We certainly live in the future. The smallest features on computer chips are reaching atomic dimensions. At the same time, biotechnology has advanced so much that molecular biologists are working on synthetic biological cells. One of the promises behind these efforts is that perhaps genetic engineering could deliver tailor-made cures for diseases. But in a world of seven billion people and growing, how realistic is it still that such advanced technologies from atom-sized computing to genetic engineering could benefit all mankind? [...]
June 18, 2013
Interested in a career with one of the top journals in science publishing? Nature Communications is going through a phase of intense growth, and we are now recruiting an editor to join my team in the physical sciences. This is an exciting career opportunity. To me, reading up on exciting scientific discoveries on a daily basis, and being able to discuss these with scientists in the field, is a huge privilege and motivation.
As for this particular position, the ideal candidate should have a background in any area of physics. As the job advert states, a broad scientific knowledge and training, excellent literary skills and a keen interest in the practice and communication of science are important, as are excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
To apply, please do so via our recruitment web site below. Closing date is July 9th.
Please note that the position is based in London, and we do require a pre-existing work permit for the UK.
In case you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.
June 10, 2013
The purpose of the editorial process at scientific journals is to select the papers that fit the editorial scope of the journal, and – within the limited means of the review scheme – try to make sure that published papers are technically correct and a fair representation of the scientific results presented. For most modern scientific journals, peer review has been a crucial element of this process: manuscripts are evaluated by other scientists (peers), who then send their assessment of the work to the editor. If these comments are passed on to the authors, it is anonymously. The authors won’t know who reviewed their manuscript. [...]
June 9, 2013
It become pretty much a routine, albeit an expensive one, to use transmission electron microscopes for imaging atoms in a crystal. But what has often been missing from those images is a crucial bit of information, the identity of the chemical element that has been looked at. Of course, the grey scales in the contrast of the different atoms do provide some information on the identity of an atom – at least as long as it was already known what kind of crystal is imaged. A more detailed and flexible elemental analysis, however, has been difficult. Writing in Physical Review Letters, Knut Urban from the Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany and colleagues now report an improved energy-filtering technique that is able to do a full elemental mapping on the atomic scale. [...]
April 1, 2013
Sixty years ago this month Nature published the famous paper by Watson and Crick solving the structure of DNA. At the time many researchers pursued this goal, made difficult by the complexity of the DNA itself. A key contribution to the solution of the puzzle was the x-ray diffraction data provided by Rosalind Franklin. Indeed, without x-ray diffraction experiments this discovery would have been almost impossible at the time.
The way x-ray crystallography works is that a beam of x-rays is directed at a crystal, where the x-rays bounce off the atoms. Because the atoms in a crystal are periodically arranged, the x-rays form complex but regular patterns (such as the one seen for DNA). A detailed analysis of these patterns enables the precise determination of the crystal structure.
To this day such experiments aren’t easy. They require relatively large crystals and typically are done at major facilities such as electron synchrotrons. The synthesis of the crystals for these experiments can often be very difficult.
Yasuhide Inokuma, Makoto Fujita and colleagues from the University of Tokyo in Japan and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland have now developed a clever method that does away with many limitations of x-ray crystallography. Their method works with tiny amounts of material, only about a half to 5 micrograms are enough. This is around a millionth of a gram – truly tiny. The difference between a microgram and a gram is the same as that between a gram and a metric ton. In addition, another major advance of their method is that the target molecules don’t even need to be in a crystalline state. [...]