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Volume 629 Issue 8012, 16 May 2024

Damage control

The cover shows the aftermath of the collapse of a nine-storey building in Guiyang, China, in 2015. Catastrophic building collapses have a huge cost and result in the loss of life. To try to mitigate problems, conventional building design aims to redistribute the load from any failed parts of a building to the rest of the structure, but this can cause sections of the building to collapse that would otherwise have been unaffected. In this week’s issue, Jose Adam and colleagues present an alternative approach to building design that isolates the failed part of a building thereby preventing catastrophic collapse. Called ‘hierarchy-based collapse isolation’, the approach was inspired by the way lizards isolate and shed their tails to escape predators. The design allows for controlled fracture along predetermined borders in parts of the building, which stops the initial failure from propagating to the entire building. The team suggests that this can prevent full-scale collapse, limiting the affected area and allowing more inhabitants to be rescued.

Cover image: Ou Dongqu/Xinhua/Alamy Live News

This Week

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  • News & Views

    • A design principle for buildings incorporates components that can control the propagation of failure by isolating parts of the structure as they fail — offering a way to prevent a partial collapse snowballing into complete destruction.

      • Sarah L. Orton
      News & Views
    • Researchers find that brief and reversible inhibition of a gene-silencing mechanism leads to irreversible tumour formation in fruit flies, challenging the idea that cancer is caused only by permanent changes to DNA.

      • Anne-Kathrin Classen
      News & Views
    • Altering gut bacteria in male mice revealed that microorganisms are needed for normal sperm development and offspring health. Scientists discuss the implications in terms of understanding microbes, male fertility and pregnancy.

      • Liisa Veerus
      • Martin J. Blaser
      • Eldin Jašarević
      News & Views Forum
    • Organelles called mitochondria are transferred to blood-vessel-forming cells by support cells. Unexpectedly, these mitochondria are degraded, kick-starting the production of new ones and boosting vessel formation.

      • Chantell S. Evans
      News & Views
    • Cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year than do the two next-deadliest diseases combined. An ultrasound technique that tracks tiny gas-filled bubbles could pave the way towards improved early detection.

      • Elisa E. Konofagou
      News & Views
  • Reviews

  • Analysis

    • Human genetic evidence increases the success rate of drugs from clinical development to approval but we are still far from reaching peak genetic insights to aid the discovery of targets for more effective drugs.

      • Eric Vallabh Minikel
      • Jeffery L. Painter
      • Matthew R. Nelson
      Analysis Open Access
  • Articles

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Amendments & Corrections

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