Archive by date | December 2011

Graphene and ribosome Nobellists honoured with UK knighthoods

Britain’s honours system seems to be making a special effort to recognize scientists this year. The three most recent Nobel prize winners to work in the UK – Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at Manchester University, and Venki Ramakrishnan at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge – have all been granted knighthoods in the 2012 New Year’s honours list, announced on 31 December.  Read more

Method of the year: slicing and dicing with gene-editing nucleases

Gene-editing nucleases can make targeted and precise changes to an organism’s genome. This has opened up new possibilities for the study of gene function, as well as the treatment of disease. While gene-editing nucleases have been in use since the mid-1990s, in the form of zinc finger nucleases, the more recent discovery of TALENs (transcriptor-like effector nucleases) has created new interest. In the video above, Nature Methods technology editor Monya Baker explains how gene-editing nucleases work and why they were chosen as Nature Methods ‘Method of the Year’ for 2011. For more on the ‘Method of the Year’ visit the  … Read more

Chemistry professor faces criminal charges after researcher’s death

Three years after a young chemistry researcher died in a lab fire at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), her supervisor, the organic chemist Patrick Harran, and the University of California now both face criminal charges.  Read more

Another XMRV study retracted

Posted on behalf of Heidi Ledford. Five days after Science withdrew a controversial study linking chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) to a virus, another research paper on the topic has been retracted. This study, retracted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on 27 December, was widely seen as supportive of the proposed link between a virus and CFS, so its retraction is another blow to those who back that connection. It had found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome were more likely than healthy controls to harbour MLV-like viruses in their blood. (MLV stands for murine leukaemia virus; and the  … Read more

Science’s breakthroughs of the year


Like most publications, our friends over at Science have compiled a “best of 2011” list – in their case setting out their top 10 breakthroughs of the year. (Don’t miss our own end-of-year special, featuring our newsmakers of the year and 2011′s best science photos).  Read more

Environmentalists laud ‘historic’ mercury rule

Environmentalists laud 'historic' mercury rule

US environmentalists needed something to celebrate. Having watched their climate agenda fall apart last year, they spent this year on the defensive against angry House Republicans.  President Barack Obama himself delivered a major setback in September by cancelling a major new smog regulation. But the administration stepped up with a welcome holiday gift to its environmental supporters on Wednesday:  a new air quality regulation that promises to sharply curb emissions of mercury and other toxins from some 600 power plants across the country.  Read more