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E.g., 11/18/2017
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  • Feature

    KC Huang probes basic questions of bacterial life

    KC Huang, 38PhysicistStanford University

    Physicists often ponder small things, but probably not the ones on Kerwyn Casey “KC” Huang’s mind. He wants to know what it’s like to be a bacterium.

    “My motivating questions are about understanding the physical challenges bacterial cells face,” he says. Bacteria are the dominant life-forms on Earth. They affect the health of plants and animals,...

    10/04/2017 - 13:50 Microbiology, Biophysics
  • Feature

    David Kipping seeks new and unexpected worlds

    David Kipping, 33AstronomerColumbia University

    By early next spring, astronomer David Kipping hopes to know if the object he’s spent his early career searching for is really there.

    An astronomer at Columbia University, Kipping is perhaps most known for a project sifting through data from the Kepler space telescope on more than a thousand planets orbiting distant stars. But he’s more...

    10/04/2017 - 13:49 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • Feature

    Chong Liu one-ups plant photosynthesis

    Chong Liu, 30Inorganic chemistUCLA

    For Chong Liu, asking a scientific question is something like placing a bet: You throw all your energy into tackling a big and challenging problem with no guarantee of a reward. As a student, he bet that he could create a contraption that photosynthesizes like a leaf on a tree — but better. For the now 30-year-old chemist, the gamble is paying off.

    “He...

    10/04/2017 - 13:48 Chemistry, Sustainability, Materials
  • Feature

    Lena Pernas sees parasitic infection as a kind of Hunger Games

    Lena Pernas, 30ParasitologistUniversity of Padova

    Lena Pernas’ love of parasites began in childhood, when she was plagued with many virtual infections. One of her favorite pastimes as a 9-year-old was playing The Amazon Trail, an educational computer game set near the South American river. One of the dangers players could encounter was malaria, “and I got malaria a lot,” Pernas says. This...

    10/04/2017 - 13:47 Microbiology, Microbes
  • Feature

    Kay Tye improvises to understand our inner lives

    Kay Tye, 36NeuroscientistMIT

    Here are some of the things Kay Tye relishes: break dancing, rock-climbing, snowboarding, poker, raising her young daughter and son. These adrenaline-fueled activities all require basic skills. But true mastery — and the joy Tye finds in them — comes from improvisation. She boldly steps into a void, a realm where she has to riff, and trusts that a flash of insight...

    10/04/2017 - 13:46 Neuroscience
  • Feature

    Christina Warinner uncovers ancient tales in dental plaque

    Christina Warinner, 37Molecular anthropologistUniversity of OklahomaMax Planck Institute for theScience of Human History

    In a pitch-black rainforest with fluttering moths and crawling centipedes, Christina Warinner dug up her first skeleton. Well, technically it was a full skeleton plus two headless ones, all seated and draped in ornate jewelry. To deter looters, she excavated through the night...

    10/04/2017 - 13:45 Anthropology, Genetics, Archaeology
  • Editor's Note

    Nature offers inspiration, and occasionally courage

    When Donald Griffin and Robert Galambos first reported that bats use the ricocheting echoes of sound waves to pilot through the environment, some scientists doubted it was possible. The team’s experiments, conducted in the late 1930s at Harvard University and reported in the early 1940s, coincided with World War II and the proliferation of active sonar systems for use on ships and submarines...

    09/20/2017 - 12:47 Technology, Animals
  • Feature

    Bat brain signals illuminate navigation in the dark

    Ninad Kothari’s workplace looks like something out of a sci-fi film. The graduate student at Johns Hopkins University works in a darkened, red-lit room, where he trains bats to fly through obstacle courses. Shielding within the walls keeps radio and other human-made signals from interfering with transmissions from the tiny electrical signals he’s recording from the bats’ brains as the animals...

    09/20/2017 - 12:30 Animals, Neuroscience
  • News

    A new test of water ripples supports the idea of quantum heat in a vacuum

    Empty space might feel hot to a traveler zipping through at a rapidly increasing clip — or so some physicists predict. And a new experiment provides a hint that they might be right.

    That idea, known as the Unruh effect, seems to be supported by an analogous effect that appears in a tank of rippling water. Patterns in the waves, when analyzed as if seen by an accelerating observer, appear...

    09/18/2017 - 07:00 Quantum Physics
  • News

    The sun’s strongest flare in 11 years might help explain a solar paradox

    A series of rapid-fire solar flares is providing the first chance to test a new theory of why the sun releases its biggest outbursts when its activity is ramping down. Migrating bands of magnetism that meet at the sun’s equator may cause the biggest flares, even as the sun is going to sleep.

    A single complex sunspot called Active Region 2673 emitted seven bright flares — powerful bursts...

    09/11/2017 - 16:30 Astronomy, Particle Physics