top ten research highlights

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

18 November 2017 ~ 18 December 2017

  • Archaeology: The roots of inequality

    Nature, November 16, 2017

    In post-Neolithic times, Old World societies experienced more wealth inequality than those in the New World, a Nature paper reveals. The study, which ties this finding in with the rise of domestication of plants and animals, helps to shed light on the origins of inequality.

    Using house size (area) as a proxy for wealth, Timothy Kohler and colleagues analysed thousands of houses from 6...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/nature24646

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  • Physics: Lightning-fast production of radioactive isotopes

    Nature, November 23, 2017

    Lightning can trigger an atmospheric nuclear reaction that leads to the production of radioactive isotopes, according to a study in this week’s Nature.

    It has been proposed that the energy from gamma-rays within lightning can cause photonuclear reactions in the atmosphere, which would produce neutrons and, eventually, positrons (the antimatter counterpart of electrons). However, the...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/nature24630

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  • Biology: Gut microbes worth their salt

    Nature, November 16, 2017

    High salt intake alters the gut microbiota in mice reports a study published online in Nature this week. As the role of gut microbiota in disease is becoming increasingly recognized, these findings highlight the gut microbiome as a potential therapeutic target to counteract salt-sensitive conditions.

    High salt consumption associated with a Western lifestyle can lead to hypertension an...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/nature24628

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  • Climate sciences: Estimating the effects of solar geoengineering on tropical cyclone frequency

    Nature Communications, November 15, 2017

    Solar geoengineering methods that inject aerosols into the atmosphere may have regionally diverging effects on tropical cyclone frequency, suggests a modelling study in Nature Communications. These results suggest the uncertain effects of solar geoengineering - a proposed approach to counteract global warming - should be considered by policymakers.

    A solar geoengineering approach know...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01606-0

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  • Astronomy: Hazy Pluto stays cool

    Nature, November 16, 2017

    Atmospheric hazes can explain Pluto’s cool temperature, reports a paper published in this week’s Nature.

    Recent observations show that Pluto’s temperature is much cooler than previously thought, suggesting the existence of unknown cooling processes. One possible coolant is water vapour, although this would require the vapour to be many orders of magnitude out of equilibrium.


    Original article doi: 10.1038/nature24465

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  • Synthetic biology: The proof is in the protein

    Nature, November 30, 2017

    A semi-synthetic organism that can both store and retrieve unnatural, man-made genetic information is described in this week’s Nature. The bacterium could serve as a platform for the creation of new proteins and functionalities.

    The genetic code is made of four nucleotides, adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine, which pair to form the rungs of the DNA double helix. In 2014, Floyd ...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/nature24659

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  • Cloning: Dolly may not have had early-onset osteoarthritis

    Scientific Reports, November 23, 2017

    Concerns that the cloning process had caused the early-onset of osteoarthritis in Dolly the sheep - the first animal cloned from adult cells - may have been unfounded, according to a study in Scientific Reports.

    In a conference abstract, it was mentioned briefly that Dolly had osteoarthritis of the left knee at 5 - years of age. This in turn led to concerns being raised over the possi...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15902-8

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  • Quantum physics: A quantum leap for quantum simulators

    Nature, November 30, 2017

    Quantum simulators with an exceptionally high number of controlled ‘qubits’ (the building blocks of a quantum computer, analogous to the bits in classical computers) are demonstrated in two separate experiments published in this week’s Nature. The systems can be used to study interactions that are not possible to model using classical computers.

    Quantum simulators are a form of ...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/nature24654

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  • Zoology: Shell shape helps tortoises get back on their feet

    Scientific Reports, December 1, 2017

    The different shell shapes of Galapagos giant tortoises affect the amount of energy the animals require to self-right after falling on their backs, according to a study in Scientific Reports. The authors suggest that the evolution of shell shapes may have been partly driven by pressures to improve the ability to self-right.

    Galapagos giant tortoises have two main shell types, saddleba...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15787-7

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  • Genetics: Looking for genetic links to male sexual orientation

    Scientific Reports, December 8, 2017

    A preliminary genome-wide association study (GWAS) of male sexual orientation is presented in Scientific Reports this week. Although the findings suggest genetic differences near genes that may have functions associated with sexual orientation, the authors note that potential connections are at best speculative.

    Male sexual orientation is multifactorial, with evidence of multiple gene...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15736-4

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