Harvesting wet energy

Summaries of newsworthy papers: Harvesting wet energy; Stem cells from Parkinson’s disease patients; Rearranging the bird tree of life

This press release contains:

Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Harvesting wet energy
Stem cells from Parkinson’s disease patients
And finally… Rearranging the bird tree of life

Mention of papers to be published at the same time
Geographical listing of authors

Editorial contacts: While the best contacts for stories will always be the authors themselves, in some cases the Nature editor who handled the paper will be available for comment if an author is unobtainable. Editors are contactable via Ruth Francis on +44 20 7843 4562. Feel free to get in touch with Nature's press contacts in London, Washington and Tokyo (as listed at the end of this release) with any general editorial inquiry.

Warning: This document, and the Nature Communications papers to which it refers, may contain information that is price sensitive (as legally defined, for example, in the UK Criminal Justice Act 1993 Part V) with respect to publicly quoted companies. Anyone dealing in securities using information contained in this document or in advanced copies of Nature’s content may be guilty of insider trading under the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The Nature journals press site is at http://press.nature.com

PICTURES: While we are happy for images from Nature to be reproduced for the purposes of contemporaneous news reporting, you must also seek permission from the copyright holder (if named) or author of the research paper in question (if not).

HYPE: We take great care not to hype the papers mentioned on our press releases, but are sometimes accused of doing so. If you ever consider that a story has been hyped, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected], citing the specific example.


[1] Harvesting wet energy
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1454

A method that harvests energy from moving liquid droplets is reported this week in Nature Communications. This method for the collection and storage of energy may provide a cheap and environmentally friendly alternative to batteries.

The cost and pollution associated with electrical batteries is currently limiting the performance of portable electronic devices such as mobile phones. Although environmentally friendly, portable high-power energy harvesting – by converting mechanical energy into electricity - has so far been hampered by poor conversion rates. Tom Krupenkin and Ashley Taylor overcome this problem by developing a mechanical-to-electrical conversion method based on reverse electrowetting.

The technique is based on moving microscopic liquid droplets within thin dielectric films, and is capable of reaching high power densities that rivals those of conventional batteries.

Tom Krupenkin (University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, USA)
Tel: +1 608 890 1948; E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Stem cells from Parkinson’s disease patients
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1453

The production of induced pluripotent stem cells from the skin cells of a Parkinson’s disease patient mimic the features of the disease reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. These cells can be used to study the disease more accurately and may aid in the identification of compounds that can reduce the expression of proteins responsible for the disease.

Michael Devine, Tilo Kunath and colleagues, used skin cells from a patient with familial Parkinson’s disease that carries elevated copies of the gene alpha-synuclein. The cells were used to generate induced pluripotent stem cells that could then be differentiated into neurons. The resulting neurons produced twice the amount of alpha-synuclein compared to cells from an unaffected family member, demonstrating that features of the disease were retained in the neurons. These cells may aid in the discovery of the mechanisms that lead to Parkinson’s disease and may permit the identification of compounds that can reduce alpha-synuclein levels.

Michael Devine (University College London, UK)
Tel: +44 7866 437 690; E-mail: [email protected]

Tilo Kunath (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Tel: +44 131 650 5868 E-mail: [email protected]

[3] And finally… Rearranging the bird tree of life
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1448

Parrots are the closest living relatives of passerines – or perching birds – reports a paper in this week’s Nature Communications. This new phylogenetic relationship suggests that birdsong could have evolved in the common ancestor of parrots and passerines 30 million years earlier than previously thought.

Alexander Suh and colleagues studied gene inheritance and relatedness in bird evolution during the Mesozoic Era, 250 to ~65 million years ago. According to this data it is likely that vocal learning evolved in the parrot and passerine ancestor, which places the emergence of vocal learning of songbirds at least 30 million years earlier than what is suggested by previous evidence.

Alexander Suh (University of Münster, Germany)
Tel: +49 251 835 2132; E-mail: [email protected]

Papers to go live at the same time and with the same embargo…

[4] Bethe-hole polarization analyser for the magnetic vector of light
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1430

[5] Spatio-temporal focusing of an ultrafast pulse through a multiply scattering medium
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1434

[6] Discovery of lost diversity of paternal horse lineages using ancient DNA
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1447

[7] Evidence of superdense aluminium synthesized by ultrafast microexplosion
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1449

[8] Freely orbiting magnetic tweezers to directly monitor changes in the twist of nucleic acids
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1450

[9] Nanomechanical DNA origami ‘single-molecule beacons’ directly imaged by atomic force microscopy
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1452

[10] Active sampling and decision making in Drosophila chemotaxis
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1455

[11] A stem-group cnidarian described from the mid-Cambrian of China and its significance for cnidarian evolution
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1457

[12] Anatomically modern Carboniferous harvestmen demonstrate early cladogenesis and stasis in Opiliones
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1458

[13] Direct visualization of microtubules using a genetic tool to analyse radial progenitor-astrocyte continuum in brain
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1460


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: 6
Canberra: 7
Hawthorn: 7

Shandong: 11

Libechov: 2

Paris: 5
Toulouse: 5

Berlin: 6, 12
Leipzig: 3, 6
Münster: 3
Oldenburg: 4

Hamamatsu: 7
Miyazaki: 9
Osaka: 9
Tokyo: 9
Tsukuba: 2

Dunedin: 6

Andong: 11
Chungnam: 4
Daejeon: 11
Incheon: 11
Seoul: 4, 11

Barcelona: 5, 10
Seville: 6

Delft: 8

Edinburgh: 2
London: 2, 12
Oxford: 5

Auburn: 3
Menlo Park: 7
Stanford: 7
Argonne: 7
Cambridge: 12
North Carolina
Chapel Hill: 13
New Jersey
Princeton: 10
Houston: 2, 4
Madison: 1

From North America and Canada
Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail: [email protected]

From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: [email protected]

From the UK
Rachel Twinn, Nature, London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail: [email protected]

About Nature Publishing Group (NPG):
Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes journals, online databases and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences and clinical medicine.

Focusing on the needs of scientists, Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading weekly, international scientific journal. In addition, for this audience, NPG publishes a range of Nature research journals and Nature Reviews journals, plus a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. Online, nature.com provides over 5 million visitors per month with access to NPG publications and online databases and services, including Nature News and NatureJobs plus access to Nature Network and Nature Education’s Scitable.com.

Scientific American is at the heart of NPG’s newly-formed consumer media division, meeting the needs of the general public. Founded in 1845, Scientific American is the oldest continuously published magazine in the US and the leading authoritative publication for science in the general media. Together with scientificamerican.com and 15 local language editions around the world it reaches over 3 million consumers and scientists. Other titles include Scientific American Mind and Spektrum der Wissenschaft in Germany.

Throughout all its businesses NPG is dedicated to serving the scientific and medical communities and the wider scientifically interested general public. Part of Macmillan Publishers Limited, NPG is a global company with principal offices in London, New York and Tokyo, and offices in cities worldwide including Boston, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Hong Kong, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Heidelberg, Basingstoke, Melbourne, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul and Washington DC. For more information, please go to www.nature.com.

Published: 24 Aug 2011

Contact details:

The Macmillan Building, 4 Crinan Street
N1 9XW
United Kingdom

+44 20 7833 4000
News topics: 
Content type: