top ten research highlights

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


Linguistics: Agricultural roots for Transeurasian languages

Nature, November 11, 2021

The Transeurasian language family, which comprises Japanese, Korean, Tungusic, Mongolic and Turkic, may have originated in China around 9,000 years ago and its spread was driven by agriculture, a Nature study reveals. The research helps to clarify an important period in eastern Eurasian linguistic history.

The Transeurasian language family is spread all across Eurasia, from Jap...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04108-8

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Cancer: Fatty acid in palm oil promotes tumour metastasis in mice

Nature, November 11, 2021

Exposure to high concentrations of a dietary fatty acid contained in palm oil promotes the metastasis of mouth and skin cancer cells in mice, according to a paper published in Nature.

Changes in the uptake and metabolism of fatty acids have been linked to cancer metastasis — the process by which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. However, it is unclear which diet...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04075-0

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Public health: Mental health concerns during COVID-19 revealed

Nature, November 18, 2021

The observed increase in calls to mental health helplines during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was largely driven by fears of the virus itself and loneliness resulting from stay-at-home orders, rather than domestic violence, addiction or suicidal ideation, suggests a Nature paper. The findings, based on an analysis of data from around eight million calls to helplines around the world,...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04099-6

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Biology: Louder petrol engine noise disrupts whale resting and nursing

Scientific Reports, November 12, 2021

Whale-watch vessels with louder petrol engines significantly disrupt short-finned pilot whale resting and nursing, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Previous research has found that noise produced by whale-watch vessels can affect whale behaviour. However, the impact of engine noise levels on toothed whale behaviour has been unclear and whale-watch vessel no...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-00487-0

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Ecology: Declines in bird communities create quieter springs

Nature Communications, November 3, 2021

The birdsong soundscapes of North America and Europe are becoming quieter and less varied due to declining trends in bird communities, according to a study published in Nature Communications. The findings suggest additional conservation efforts are needed to prevent further deterioration of natural soundscapes, which could have implications for human wellbeing.

Half of the world...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26488-1

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Engineering: Iodine-powered spacecraft tested in orbit

Nature, November 18, 2021

The performance of spacecraft that use electric propulsion systems may be enhanced by using iodine, rather than the more-expensive and difficult-to-store xenon, suggests a Nature paper. The findings demonstrate the advantages of using iodine as an alternative propellant within the space industry.

Electric propulsion uses electric power to create thrust from a propellant. Curren...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04015-y

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Computational biology: Machine learning approach to identify new designer drugs

Nature Machine Intelligence, November 16, 2021

The chemical structure of unknown, new psychoactive substances, also known as ‘designer drugs’ or ‘legal highs’, can be determined from their mass spectrum alone thanks to an automated, generative, machine learning approach presented in Nature Machine Intelligence. Knowledge of these structures could help forensic laboratories to more quickly identify suspected designer drugs.

doi: 10.1038/s42256-021-00407-x

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Embryology: Insights into early human development

Nature, November 18, 2021

The first detailed cellular and molecular examination of a human embryo in the process of gastrulation, an important event in early development, is presented online in this week’s Nature. The findings offer a unique insight into a central, but sometimes inaccessible, stage of human development.

Gastrulation is a defining moment in early human development. This process starts ...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04158-y

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Environment: G20 consumption may contribute to millions of premature deaths

Nature Communications, November 3, 2021

Nearly 2 million premature deaths resulting from air pollution could be attributable to the consumption of goods in G20 nations in 2010, suggests a modelling study in Nature Communications. The findings aid our understanding of nation-to-nation consumer responsibility for global mortality.

The G20 is a group of 19 nations and the European Union and its members represent around th...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26348-y

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COVID-19: Vaccine hesitant in the USA unlikely to change their minds

Scientific Reports, November 4, 2021

Half of those in the USA who are unwilling to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 report that nothing will change their mind, according to a representative national survey reported in a study published in Scientific Reports.

Jeffrey Lazarus and colleagues surveyed 6,037 American adults in April 2021 to identify their attitudes towards vaccination against SARS-CoV-2. One third of the...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-00794-6

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