top ten research highlights

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


Materials: Making strong bio-based replacements for plastics

Nature Communications, November 4, 2020

A fabrication method to produce a strong bio-based material, which could be used as a replacement for plastics, is presented in an article published in Nature Communications this week.

Petroleum-based plastics pose challenges for the environment and our health, but replacing them with sustainable bio-based plastics, which have mechanical properties similar to their petroleum-bas...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19174-1

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Astronomy: Tracing the origins of fast radio bursts

Nature, November 5, 2020

The identification of the source of a fast radio burst within the Milky Way is reported in three papers published in Nature this week. Observations of the bright pulses of radiowaves, made from multiple satellite- and ground-based telescopes, suggest that they originate from a magnetar in our Galaxy. The implications of these findings and the current understanding of fast radio bursts a...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2863-y

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Climate change: Ending greenhouse gas emissions may not stop global warming

Scientific Reports, November 13, 2020

Even if human-induced greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced to zero, global temperatures may continue to rise for centuries afterwards, according to a reduced complexity model of the global climate between 1850 and 2500 published in Scientific Reports. The authors encourage other researchers to explore their results using alternative models.

Jorgen Randers and Ulrich Goluke use...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-75481-z

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Neuroscience: Social isolation evokes craving responses in the human brain

Nature Neuroscience, November 24, 2020

After ten hours of mandatory social isolation, people tend to experience social craving and increased brain responses to images of social interactions, suggests a study published this week in Nature Neuroscience.

Social interactions are rewarding, and images associated with positive social interactions, like smiling faces, engage dopamine reward systems in the human brain. Previo...

doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-00742-z

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Palaeontology: Ancient rodent-like fossils suggest early social behaviour in mammals

Nature Ecology & Evolution, November 3, 2020

Fossil specimens of rodent-like multituberculate mammals, dated to 75.5 million years ago, including skeletons of multiple individuals burrowed together, suggest that mammals may have been social since the Mesozoic era. These findings are reported in a paper published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Although a large number of placental mammals are social today, the r...

doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-01325-8

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Biotechnology: ‘Porcupine’ system tags objects with DNA

Nature Communications, November 4, 2020

A system that uses DNA sequences to ‘tag’ objects, is reported today in Nature Communications. Inspired by how its namesake’s quills stick to things, ‘Porcupine’ could be used for tracking, even on the smallest of objects when RFID tags or QR codes are not suitable. The tags can also be decoded within seconds using a portable device.

Katie Doroschak and colleagues desig...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19151-8

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Gene therapy: Concerns for the long-term safety of AAV gene therapy

Nature Biotechnology, November 17, 2020

A decade-long study of adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy in haemophilic dogs found genomic changes that may increase the risk of liver cancer. These findings, published in Nature Biotechnology, suggest that further research is necessary to determine whether AAV—a vector that is used in two FDA-approved gene therapies—might promote cancer in rare instances.

AAV is ...

doi: 10.1038/s41587-020-0741-7

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Environment: Sources of harmful components in particulate air pollution identified

Nature, November 19, 2020

An analysis of air quality in Europe suggests that mitigation strategies aimed at reducing the concentration of particulate matter may not necessarily reduce the oxidative potential of this kind of pollution, which is thought to have negative effects on health. The findings, reported in a study published in Nature, indicate that the sources of particulate matter mass and of oxidative pot...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2902-8

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Astrophysics: Shining light on the Sun’s source of power

Nature, November 26, 2020

The detection of neutrinos produced by the Sun’s secondary solar fusion cycle is reported in Nature this week. Measurements of these neutrinos could provide new insights into the structure of the Sun and the abundance of elements within its core.

Stars are fuelled by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium, which occurs via two processes: the proton–proton (pp) chain, inv...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2934-0

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Astrobiology: Mining with microbes in space

Nature Communications, November 11, 2020

Microbes can extract economically important elements from rocks at zero gravity, reports a study in Nature Communications. These results suggest that ‘biomining’ by microbes could be a critical facet of settling on other planets.

Rare Earth elements (REEs) are critical components of electronics because of their unique magnetic or catalytic properties. However, they are challe...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19276-w

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