Volume 400 Issue 6741, 15 July 1999


  • Opinion |

    Campaigns on behalf of women researchers are achieving a higher political profile. Recent European initiatives are welcome, but lobbying leadership is needed for them to be followed through amidst political change.

  • Opinion |

    The next head of the US nuclear weapons laboratories must repair the damage done by the recent spy scandal.


News in Brief


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A fascinating challenge in nuclear structure physics is to find the maximum atomic numberZ— the number of protons — for which a relatively stable nucleus can exist. The question is, just how many stable elements is it possible to make?

    • Neil Rowley
  • News & Views |

    Natural selection by predation is often viewed as a constraining force on the signals used by animals: the more conspicuous a signal, the more risky it is. But both correlational and experimental evidence from weakly electric fish seem to show that, in this case at least, predation has in fact been a creative force and resulted in more elaborate signals than would otherwise have been the case.

    • Michael J. Ryan
  • News & Views |

    Most cells do not act in isolation -- they respond to signals from their neighbours. These signals are usually received at the cell surface, then the information is relayed to components that mediate the cell's response. One pathway that transduces such signals is the so-called Wingless pathway, which was originally envisaged as a simple, linear cascade. But new work indicates that the Wingless pathway is much more complex than this.

    • Mark Peifer
  • News & Views |

    A single photon is an elusive object, and it used to be impossible to detect photons without destroying them. A quantum non-demolition experiment now shows how to store a single photon, and more importantly how to watch it repeatedly.

    • Philippe Grangier
  • News & Views |

    Animals -- like humans -- are thought to make decisions based on the expected size and probability of rewards. A neural correlate of this behaviour has now been demonstrated by experiments in which rhesus monkeys have to switch their gaze to a particular target for a juice reward. The number of signals fired by neurons in the lateral intraparietal cortex is found to vary depending on the size of the expected reward.

    • M. James Nichols
    •  & William T. Newsome
  • News & Views |

    Some locust species become darker in colour if they change from living in solitary conditions and become members of large swarms. Implant experiments involving albino mutants now reveal the hormone concerned.

    • John Whitfield
  • News & Views |

    A little under two million years ago there was a significant innovation in human evolution. This ‘grade shift’ betweenAustralopithecus and Homowas marked by an increase in body size and a commitment to walking on two legs. These changes were thought to be set off with the advent of hunting, but a new hypothesis contends that they were, in fact, due to systematic foraging for roots and tubers.

    • Bernard Wood
    •  & Alison Brooks
  • News & Views |

    A clue to how galaxies form may have been staring us in the face. Clouds of neutral hydrogen with unusually high velocities that are dispersed throughout the Universe may actually be galactic building blocks.

    • J. Bland-Hawthorn
  • News & Views |

    Movement at the molecular level is essential for macromolecules to function, yet it's not clear how such dynamics relate to function. Using NMR spectroscopy, one group has now found a functional correlation for molecular movement in the bacterial Spo0F protein. It turns out that the amino-acid residues that move on a microsecond to millisecond timescale correspond exactly to those residues required for protein interactions.

    • Ann Stock
  • News & Views |

    Gene therapy to improve the sum of human happiness is this week's scheme. It involves the engineering of genes for endorphin production into dermal cells for reimplantation into the subject. One snag, of course, is that gene therapy remains at the experimental stage.

    • David Jones

Millennium Essay

Scientific Correspondence

Book Review



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