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Current Issue of Nature

Volume 600 Issue 7889, 16 December 2021
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Volume 600 Issue 7889, 16 December 2021

Catching a wave

Controlling physical systems at the level of individual molecules, atoms or ions underpins technologies such as quantum information processing and quantum metrology. Investigating collisions in a hybrid system of trapped atoms and ions has proved difficult to study at ultracold temperatures and as a result quantum phenomena have remained unobserved. In this week’s issue, Pascal Weckesser, Fabian Thielemann and their colleagues demonstrate quantum-mechanical interactions between an ultracold gas of lithium atoms and barium ions. The researchers use magnetic fields to tune and control the atom–ion interactions, observing ’wave-like’ interactions between them. This might help pave the way to quantum control of such hybrid systems, which could find use in quantum simulation and precision measurements. The cover offers an artistic impression of an individual ion interacting with several atoms with a wave-like character.

Cover image: Ella Marushchenko

This Week

News in Focus

Books & Arts




    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A sophisticated theory for learning motor skills places emphasis on the need for inferring context — drawing conclusions about the structure of the environment — for efficiently storing and expressing motor memories.

    • Anne G. E. Collins
    • Samuel D. McDougle
  • News & Views |

    Bipedalism is a defining feature of the human lineage, but not all hominin species walked in the same way. New data from a famous palaeoanthropology site reveal that at least two differently bipedal hominins roamed eastern Africa.

    • Stephanie M. Melillo
  • News & Views |

    Trials of behavioural interventions are hard to compare, hampering policy decision-making. The effects of more than 50 interventions on exercise behaviour have been compared using an experimental design called a megastudy.

    • Heather Royer
  • Reviews

  • Review Article |

    The potential origins and global spread of SARS-CoV-2, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and the importance of genomic surveillance for the control of the COVID-19 pandemic are discussed.

    • Juan Li
    • Shengjie Lai
    • Weifeng Shi
  • Perspective

  • Perspective |

    High-temperature, high-acidity and low-oxygen extremes may pose a particular threat to marine ecosystems, requiring a major effort to understand them and the ability of marine life to respond to them.

    • Nicolas Gruber
    • Philip W. Boyd
    • Meike Vogt
  • Articles

  • Article |

    A modelling study describing the formation of the polygonal surface structures in Sputnik Planitia on Pluto shows that convection driven by ice sublimation can generate planetary-scale surface patterns.

    • Adrien Morison
    • Stéphane Labrosse
    • Gaël Choblet
  • Article |

    Magnetically tunable interactions between lithium atoms and barium ions are used to demonstrate and probe Feshbach resonances between atoms and ions, which could have applications in the fields of experimental quantum simulation and fundamental physics.

    • Pascal Weckesser
    • Fabian Thielemann
    • Tobias Schaetz
  • Article |

    An ensemble of electron spins is detected by their microwave fluorescence using a superconducting single microwave photon counter, making single-spin electron spin resonance spectroscopy a possible future prospect.

    • Emanuele Albertinale
    • Léo Balembois
    • Emmanuel Flurin
  • Article | | Open Access

    A study using local compressibility measurements reports fractional Chern insulator states at low magnetic field in magic-angle twisted bilayer graphene, and establishes the applied magnetic field as a means to tune the Berry curvature distribution.

    • Yonglong Xie
    • Andrew T. Pierce
    • Amir Yacoby
  • Article |

    A new framework is proposed for assessing the risks of the atmospheric transformation products of commercial chemicals, combining laboratory and field experiments, advanced techniques for screening suspect chemicals, and in silico modelling.

    • Qifan Liu
    • Li Li
    • John Liggio
  • Article | | Open Access

    A global network of researchers was formed to investigate the role of human genetics in SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity; this paper reports 13 genome-wide significant loci and potentially actionable mechanisms in response to infection.

    • Mari E. K. Niemi
    • Juha Karjalainen
    • Chloe Donohue
  • Article |

    A massive field study whereby many different treatments are tested synchronously in one large sample using a common objectively measured outcome, termed a megastudy, was performed to examine the ability of interventions to increase gym attendance by American adults.

    • Katherine L. Milkman
    • Dena Gromet
    • Angela L. Duckworth
  • Article |

    A theory of motor learning based on the principle of contextual inference reveals that adaptation can arise by both creating and updating memories and changing how existing memories are differentially expressed, and predicts evoked recovery and context-dependent single-trial learning.

    • James B. Heald
    • Máté Lengyel
    • Daniel M. Wolpert
  • Article | | Open Access

    A study of the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in England between September 2020 and June 2021 finds that interventions capable of containing previous variants were insufficient to stop the more transmissible Alpha and Delta variants.

    • Harald S. Vöhringer
    • Theo Sanderson
    • Moritz Gerstung
  • Article |

    A complex range of mutations within the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is needed to escape polyclonal plasma neutralizing antibodies, and plasma from individuals who were first infected then vaccinated display the greatest resilience to escape mutations.

    • Fabian Schmidt
    • Yiska Weisblum
    • Paul D. Bieniasz
  • Article | | Open Access

    Individual memory antibodies selected over time by natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 have greater potency and breadth than antibodies elicited by vaccination, whereas the overall neutralizing potency of plasma is greater following vaccination.

    • Alice Cho
    • Frauke Muecksch
    • Michel C. Nussenzweig
  • Article | | Open Access

    Structural analysis of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae 80S ribosome trapped in an intermediate translocation state shows stabilization of codon–anticodon interactions by eukaryote-specific elements of the 80S ribosome, eEF2 and tRNA and demonstrates a major role for eEF2 in maintaining the directionality of translocation.

    • Muminjon Djumagulov
    • Natalia Demeshkina
    • Gulnara Yusupova
  • Article |

    The trRosetta neural network was used to iteratively optimise model proteins from random 100-amino-acid sequences, resulting in ‘hallucinated’ proteins, which when expressed in bacteria closely resembled the model structures.

    • Ivan Anishchenko
    • Samuel J. Pellock
    • David Baker
  • Matters Arising

Amendments & Corrections

Nature Outlook

  • Nature Outlook |

    Ovarian cancer

    Despite being one of the most lethal cancers, ovarian cancer has often been overlooked. However, advances in understanding of the disease have begun to yield improvements in care.

Nature Briefing

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