Volume 390 Issue 6655, 6 November 1997


  • Opinion |

    The Senate's approach to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will show whether the United States is ready to lead a world emerging from the deceptive simplicities of the Cold War.


  • News |


    Europe's Ariane-5 launcher, which exploded on its maiden flight last year, is back on track following a successful launch from Kourou in French Guiana.

    • Declan Butler
  • News |


    The US government has sustained renewed heavy criticism for its investigations and handling of the elusive collection of symptoms known as ‘Gulf War illnesses’.

    • Meredith Wadman
  • News |


    Plans for a next-generation experimental fusion reactor have been boosted by the latest research with mixed deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel on the Joint European Torus (JET), based near Oxford.

    • David Dickson
  • News |


    The agricultural and pharmaceutical company Monsanto has signed a research agreement with the genomics company Millennium Pharmaceuticals in one of the largest deals in the field of genomics.

    • Steve Nadis
  • News |


    A committee of the US Senate and House of Representatives has approved a 7.1 per cent funding increase for the National Institutes of Health — to $13.65 billion — in the fiscal year 1998.

    • Meredith Wadman
  • News |


    European space scientists have warned that Horizons 2000, the long-term science programme of the European Space Agency, could disintegrate unless a cap on its budget is lifted in 1999.

    • Alison Abbott
  • News |


    The European Space Agency's plans to send a robotic expedition to the south pole of the Moon to celebrate the millennium have received a cool response from the agency's Space Science Advisory Committee.

    • Alison Abbott
  • News |


    The Dutch government plans to increase central control over research spending by transferring DFl500 million (US$250 million) of university funds to the national research council, the NWO.

    • Alison Abbott

News in Brief


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Respirometric measurements of the power needed for birds to fly at various speeds have been at odds with aerodynamic theory. Direct experiments confirm theory, but loose ends remain.

    • R. McNeill Alexander
  • News & Views |

    Molten glass is made viscous by oxygen atoms that form bridges between silicon or aluminium. Non-bridging oxygens make for a runnier melt, affecting, for example, the rate of mixing of melt batches in industrial glass making, and the explosiveness of volcanic magmas. Now non-bridging oxygens have been discovered in an aluminosilicate that, by conventional theory, should not have them.

    • Ian Farnan
  • News & Views |

    A family of receptors called integrins are required for cells to adhere to the extracellular matrix or to each other. Cell adhesion is important in growth and development of organisms, in the trafficking of white cells from the bloodstream into the tissues, and in enabling cancer cells to spread throughout the body. A protein called CD98, which is nomally expressed on activated T cells, has been identified as a regulator of integrin activity. Notably, this protein also promotes the fusion of cells induced by certain viruses. Working out how CD98 is involved in these processes may help in developing drugs to treat viral infections, inflammation and cancer.

    • Laurence A. Lasky
  • News & Views |

    To use optical systems to do the same work as electronics, photons must be made to interact with one another — something that they are reluctant to do in ordinary materials. But a new type of non-linear optical cavity makes them interact so strongly that when one photon is trapped inside, no others can enter. This behaviour may eventually form the basis for devices in quantum computers.

    • Yoshihisa Yamamoto
  • News & Views |

    Although mutations have been identified that cause premature ageing in humans, it remains unclear exactly how we age and which genes are involved. A group of Japanese geneticists have discovered a new gene in mice called klotho that suppresses characteristics of ageing. Mice carrying a mutation in this gene develop diseases similar to ageing-related disorders in humans such as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), osteoporosis (brittle bones) and cataracts.The klotho protein is novel (bearing no resemblance to proteins encoded by premature ageing genes) and may be involved in cell signalling or remodelling of the extracellular matrix.

    • George M. Martin
    •  & I. Saira Mian
  • News & Views |

    Many organisms can reproduce sexually and asexually. The latter process can give rise to many more progeny, so why do such organisms bother with sexual reproduction? It is generally held that the answer lies in the provision of genetic shuffling through sex, which in turn can create assemblies of mutations that confer a selective advantage or clear those that do not. But testing these principles is by no means easy, and that provided the central debating point at a meeting that dealt with the evolution and maintenance of sex.

    • Emily J. Lyons
  • News & Views |

    A map has been compiled from satellite images of light and heat emissions from housing settlements across the globe at night. The lit area of each country correlates with socio-economic factors such as population and carbon dioxide emission. So this method should be useful for monitoring carbon dioxide emissions from different countries.

    • Karen Southwell
  • News & Views |

    Four-legged land animals first appeared in the fossil record about 365 million years ago. This was the fish-tetrapod transition, which was characterized by innovation in limb structure and adaptation to habitual air-breathing. Acanthostega gunnari is the most primitive tetrapod known, and the most recent work on its fossil remains shows, among other things, that the formation of the tetrapod limb went well ahead of changes in the respiratory system.

    • Oleg A. Lebedev
  • News & Views |

    The usefulness of electrolysis is limited because the electrodes are susceptible to attack by discharging ions. Daedalus wonders whether red-hot steam covered electrodes are the answer. Electrons would be able to travel through the steam but the electrodes would be resistant to attack by discharging ions. Better still these ions, when converted to their free radical forms, will turn their attack on contaminants in water, making steam electrolysis the answer to water purification.

    • David Jones

News and Views Feature

  • News and Views Feature |

    The four large moons of Jupiter form the most coherently organized planetary system known. Over the past two years, the Galileo spacecraft has illuminated both the interconnections between these worlds and the uniqueness of each, challenging theories of moon formation and evolution.

    • William B. McKinnon

Art and Science

  • Art and Science |

    Drop sheets of photographic paper into a river and let the play of light and water paint its own picture. That is one of the innovative techniques used by Susan Derges in her ‘photo-works’.

    • Martin Kemp

Scientific Correspondence

Film Review

Autumn Books


  • Article |

    • Makoto Kuro-o
    • , Yutaka Matsumura
    • , Hiroki Aizawa
    • , Hiroshi Kawaguchi
    • , Tatsuo Suga
    • , Toshihiro Utsugi
    • , Yoshio Ohyama
    • , Masahiko Kurabayashi
    • , Tadashi Kaname
    • , Eisuke Kume
    • , Hitoshi Iwasaki
    • , Akihiro Iida
    • , Takako Shiraki-Iida
    • , Satoshi Nishikawa
    • , Ryozo Nagai
    •  & Yo-ichi Nabeshima




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