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Volume 577 Issue 7788, 2 January 2020

Keeping track

One hundred and ninety-three countries have committed to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals cover a range of issues including poverty, gender equality and climate change. To date, it has been difficult to assess spatio-temporal progress towards achieving the SDGs. In this week’s issue, Jianguo Liu and his colleagues present systematic methods that can be used to quantify progress towards the goals at multiple organizational levels over time. The researchers demonstrate their methods using China as a test case, finding that the scores for 13 of the 17 goals had improved nationally over the period 2000 to 2015, while revealing regional differences within the country.

Cover image: K. Krause/Nature (photo: Grand Warszawski/Shutterstock)

This Week

News in Focus

Books & Arts




  • Where I Work

  • Where I Work |

    Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute in London, likes to think amid the hustle and bustle of the institute’s bright and lively atrium.

    • Josie Glausiusz


    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A widely used vaccine against tuberculosis has now been shown to provide almost complete protection when injected intravenously. This is a striking improvement over vaccination through the typical intradermal route.

    • Samuel M. Behar
    • Chris Sassetti
  • News & Views |

    Knowing how dietary fibre nourishes gut microorganisms might suggest ways to boost health-promoting bacteria. A method developed to pinpoint bacteria that consume particular types of dietary fibre could advance such efforts.

    • Nathalie M. Delzenne
    • Laure B. Bindels
  • News & Views |

    The reliance of infrared spectroscopy on light transmission limits the sensitivity of many analytical applications. An approach that depends on the emission of infrared radiation from molecules promises to solve this problem.

    • Andreas Barth
  • News & Views |

    Could artificial intelligence improve the accuracy of screening for breast cancer? A comparison of the diagnostic performance of expert physicians and computers suggests so, but the clinical implications are as yet uncertain.

    • Etta D. Pisano
  • News & Views |

    Observations of a distant cluster of galaxies suggest that star formation began there only 370 million years after the Big Bang. The results provide key details about where and when the first stars and galaxies emerged in the Universe.

    • Nina A. Hatch
  • Articles

  • Article |

    A vibrational spectroscopy technique that measures the electric field emitted from organic molecules following infrared illumination allows their molecular fingerprints to be separated from the excitation background, even in complex biological samples.

    • Ioachim Pupeza
    • Marinus Huber
    • Ferenc Krausz
  • Article |

    The pore space in the metal–organic framework Zr6O4(OH)4(bpydc)6 can be used as a scaffold to grow precisely defined atomically thick sheets of metal halide materials, taking advantage of multiple binding sites to direct complexation of the metal ions; these metal halide nanosheets fill the size gap between discrete molecular magnets and bulk magnetic materials, with potentially unusual magnetic properties arising from this size regime.

    • Miguel I. Gonzalez
    • Ari B. Turkiewicz
    • Jeffrey R. Long
  • Article |

    An analysis based on Landsat imagery shows that the extent of river ice has declined extensively over past decades and that this trend will continue under future global warming.

    • Xiao Yang
    • Tamlin M. Pavelsky
    • George H. Allen
  • Article |

    Systematic methods for evaluating progress towards the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are developed and tested using 119 indicators at China’s national and subnational levels during 2000–2015, showing improvement overall.

    • Zhenci Xu
    • Sophia N. Chau
    • Jianguo Liu
  • Article |

    RITF1, a newly identified plant transcription factor, links signalling through the peptide hormone RGF1 to the balance of reactive oxygen species and thereby enhances the stability of another transcription factor, PLETHORA2, a master regulator of root stem cells.

    • Masashi Yamada
    • Xinwei Han
    • Philip N. Benfey
  • Article |

    An artificial intelligence (AI) system performs as well as or better than radiologists at detecting breast cancer from mammograms, and using a combination of AI and human inputs could help to improve screening efficiency.

    • Scott Mayer McKinney
    • Marcin Sieniek
    • Shravya Shetty
  • Article |

    The histone-acetylation-reader protein ENL is mutated in a paediatric kidney cancer in such a way that it clusters at target genes, increasing the recruitment of the transcriptional machinery, enhancing transcription and deregulating cell fate during development.

    • Liling Wan
    • Shasha Chong
    • C. David Allis
  • Article |

    Chaperones interact with a canonical motif in α-synuclein, which can be prevented by phosphorylation of α-synuclein at Tyr39, whereas inhibition of this interaction leads to the localization of α-synuclein to the mitochondria and aggregate formation.

    • Björn M. Burmann
    • Juan A. Gerez
    • Sebastian Hiller
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