There are times in the development of science when a shift in approach is sufficiently extensive that only a collection of thoughts and perspectives from many different practitioners can do justice to it. This issue of Nature sees the launch of a themed series of essays, called Connections, which take such an approach to the interdisciplinary study of complex, dynamic systems
The series begins just a few weeks after the popular Essay page returned to Nature. It will reiterate the tradition of this format as a forum for scientists to reflect on new ideas, or re-evaluate old ones. The Connections essays is being collated into a Nature web focus, where access to the first four will be free. We hope that, week by week, a greater story develops than could be told by a single article — and that over the coming year, the Essay page will continue to provide scientists with a valuable opportunity to say exactly what they think.
In the first Connections essay, “Biology’s next revolution”, Nigel Goldenfeld and Carl Woese argue that the emerging picture of microbes as gene-swapping collectives demands a revision of such concepts as organism, species and evolution itself.