Volume 407 Issue 6803, 28 September 2000


  • Opinion |

    The industry based on genetic modification of plants has suffered new setbacks. Europe's public is at the least sceptical, but still potentially accepting, of GM crops, provided progress in technology, regulation and communication is maintained.

  • Opinion |

    The release of an alleged spy at the Los Alamos laboratory comes none too soon, but prompts other questions.


  • News |


    A national task force has said that Canada should rebuild its flagging northern research to meet the challenges posed in the area.

    • David Spurgeon
  • News |


    Britain's policy on delaying treatment of patients infected with HIV has been challenged by new results published this week.

    • Karen Birmingham
  • News |

    San Diego

    The US National Science Foundation has launched an ambitious plan to boost the use of mathematical and statistical techniques in environmental biology.

    • Rex Dalton
  • News |


    Increased emphasis on research in information technology and the life sciences will be a central feature in France's spending on science next year.

    • Declan Butler
  • News |


    Scientific societies and research foundations plan to set up a lobbying body in Washington to boost public support for investment in the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering.

    • Colin Macilwain
  • News |


    A European network of radio telescopes capable of producing images of small celestial objects at very high resolution has been given a pat on the back.

    • Alison Abbott

News in Brief


  • News Feature |

    Can Brazil build on its achievement of completing the first genome sequence of a plant pathogen? That may depend on its willingness to reform its universities, say Colin Macilwain and Ricardo Bonalume Neto.

    • Colin Macilwain
    •  & Ricardo Bonalume Neto
  • News Feature |

    Silicon remains the computer chip industry's material of choice. But for simpler circuitry, it could soon have some surprising rivals. David Voss talks to the scientists who are trying to make electronics go organic.

    • David Voss



Book Reviews

Millennium Essay

  • Millennium Essay |

    An Elizabethan experimentalist and spirited foe of pseudoscience.

    • James D. Livingston


  • Futures |

    …or, A tight night at the Surrealist Sporting Club.

    • Michael Moorcock
    •  & Maurice Richardson

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    In yeast, a modified protein known as a prion generates variation in growth rate across diverse environments. Is this an example of an agent that has evolved in order to promote its possessor's adaptability?

    • Linda Partridge
    •  & Nicholas H. Barton
  • News & Views |

    Upwellings of hot material, known as mantle plumes, are responsible for violent volcanic eruptions on the Earth's surface that leave behind thick piles of lava. The temperature of these plumes has been long debated, but a new clue comes from the discovery of unusually primitive olivine in volcanic rocks.

    • Nicholas Arndt
  • News & Views |

    The globins are well-known proteins, and in vertebrates there are two types: haemoglobin and myoglobin. Now a third has been identified, in both mice and humans, that occurs in the nervous system, especially the brain. Like the other globins its main function is probably facilitating oxygen supply.

    • Luc Moens
    •  & Sylvia Dewilde
  • News & Views |

    In parts of Europe, the white-headed duck is threatened as a species because females seem to prefer to mate with drakes of another, introduced species. Why? It turns out that males of a third species have an especially large penis: a speculative answer is that female white-headed ducks might favour similarly well-endowed males.

    • Chris Mead
  • News & Views |

    The average star looks the same to a casual observer as it does through the largest telescopes. Optical interferometers — where an array of smaller telescopes simulates a larger one — are able to resolve much finer detail, such as the pulsations of a variable star, that might help us work out the age and size of the Universe.

    • Tyler Nordgren
  • News & Views |

    Normally, the letters UGA in the genetic code specify the end point in production of a protein. But sometimes these letters can be redefined so that the unusual amino-acid selenocysteine is inserted instead. The second component of the protein complex required for this process in mammals has now been identified.

    • John F. Atkins
    •  & Raymond F. Gesteland
  • News & Views |

    Early simulations of pedestrian behaviour in crowds used a model based on fluid flow through pipes. A more individual-centred approach is required to simulate the behaviour of real crowds, such as when people in a rush actually go slower.

    • David J. Low
  • News & Views |

    The genome of the acid- and heat-loving microorganismThermoplasma acidophilum has been sequenced. The sequence reveals the remarkable ability of this organism to pick up genes from other species, and suggests — contrary to expectations — that T. acidophilumis not the ancestor of eukaryotic cells.

    • Don Cowan
  • News & Views |

    Last week Daedalus presented his scheme for a mobile phone for transmitting ‘silent speech’: the Ultraphone. The device is now being adapted for human communication with animals, especially cats.

    • David Jones
  • News & Views |

    Mark Oliphant — enthusiastic builder of particle accelerators and research centres.

    • Joseph Rotblat

Brief Communications




New on the Market

  • New on the Market |

    Gene expression, quicker PCR and rodent observation in this week's haul.



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