Volume 457 Issue 7225, 1 January 2009

Marking the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), Jeff Kanipe takes a look at the prospects of the 'big four' major new telescopes [News Feature p. 18]. They have a tough act to follow, as a trawl through 'Hubble's greatest hits' reveals [Review Article p. 41]. The 'Dark Skies Awareness' campaign is part of IYA 2009; Malcolm Smith argues the case for a transformation that would not only help astronomers but would also benefit human health and energy conservation [Commentary p. 27]. Also part of IYA 2009 is the celebration of 400 years of the telescope; Owen Gingerich tracks the link between technology and our changing world-view [Essay p. 28]. Robert Poole's book Earthrise focuses on the psychological impact of the Apollo 8 image of Earth over the lunar horizon, though our reviewer feels that our attitudes towards our planet have not changed enough [Books & Arts p. 30]. 'Hidden treasures' visits the Paris Observatory [p. 33] and astronaut Alan Bean talks about his moonscape paintings [p. 31]. In Futures, David Blair looks back on 2009 [p. 122] and in a Letter, Alyssa Goodman et al. reveal the importance of self-gravity in star formation [p. 63]. See the Editorial [p. 7] and visit www.nature.com/astro09 for more. COVER PICTURE: Hubble Space Telescope/Christian Darkin

Career View



  • Editorial |

    The first scientific observations with telescopes displaced Earth from the centre of the Universe. Modern technology continues to humble us but should not distance us from the cosmos itself.

  • Editorial |

    There are good reasons to be suspicious of metric-based research assessment.

  • Editorial |

    The Christmas bird count is a model to be emulated in distributed, volunteer science.


News in Brief



  • Column |

    Barack Obama's transition team is hitting the ground running, and its speed and openness are winning praise, as David Goldston reports.

    • David Goldston

News Feature

  • News Feature |

    The next 40 years will see telescopes that far outstrip any ever seen before. Jeff Kanipe profiles four of them; illustrations by Lynette Cook.

    • Jeff Kanipe
    •  & Lynette Cook



  • Commentary |

    Cities needlessly shine billions of dollars directly into the sky each year and, as a result, a fifth of the world's population cannot see the Milky Way. Malcolm Smith explains why a dark sky has much to offer everyone.

    • Malcolm Smith


  • Essay |

    Technological developments in astronomy have long helped to answer some of the greatest questions tackled by humanity, recounts Owen Gingerich.

    • Owen Gingerich

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    The view of our planet from space is beautiful and humbling, yet this shift in human perspective has not altered how we care for our environment, argues Charles Cockell.

    • Charles Cockell
  • Books & Arts |

    Astronaut Alan Bean stepped down onto the lunar surface during the 1969 Apollo 12 mission, but left NASA in 1981 to devote himself to painting. With exhibitions of his work taking place this year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing, he tells Nature how he attempts to convey his lunar experience.

    • Daniel Cressey
  • Books & Arts |

    Giovanni Domenico Cassini helped to create an institution that pinpointed Neptune, showed that light had a finite speed — and even mapped France, explains Alison Abbott.

    • Alison Abbott

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Quantum systems are uncertain by nature. By 'squeezing' this uncertainty, physicists can make better measurements of quantities such as distance. But overdoing it makes things burst out all over the place.

    • Geoff J. Pryde
  • News & Views |

    Cancer can be defined by six hallmarks, including uncontrollable growth, immortality and the ability to invade other tissues. Increasing evidence suggests that a seventh feature should make this list — inflammation.

    • Alberto Mantovani
  • News & Views |

    Deciphering how stars form within turbulent, dense clouds of molecular gas has been a challenge. An innovative technique that uses a tree diagram provides insight into the process.

    • Ralph E. Pudritz
  • News & Views |

    A much-needed theoretical analysis deals with whether the principle known as 'costly punishment' helps to maintain cooperation in human society. It will prompt a fresh wave of experiments and theory.

    • Bettina Rockenbach
    •  & Manfred Milinski

Review Article


  • Article |

    After expression of the PML–RAR oncogene in haematopoietic stem cells, p21 is necessary to limit cell cycle progression and thus limit the accumulation of DNA damage which would otherwise limit the self-renewal of leukaemic stem cells and prevent the development of leukaemia

    • Andrea Viale
    • , Francesca De Franco
    • , Annette Orleth
    • , Valeria Cambiaghi
    • , Virginia Giuliani
    • , Daniela Bossi
    • , Chiara Ronchini
    • , Simona Ronzoni
    • , Ivan Muradore
    • , Silvia Monestiroli
    • , Alberto Gobbi
    • , Myriam Alcalay
    • , Saverio Minucci
    •  & Pier Giuseppe Pelicci
  • Article |

    An early cellular response to the occurrence of DNA double-strand breaks in mammals is the phosphorylation of the specialized histone variant H2A.X at Ser 139. The chromatin remodelling factor WSTF is found to phosphorylate H2A.X at another site, Tyr 142. Tyrosine phosphorylation has not been observed previously on histones.

    • Andrew Xiao
    • , Haitao Li
    • , David Shechter
    • , Sung Hee Ahn
    • , Laura A. Fabrizio
    • , Hediye Erdjument-Bromage
    • , Satoko Ishibe-Murakami
    • , Bin Wang
    • , Paul Tempst
    • , Kay Hofmann
    • , Dinshaw J. Patel
    • , Stephen J. Elledge
    •  & C. David Allis



  • Letter |

    Self-gravity plays a decisive role in the final stages of star formation, where dense cores inside molecular clouds collapse to form star-plus-disk systems. But the role of self-gravity at earlier times is unclear. This paper reports a dendogram analysis that reveals that self-gravity plays a significant role over the full range of scales traced by 13CO observations in L1448, but not everywhere in the observed region.

    • Alyssa A. Goodman
    • , Erik W. Rosolowsky
    • , Michelle A. Borkin
    • , Jonathan B. Foster
    • , Michael Halle
    • , Jens Kauffmann
    •  & Jaime E. Pineda
  • Letter |

    Quantum measurements are subject to an uncertainty that is usually distributed equally between pairs of complementary properties (such as position and momentum). However, a technique known as 'squeezing' can be used to reduce the uncertainty of one desired property at the expense of increasing that of the other. Squeezing may have a critical role in high precision applications such as atomic clocks and optical communications. This paper demonstrates the ultimate squeezing limit for the polarization of a composite optical system.

    • L. K. Shalm
    • , R. B. A. Adamson
    •  & A. M. Steinberg
  • Letter |

    This paper describes the combination of near-field optical forces (such as those used in optical traps) to confine nanoscopic matter inside a liquid core-slot waveguide and photon scattering forces to transport them. The waveguide overcomes the diffraction limits of conventional optical trapping systems to manipulate objects down to tens of nanometres in scale. As the waveguide is linear, it can also manipulate extended biomolecules demonstrated by trapping and transporting DNA molecules.

    • Allen H. J. Yang
    • , Sean D. Moore
    • , Bradley S. Schmidt
    • , Matthew Klug
    • , Michal Lipson
    •  & David Erickson
  • Letter |

    This study models converted teleseismic waves to constrain the seismological properties of subducted oceanic crust from the Cascadia continental margin to its intersection with the forearc mantle. The observations suggest that water is pervasively present in fluid form at high pore pressures, indicating that the megathrust is a low-permeability boundary. These results may hold important implications for our understanding of seismogenesis, subduction-zone structure and the mechanism of episodic tremor and slip.

    • Pascal Audet
    • , Michael G. Bostock
    • , Nikolas I. Christensen
    •  & Simon M. Peacock
  • Letter |

    In human societies, altruistic behaviour can evolve because those who fail to co-operate are lumbered with a bad reputation. This study explores the circumstances under which punishment is favoured using a game theory model in which all individuals observe the interactions between others and assess their reputation under various social norms. It is shown that punishment is only a successful strategy under a narrow set of parameters, including the relative costs of punishment and cooperation, the reliability of reputations and the spread of gossip.

    • Hisashi Ohtsuki
    • , Yoh Iwasa
    •  & Martin A. Nowak
  • Letter |

    Complex visual scenes are made up of many component features, such as edges and textures. Neurons in early stages of the visual system are sensitive to individual features, and it is implicitly believed that the nervous system must put them back together to signal conjunctions of different features, but how this is achieved is unknown. This paper proposes a model in which neural activity encodes statistical variations of features in images, thereby allowing the visual system to generalize across variable images.

    • Yan Karklin
    •  & Michael S. Lewicki
  • Letter |

    Vaccine elicted Gag specific cellular immune responses are shown to provide a measure of protection from disease in Mamu-A*01-negative rhesus monkeys challenged with SIVMAC251.

    • Jinyan Liu
    • , Kara L. O’Brien
    • , Diana M. Lynch
    • , Nathaniel L. Simmons
    • , Annalena La Porte
    • , Ambryice M. Riggs
    • , Peter Abbink
    • , Rory T. Coffey
    • , Lauren E. Grandpre
    • , Michael S. Seaman
    • , Gary Landucci
    • , Donald N. Forthal
    • , David C. Montefiori
    • , Angela Carville
    • , Keith G. Mansfield
    • , Menzo J. Havenga
    • , Maria G. Pau
    • , Jaap Goudsmit
    •  & Dan H. Barouch
  • Letter |

    High resolution combined confocal and two-photon video imaging of individual haematopoietic cells is performed in the bone marrow of living animals, examining their relationship to blood vessels, osteoblasts and endosteal surface as they home and engraft. It is found that osteoblasts were enmeshed in microvessals and different populations of haematopoeitic cells were localized in different areas according to their stage of differentiation. In settings of engraftment as well as expansion, marrow stem/progenitor cells were in closer proximity to bone and osteoblasts.

    • Cristina Lo Celso
    • , Heather E. Fleming
    • , Juwell W. Wu
    • , Cher X. Zhao
    • , Sam Miake-Lye
    • , Joji Fujisaki
    • , Daniel Côté
    • , David W. Rowe
    • , Charles P. Lin
    •  & David T. Scadden
  • Letter |

    Recently haematopoietic stem cell niches have been shown to comprise osteoblastic and vascular microenvironments. This study describes a newly developed ex vivo real-time imaging technology and immunoassaying to trace the homing of highly purified GFP-expressing haematopoietic stem cells in response to irradiation.

    • Yucai Xie
    • , Tong Yin
    • , Winfried Wiegraebe
    • , Xi C. He
    • , Diana Miller
    • , Danny Stark
    • , Katherine Perko
    • , Richard Alexander
    • , Joel Schwartz
    • , Justin C. Grindley
    • , Jungeun Park
    • , Jeff S. Haug
    • , Joshua P. Wunderlich
    • , Hua Li
    • , Simon Zhang
    • , Teri Johnson
    • , Ricardo A. Feldman
    •  & Linheng Li
  • Letter |

    Lung carcinoma cells were found to secrete the extracellular matrix proteoglycan versican. Versican directly activates the TLR2 receptor complex on macrophages, which in turn promotes tumour metastasis by producing TNF-?. Thus cancer cells utilize signalling pathways of the innate immune system to support metastatic spread.

    • Sunhwa Kim
    • , Hiroyuki Takahashi
    • , Wan-Wan Lin
    • , Pascal Descargues
    • , Sergei Grivennikov
    • , Youngjun Kim
    • , Jun-Li Luo
    •  & Michael Karin
  • Letter |

    This study presents the structure of gp23-chaperonin complexes showing gp23 encapsulated in the folding chamber. The folding chamber is distorted to enclose a large substrate, and this is the first study that visualizes of a newly folded physiological substrate trapped inside the folding chamber of GroEL.

    • D. K. Clare
    • , P. J. Bakkes
    • , H. van Heerikhuizen
    • , S. M. van der Vies
    •  & H. R. Saibil
  • Letter |

    Recently, the first crystal structure of a pentameric ligand-gated ion channel known as GLIC was published, which represented a closed state of the channel. In two papers in this issue, presumptive open states of a related channel — ELIC — have been crystallized and show significant tilting of the M2 and M3 α-helices from the closed state.

    • Nicolas Bocquet
    • , Hugues Nury
    • , Marc Baaden
    • , Chantal Le Poupon
    • , Jean-Pierre Changeux
    • , Marc Delarue
    •  & Pierre-Jean Corringer
  • Letter |

    Recently, the first crystal structure of a pentameric ligand-gated ion channel known as GLIC was published, which represented a closed state of the channel. In two papers in this issue, presumptive open states of a related channel — ELIC — have been crystallized and show significant tilting of the M2 and M3 α-helices from the closed state.

    • Ricarda J. C. Hilf
    •  & Raimund Dutzler


  • Prospects |

    The Postdoc Journal keepers of 2008 offer parting thoughts on a year of personal and professional milestones.

    • Gene Russo


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