Volume 398 Issue 6729, 22 April 1999


  • Opinion |

    The soundest possible science must underlie any effort to regulate genetically modified foods. But regulations must also acknowledge uncertainty — and incorporate trust in the judgement of the consumer.


News Analysis

  • News Analysis |

    washingtonThe United States is seeking to integrate research into two rival approaches to fusion power: magnetic and inertial confinement.

    • Colin Macilwain

News in Brief



News & Views

  • News & Views |

    In 1997 a planet of roughly Jupiter's mass was discovered in orbit around the star Andromedae. Two more have now been identified, providing the first example of a solar system other than our own containing more than one planet.

    • Jack J. Lissauer
  • News & Views |

    Ways of characterizing single-molecule events are rapidly emerging in the biochemical sciences. One such line of research now shows how measurement of ionic transport through a single, atomic-scale pore in an insulating membrane can distinguish between organic molecules of relative molecular mass as low as 100; remarkably, a single protein channel can be adapted for simultaneous analysis of a mixture of organic molecules.

    • Daniel Branton
    •  & Jene Golovchenko
  • News & Views |

    Given the choice between banana and lettuce, a monkey will take the banana every time. This preference is reflected in neurons of the orbitofrontal cortex, which are more active when the monkey anticipates a banana reward than when he thinks he will get a piece of lettuce. This relative nature of incentives adds a new dimension to characterizing the activity of orbitofrontal neurons.

    • Masataka Watanabe
  • News & Views |

    Depletion of the Earth's ozone layer is being tackled through the Montreal Protocol, which puts limits on the production of ozone-depleting halogen chemicals. The Protocol is effective, but its aims are threatened by production and emission of chlorofluorocarbon-12 (a refrigerant) and halon-1211 (a fire-fighting chemical) in particular.

    • Paul J. Fraser
    •  & Michael J. Prather
  • News & Views |

    There are two main pathways by which chromosomal double-strand breaks are repaired — nonhomologous end-joining and homologous recombination. The 'gatekeeper' for the first of these processes is the Ku protein, and the warden of the second has now been identified as Rad52. The authors propose a model in which Rad52 and Ku compete to channel the broken ends down their respective pathways.

    • James E. Haber
  • News & Views |

    Over the entire history of the Universe it is possible that even the known physical constants are not truly constant. The fine-structure constant — which characterizes the strength of the attraction between electrons and photons — is predicted by some theories to vary over time. New data from quasar spectra provide an upper limit on such variation.

    • Antoinette Songaila
    •  & Lennox L. Cowie
  • News & Views |

    Study of satellite and aerial images, combined with the results of a ground survey, has led to identification of a huge landslide that occurred several thousand years ago in Mongolia. The amount of material that slipped is huge — 50 km3 or around 100 billion tons. The site lies close to a currently active fault system, and the landslide may well have been triggered by an earthquake.

    • Tim Lincoln
  • News & Views |

    The variety of human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) is yet another level of variation in the immune system, and it's long been thought that HLAs may be associated with susceptibility to disease. Two large-scale studies now strengthen this view, linking HLAs with susceptibility after infection with HIV-1 and the human T-lymphotropic virus-1.

    • Adrian V. S. Hill
  • News & Views |

    Daedalus believes that the spiritual world occupies the same space as the material one, but that the two are only weakly coupled. Nonetheless, he thinks that this weak coupling must have brought the two worlds into thermodynamic equilibrium, and he's looking for evidence of this. It could explain why a room tends to feel chilly when a ghost enters it.

    • David Jones

Scientific Correspondence

Book Reviews


Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing