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Volume 541 Issue 7638, 26 January 2017

The cover shows Jackson Pollock’s painting One: Number 31, 1950 in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The ‘wisdom of the crowd’ approach has been widely adopted in recent years as a democratic way of determining a truth, fuelled in part by an enthusiasm for online voting procedures. But the crowd is not always correct and can actually be ‘unwise’, partly because specialized knowledge is often not widely shared. Here Dražen Prelec and colleagues combine the virtues of a ‘democratic’ algorithm, allowing anyone, irrespective of credentials, to register an opinion, with an ‘elitist’ outcome that associates truth with the judgements of a few experts. The strategy is based on selecting the answer that is more popular than people would predict, rather than relying solely on ‘most popular’ or ‘most confident’ answers. Cover: Shutterstock.


World View

  • World View |

    Scientists have worked hard to ensure that Europe’s new data laws do not harm science, but one last push is needed, says Jan-Eric Litton.

    • Jan-Eric Litton

Research Highlights

Seven Days


News Feature

  • News Feature |

    Moonshots, road maps, frameworks and more are proliferating, but few can agree on what these names even mean.

    • Megan Scudellari


  • Comment |

    Police agencies, software firms and the public must ensure that crime-forecasting software improves public safety and officer accountability, writes Aaron Shapiro.

    • Aaron Shapiro

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Insoo Hyun weighs up a treatise exploring the ethical deliberations surrounding embryo research.

    • Insoo Hyun
  • Books & Arts |

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

    • Barbara Kiser


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    It emerges that phage viruses, which infect bacteria, use small peptides to communicate with each other. This observation of intercellular communication also reveals how viruses make a key developmental decision. See Article p.488

    • Alan R. Davidson
  • News & Views |

    Precise measurements of antimatter systems might cast light on why the Universe is dominated by matter. The observation of a transition in an antihydrogen atom heralds the next wave of high-precision antimatter studies. See Letter p.506

    • Stefan Ulmer
  • News & Views |

    Earth grew by the accretion of meteoritic material. High-precision isotopic data reveal how the composition of this material changed over time, forcing revision of models of our planet's formation. See Letters p.521 & p.525

    • Richard W. Carlson
  • News & Views |

    Materials called hydrogels have potential applications as scaffolds for tissue engineering, but methods are needed to assemble them into complex structures that mimic those found in nature. Just such a method has now been reported.

    • Shoji Takeuchi
  • News & Views |

    Translation of RNA into proteins is a fundamental process for all cells. Analysis of a mouse model of skin cancer uncovers an atypical RNA-translation program that has a vital role in tumour formation. See Article p.494

    • Marianne Terndrup Pedersen
    • Kim B. Jensen

Review Article

  • Review Article |

    The experimental state-of-the-art in the field of chiral quantum optics is reviewed and the ways in which chiral light–matter interaction could be exploited to add a new dimension of control to quantum networks and quantum many-body physics are discussed.

    • Peter Lodahl
    • Sahand Mahmoodian
    • Peter Zoller


  • Article |

    Some phages—viruses that infect bacteria—encode peptides that are secreted from infected cells and that, beyond a certain threshold, stimulate other viruses to switch from the lytic (killing the host cell) to lysogenic (dormant) phase.

    • Zohar Erez
    • Ida Steinberger-Levy
    • Rotem Sorek
  • Article |

    The translation of upstream open reading frames in skin tumour models protects some cancer-related mRNAs from global reductions in protein synthesis during the early stages of tumour initiation, suggesting that unconventional translation has a crucial role in tumorigenesis.

    • Ataman Sendoel
    • Joshua G. Dunn
    • Elaine Fuchs
  • Article |

    Some CLC proteins are channels that conduct chloride ions passively, whereas others are active co-transporters, a difference that has been hard to understand given their high degree of sequence homology; now, cryo-electron microscopy is used to determine the structure of a mammalian CLC channel, shedding light on this question.

    • Eunyong Park
    • Ernest B. Campbell
    • Roderick MacKinnon



Technology Feature



  • Feature |

    Programming tools can speed up and strengthen analyses, but mastering the skills takes time and can be daunting.

    • Monya Baker



  • Futures |

    It's the category that counts.

    • S. L. Huang

Brief Communications Arising

Advertisement Feature

  • Advertisement Feature |

    Zhejiang University: Seeking truth and pursuing innovation

    Located in the picturesque and culture-steeped city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang University is one of China’s oldest and most prestigious comprehensive universities. For 120 years, it has never ceased its search for truth and pursuit of innovation. Its research achievements in natural sciences, agriculture, information sciences, engineering, medicine, humanities and social sciences highlight its rapid development into a world-class, innovative research university.

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