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Volume 599 Issue 7886, 25 November 2021
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Volume 599 Issue 7886, 25 November 2021

Peak flow

The cover shows a lightning strike as a storm in the monsoon moves through the southeastern corner of Arizona. A band of intense rainfall extends for more than 1,000 kilometres along the west coast of Mexico into the southwestern United States during the summer months, constituting the North American monsoon. Monsoons are generally thought to result because land and the ocean are warmed differently by the Sun. This causes changes in air pressure, ultimately creating winds that draw cooler, moist air from the ocean, resulting in rainfall on the land. In this week’s issue, William Boos and Salvatore Pascale show that the North American monsoon is different. Here the monsoon is a result of winds being diverted by mountain ranges. Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains deflect the jet stream, which in turn lifts up warm moist air and generates convective rainfall. The researchers note that although land heating does occur, its effects are insufficient to explain the monsoon, meaning that the North American monsoon should be thought of as mechanically forced.

Cover image: John Sirlin/Alamy

This Week

News in Focus

Books & Arts




    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A triangulation of linguistic, archaeological and genetic data suggests that the Transeurasian language family originated in a population of grain farmers in China around 9,000 years ago, and that agriculture underpinned its spread.

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    • Zak Doric
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    Experiments on electrons interacting with atomic nuclei have shown that the models used to measure neutrino oscillations — and thereby possibly to understand the formation of the Universe — are less accurate than we thought.

    • Noemi Rocco
  • News & Views |

    The protein-coding portions of more than 450,000 individuals’ genomes have been sequenced, and analysed together with the individuals’ health data, revealing rare and common gene variants linked to various health-related traits.

    • Yukinori Okada
    • Qingbo S. Wang
  • News & Views |

    A diamond shatters easily, despite it being the hardest natural material. Atomically disordered forms of diamond made from buckyballs might not only overcome this problem, but also allow other properties to be optimized.

    • Alfonso San-Miguel
  • Articles

  • Article |

    Electron scattering measurements are shown to reproduce only qualitatively state-of-the-art lepton–nucleus energy reconstruction models, indicating that improvements to these particle-interaction models are required to ensure the accuracy of future high-precision neutrino oscillation experiments.

    • M. Khachatryan
    • A. Papadopoulou
    • S. Gardiner
  • Article | | Open Access

    Existing techniques for high-resolution imaging of trapped quantum gases are limited to two-dimensional systems, but the approach described here works in three dimensions by magnifying the quantum gas with matter wave optics.

    • Luca Asteria
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    A study demonstrates the synthesis and characterization of a two-dimensional van der Waals heterostructure hosting artificial heavy fermions, providing a tunable platform for investigations of heavy-fermion physics.

    • Viliam Vaňo
    • Mohammad Amini
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    Engineering of the coupling between optical modes in a lithium niobate chip enables the realization of tunable, bi-directional and low-loss electro-optic frequency shifters controlled using only continuous and single-tone microwaves.

    • Yaowen Hu
    • Mengjie Yu
    • Marko Lončar
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    Preparing amorphous phases of carbon with mostly sp3 bonding in bulk is challenging, but macroscopic samples that are nearly pure sp3 are synthesized here by heating fullerenes at high pressure.

    • Yuchen Shang
    • Zhaodong Liu
    • Bingbing Liu
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    A study describes the synthesis, structural characterization and formation mechanism of a paracrystalline state of diamond, adding an unusual form of diamond to the family of carbon-based materials.

    • Hu Tang
    • Xiaohong Yuan
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    The core North American monsoon arises through topographic steering of the jet stream, and should be considered as convection-enhanced orographic rainfall produced by a mechanically forced stationary wave.

    • William R. Boos
    • Salvatore Pascale
  • Article | | Open Access

    A ‘triangulation’ approach combining linguistics, archaeology and genetics suggests that the origin and spread of Transeurasian family of languages can be traced back to early millet farmers in Neolithic North East Asia.

    • Martine Robbeets
    • Remco Bouckaert
    • Chao Ning
  • Article | | Open Access

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    • Rajeev K. Varshney
    • Manish Roorkiwal
    • Xin Liu
  • Article | | Open Access

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    • Joshua D. Backman
    • Alexander H. Li
    • Manuel A. R. Ferreira
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    • Ewoud R. E. Schmidt
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    A new technique called immunoGAM, which combines genome architecture mapping (GAM) with immunoselection, enabled the discovery of specialized chromatin conformations linked to gene expression in specific cell populations from mouse brain tissues.

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    Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) has provided significant understanding of time-resolved processes of various systems in biology, for example, rhodopsin, which underlies our vision. The approach involves femtosecond-length X-ray pulses directed at protein crystals and has been used to study various photoactive proteins. However, the function of proteins such as rhodopsin requires transcis isomerization of a chromophore, which involves crossing of a conical intersection—a funnel separating potential energy surfaces—at timescales faster than what can be achieved experimentally. Here, Ourmazd and colleagues report a machine learning analysis of SFX data of photoactive yellow protein, which resolves the protein passing through a conical intersection, providing information about the potential energy surfaces involved and achieving time resolution of less than 10 fs. This approach offers an opportunity to understand some of the fastest processes in biology by extracting even more information from SFX datasets.

    • A. Hosseinizadeh
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  • Matters Arising

Amendments & Corrections

Nature Outline

  • Nature Outline |

    Single-ventricle heart defects

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