Volume 398 Issue 6723, 11 March 1999


  • Opinion |

    A famous lecture given in 1959 still resonates. Although time has eroded many of the cultural fissures that it addressed, current debates about biotechnology highlight continuing problems of mutual incomprehension.


  • News |

    barcelona The regional government of the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia has launched a scheme to encourage the potential entrepreneurial activities of scientists.

    • Xavier Bosch
  • News |

    london England's top five research universities have again emerged as the biggest beneficiaries in this year's allocation of research funds from the government university funding agency.

    • Ehsan Masood
  • News |

    washington A group of 33 Nobel laureates have written to both President Bill Clinton and the US Congress, urging the government to stick to its promise to fund research using human embryonic stem cells.

    • Meredith Wadman
  • News |

    tokyo The Japanese government is expected to lift its ban in the near future on the contraceptive pill, almost nine years after the first application for its use was submitted.

    • Asako Saegusa
  • News |

    moscow Russian officials have criticized the US decision to impose sanctions against ten Russian institutions for collaborating with Iraq in work that could contribute to the development of nuclear missiles.

    • Carl Levitin
  • News |

    washington A major security breach at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory in New Mexico is said to have enabled China to copy the United States' most important recent nuclear warhead.

    • Colin Macilwain
  • News |

    london An Africa-wide consensus to restrict the patenting of plant varieties by overseas companies is in disarray following a decision to break ranks by 16 French speaking African countries.

    • Ehsan Masood

News in Brief


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    To be broken down, p27Kip1 — a protein that regulates the cell cycle — must be exported from the nucleus. This unexpected step could turn out to be a general way to regulate the turnover of many nuclear proteins.

    • Martin Scheffner
  • News & Views |

    Electrons confined in two dimensions, such as within ultra-thin semiconductor layers, lead to quantum-well states. Creating such states in metallic thin films, produces quantum wells that are spin-polarized or magnetic. This phenomenon may find applications in a new generation of magnetic recording media.

    • S. D. Bader
  • News & Views |

    For many years we've know that there is an imbalance between the levels of carbon released by man's activities and measured concentrations in the atmosphere. The current theory is that this is due to uptake of carbon by terrestrial ecosystems in the northern hemisphere. But we now have evidence that the forests' contribution is far too small to account for all of the 'missing' carbon.

    • David W. Schindler
  • News & Views |

    Creating asymmetric structures is useful for liquid crystal displays and optical switches, but it has not been easy. Now, subtle chemical interactions between block copolymers —which are themselves a blend of carefully selected polymers - are tailored to produce a self-assembling non-centrosymmetric nanostructure.

    • Samuel P. Gido
  • News & Views |

    According to the exon-shuffling hypothesis, new genes are assembled from chunks of old ones. But how? A study of the L1 retrotransposon —which usually moves its own sequence from one genomic location to another —suggests a new mechanism. This retrotransposon can co-mobilize a 3' flanking segment of non-L1 DNA to new locations, allowing the juxtaposition of two previously unlinked DNAs.

    • Jef D. Boeke
    •  & Oxana K. Pickeral
  • News & Views |

    Measurements of CO2 concentrations in air bubbles enclosed in polar ice, provides many details about ancient climates, but there has been a gap in the records until now. New data for the Holocene (from 11,000-1,000 years ago) reveal that the global carbon cycle was never in equilibrium during the last 11,000 years, despite overall climate stability. This work may inform future estimates of CO2 levels.

    • Philippe Ciais
  • News & Views |

    To have new ideas, it helps to be small, hungry and female —at least, it does if you're a guppy. These are the distinguishing characteristics of the fish that were most likely to negotiate mazes to find a food source. This seems to be because they are the ones that need the food most. But, as well as being driven to cleverness, some guppies seem just to be better problem-solvers than others.

    • John Whitfield
  • News & Views |

    Not all lubricants are liquids, some, such as graphite and molybdenum sulphide, are solid. Under certain conditions molybdenum sulphide chemically reacts to absorb energy from the friction process. Daedalus seeks a lubricant that will react in a way that releases energy. Such a lubricant would decrease friction, and if the reaction was sufficiently forceful it might generate propulsive power, or negative friction.

    • David Jones

Scientific Correspondence

Book Reviews



New on the Market

  • New on the Market |

    Apoptosis is a hot topic. A recent AltaVista search for ‘apoptosis’ yielded 78,924 hits — and Lara Croft rated only 55,251. In this trawl through recent new products in cell biology, apoptosis beats Lara again, this time by 30 to 1.5.Compiled in the C i t Nature office from information provided by the manufacturers.

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