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Volume 487 Issue 7405, 5 July 2012

Recently released papers and tapes have revealed that the United States and the Soviet Union came even closer to a nuclear exchange during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 than many realized at the time. In Comment, David Gibson examines the decision-making processes that took the world to the brink and back. Today, with nine nuclear-weapons states and counting, the world may be an even more dangerous place. Scott Sagan argues that although there is something in the claim that the two cold war superpowers achieved an uneasy balance that prevented conflict, no such stability can be achieved between multiple nuclear-weapons states. Sagan sees arms reduction as essential, with the halfway house of slimmed-down nuclear arsenals as a worthwhile intermediate goal. Cover: Viktor Koen.

Editorial

  • Two legal rulings by the US Supreme Court last week will have significant implications for research into health-care outcomes and for how neuroscience is used in sentencing juveniles.

    Editorial

    Advertisement

  • The UK government's latest appointment offers hope for British science.

    Editorial
  • The printing press changed the world; three-dimensional printing could do the same.

    Editorial
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World View

  • Biomedical scientists risk forgetting what they’re working for if they don’t connect with the people who are affected by their research, says Tal Nuriel.

    • Tal Nuriel
    World View
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Research Highlights

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Seven Days

  • The week in science: First weight-loss pill approved for more than a decade; GSK pleads guilty to health-care fraud; and Gabon burns ivory in stance against illegal trade.

    Seven Days
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News

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News Q&A

  • Uri Simonsohn explains how he uncovered wrongdoing in psychology research.

    • Ed Yong
    News Q&A
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News

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Correction

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News Feature

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Comment

  • Linguistic analysis reveals how advisers influenced President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis 50 years ago, argues David R. Gibson.

    • David R. Gibson
    Comment
  • Danger from nuclear weapons is mounting. It is time to take control of the nuclear fuel cycle and move towards a world without warheads, says Scott D. Sagan.

    • Scott D. Sagan
    Comment
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Summer Books

  • With the annual exodus from labs and lecture theatres on the horizon, Nature's regular reviewers and editors share some gripping holiday reads.

    • Gillian Beer
    • Thomas Misa
    • Gabrielle Walker
    Summer Books
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Correspondence

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Correction

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Obituary

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News & Views

  • Fossils from a new South African site show that some human ancestors ate fruits and leaves, as do most primates today. The finding challenges ideas of why and how the human lineage split from the ancestors of extant apes. See Letter p.90

    • Margaret J. Schoeninger
    News & Views
  • It seems that embryonic stem cells regularly pass through a transient state during which they can generate all the cell types of an animal, including those of the placenta. See Article p.57

    • Azim Surani
    • Julia Tischler
    News & Views
  • A rapid drop in infrared emission from a Sun-like star could indicate that a drastic event has cleared a circumstellar disk of dusty debris — the material from which planets form. See Letter p.74

    • Margaret Moerchen
    News & Views
  • Uncovering the contribution of rare species to ecosystems is crucial to predicting the impacts of biodiversity loss. It seems that these species can be ecologically very different from their common relatives, but only in some cases.

    • Kevin J. Gaston
    News & Views
  • Western-style diets could be contributing to the rapid increase in inflammatory bowel disease. New research suggests that dietary fat can alter bile composition and so favour the growth of pro-inflammatory gut microbes. See Letter p.104

    • Peter J. Turnbaugh
    News & Views
  • A remarkable reaction that reverses the chemical behaviour of molecules known as 1,3-diketones allows a new strategy that could be used to prepare a range of potentially useful, naturally occurring compounds. See Letter p.86

    • Stefan Roesner
    • Varinder K. Aggarwal
    News & Views
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Article

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Letter

  • A simulation of the distribution of the first stars at a cosmic age of about 180 million years reveals that the 21-cm atomic hydrogen signature of these stars is an enhanced (ten millikelvin) fluctuation signal on scales of a few hundred million light-years.

    • Eli Visbal
    • Rennan Barkana
    • Christopher M. Hirata
    Letter
  • Observations of a young, Sun-like star indicate that orbiting debris from the process of terrestrial planet formation has undergone an unprecedented phase of rapid evolution that cannot be explained by any known physical model.

    • Carl Melis
    • B. Zuckerman
    • Michael S. Bessell
    Letter
  • Propagating optical plasmons — collective electron excitations coupled to photons — are launched in graphene and studied with near-field optical microscopy, revealing ultra-strong optical field confinement and gate-tunable control of optical fields at nanoscale dimensions.

    • Jianing Chen
    • Michela Badioli
    • Frank H. L. Koppens
    Letter
  • Phytolith, stable carbon isotope, and dental microwear texture data for two individuals of Au. sediba, 2-million-year-old hominins from South Africa, show that they consumed a mostly C3 diet that probably included harder foods, and both dicotyledons (for example, tree leaves, fruits, and wood or bark) and monocotyledons (for example, grasses and sedges); this diet contrasts with previously described diets of other early hominin species.

    • Amanda G. Henry
    • Peter S. Ungar
    • Lee Berger

    Collection:

    Letter
  • In a porcine cystic fibrosis model, lack of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is shown to result in acidification of airway surface liquid (ASL), and this decrease in pH reduces the ability of ASL to kill bacteria; the findings directly link loss of the CFTR anion channel to impaired defence against bacterial infection.

    • Alejandro A. Pezzulo
    • Xiao Xiao Tang
    • Joseph Zabner
    Letter
  • In synthetic biology, the use of regulatory proteins that bind either DNA or RNA to reprogram mammalian cellular functions allows a variety of computational ‘logic circuits’ to be built in a plug-and-play manner, which may pave the way for precise and robust control of future gene-based and cell-based therapies.

    • Simon Ausländer
    • David Ausländer
    • Martin Fussenegger
    Letter
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Corrigendum

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Erratum

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Feature

  • Non-native English speakers face challenges when trying to publish. But there are resources that can provide help.

    • Kendall Powell

    Collection:

    Feature
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Q&A

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Futures

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