Editors' Choice

Science  22 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6237, pp. 877
  1. Implantation

    Embryos engulf mom to latch on

    1. Beverly A. Purnell

    To implant, an embryo (black) must engulf uterine epithelial cells (arrows)

    PHOTO: Y. LI ET AL. CELL REPORTS 11, 3 (21 APRIL 2015) © 2015 ELSEVIER INC.

    In mammals, to ensure a viable pregnancy, a developing embryo must implant into the wall of the uterus. Previous studies suggested that this depended on maternal uterine epithelial cells dying by apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death. However, Li et al. now report in mice that cells from the developing embryo actively engulf live cells of the uterine epithelial barrier, in a process called entosis. This then allows the developing embryo to anchor itself to the uterine stromal bed. Although scientists had previously reported a role for entosis in cancer, these results suggest that this process may be more widespread.

    Cell Rep. 11, 358 (2015).

  2. Biogeography

    Unevenly blowing in the wind

    1. Caroline Ash

    Scientists, including Charles Darwin, first reported airborne microbes nearly two centuries ago. Many of these organisms cannot be cultured, and only recently have molecular approaches allowed scientists to begin to identify them. To better understand the distribution of airborne fungi, Barberán et al. examined dust samples collected from homes across the United States. They found impressive microbial diversity in them, with only about a quarter of species being known. Some fungi exhibited strong geographic patterns, such as the allergy-triggering Alternaria spp. in the Great Plains and Cladosporium in humid regions. Cities showed more homogeneous distributions.

    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112, 5756 (2015).

  3. Astrophysics

    Modeling powerful mergers

    1. Ian S. Osborne

    Binary neutron stars may generate gravity waves when they combine


    Gravity waves are the ripples of spacetime predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity, and are expected to be emitted from the energetic mergers of large astrophysical objects such as binary neutron stars or binary black holes. Several large detector systems are trying to observe gravity waves. Helping that effort, Bernuzzi et al. introduce an accurate model of the dynamics of such mergers. Understanding the details of the mergers, taking into account the contribution of strong gravity and tidal disruption in the evolution from a binary to a merged system and the resulting changes in the waveforms of the gravity waves, should provide crucial insights into the makeup of our universe.

    Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 161103 (2015).

  4. Science and the Public

    Citizen scientists fight an oak killer

    1. Barbara R. Jasny

    Citizen scientists at work


    Sudden oak death (SOD), caused by a fungus-like pathogen, has killed millions of trees in California and Oregon. In a recent example of the value of citizen science for both research and the public good, Meentemeyer et al. showed that the involvement of trained volunteers for the past 6 years enabled researchers to learn more about the spread of the disease, build predictive maps of disease risk, and provide decision-makers with information that could help prioritize efforts. High-school students, teachers, and others used a symptom detection guide and a mobile mapping tool and then sampled leaves for analysis. Amateurs equaled professionals in their ability to recognize infected leaves.

    Front. Ecol. Environ. 13, 189 (2015).

  5. Fluid Dynamics

    Uncool heat pipes in microgravity

    1. Brent Grocholski

    Heat pipes are efficient heat transfer systems commonly used to cool things such as microprocessors. Heat pipes have a hot end that evaporates liquid, which flows as vapor to a cold end that condenses it. The liquid then normally returns to the hot end through capillary action, completing a circuit with a net cooling effect, although the hot end commonly dries out, lowering the performance of the device—at least on Earth. Kundan et al. investigated how heat pipes work in the microgravity of the International Space Station. Surprisingly, on the station, the hot end quickly floods, because of changes in surface tension caused by the lower gravity. This observation suggests that heat pipes will have different performance limitations in space.

    Phys. Rev. Lett. 10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.146105 (2015).

  6. Physics

    Surprises in spiral domains

    1. Phil Szuromi

    Antimony telluride (Sb2Te3), a semiconductor with thermoelectric applications, has a layered hexagonal closepacked structure. Hauer et al. grew Sb2Te3 platelets using a solvothermal technique that developed a spiral growth pattern around a screw dislocation. Scattering-type scanning near-field microscopy of mid-infrared reflectivity surprisingly revealed triangular domains of opposite phase that were not seen with platelets grown by other methods. They attribute the contrast to growth twins that had different levels of antisite defects, which act as electronic dopants and affect its plasma frequency.

    Nano Lett. 10.1021/nl503697c (2015).

  7. Psychology

    Judgments that lead to job offers

    1. Gilbert Chin

    Job seekers often need to send out hundreds of resumes in order to get a handful of interviews. But do applicants really need to meet their potential employers face-to-face for the best chance of success? Schroeder and Epley investigated this by having business school students or actors apply for jobs by composing elevator pitches for delivery via text and audio or video recordings, and museum visitors or professional recruiters judged the candidates' intellect and their likelihood of being hired. In all of the combinations, the audio pitches outperformed written ones and did just as well as the videos, suggesting that a person's voice is the key.

    Psychol. Sci. 26, 10.1177/0956797615572906 (2015).