Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 483 Issue 7390, 22 March 2012

The cover shows a detail from Through the Looking Glass, a large-scale glass artwork by TED Fellow Kate Nichols, which uses silver nanoparticles as 'paint'. The colours arise from oscillations of electrons in the metal particles, called localized surface plasmon resonances. The plasmonic properties of these particles make them attractive for a variety of imaging, sensing and renewable-energy technologies. But it is the particles less than 10 nanometres in diameter that may be most relevant to many natural and engineered systems. As particles approach the quantum regime, our knowledge of how their plasmonic properties change becomes rather hazy. Jonathan Scholl and colleagues investigate the plasmonic properties of individual silver nanoparticles with dimensions in the quantum size regime. Using electron microscopy and spectroscopy, they correlate a particle's plasmon resonance with its size and geometry for diameters ranging from 20 nm to less than 2 nm. The results demonstrate the quantum-mechanical nature of small metallic nanospheres, with direct applications to catalytically active and biologically relevant nanoparticles. Cover credit: Kate Nichols, Alivisatos Lab, Univ. California, Berkeley, Photo: Donald Felton.


  • Editorial |

    Scientists who screen the genes of volunteers for research should tell participants if they find information relevant to their health.

  • Editorial |

    As the campaign against animal research intensifies, so must the response.

  • Editorial |

    As physicists close in on the Higgs boson, they should resist calls to change its name.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: Neutrinos don't travel faster than light; China cracks down on research misconduct; and protest over Spanish science cuts.


News Feature

  • News Feature |

    To dissect evolution, Joe Thornton resurrects proteins that have been extinct for many millions of years. His findings rebut creationists and challenge polluters.

    • Helen Pearson


  • Comment |

    An ambitious project to map the mouse brain at the Allen Institute for Brain Science is a huge undertaking that may unify neuroscience, argue Christof Koch and R. Clay Reid.

    • Christof Koch
    • R. Clay Reid
  • Comment |

    Err on the side of caution and protect the widest-possible areas of ecologically important deep sea, say Phil Weaver and David Johnson.

    • Phil Weaver
    • David Johnson
  • Comment |

    High-energy nuclei coming from far beyond the Solar System, and the exotic particles they produce, remain our best window onto the extreme Universe. Michael Friedlander reflects on what we have learned.

    • Michael Friedlander

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Anthony King savours a surreally varied show on food, from glowing sushi to 1,001 uses for a pig carcass.

    • Anthony King
  • Books & Arts |

    Barry Mazur, a mathematician at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has explored the literary side of mathematics. With the publication this month of Circles Disturbed, a collection of essays on mathematics and narrative that he edited with writer Apostolos Doxiadis, he talks about the overlapping realms of mathematics and the imagination.

    • Jascha Hoffman




News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Some species evolve to resemble another species so as to protect themselves from predation, but this mimicry is often imprecise. An analysis of hoverflies suggests why imperfect imitation persists in the face of natural selection. See Letter p.461

    • David W. Pfennig
    • David W. Kikuchi
  • News & Views |

    An artificial system of microtubules propelled by dynein motor proteins self-organizes into a pattern of whirling rings. This observation may provide insight into collective motion in biological systems. See Letter p.448

    • Tamás Vicsek
  • News & Views |

    Cells replicate half of their genome as short fragments that are put together later on. The way in which this process is linked to the formation of DNA–protein complexes called nucleosomes is now becoming clearer. See Article p.434

    • Alysia Vandenberg
    • Geneviève Almouzni
  • News & Views |

    A study suggests that hydrocarbons released from sedimentary basins formed part of a climatic feedback mechanism that exacerbated global warming during the Eocene epoch.

    • Henrik Svensen
  • News & Views |

    Epigenetics is a hot new research field, but it seems that the influenza virus already has it figured out. By mimicking epigenetic regulation in human cells, one flu strain suppresses the expression of antiviral genes. See Article p.428

    • Alexei L. Krasnoselsky
    • Michael G. Katze
  • News & Views |

    Observations of collective electron waves in metal nanoparticles challenge our understanding of how light interacts with matter on small scales and underscore the need to factor quantum effects into nanophotonics. See Article p.421

    • F. Javier García de Abajo
  • News & Views |

    Studies of rare hereditary disorders are intended to find treatments, but they can also bring other discoveries. One such study links the dysfunction of a protein to that of the cell's energy producers, the mitochondria.

    • Derek P. Narendra
    • Richard J. Youle





  • Feature |

    Life-sciences graduates interested in academic research typically need to do at least one postdoc. For physics students, there are multiple caveats to consider.

    • Karen Kaplan


  • Q&A |

    Climate scientist guides lab in devising mission statement and 'branding' its research.

    • Virginia Gewin

Career Brief

  • Career Brief |

    Striving for work-life balance can take its toll on your career.

  • Career Brief |

    US faculty members at doctoral institutions see bigger raises this year.

  • Career Brief |

    Space-technology programme targets early-career researchers


  • Futures |

    Life insurance.

    • John Gilbey
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

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


Quick links