Tag Archives: Nature Magazine

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Dec 8, 2022

Volume 612 Issue 7939

nature – December 8, 2022 issue:

Oil-palm farms that spare rainforests menace grasslands instead

Programmes to avoid deforestation could have unintentional impacts on a variety of ecosystems.

Fruit-fly inspired robots hold steady in a gust of wind

Flying devices weighing only 10 milligrams could be controlled by an unconventional set of instruments.

‘Prisoner’s dilemma’ pinpoints plants that cooperate

Game theory helps to identify genetic variants that give plants the ability to thrive in crowded conditions.

The search for new physics gets a new partner: the Sun

A fifth fundamental force predicted by some alternative theories of gravity has not been seen in the solar interior

Molten rock lurks not far below Yellowstone tourists’ feet

The magma chamber of an enormous volcano lies closer to Earth’s surface than previously estimated.

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Dec 1, 2022

Volume 612 Issue 7938

Science Magazine – December 1, 2022 issue:

Research Highlights

Fast-evolving genome regions point to DNA that sets humans apart

The collection of 1,500 rapidly changing segments is rich in sequences associated with brain development and disease.

Prehistoric rubbish hints that early cooks cared about flavour

Ancient chefs made bitter plants taste better with techniques such as grinding and soaking.

Off the hook: electrical device keeps sharks away from fishing lines

Such interventions could greatly reduce accidental catches of threatened species.

Devastating drought in East Africa is traced to nearby seas

Understanding the weather pattern known as the Indian Ocean Dipole might help to predict lack of rainfall in countries such as Kenya.

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Nov 24, 2022

Volume 611 Issue 7937

nature – November 24, 2022 issue:

Research Highlights

Reviews: Top New Science Books – November 2022

Book cover of California Burning

California Burning

Katherine Blunt Portfolio/Penguin (2022)

California is having more and more wildfires because of climate change, poor tree management creating fire hazards, and antiquated power lines. In 2018, the failure of a 100-year-old rusted electrical hook sparked the Camp Fire, the world’s most expensive natural disaster that year. The blaze forced Pacific Gas and Electric into temporary bankruptcy. Journalist Katherine Blunt’s disturbing history of California’s environmental calamity ends in 2021, with the company’s new chief executive announcing costly underground power lines.

Book cover of The Biggest Ideas in the Universe

The Biggest Ideas in the Universe

Sean Carroll Oneworld (2022)

Theoretical physicist and philosopher Sean Carroll specializes in quantum mechanics, gravity and cosmology. He aims to create a world in which “most people have informed views and passionate opinions” about modern physics. His skilful book, the first of a planned trilogy, covers space, time and motion. Unlike most introductory physics books for the interested amateur, it includes mathematical equations, cogently explained but not solved, as well as the expected metaphorical language.

Book cover of Cancer Virus Hunters

Cancer Virus Hunters

Gregory J. Morgan Johns Hopkins Univ. Press (2022)

One-fifth of cancers in people worldwide are caused by tumour viruses such as hepatitis B. Work stemming from these pathogens won seven Nobel prizes between 1966 and 2020, notes historian Gregory Morgan in his authoritative but accessible chronicle. Yet tumour virology is rarely mentioned in discussions of how molecular biology opened our understanding of cancer. As Morgan observes in his path-breaking history, this inhibits a complete understanding of this field as a technoscientific force.

Book cover of Planta Sapiens

Planta Sapiens

Paco Calvo with Natalie Lawrence Bridge Street (2022)

Humans are so focused on “brain-centric consciousness”, says philosopher of science Paco Calvo, “that we find it difficult to imagine other kinds of internal experience”. Might plants be intelligent (‘sapiens’)? His challenging book is aimed at both believers in this possibility and non-believers. His experiments, such as putting the touch-sensitive plant Mimosa pudica to ‘sleep’ with anaesthetic, provoke thought, as does his note that Charles Darwin requested burial under an ancient village yew, rather than in Westminster Abbey.

Book cover of Ritual

Ritual

Dimitris Xygalatas Profile (2022)

Just before anthropologist Dimitris Xygalatas’s university went into COVID-19 lockdown, his students had one main concern: would there be a graduation ceremony? We care deeply about rituals, he notes in his wide-ranging and well-written survey, because they help us to “cope with many of life’s challenges”, even if we do not understand how — the “ritual paradox”. Scientific investigation has been tricky, because rituals do not flourish in a laboratory, but wearable sensors and brain-imaging technology help.

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Nov 17, 2022

Volume 611 Issue 7936

nature – November 17, 2022 issue:

Farming feeds the world. We desperately need to know how to do it better

Interventions designed to improve agricultural practices often lack a solid evidence base. A new initiative could change that.

CRISPR cancer trial success paves the way for personalized treatments

‘Most complicated therapy ever’ tailors bespoke, genome-edited immune cells to attack tumours.

Overhyping hydrogen as a fuel risks endangering net-zero goals

Hydrogen is touted as a wonder fuel for everything from transport to home heating — but greener and more efficient options are often available.

A fortune in gold is buried in electronic waste

US consumers could generate more than one billion pieces of e-waste a year by 2033.

Why older people get less protection from flu vaccines

Immune players called B cells are partly to blame for the decline in vaccine efficacy for people over 65.

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Nov 10, 2022

Volume 611 Issue 7935

nature – Inside November 10, 2022 issue:

A natural experiment shows electric scooters really do cut traffic

A US city’s crackdown inadvertently reveals the vehicles’ value.

Extra-strength mRNA vaccine fends off a bevy of flu strains

A vaccine upgraded to target four influenza proteins instead of the usual one protects mice against a range of viral variants.

How the dinosaur got its long neck: slowly

A Brazilian fossil suggests that the super-stretcher necks of Argentinosaurus and its ilk evolved gradually rather than in a rush.

Sounds of the stars: how scientists are listening in on space

In astronomy, the use of sound instead of light is breaking down barriers to participation and providing insight into the Universe.

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Nov 3, 2022

Volume 611 Issue 7934

nature – Inside the November 3 Issue:

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Oct 27, 2022

Volume 610 Issue 7933

Research Highlights

Research Preview: Nature Magazine – Oct 20, 2022

The cover of Nature's racism in science 20th October 2022 issue
Illustration by Diana Ejaita

Nature special issue – 20 October 2022:

RACISM – Overcoming science’s toxic legacy

Science is “a shared experience, subject both to the best of what creativity and imagination have to offer and to humankind’s worst excesses”. So wrote the guest editors of this special issue of Nature, Melissa Nobles, Chad Womack, Ambroise Wonkam and Elizabeth Wathuti, in a June 2022 editorial announcing their involvement.

Nature Reviews: Top New Science Books (Oct 2022)

Book cover artwork for Geopedia: A Brief Compendium of Geologic Curiosities

Geopedia

Marcia Bjornerud Princeton Univ. Press (2022)

This is a garnet of a geology book: rooted in the planet, jewel-like and multicoloured. “To geoscientists, rocks are not nouns but verbs — far more than inert curios, they are evidence of Earth’s ebullient creativity,” writes geoscientist Marcia Bjornerud. Her brief A–Z ranges idiosyncratically through landforms, rocks and minerals, geologists, geological terms and time periods, including the Anthropocene, the epoch of human influence. Oddly, it omits the Gaia hypothesis that the planet is a self-regulating system.

Book cover artwork for The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon’s Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I

The Facemaker

Lindsey Fitzharris Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2022)

Following her award-winning 2017 biography of surgeon Joseph Lister, medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris tackles Harold Gillies, a pioneer of plastic surgery. She focuses on his First World War attempts to reconstruct the bullet-butchered faces of British soldiers who had become “strangers even to themselves”. From French battlefields, Fitzharris’s vividly thrilling account moves to the Queen’s Hospital in Sidcup, UK, which Gillies founded in 1917. An epilogue notes that he was knighted only in 1930, long after the war’s military generals.

Book cover artwork for Security and Conservation: The Politics of the Illegal Wildlife Trade

Security and Conservation

Rosaleen Duffy Yale Univ. Press (2022)

The military, intelligence services and tech companies were barely visible at the 2014 London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, recalls scholar of international politics Rosaleen Duffy. By the 2018 conference, they were prominent. This “security turn” in conservation — since intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic’s links to a Chinese wildlife market — drives her timely analysis of a complex phenomenon. A violent approach to tackling poaching might boost elephant numbers, for example, but could also cause human-rights abuses.

Book cover artwork for The Illusionist Brain: The Neuroscience of Magic

The Illusionist Brain

Jordi Camí & Luis M. Martínez (transl. Eduardo Aparcico) Princeton Univ. Press (2022)

The science behind audience perception of magic tricks intrigued late-nineteenth-century researchers. But since then, there have been fewer than 100 research papers on the subject, note pharmacologist Jordi Camí and neuroscientist Luis Martínez in their tantalizing study. Rather than using the brain to explain conjuring tricks, they focus on using illusions to elucidate the brain and behaviour. “When magicians trick us, they are interfering with all of the brain’s strategies for inferring reality.”

Book cover artwork for Plantation Crisis: Ruptures of Dalit Life in the Indian Tea Belt

Plantation Crisis

Jayaseelan Raj UCL Press (2022)

Kerala in India has a reputation for egalitarianism, literacy and high life expectancy. Yet Tamil-speaking Dalit communities are oppressed and marginalized on tea plantations in the state, following a 1990s collapse in the international price of the crop. Jayaseelan Raj, who works in development studies, was born and raised in a Tamil Dalit plantation household. Plantation workers share with him “stories of poverty that they would not share even with their close relatives or neighbours”, as described in his academic study.

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