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Volume 544 Issue 7648, 6 April 2017

The swirling lines in the cover image reveal the instantaneous direction of air flow induced by a mosquito’s flapping wings. Richard Bomphrey and his colleagues show that the remarkably high wingbeat frequencies and shallow stroke amplitudes used by mosquitoes lead to novel aerodynamic mechanisms. Like most insects, the mosquito generates lift from leading-edge vortices, but this is augmented by trailing-edge vortices, which capture energy left over from previous wingbeats. This exquisitely timed rotational mechanism may explain the unusually high aspect ratio of mosquito wings, as it allows the insect to maximize the aerodynamic force along their wingspan. Cover image: Toshiyuki Nakata.


World View

  • World View |

    This week marks a chance to curb the misuse of crime-scene evidence in US courts and spare innocent people from going to jail, says Robin Mejia.

    • Robin Mejia

Seven Days




News Feature



Books & Arts


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Scientists have seen no sign of an elusive nuclear decay that could help to explain why the Universe is dominated by matter, rather than antimatter. An upgraded experiment continues the search with unprecedented sensitivity. See Letter p.47

    • Phillip S. Barbeau
  • News & Views |

    A proxy for the amount of carbon dioxide taken up by plants for photosynthesis has been used to estimate historical global uptake, revealing a large increase that might partly offset the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels. See Letter p.84

    • Dan Yakir
  • News & Views |

    Mosquitoes flap their long, thin wings four times faster than similarly sized insects. Imaging and computational analysis of mosquito flight illuminates some aerodynamic mechanisms not seen before in animal flight. See Letter p.92

    • Laura A. Miller
  • News & Views |

    Structural insights into adiponectin receptors provide evidence that these proteins have an inherent enzymatic activity, which gives them the ability to propagate signalling by their ligand, the hormone adiponectin. See Letter p.120

    • William L. Holland
    • Philipp E. Scherer
  • News & Views |

    The sign of a material's charge carriers is usually reflected in the sign of the 'Hall voltage'. But for a structure inspired by chain mail, altering its geometry inverts the Hall voltage, even if the charge carriers are unchanged.

    • Masaya Notomi
  • News & Views |

    A polysaccharide called rhamnogalacturonan II is a major component of some fruits, but humans rely on their gut microbiota to digest it. The microbes and processes responsible for this digestion have now been revealed. See Article p.65

    • Mirjam Czjzek


  • Article |

    During emergency myelopoiesis in mice, clusters of self-renewing granulocyte/macrophage progenitors (GMP) are transiently formed in the bone marrow cavity to produce a burst of myeloid cells; in leukaemia, GMP clusters persist and constantly generate myeloid leukaemia cells.

    • Aurélie Hérault
    • Mikhail Binnewies
    • Emmanuelle Passegué
  • Article |

    The hierarchical deconstruction of the complex pectic glycan rhamnogalacturonan-II by the human gut bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron reveals seven new families of glycoside hydrolases and three catalytic functions not previously observed.

    • Didier Ndeh
    • Artur Rogowski
    • Harry J. Gilbert






  • Column |

    If you are terrified to meet with your supervisor, start with small doses, says Eleftherios Diamandis.

    • Eleftherios Diamandis


  • Futures |

    Message from the abyss.

    • Graham Robert Scott
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