Spinning close to the stars

Summaries of newsworthy papers from Nature include Quantum physics: Quantum teleportation between light and matter, Geology: How does the Earth recycle? and finally… Whiskers bristle with news


This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.443 NO.7111 DATED 05 OCTOBER 2006

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Astronomy: Spinning close to the stars

Quantum physics: Quantum teleportation between light and matter

Geology: How does the Earth recycle?

And finally… Whiskers bristle with news

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Astronomy: Spinning close to the stars (pp 534-540)

Several newly discovered planets outside our Solar System orbit closer to their stars than any yet known. In Nature this week, Kailash Sahu and colleagues reveal the existence of planets that take less than a day to whiz round their respective stars. They claim these to be a new class of “ultra-short-period” planets.

The astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys to spot planets in a faint, crowded star field towards the Galactic bulge. They searched for the characteristic dips in a star’s luminosity that occur as it is temporarily blocked by an orbiting planet. Back-up measurements on the Doppler ‘wobble’ a planet creates in its star’s spectrum supported their observations.

Five planetary candidates — around the size of Jupiter — orbited their respective stars in less than a day, much the shortest orbital periods ever seen. These planets all orbit stars rather lighter than our Sun; they would be boiled into destruction if they ventured as close to heavier, more luminous stars.


Kailash Sahu (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 410 338 4930; E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Quantum physics: Quantum teleportation between light and matter (pp 557-560; N&V)

Researchers have teleported quantum information between light and matter — the first time this has been achieved between different types of object.

Quantum teleportation is the transfer of a quantum state from one particle to another without a physical link. It relies on the process of entanglement, whereby the properties of two particles can be tied together even when they are far apart. In the past, such information has been transferred from ion to ion and photon to photon, but the transmitter and receiver have never been different in kind from each other before.

Eugene S. Polzik and colleagues have now transmitted a quantum state between a photon pulse and a collection of caesium atoms. Their discovery, reported in Nature, brings the prospect of quantum computing and networks one step closer — quantum state information could be stored in atoms, but transferred using photons. The team teleported their information over a distance of half a metre, but believe that scaling this up is possible.


Eugene S Polzik (Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen University, Denmark)
Tel: +45 353 25424; E-mail: [email protected]

Mikhail Lukin (Harvard University, MI, USA)
Tel: +1 617 495 2862; E-mail: [email protected]

[3] Geology: How does the Earth recycle? (pp 565-568; N&V)

The Earth's upper mantle comprises an intriguing mix of materials, each with its own characteristic chemical composition. Part of the mix was always thought to be 'recycled' crustal material, returned from the surface by subduction. In Nature this week, researchers use chemical evidence from both stable and radiogenic isotopes to confirm that the signature of recycled crust is indeed present in mid-ocean ridge basalts, but suggest that it is not the crust itself that is observed.

Tim Elliott and colleagues examined mantle-derived basalt samples from the East Pacific Rise, a mid-ocean ridge. They compared the variation of stable lithium isotopes with more conventional radiogenic isotope measurements of chemical composition. Taken together, these samples show that the rocks do not contain the recycled crust, but mantle modified by the subduction process. The oceanic crust being subducted may continue to sink: its fate remains unknown.


Tim Elliot (University of Bristol, UK)
Tel: +44 117 954 5426; E-mail: [email protected]

Elizabeth Widom (Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA)
Tel: +1 513 529 5048; E-mail: [email protected]

[4] And finally… Whiskers bristle with news (pp 525)

Researchers have made arrays of robotic whiskers that can sense information about object shape and fluid flow. It's thought the devices may find application within land-based robots and autonomous underwater vehicles.

In a Brief Communication in this week's Nature, Joseph H. Solomon and Mitra J. Hartmann show that the bending moment at the whisker base can be exploited to generate three-dimensional spatial representations of the environment, and they use this principle to make arrays of robotic whiskers.

Land-living mammals use their whiskers to sense object shapes; marine mammals, on the other hand, use whiskers to track the fluid wakes of their prey. Different types of robotic whiskers can mimic both of these features.


Joseph Solomon (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 847 467 7288; E-mail: [email protected]

Mitra Hartmann (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 847 467 4633; E-mail: [email protected]


[5] From in vivo to in silico biology and back (pp 527-523)

[6] Genome-wide genetic analysis of polyploidy in yeast (pp 541-547)

[7] AB5 subtilase cytotoxin inactivates the endoplasmic reticulum chaperone BiP (pp 548-552; N&V)

[8] Electron acceleration from contracting magnetic islands during reconnection (pp 553-556)

[9] Rapid subtropical North Atlantic salinity oscillations across Dansgaard–Oeschger cycles (pp 561-564)


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.


Adelaide: 7

Clayton: 7

Innsbruck: 2

Santiago: 1

Arhus: 2
Copenhagen: 2


Garching: 2

Heidelberg: 5


Padua: 1


Uppsala: 1


Bristol: 3

Cambridge: 9

Durham: 3

Oxford: 3


Davis: 9

Los Angeles: 1


Boulder: 1, 6


Newark: 8

District of Columbia

Washington: 8


Atlanta: 9

Evanston: 4

Baltimore: 1

College Park: 8

Boston: 6, 7


For North America and Canada

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington

Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail: [email protected]redc.com

From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan

Itsumi Kitahara, Nature Tokyo

Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; Fax: +81 3 3267 87

E-mail: [email protected]

For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above

Katherine Anderson, Nature London

Tel: +44 20 7843 4502; E-mail [email protected]

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Published: 04 Oct 2006

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