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Volume 530 Issue 7591, 25 February 2016

This Nature special issue examines whether scientists today consider the world of tomorrow when they make decisions � and why they should. Technology experts tell us that tomorrow’s world will be radically different from today’s (see page 398). Even the people in it could be different (page 402). And scientists, like all people, find it difficult to care much about what the world will look like after they’re gone. As Nicholas Stern warns, current climate economics models implicitly assume that lives in the future are less important � a major problem when unmanaged climate change today could affect future lives the most (page 407). Social science highlights tensions between our tendencies to care about others, yet to favour current benefits over future ones � behavioural economists Ernst Fehr and Helga Fehr-Duda call for the design of sustainable-development policies and schemes that game these evolved behaviours (page 413). Finally, John Bongaarts suggests the best thing we could do now for future generations is to ensure that there are fewer of them (page 409). Cover art: Anna Parini


  • Editorial |

    It is worrying that US government departments are unable to divulge basic data on research projects involving human subjects. Such data should be publicly available to ensure volunteers’ safety.

  • Editorial |

    The loss of three key facilitators must not impede progress on emissions mitigation.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days



News Feature


Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Barbara Kiser reviews five of the week's best science picks.

    • Barbara Kiser



News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Nanoparticles coated with fragments of the body's own proteins are shown to induce T cells of the immune system to adopt regulatory functions that suppress autoimmune reactions involving these self-antigens. See Article p.434

    • David Wraith
  • News & Views |

    The presence of an N1 methyl group on adenine bases in DNA and RNA was thought to be a form of damage. Results now show that it also occurs at specific sites in messenger RNAs, where it affects protein expression. See Article p.441

    • Anna M. Kietrys
    • Eric T. Kool
  • News & Views |

    Models based on developmental mechanisms described in mice and shared by most mammals are shown to accurately predict tooth size in extinct hominins, and can explain the small third molars in our species. See Letter p.477

    • Aida Gómez-Robles
  • News & Views |

    Simulations of the flux of atmospheric carbon dioxide into the ocean show that changes in flux associated with human activities are currently masked by natural climate variations, but will be evident in the near future. See Letter p.469

    • Tatiana Ilyina
  • News & Views |

    Our understanding of fast radio bursts — intense pulses of radio waves — and their use as cosmic probes promises to be transformed now that one burst has been associated with a galaxy of known distance from Earth. See Letter p.453

    • Duncan Lorimer


  • Article |

    It is known that there was gene flow from Neanderthals to modern humans around 50,000 years ago; now, analysis of a Neanderthal genome from the Altai Mountains in Siberia reveals evidence of gene flow 100,000 years ago in the other direction—from early modern humans to Neanderthals.

    • Martin Kuhlwilm
    • Ilan Gronau
    • Sergi Castellano
  • Article |

    Nanoparticles coated with autoantigenic peptides bound to MHC class II molecules suppress established autoimmune disease by inducing antigen-specific TR1-like regulatory T cells in mouse and humanized mouse models.

    • Xavier Clemente-Casares
    • Jesus Blanco
    • Pere Santamaria
  • Article |

    Here the m1A modification is discovered in messenger RNA and mapped at the transcriptome-wide level; the modification is conserved, dynamic, accumulates in structured regions around translation initiation sites upstream of the first splice site, and correlates with higher protein expression.

    • Dan Dominissini
    • Sigrid Nachtergaele
    • Chuan He


  • Article |

    Crystal structures of the SET domains of MLL3 and a mutant MLL1 either unbound or complexed with domains from RBBP5 and ASH2L are determined; a combination of structural, biochemical and computational analyses reveals a two-step activation mechanism of MLL family proteins, which may be relevant for other histone methyltransferases.

    • Yanjing Li
    • Jianming Han
    • Ming Lei


  • Letter |

    Observations of a six-day-long radio transient following a fast radio burst have yielded the host galaxy’s redshift, which, combined with the dispersion measure, provides a direct measurement of the cosmic density of ionized baryons in the intergalactic medium including all of the so-called ‘missing baryons’.

    • E. F. Keane
    • S. Johnston
    • C. Bassa
  • Letter |

    Detecting the quantum states of molecules is harder than detecting those of atoms; here, a way around this problem is found by co-trapping a molecular and an atomic ion, using the state of the atomic ion to non-destructively determine that of the molecular ion.

    • Fabian Wolf
    • Yong Wan
    • Piet O. Schmidt
  • Letter |

    By exciting high-temperature K3C60 with mid-infrared pulses, a large increase in carrier mobility is obtained, accompanied by the opening of a gap in the optical conductivity; these same signatures are observed at equilibrium when cooling K3C60 below the superconducting transition temperature of 20 kelvin, which could be an indication of light-induced high-temperature superconductivity.

    • M. Mitrano
    • A. Cantaluppi
    • A. Cavalleri
  • Letter |

    A complex containing five atoms of iron is shown to be a highly efficient and robust water oxidation catalyst owing to the presence of redox flexibility, which enables charge accumulation and electron transfer, and the presence of adjacent active sites that enables intramolecular O–O bond formation.

    • Masaya Okamura
    • Mio Kondo
    • Shigeyuki Masaoka
  • Letter |

    A climate modelling experiment is used to identify where ocean carbon uptake should change as a result of anthropogenic climate change and to distinguish these changes from internal climate variability; we may be able to detect changing uptake in some oceanic regions between 2020 and 2050, but until then, internal climate variability will preclude such detection.

    • Galen A. McKinley
    • Darren J. Pilcher
    • Nicole S. Lovenduski
  • Letter |

    In human societies, individuals who violate social norms may be punished by third-party observers who have not been harmed by the violator; this study suggests that a reason why the observers are willing to punish is to be seen as more trustworthy by the community.

    • Jillian J. Jordan
    • Moshe Hoffman
    • David G. Rand
  • Letter |

    Re-expression of the Shank3 gene in adult mice results in improvements in synaptic protein composition and spine density in the striatum; Shank3 also rescues autism-like features such as social interaction and grooming behaviour, and the results suggest that aspects of autism spectrum disorders may be reversible in adulthood.

    • Yuan Mei
    • Patricia Monteiro
    • Guoping Feng
  • Letter |

    A small molecule, inhibitor of a protein–protein interaction between the transcription factor Pdr1 and the Med15 subunit of Mediator in the fungal pathogen Candida glabrata, is identified and characterized here; the compound iKIX1 inhibits Pdr1-mediated gene activation and resensitizes drug-resistant C. glabrata to azole antifungals in vitro and in animal models of disseminated and urinary tract infection.

    • Joy L. Nishikawa
    • Andras Boeszoermenyi
    • Haribabu Arthanari
  • Letter |

    Tumours can require certain amino acids for their proliferation, and the diricore method described here helps to identify such restrictive amino acids; using this method in kidney cancer tissue and breast carcinoma cells, the authors observe an association between proline deficiency and upregulation of PYCR1, an enzyme required for proline synthesis.

    • Fabricio Loayza-Puch
    • Koos Rooijers
    • Reuven Agami
  • Letter |

    The structure of E. coli Cascade bound to foreign target DNA is presented, revealing the basis of the relaxed Cascade PAM recognition specificity, which results from its interaction with the minor groove, and demonstrating how a wedge in Cascade forces the directional pairing of the target strand with CRISPR RNA while stabilizing the non-target displaced strand.

    • Robert P. Hayes
    • Yibei Xiao
    • Ailong Ke




  • Column |

    Diverse faces are appearing on a frozen continent, says Robin Bell.

    • Robin Bell


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