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Volume 503 Issue 7476, 21 November 2013

A water drop strikes the water-averse wing of a Morpho butterfly. There are many uses for surfaces that can stay dry, self-clean or resist icing. Liquid drops hitting such surfaces tend to spread out and then retract before finally bouncing. Many applications benefit from minimizing the contact time between drop and surface, which is generally assumed to occur if the impacting drop deforms symmetrically. Kripa K. Varanasi and colleagues now show that drops bounce off faster from a superhydrophobic surface with a morphology that redistributes the liquid mass so that it no longer spreads and retracts symmetrically. Theory and experiments confirm that this strategy shortens the contact time between a bouncing drop and a surface beyond what was thought possible. Photo: A. T. Paxson, K. Hounsell, J. W. Bales, J. C. Bird & K. Varanasi.


  • Editorial |

    As the Warsaw conference on the climate wraps up this week, there is reason for hope despite several well-publicized setbacks.

  • Editorial |

    Changes to the international zoological code are to be welcomed, despite continuing dissent.

  • Editorial |

    Nature doesn’t usually do film reviews, but Gravity is a true great.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: Test flight for volcano-ash sensor, Japan scales back emissions goals, and rare mammal caught on film.



News Feature

  • News Feature |

    Graphene's dazzling properties promise a technological revolution, but Europe may have to spend a billion euros to overcome some fundamental problems.

    • Mark Peplow
  • News Feature |

    Human papillomavirus is causing a new form of head and neck cancer— leaving researchers scrambling to understand risk factors, tests and treatments.

    • Megan Scudellari


  • Comment |

    This list will help non-scientists to interrogate advisers and to grasp the limitations of evidence, say William J. Sutherland, David Spiegelhalter and Mark A. Burgman.

    • William J. Sutherland
    • David Spiegelhalter
    • Mark Burgman

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Philip Ball reconsiders the mix of dystopian science fiction and satire 50 years after Aldous Huxley's death.

    • Philip Ball
  • Books & Arts |

    Historian Peter Westwick and his colleague Peter Neushul thought up their scientific history of surfing, The World in the Curl (Crown, 2013), on boards off the coast of California. As the winter surfing season gets into full swing, Westwick talks about warfare, wetsuits, climate change and forecasting surf.

    • Jascha Hoffman


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Orbiting less than two stellar radii above the visible surface of a Sun-like star, the Earth-sized exoplanet Kepler-78b is a hellish world. But its existence bodes well for the discovery and characterization of habitable planets. See Letters p.377 & p.381

    • Drake Deming
  • News & Views |

    Breaking waves place repeated loading on marine algae, which can lead to death by fatigue. But observations of one alga suggest that its joint structure, which lacks transverse connections, confers fatigue resistance.

    • Emily Carrington
  • News & Views |

    Emissions of carbon dioxide from inland waters to the atmosphere are a crucial link in the global carbon cycle. A comprehensive analysis reveals that this connection is much stronger than was previously thought. See Article p.355

    • Bernhard Wehrli
  • News & Views |

    Antibiotic-tolerant, dormant variants of otherwise antibiotic-sensitive bacteria underlie many chronic and relapsing infections. A small molecule has been identified that can efficiently eradicate these persister cells. See Article p.365

    • Kenn Gerdes
    • Hanne Ingmer
  • News & Views |

    An analysis of North American drought variability over the past millennium shows that it is not unusual for widespread drought to persist for years, prompting fresh thinking about our ability to deal with such climate conditions.

    • Jonathan T. Overpeck
  • News & Views |

    Many animals use culture, the ability to learn from others, but only humans create complex culture. A laboratory experiment tests which characteristics of our social networks give us this capacity. See Letter p.389

    • Peter Richerson


  • News & Views |

    HIV avoids triggering the cell receptors that initiate the host's innate immune responses. It seems that the virus achieves this evasion by using its protein coat to hide its nucleic acids until they are beyond detection. See Letter p.402

    • Stephen P. Goff


  • Article |

    An analysis of regional variations in global inland water surface area, dissolved CO2 and gas transfer velocity yields a global CO2 evasion rate of 2.1 × 1015 grams of carbon per year, which is higher than previous estimates owing to a larger contribution from streams and rivers.

    • Peter A. Raymond
    • Jens Hartmann
    • Peter Guth
  • Article |

    This study investigates how zygotic transcription is initiated and the maternal transcripts cleared in the zebrafish embryo: using loss-of-function analyses, high-throughput transcriptome sequencing and ribosome footprinting, the important roles of pluripotency factors Nanog, Pou5f1 and SoxB1 during these processes are identified.

    • Miler T. Lee
    • Ashley R. Bonneau
    • Antonio J. Giraldez
  • Article |

    Dormant bacterial persister cells evade antibiotic destruction and their survival gives rise to some chronic infections; this study reveals that persister cells can be eradicated with a compound activating the bacterial protease ClpP, providing an effective biofilm treatment in vitro and in mouse chronic infection models.

    • B. P. Conlon
    • E. S. Nakayasu
    • K. Lewis
  • Article |

    RNAs are shown to interact with DNA methyltransferase 1 and prevent DNA methylation of genes at their specific locus, providing evidence that active transcription directly regulates DNA methylation levels.

    • Annalisa Di Ruscio
    • Alexander K. Ebralidze
    • Daniel G. Tenen


  • Letter |

    Data from the Kepler spacecraft and the HARPS-N ground-based spectrograph indicate that the extrasolar planet Kepler-78b has a mean density similar to that of Earth and imply that it is composed of rock and iron.

    • Francesco Pepe
    • Andrew Collier Cameron
    • Christopher A. Watson
  • Letter |

    Doppler spectroscopic measurements of the mass of the Earth-sized planet Kepler-78b reveal that its mean density is similar to Earth’s, suggesting a composition of rock and iron.

    • Andrew W. Howard
    • Roberto Sanchis-Ojeda
    • Jonathan J. Fortney
  • Letter |

    There are many uses for surfaces that can stay dry, self-clean or resist icing, and many applications benefit from minimizing the contact time between a surface and any drops that may come into contact with it; drops are now shown to bounce off faster when using a superhydrophobic surface with a morphology that redistributes the liquid mass so that the centre of the drop assists in the recoil.

    • James C. Bird
    • Rajeev Dhiman
    • Kripa K. Varanasi
  • Letter |

    A dual-task computer game played by groups of different sizes is used to show that cultural evolution (the maintenance or improvement of cultural knowledge) strongly depends on population size; in larger groups of players, higher cultural complexity and cultural trait diversity are maintained, and improvements to existing cultural traits are more frequent.

    • Maxime Derex
    • Marie-Pauline Beugin
    • Michel Raymond
  • Letter |

    Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 is shown here to depend on the recruitment to the HIV-1 capsid of specific cofactors involved in orchestrating nuclear entry and targeting; when these capsid–cofactor interactions are prevented either by virus mutation, cofactor depletion or pharmacological inhibition of cofactor recruitment, viral DNA can be detected by innate immune sensors.

    • Jane Rasaiyaah
    • Choon Ping Tan
    • Greg J. Towers
  • Letter |

    Transnuclear mice are generated from B cells with a receptor specific for the haemagglutinin of influenza A virus; the authors show that influenza virus can infect and deplete haemagglutinin-specific B cells in the lung, which might confer a replicative advantage to the virus and allow it to evade an early neutralizing response.

    • Stephanie K. Dougan
    • Joseph Ashour
    • Hidde L. Ploegh
  • Letter |

    Temperature-dependent alternative splicing of FLOWERING LOCUS M (FLM) results in two protein products, FLM-β and FLM-δ, that regulate the onset of flowering in Arabidopsis; at cooler temperatures FLM-β represses flowering, whereas at higher temperatures, the plant preferentially produces FLM-δ, which promotes flowering.

    • David Posé
    • Leonie Verhage
    • Markus Schmid
  • Letter |

    The crystal structure of a complex between the catalytic core of the HOIP subunit of the E3 ligase LUBAC and ubiquitin is reported, yielding insight into the ubiquitin transfer reaction and explaining how HOIP is capable of synthesizing linear ubiquitin chains with high specificity.

    • Benjamin Stieglitz
    • Rohini R. Rana
    • Katrin Rittinger


  • Column |

    Confronting hypothetical dilemmas can ease workplace problems, argue Caitlin Casey and Kartik Sheth.

    • Caitlin Casey
    • Kartik Sheth


  • Q&A |

    Earth scientist tackles societal problems using an interdisciplinary approach.

    • Virginia Gewin

Career Brief

  • Career Brief |

    UK studentships attempt to bridge gap between academia and other sectors.

  • Career Brief |

    US researchers were affected by government closure.


Brief Communications Arising

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