Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 589 Issue 7842, 21 January 2021

Bolts of blue

The cover shows an artist’s impression of a blue jet seen from the International Space Station. Blue jets are a form of lightning that travel from the tops of thunder clouds upwards into the stratosphere. Lasting less than a second, these jets are not well characterized and there is some debate over how they are generated. In this week’s issue, Torsten Neubert and his colleagues report observations of blue jets collected by an instrument aboard the International Space Station. With an unimpeded view of such events, the researchers observed a blue jet that initiated with a bright blue flash in the cloud top of around 10 microseconds in duration. The team was able to determine that the flash is probably the optical equivalent of the negative narrow bipolar pulses in radio waves that can initiate lighting within clouds.

Cover image: DTU Space, Mount Visual/Daniel Schmelling.

This Week

Top of page ⤴

News in Focus

Top of page ⤴

Books & Arts

Top of page ⤴


Top of page ⤴


Top of page ⤴


  • News & Views

    • Oscillations in neuronal activity in the medial temporal lobe of the human brain encode proximity to boundaries such as walls, both when navigating while walking and when watching another person do so.

      • Hugo J. Spiers
      News & Views
    • Precise maps of routine first-dose measles vaccinations show slowing progress around the world between 2010 and 2019, and large gaps in coverage in many places. Many countries are unlikely to achieve global 2020 coverage targets.

      • C. Edson Utazi
      • Andrew J. Tatem
      News & Views
    • Fractional electric charges have been observed at crystal defects in artificial structures resembling materials called topological crystalline insulators. Such fractional charges could have various engineering applications.

      • Carmine Ortix
      News & Views
    • Two animal studies show that restricting the dietary intake of branched-chain amino acids can extend lifespan by modulating the mTOR signalling pathway. But more research is needed before this diet should be recommended in people.

      • Cristal M. Hill
      • Matt Kaeberlein
      News & Views
    • An analogue of the psychedelic drug ibogaine has been developed. The analogue mirrors ibogaine’s ability to treat addiction and depression in animal models, has fewer side effects and is much simpler to synthesize.

      • Gabriela Manzano-Nieves
      • Conor Liston
      News & Views
    • A device has been developed that consists of mechanical bits, analogous to the magnetic bits used in computer hard drives. Information encoded in the bits programs the mechanical properties of the device.

      • Corentin Coulais
      News & Views
  • Perspective

  • Articles

Top of page ⤴

Amendments & Corrections

Top of page ⤴
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing


Quick links