top ten research highlights

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


Physics: Turning buoyancy on its head

Nature, September 3, 2020

Tiny boats that float upside down underneath a levitating layer of liquid, displaying unusual buoyancy forces, are reported in Nature this week. This observation challenges our intuitive understanding of liquid–air interfaces and could prompt future investigations of the behaviour of liquid boundaries.

Under the action of gravity, liquids in a container, such as a laboratory...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2643-8

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Environment: Atlantic Ocean contains more plastic than previously thought

Nature Communications, August 19, 2020

The Atlantic Ocean contains approximately 12–21 million tonnes of microplastic waste in the upper 200 metres, reports a study in Nature Communications. Quantifications of just the three most abundant plastic types in the upper ocean indicate that the amount of plastic in the total Atlantic Ocean is much higher than previously determined.

Assessment of the ecological and envir...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17932-9

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Palaeontology: 429-million-year-old eye provides a view of trilobite life

Scientific Reports, August 14, 2020

The internal structure of a 429-million-year-old fossilized trilobite eye is almost identical to that of modern bees, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that the principles of vision in many insects and crustaceans today are at least half a billion years old.

Brigitte Schoenemann and Euan Clarkson used digital microscopy to re-examine a f...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69219-0

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Public health: Life expectancy gap between Black and white people in Washington, DC, analysed

Scientific Reports, August 28, 2020

Heart disease, homicide and cancer are leading contributing factors to stark differences in life expectancy between Black people and white people in Washington, DC, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Max Roberts and colleagues analysed 1999–2017 mortality data to calculate life expectancies for men and women in Washington, DC, and to investigate specific ca...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-70046-6

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Ecology: Fast-growing trees die young and could affect carbon storage

Nature Communications, September 9, 2020

Faster growth leads to a shorter lifespan in trees, according to a paper published in Nature Communications. The findings could have implications for predictions of how much carbon forests can store under climate change.

A relationship between faster tree growth rates and shorter tree lifespan has been shown in some trees, particularly in cold-adapted conifers, but whether this...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17966-z

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Infectious disease: Insights into how rare individuals control HIV replication

Nature, August 27, 2020

In certain individuals with HIV-1 who are able to control virus replication without antiretroviral therapy (ART), the virus is frequently integrated into specific regions of the human genome in which viral transcription is suppressed. These findings are published online in Nature this week.

Less than 0.5% of individuals infected with HIV-1 are able to maintain drug-free control...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2651-8

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Animal behaviour: Leading the young: older male elephants are up to the tusk

Scientific Reports, September 4, 2020

Older male elephants may have important roles to play as experienced leaders to younger males when navigating unknown or risky environments, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

In long-lived species, such as elephants and whales, older individuals often respond more appropriately to complex, changing environments, which may benefit younger group members. Howev...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-70682-y

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Medical research: Insulin-producing organoids treat diabetes in mice

Nature, August 20, 2020

The generation of functional human islet-like organoids (HILOs) that can restore glucose homeostasis without immune rejection after transplantation into diabetic mice is reported in Nature this week.

The transplantation of islets — clusters of hormone-producing cells of the pancreas — provides a method for long-term glucose control in people with type 1 and late-stage type...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2631-z

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Genetics: Romantic relationship dynamics may be in our genes

Scientific Reports, August 21, 2020

Variations in a gene called CD38, which is involved in attachment behaviour in non-human animals, may be associated with human romantic relationship dynamics in daily life, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Jennifer Bartz, Gentina Sadikaj, and colleagues examined data on 111 heterosexual couples (222 individuals) who reported their social behaviour – which...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69520-y

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Archaeology: X-ray imaging provides unique snapshot of ancient animal mummification

Scientific Reports, August 21, 2020

Analysis of three mummified animals ― a cat, a bird and a snake ― from Ancient Egypt using advanced 3D X-ray imaging is described in a paper published in Scientific Reports. The technique provides insights into the conditions in which the animals were kept, their complex mummification process and their possible causes of death, without causing damage to the specimens.


doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69726-0

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