A special supplement, Year of Planet Earth, examines the field of earth science, and how it needs to shift course if it's going to effectively tackle climate change. Earthquake physics, the rise of atmospheric oxygen, and changes in ocean circulation patterns are just a few of the featured articles.
There's been much talk of University of Chicago biologist and paleontologist Neil Shubin, ever since his Arctic discovery of the transitional fossil Tiktaalik roseae in 2006. Here, Carl Zimmer reviews his new book, Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body. Readers familiar with Zimmer’s work will enjoy his summary, which begins with: "Six hundred years ago, anatomists were rock stars."
A news article tackles computational simulation of protein folding, and features two competing computer whizzes: Klaus Schulten, a biophysicist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and David Shaw, a hedge-fund magnate and computer expert in Manhattan. Their computer programs have allowed them to visualize the fastest-folding proteins (10 microseconds), but greatly speeding up their simulations could "reveal binding sites for new drugs to tackle a wide range of medical problems," the article writes.
In research, the Broad's Todd Golub has used an RNAi screen to identify RPS14 as the haploinsufficient tumor suppressor gene associated with the 5q– syndrome. Unlike in many cancers, in the 5q- syndrome, a subtype of myelodysplastic syndrome, tumorigenesis results from inactivation of a single allele. A News and Views article expands on why it's so difficult to find tumor suppressor genes.