    • Mark A. Herzik Jr
    News & Views
  • An analysis of seismic data reveals the location and quantity of melted rock, known as melt, in Earth’s upper mantle. The results show how these factors are correlated with the movement of the planet’s tectonic plates.

    • Laura Cobden
    News & Views
  • Leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates have progressed through laboratory tests at record speed. Two early clinical trials suggest that immunization delivers a favourable immune response and safety profile, but questions remain.

    • Christian Gaebler
    • Michel C. Nussenzweig
    News & Views
  • Our understanding of how mammalian embryos develop is based largely on mice. A study now reveals striking similarities and intriguing differences between mouse, cow and human embryos.

    • Jennifer L. Watts
    • Amy Ralston
    News & Views
  • An analysis of satellite images has pinpointed individual tree canopies over a large area of West Africa. The data suggest that it will soon be possible, with certain limitations, to map the location and size of every tree worldwide.

    • Niall P. Hanan
    • Julius Y. Anchang
    News & Views
  • Targets for ecosystem restoration are usually specified in terms of the total area to be restored. A global analysis reveals that the benefits and costs of achieving such targets depend greatly on where this restoration occurs.

    • Simon Ferrier
    News & Views
  • Hardware modelled on the brain could revolutionize computing, but implementing algorithms on such systems is a challenge. A proposed conceptual framework could simplify implementation, accelerating research in this field.

    • Oliver Rhodes
    News & Views
  • Homologous recombination is a mechanism for DNA repair that enables the exchange of genetic information between DNA molecules. Structural analysis reveals how the protein RecA orchestrates this process.

    • Upasana Roy
    • Eric C. Greene
    News & Views
  • Measurements of faint radio emission from distant galaxies have revealed the nature of the gases that drove the epoch of peak galaxy formation — and also suggest why star-formation rates have since declined.

    • Chris L. Carilli
    News & Views
  • Electronic devices called inductors are hard to miniaturize because their effectiveness is proportional to their size. An approach based on quantum mechanics could overcome this issue, offering many potential applications.

    • Seonghoon Woo
    News & Views
  • Narrow rings and gaps have been seen in a particularly young disk of dust and gas around a nascent star, using the world’s most powerful radio telescope. The finding provides a potential glimpse of the earliest stages of planet formation.

    • Patrick Sheehan
    News & Views