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Volume 444 Issue 7122, 21 December 2006


  • Editorial |

    Offset schemes are a small but potentially useful addition to the carbon balance sheet.

  • Editorial |

    Two assessments of the refereeing process highlight challenges for journals.

  • Editorial |

    It's a time of change for Nature's venture into speculative fiction.

Research Highlights


News in Brief



  • News |

    From a jewel-like bird, rarer than any diamond, to the delicately poetic swirls generated inside aircraft engines, the pursuit of knowledge turns up its fair share of beauty. This issue, Nature wraps up the year with an arresting series of images from 2006. We've divided them into the art of the natural world, planet-scapes both domestic and extraterrestrial, and the splendour of modern technology. Just because something enhances our knowledge doesn't mean it can't also be bewitching.

    • Emma Marris


  • Business |

    The Pentagon is sinking millions of dollars into developing the next generation of supercomputers — and plans to let non-military scientists and engineers share the benefits. Heidi Ledford reports.

News Feature

  • News Feature |

    The development of lactose tolerance in sub-Saharan Africa is a fascinating tale of genetic convergence, reports Erika Check.

    • Erika Check
  • News Feature |

    Kerry Black travelled the world in search of the best surf spots. Then he decided to build them himself — on land. Mark Schrope meets the maverick oceanographer.

    • Mark Schrope
  • News Feature |

    Ultraendurance racers torture their bodies and minds to achieve near-impossible physical feats. Is it an exceptional genetic make-up or the vestiges of human evolution? Helen Pearson reports.

    • Helen Pearson



  • Commentary |

    Are some ways of measuring scientific quality better than others? Sune Lehmann, Andrew D. Jackson and Benny E. Lautrup analyse the reliability of commonly used methods for comparing citation records.

    • Sune Lehmann
    • Andrew D. Jackson
    • Benny E. Lautrup

Books & Arts

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The intestinal bacteria in obese humans and mice differ from those in lean individuals. Are these bacteria involved in how we regulate body weight, and are they a factor in the obesity epidemic?

    • Matej Bajzer
    • Randy J. Seeley
  • News & Views |

    Gigantic cosmological γ-ray bursts have fallen into a dichotomy of long and short bursts, each with a very different origin. The discovery of an oddball burst calls for a rethink of that classification.

    • Bing Zhang
  • News & Views |

    Detailed investigation of a molecule involved in an inherited type of deafness reveals a fresh facet to the mammalian auditory system — a hitherto unknown way for synapses to put calcium in a bind.

    • Thomas D. Parsons
  • News & Views |

    That neutrons can be transmuted to protons, electrons and antineutrinos through the process of beta decay is old hat. That photons sometimes also get in on the act was suspected, but until now never confirmed.

    • Nathal Severijns
  • News & Views |

    The intricate process of ageing involves numerous physiological pathways, together with genetic and environmental factors. Insight into this complex biology could come from studying a disorder that accelerates ageing.

    • Tom Kirkwood
  • News & Views |

    The PCP theorem encapsulates the idea that randomization allows the immediate verification of any mathematical proof. A simple route to this striking result was proposed earlier this year.

    • Bernard Chazelle
  • News & Views |

    Crystal structures show that botulinum toxins bind simultaneously to two sites on neurons. This dual interaction allows them to use a Trojan-horse strategy to enter nerve terminals, with deadly effect.

    • Giampietro Schiavo

Brief Communication






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