Volume 387 Issue 6634, 12 June 1997

Opinion

  • Opinion |

    Preparations for the next global meeting on climate change, to be held in Kyoto in December, provide countries with an excuse to devise sound economic policies that make sense both scientifically and environmentally.

News

News Analysis

News in Brief

Correspondence

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The Earth has a second companion — an asteroid, about 5 km across, in a peculiar type of orbital resonance called an overlapping horseshoe. It is probably only a temporary liaison.

    • Carl D. Murray
  • News & Views |

    Why do women often fare better than men in social situations? The answer, it seems, may be in our genes. Studies of women with Turner's syndrome, who have either all or part of one X chromosome missing, indicate that social functioning is influenced by a gene on the X chromosome that is switched off if it is inherited from the mother. This may explain why men (who all inherit their X chromosome maternally) are more susceptible than women to developmental disorders that affect language and social functioning.

    • Peter McGuffin
    •  & Jane Scourfield
  • News & Views |

    The binding of a hormone to a so-called nuclear hormone receptor can engage a cell's transcriptional apparatus, and the end result is transcription in response to production of the hormone. But how does this occur? Two groups have now come a step closer to answering this question — they have identified a small, peptide motif that mediates the interaction between nuclear hormone receptors and the transcriptional apparatus

    • Marc Montminy
  • News & Views |

    Spiral waves of excitation occur in many systems, including heart tissue, where they are responsible for often lethal flutter and fibrillation. It should be possible to control their movement with low applied voltages; and now that a rigorous mathematical description of spiral-wave motion has been derived, the limits of this technique can be calculated.

    • Arun V. Holden
  • News & Views |

    The reductionist approach to explaining biological phenomena has displayed its power through the spectacular triumphs of molecular biology. But the approach has its limitations, as discussed at a meeting last month. It is not likely to be useful, or practicable, to explain many biological processes in terms of particle physics. Moreover, exploration of other levels, such as molecules, genes, cells, organisms and populations, may well be more appropriate for an adequate explanation — begging the question, of course, of what constitutes an ‘adequate’ explanation

    • Paul Nurse
  • News & Views |

    The reductionist approach to explaining biological phenomena has displayed its power through the spectacular triumphs of molecular biology. But the approach has its limitations, as discussed at a meeting last month. It is not likely to be useful, or practicable, to explain many biological processes in terms of particle physics. Moreover, exploration of other levels, such as molecules, genes, cells, organisms and populations, may well be more appropriate for an adequate explanation — begging the question, of course, of what constitutes an ‘adequate’ explanation. Paul Nurse The ends of understanding Nature 387, 657 (1997) THE SOLAR SYSTEM An icy object, about 500 km across, has been discovered in a huge, elongated orbit beyond Neptune. It may be a member of a new part of the Solar System, a so-called ‘scattered disk’ of comets produced by the gravitational effects of the young Uranus and Neptune, whose existence has only just now been predicted by theory.

    • Glen R. Stewart
  • News & Views |

    By knowing the mechanisms through which genetic variants are generated, we should gain a better understanding of evolution. Two new papers — one theoretical and one experimental — show that mutator alleles (which can lead to a huge increase in mutation rate) can speed up the rate at which bacteria adapt to a changing environment, even if these alleles remain at a low frequency.

    • E. Richard Moxon
    •  & David S. Thaler
  • News & Views |

    The question of how life on Earth evolved was the subject of a recent meeting. There are currently three main promising lines of research: that life evolved due to replication of nucleic acids on a surface; that there was in vitro construction of a catalytic RNA (ribozyme); or that the first oligonucleotides were formed by the ligation of smaller nucleic-acid units

    • Eörs Szathmáry

Correction

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    In pre-technological societies, children finished their education, found work and married at a much earlier age than they do today. Daedalus believes that we could see a return to these times by speeding up the rate at which children learn. He plans to do this using magnetic gadgets that stir up the fluid axoplasm in the nerves. By wearing a 400-Hz magnetic hat, children wouldn't think any faster, but their brains would be updated twice as quickly.

    • David Jones

Correction

News & Views

Scientific Correspondence

Book Review

Progress

Article

Letter

Erratum

  • Erratum |

    • H. W. Mewes
    • , K. Albermann
    • , M. Bähr
    • , D. Frishman
    • , A. Gleissner
    • , J. Hani
    • , K. Heumann
    • , K. Kleine
    • , A. Maierl
    • , S. G. Oliver
    • , F. Pfeiffer
    •  & A. Zollner

New on the Market

  • New on the Market |

    A microcystin ELISA, two blood culture systems, a confocal instrumentation reference, an automated agar sterilization and plate pouring system, and anaerobic workstations are among the products covered in this feature.

    • Brendan Horton
Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.
Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing