natureasia.com top ten research highlights

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

1

Environmental science: Climate impacts of Bitcoin mining in China

Nature Communications, April 7, 2021

The energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with Bitcoin mining are accelerating rapidly in China, according to a new study published in Nature Communications. Without more stringent regulations and policy changes, these impacts could undermine global sustainability efforts.

The Bitcoin cryptocurrency relies upon blockchain technology, which enables publicly recorded p...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22256-3

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2

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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3

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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4

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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5

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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6

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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7

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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8

Cancer: Immune response in some melanoma survivors persists for 9 years

Nature Cancer, March 25, 2021

Certain types of T immune cells remained in the skin and blood of four patients with melanoma for up to nine years after diagnosis, following immunotherapy, according to a paper published in Nature Cancer. This finding provides new understanding of the potential long-lasting benefits of cancer immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment in recent years. It en...

doi: 10.1038/s43018-021-00180-1

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9

Climate change: Plants and soils may trade ability to store carbon

Nature, March 25, 2021

When the biomass of plants increases in response to rising carbon dioxide levels, the amount of carbon the soil is able to store decreases, according to an analysis of over 100 experiments published in Nature. Current models of terrestrial carbon sinks do not account for this trade-off, so future projections may need to be revised.

Terrestrial ecosystems remove about 30% of the c...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03306-8

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10

Artificial intelligence: Supporting the motion that computers can debate

Nature, March 18, 2021

An autonomous agent that can engage in competitive debate with humans is reported in this week’s Nature. Although the human debaters were judged to have won the competition, the demonstration suggests that artificial intelligence may have the ability to participate in complex human activities.

Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible to produce machines that can perform h...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03215-w

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