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

News in Focus

Books & Arts




    News & Views

  • 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
  • Perspective

  • Articles

  • Article |

    A reprogrammable mechanical metamaterial constructed of bistable unit cells that can be switched independently and reversibly between two stable states with distinct mechanical properties using magnetic actuation is demonstrated.

    • Tian Chen
    • , Mark Pauly
    •  & Pedro M. Reis
  • Article |

    Modelling and remote sensing show that by the end of the twenty-first century, lake heatwaves will be several degrees Celsius warmer and some will be months longer, with potentially major adverse consequences for lake ecosystems.

    • R. Iestyn Woolway
    • , Eleanor Jennings
    •  & Stephen C. Maberly
  • Article | | Open Access

    Although progress in the coverage of routine measles vaccination in children in low- and middle-income countries was made during 2000–2019, many countries remain far from the goal of 80% coverage in all districts by 2019.

    • Alyssa N. Sbarra
    • , Sam Rolfe
    •  & Jonathan F. Mosser
  • Article |

    Arterial development relies on the timely and MYC-dependent suppression of endothelial metabolism and the cell cycle in pre-arterial endothelial cells through Notch signalling.

    • Wen Luo
    • , Irene Garcia-Gonzalez
    •  & Rui Benedito
  • Article |

    In mouse and human squamous cell carcinoma, loss of function of FAT1 promotes tumour initiation, malignant progression and metastasis through the activation of a hybrid epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition phenotype.

    • Ievgenia Pastushenko
    • , Federico Mauri
    •  & Cédric Blanpain
  • Article |

    Genome-wide siRNA screens identify an essential function for sorting nexin 5 in virus-induced autophagy and immunity mediated via class III phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase complex 1.

    • Xiaonan Dong
    • , Yuting Yang
    •  & Beth Levine
  • Article |

    A high-throughput, chromosome-wide analysis of DNA looping reveals its contribution to the organization of chromatin, and provides insight into how nucleosomes are deposited and organised de novo.

    • Aakash Basu
    • , Dmitriy G. Bobrovnikov
    •  & Taekjip Ha
  • Article |

    Psychedelic alkaloids served as lead structures for the development of tabernanthalog, a non-hallucinogenic and non-toxic analogue that reduces alcohol- and heroin-seeking behaviour and produces antidepressant-like effects in rodents.

    • Lindsay P. Cameron
    • , Robert J. Tombari
    •  & David E. Olson

Amendments & Corrections

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