Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Science fiction


Recent advances in nanotechnology and material science have re-ignited interest in drug delivery research. Arguably, however, hardly any of the systems developed and strategies proposed are really relevant for shaping the future (clinical) face of the nanomedicine field. Consequently, as outlined in this commentary, instead of making ever more carrier materials, and making nanomedicine both science-fiction and fiction-science, we should try to come up with rational and realistic concepts to make nanomedicines work, in particular in patients.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Future, Thermodynamics, Nanomaterials, Materials science, Metaphysics, Science fiction, Nanomedicine


Scientific productivity of middle income countries correlates stronger with present and future wealth than indices reflecting its financial, social, economic or technological sophistication. We identify the contribution of the relative productivity of different scientific disciplines in predicting the future economic growth of a nation. Results show that rich and poor countries differ in the relative proportion of their scientific output in the different disciplines: countries with higher relative productivity in basic sciences such as physics and chemistry had the highest economic growth in the following five years compared to countries with a higher relative productivity in applied sciences such as medicine and pharmacy. Results suggest that the economies of middle income countries that focus their academic efforts in selected areas of applied knowledge grow slower than countries which invest in general basic sciences.

Concepts: Scientific method, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Science, Investment, Social sciences, Science fiction


Nutrient profiling of foods is the science of ranking or classifying foods based on their nutrient composition. Most profiling systems use similar weighting factors across nutrients due to lack of scientific evidence to assign levels of importance to nutrients.

Concepts: Scientific method, Nutrition, Physics, Ecology, Science fiction


Identifying fundamental drivers of science and developing predictive models to capture its evolution are instrumental for the design of policies that can improve the scientific enterprise-for example, through enhanced career paths for scientists, better performance evaluation for organizations hosting research, discovery of novel effective funding vehicles, and even identification of promising regions along the scientific frontier. The science of science uses large-scale data on the production of science to search for universal and domain-specific patterns. Here, we review recent developments in this transdisciplinary field.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Evaluation, Science, Research, Science fiction, Scientist, Pseudoscience


Novelty is an essential feature of creative ideas, yet the building blocks of new ideas are often embodied in existing knowledge. From this perspective, balancing atypical knowledge with conventional knowledge may be critical to the link between innovativeness and impact. Our analysis of 17.9 million papers spanning all scientific fields suggests that science follows a nearly universal pattern: The highest-impact science is primarily grounded in exceptionally conventional combinations of prior work yet simultaneously features an intrusion of unusual combinations. Papers of this type were twice as likely to be highly cited works. Novel combinations of prior work are rare, yet teams are 37.7% more likely than solo authors to insert novel combinations into familiar knowledge domains.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Epistemology, Science, Social sciences, Science fiction, Scientific journal, Fields of science


Best use of scientific knowledge is required to maintain the fundamental role of seafood in human nutrition. While it is acknowledged that genomic-based methods allow the collection of powerful data, their value to inform fisheries management, aquaculture, and biosecurity applications remains underestimated. We review genomic applications of relevance to the sustainable management of seafood resources, illustrate the benefits of, and identify barriers to their integration. We conclude that the value of genomic information towards securing the future of seafood does not need to be further demonstrated. Instead, we need immediate efforts to remove structural roadblocks and focus on ways that support integration of genomic-informed methods into management and production practices. We propose solutions to pave the way forward.

Concepts: Scientific method, Genetics, Genomics, Futurology, Future, Science, Science fiction, Power


The aim of this study was to examine the challenges confronting surgeons performing basic science research in today’s academic surgery environment.

Concepts: Surgery, Future, Research, Science fiction


Single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) has emerged as a revolutionary tool that allows us to address scientific questions that eluded examination just a few years ago. With the advantages of scRNA-seq come computational challenges that are just beginning to be addressed. In this article, we highlight the computational methods available for the design and analysis of scRNA-seq experiments, their advantages and disadvantages in various settings, the open questions for which novel methods are needed, and expected future developments in this exciting area.

Concepts: Mathematics, Science, Science fiction, Open problem, IP address


Soft robot arms possess unique capabilities when it comes to adaptability, flexibility, and dexterity. In addition, soft systems that are pneumatically actuated can claim high power-to-weight ratio. One of the main drawbacks of pneumatically actuated soft arms is that their stiffness cannot be varied independently from their end-effector position in space. The novel robot arm physical design presented in this article successfully decouples its end-effector positioning from its stiffness. An experimental characterization of this ability is coupled with a mathematical analysis. The arm combines the light weight, high payload to weight ratio and robustness of pneumatic actuation with the adaptability and versatility of variable stiffness. Light weight is a vital component of the inherent safety approach to physical human-robot interaction. To characterize the arm, a neural network analysis of the curvature of the arm for different input pressures is performed. The curvature-pressure relationship is also characterized experimentally.

Concepts: Fiction, Systems theory, Hilbert space, Force, Novel, Science fiction, Character, Power-to-weight ratio


The future of academic medicine is uncertain. Concerns regarding the future availability of qualified and willing trainee clinical academics have been raised worldwide. Of significant concern is our failure to retain postdoctoral trainee clinical academics, who are likely to be our next generation of leaders in scientific discovery.

Concepts: Science fiction, Humanities, Academic administration