February 2012

Volume 26 Issue 2

The Scientist February 2012 Cover

Featured Articles

Casting a Wide Eye

By Cristina Luiggi | February 1, 2012

Scientists study a variety of large-scale biological phenomena from the vantage point of space.

The Enigmatic Membrane

By Muriel Mari, Sharon A. Tooze, and Fulvio Reggiori | February 1, 2012

Despite years of research, the longstanding mystery of where the autophagosome gets its double lipid bilayers is not much clearer.

The War Within

By Ole H. Petersen, Oleg V. Gerasimenko, and Julia V. Gerasimenko | February 1, 2012

Unraveling the molecular causes of acute pancreatitis—a potentially deadly disease in which the pancreas essentially digests itself—is yielding clues to how it might be treated.


Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews

Neurogastronomy, Why Calories Count, The Kitchen as Laboratory, Fear of Food



Meet some of the people featured in the February 2012 issue of The Scientist.


Calcium and the Pancreas

Normal pancreatic function depends on the precise flow of calcium within and into the acinar cells of the organ. 

How Autophagy Works

There are five steps of autophagosome biogenesis: induction, expansion, vesicle completion, fusion, and cargo degradation. 


Cyan Wonders

In 1842, Anna Atkins, a 43-year-old amateur botanist from Kent, England, began experimenting with a brand-new photographic process called cyanotype or blue-print. 

The View From Above

Satellite imagery is giving biologists a whole new perspective on the phenomena they study.

The Literature

Give Me a Hug

Editor's choice in cell biology


Swarming Mongolia

For the past decade and a half, a crew of about 20 entomologists, water ecologists, and other specialists converges on the shorelines of Mongolia’s lakes, rivers, and streams, just when swarms of aquatic insects do the same.


On the Menu

Digestion on the cellular level: two mysteries examined

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science

February 2012's selection of notable quotes


Genghis Jon

By helping Mongolians cultivate an understanding of their native insect fauna, scientists hope to protect the country's unique yet fragile ecosystems.

Sweet and Sour Science

Japanese researchers unravel the mystery of miracle fruit.

Science Afield

Portable wet-lab kits allow even soldiers stationed in war zones to earn college science credits.

Reading Tea Leaves

Cyclic peptides, discovered in an African tea used to speed labor and delivery, may hold potential as drug-stabilizing scaffolds, antibiotics, and anticancer drugs.

Thought Experiment

Ready for Prime Time

Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease are ready for widespread use in clinical trials.

Critic at Large

Never Say Never

Novel observations can sometimes be correct for unexpected reasons.

Learning by Doing

Having freshmen perform research doesn’t just improve undergraduate learning, it convinces more students to become science majors.

Modus Operandi

Switching the Bait

Turning a standard technique into an unbiased screen for diagnostic biomarkers

The Literature

Forced Feeding

Editor's choice in drug development

Immune Heat

Editor's choice in immunology

Scientist to Watch

Rommie Amaro: Protein Explorer

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry University of California, San Diego. Age: 34

Lab Tools

Little Squirts

A road map to liquid-handling solutions on the market


Female Frontrunners

How to successfully surmount the challenges women face in becoming biotech industry leaders

Reading Frames

Killing with Kindness

Studying the evolution of altruistic behaviors reveals how knee-jerk good intentions can backfire.


Botanical Blueprints, circa 1843

Anna Atkins, pioneering female photographer, revolutionized scientific illustration using a newly invented photographic technique.

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