Reviews & Analysis

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  • Tuning the resonances of an object is crucial in many settings, from musical instruments to ultrasensitive detectors for electromagnetic and gravitational waves. This task might seem straightforward but its mathematical description has been shown to involve rich topological structures known as knots and braids.

    Research Briefing
  • A close look at the cells that drive cancer growth after chemotherapy, and thereby contribute to fatal tumour progression, provides new insights into the identity of the cells that manage to survive treatment.

    • Sumaiyah K. Rehman
    • Catherine A. O’Brien
    News & Views
  • Brown fat in the body converts energy into heat. The discovery that inosine molecules are released from dying brown fat and induce heat production in nearby brown fat cells could point to a way of combating obesity.

    • Katrien De Bock
    • Christian Wolfrum
    News & Views
  • A combination of functional imaging and gene-expression profiling in brain tissue has been used to unravel the properties of 35 subtypes of neuron in mice, revealing a gene-expression axis that governs each subtype’s activity.

    • Hongkui Zeng
    • Saskia E. J. de Vries
    News & Views
  • State-of-the-art computer simulations show that the first supermassive black holes were born in rare, turbulent reservoirs of gas in the primordial Universe without the need for finely tuned, exotic environments — contrary to what has been thought for almost two decades.

    Research Briefing
  • Enzymes use molecular clusters containing iron and sulfur atoms to bind and ‘fix’ nitrogen gas into a bioavailable form. A synthetic cluster that binds and reduces nitrogen molecules casts light on the mechanism of fixation.

    • Daniël L. J. Broere
    News & Views
  • Quantum entanglement has been generated between two single-atom quantum memories over a 33-kilometre optical-fibre link. The wavelength of the photons emitted by these quantum memories was converted to one that works in telecommunications without altering the polarization of the photons, paving the way for the long-distance links of future quantum networks.

    Research Briefing
  • Swirling vortices have been directly observed in a flow of electric current for the first time. Unlike conventional viscous fluids, collective fluid-like behaviour in this case is not caused by particle–particle collisions, but results from a previously unidentified mechanism involving single electrons scattering from material surfaces at small angles.

    Research Briefing
  • A mechanism resembling a crankshaft switches the electric polarization of a material in response to changes in an applied magnetic field. The resulting four-state switch is linked to the material’s intriguing topology.

    • Wei Ren
    • Laurent Bellaiche
    News & Views
  • Adolescence is an intensely stressful life stage. We developed a brief online training module to help young people to understand stress and to respond to it constructively. The module improved their psychological and physiological responses to stress and boosted academic performance.

    Research Briefing
  • Lung samples housed in medical archives have yielded three genomes for the influenza A virus that caused the 1918 global pandemic. The sequences reveal mutations that might have triggered the pandemic’s devastating second wave.

    • Martha I. Nelson
    • Elodie Ghedin
    News & Views
  • Ten years since the discovery of the Higgs boson, the exploration of the Higgs sector, as this overview shows, has progressed far beyond original expectations, but many research questions still remain open.

    • Gavin P. Salam
    • Lian-Tao Wang
    • Giulia Zanderighi
    Perspective
  • A simple method for incorporating molecules into the gaps of stacked semimetallic materials through immersion offers an efficient way of filtering electrons, which could be useful for information-storage technologies.

    • Xi Ling
    News & Views
  • We charted the genetic history of the grey wolf over the past 100,000 years by analysing 72 ancient genomes. Placing dogs into this history, we found that they derive ancestry from at least two separate wolf populations.

    Research Briefing
  • The discovery that gut viruses can be transmitted from mouse pups to their mothers in saliva during breastfeeding reveals previously unrecognized sites of viral replication and means of viral transmission.

    • Elizabeth A. Kennedy
    • Megan T. Baldridge
    News & Views
  • A compound made by plants used in traditional medicine has been prepared by chemical synthesis, providing enough for biological testing. The unexpected finding that it acts at opioid receptors raises prospects for drug discovery.

    • Nicholas P. R. Onuska
    • Joshua G. Pierce
    News & Views