top ten research highlights

The following highlights are the top ten most viewed research highlights on the English website of during the past month.


Astronomy: Interstellar comet 2I/Borisov is like no other comet

Nature Communications, March 31, 2021

Interstellar comet 2I/Borisov is more pristine than any other comet observed in the Solar System, reports a study in Nature Communications this week. The characteristics of the dust surrounding 2I/Borisov are shown to differ from those found in Solar System comets in a separate paper published in Nature Astronomy. The characteristics reported in these two papers support an interstellar origin f...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22000-x

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Climate change: 1.5 °C target keeps the tropics under human adaptability limit

Nature Geoscience, March 9, 2021

Limiting global warming to 1.5 °C could prevent tropical regions between 20°S and 20°N of the equator from reaching the limit of human adaptability, suggests a paper published this week in Nature Geoscience.

Humans’ ability to regulate body heat is dependent on the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air. There exists an upper survival limit, beyond which humans are...

doi: 10.1038/s41561-021-00695-3

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Education: Progress in learning may not increase with school enrolment

Nature, March 11, 2021

Although enrolment in schools has risen globally between 2000 and 2017, progress in learning (as measured by standardized tests) has been limited reports a study published online in Nature. The findings are based on the analysis of a new dataset, assembled by the World Bank, which incorporates data from 164 countries representing 98% of the world’s population.

Human capital — the va...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03323-7

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Electronics: Wearable electronic textiles for the smart dresser

Nature, March 11, 2021

An electronic textile with a large-area display that could have applications in communications, navigation and healthcare is described in Nature this week. The textile is flexible, breathable and durable, making it an ideal material for practical uses.

Creating large displays integrated with functional systems that are flexible and durable when worn has been challenging. Convent...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03295-8

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Ecology: Gene drives may help control invasive grey squirrel in the UK

Scientific Reports, March 5, 2021

Existing gene drive technologies could be combined to help control the invasive grey squirrel population in the UK with little risk to other populations, according to a modelling study published in Scientific Reports.

Gene drives introduce genes into a population that have been changed to induce infertility in females, allowing for the control of population size. However, they fa...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-83239-4

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Environment: Mapping the deforestation footprint of nations reveals growing threat to tropical forests

Nature Ecology & Evolution, March 30, 2021

Consumption of products like beef, soy, coffee, cocoa, palm oil and timber by wealthy nations is directly linked to deforestation in threatened tropical biomes, finds a study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Increased global demand for agricultural and forestry commodities has led to deforestation worldwide. Prior research examined links between global supply chains and ...

doi: 10.1038/s41559-021-01417-z

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Metabolism: Alcohol is directly metabolized in the brain in mice

Nature Metabolism, March 23, 2021

The behavioural effects of alcohol intoxication may be caused by alcohol breakdown products (metabolites) produced in the brain, and not in the liver, in mice, according to a study published in Nature Metabolism. These findings provide new insights into how alcohol may affect the brain and open the possibility of better regulation of the effects of alcohol on behaviour.

The behav...

doi: 10.1038/s42255-021-00357-z

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Astronomy: Early Universe explosion sheds light on elusive black hole

Nature Astronomy, March 30, 2021

Distorted light from an explosion that occurred when the Universe was three billion years old may have revealed an intermediate-mass black hole, a paper in Nature Astronomy suggests. These findings could have implications for understanding of black hole formation and of how low-mass black holes become supermassive black holes.

Intermediate-mass black holes are thought to be an ev...

doi: 10.1038/s41550-021-01307-1

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Climate change: Unprecedented European droughts in the past two decades

Nature Geoscience, March 16, 2021

European dry spells during the past two decades have been more severe than others in the past 2,110 years due to anthropogenic climate change, reports a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience.

Prolonged droughts can have profound environmental and social effects; the European heat waves in the summers of 2003, 2015 and 2018 put pressure on food and health systems a...

doi: 10.1038/s41561-021-00698-0

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Developmental biology: Human blastocyst-like structures generated in a dish

Nature, March 18, 2021

The generation of human blastocyst-like structures in the laboratory is described in a pair of papers published in Nature. The findings provide a model for studying early human development, and may lead to insights into early developmental defects, as well as aiding in the development of new in vitro fertilization (IVF)-associated therapies.

A few days after an egg has been ferti...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03372-y

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