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Our brains’ walnut-like wrinkles have a large effect on brain activity, in much the same way that the shape of a bell determines how it sounds. The discovery challenges the paradigm that brain function emerges from the intricate web of connections between specialized brain-cell populations, called the connectome. Researchers used mathematical models that predict how waves travel across surfaces, and found that the shape of the brain’s outer surface was a better predictor of brainwave data than was the model of the connectome.
Go deeper with the authors’ summary and an expert opinion (6 min read, Nature paywall)
Text and images generated by artificial intelligence (AI) are complicating publishers’ efforts to tackle paper mills, companies that produce fake scientific papers to order. ‘Milled’ papers are a growing problem: the publisher Taylor & Francis saw instances of potential misconduct increase more than tenfold from 2019 to 2022, and half of the cases were because of paper mills. Some publishers are already using paper-mill detection software. Asking authors to provide raw experimental data, potentially with digital watermarks, could be another strategy to confirm that research is genuine.
After 60 years of searching, mathematicians might have finally found a true single aperiodic tile — a shape that can cover an infinite plane and never make a repeating pattern. In March, a team of hobbyist and professional mathematicians found a shape that, together with its mirror image, could be used to build infinite aperiodic tilings. The same team has now modified the shape so it doesn’t need its mirror image to create the never-repeating pattern.
Reference: arXiv preprint (not peer reviewed)
Features & opinion
Elizabeth Holmes has begun her 11-year prison sentence for fraud against investors in her blood-testing company, Theranos. Theranos claimed it could run more than 200 health tests on just a few drops of blood taken from a finger prick — but the claims were exaggerated. Last year, observers told Nature that the debacle is a cautionary tale for scientific entrepreneurs: share your data early on, and participate in some kind of peer-review process.
Gender made little difference for people living 9,000 years ago in Çatalhöyük, in modern-day Turkey: men and women had identical diets and did similar kinds of work. So what changed? History points to patriarchy beginning not with agriculture, work that requires physical strength, but with those in power. “Person power is the key to power in general,” explains anthropologist James Scott. The elites in the first states needed people to produce resources for them and to defend the state. Women were expected to focus on having more babies and were eventually pushed into the domestic shadows.
Image of the week
This crocodile hatchling is one of more than 2,000 anatomical specimens in the Hunterian Museum in London. The collection has reopened after a six-year refurbishment. The treasure chest of medical specimens, both fascinating and ghoulish, was started by eighteenth-century surgeon John Hunter. But drastically different ethics now underpin Hunter’s artefacts, how they were collected and their display — uncomfortable facts that the reimagined museum explicitly acknowledges, writes reviewer Nisha Gaind, Nature’s bureau chief for Europe. (Nature | 6 min read)