Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in Nature: Feb 7, 2008

An editorial and column question whether holding the much-petitioned-for Science Debate 2008 is worthwhile. While many hope that such a conversation among presidential candidates will help inform the public of their views on issues in science and technology, David Goldston argues that it won't serve science -- or the public's understanding of the issues. "Framing questions of economics, ethics and other aspects of policy as 'science issues' does no favour for either science or politics," he says. "All issues have subtleties, but this whole question requires a fine-grained discussion of what's science, what's policy, what kinds of work constitute a conflict of interest, and so on.”

A blogger at Scienceblogs, where the idea for the debate originated, thinks Nature dropped the ball, considering that Goldston's arguments are "paltry and misconceived," he writes.

In a series of five articles that look to the future, one discusses how systems biology techniques should be used to advance aging research. "One of the most exciting areas of progress in ageing research is the discovery of metabolic factors that influence longevity," writes Thomas B. L. Kirkwood of Newcastle University. To promote further research, he thinks more tools like the Biology of Ageing e-Science Integration and Simulation (BASIS) system and the Human Physiome Project need to be created.

Scientists at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution have used statistical models to create ancient bacteria in order to predict their thermostability during the different ages. In "resurrecting" the genomes of a dozen bacteria and then cloning them into E. coli cells, they produced ancestral EF-Tu proteins. After measuring the thermostability of these proteins, they found that proteins from bacteria that lived during earlier periods are more heat stable than those from more recent times. Because early rates of evolution remain unknown, this technique might "open up a new way to overcome this problem," writes a News and Views article.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.