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Daily briefing: Inside the intricate glass skeleton of a deep-sea sponge

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Chinese astronaut Nie Haisheng staying inside Tianhe space module

Chinese astronaut Nie Haisheng works inside the Tianhe module.Credit: Jin Liwang/Xinhua/eyevine

China’s space station comes online

The China Manned Space Agency has tentatively approved more than 1,000 experiments for the Tiangong space station, several of which have already been launched. China launched the core of the space station in April and sent three astronauts up in June. The station is likely to be completed in late 2022.

Nature | 9 min read

AlphaFold’s ‘transformative’ database

AlphaFold has predicted the structure of nearly the entire human proteome (the full complement of proteins expressed by an organism) and made it available through a public database. The deep-learning neural network, developed by Google’s artificial-intelligence firm DeepMind, predicts the 3D structures of proteins from their amino-acid sequences. AlphaFold has also predicted almost complete proteomes for other organisms, ranging from mice and maize (corn) to the malaria parasite. The more than 350,000 protein structures vary in their accuracy. But researchers say the resource — which is set to grow to 130 million structures by the end of the year — has the potential to revolutionize the life sciences.

Nature | 6 min read

COVID-19 coronavirus update


Limited insights from mass test events

A series of large events held in the United Kingdom has yielded few insights into the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Earlier this month, the government unveiled the results of the first phase of an experimental programme that allowed live audiences at sports events, concerts, festivals and other mass gatherings, with the aim of learning about the virus’s transmission. Members of the programme’s science board highlighted some of the study’s limitations: the virus was not circulating widely in the community at the time, the Delta variant had not yet taken hold and only 15% of the people required to return pre- and post-event COVID tests did so. More results are to come, including from the Euro football championship on 11 July, which was watched in-person by 60,000 fans.

Nature | 5 min read


Where people are eager to get a covid jab: Survey data showing if people would receive a CODVID-19 vaccine by country.

Source: Ref. 1

Features & opinion

Survey: 8% have falsified or fabricated data

An estimated 8% of scientists who participated in an anonymous survey of research practices at Dutch universities confessed to falsifying and/or fabricating data at least once between 2017 and 2020. More than 10% of medical and life-science researchers admitted to committing this type of fraud, the survey found.

Nature | 4 min read

Reference: MetaArXiv preprint

Futures: A Copernican update

There’s good news and there’s bad news when sentient machines discover a message in starlight in the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series.

Nature | 4 min read

Podcast: Sea sponge controls ocean currents

Venus’ flower baskets (Euplectella aspergillum) are marine sponges that live at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. These sponges have an unusual glass skeleton that helps them gather food, and even appears to control ocean currents.

Nature Podcast | 26 min listen

Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.


Today, Leif Penguinson is tucked among the spectacular volcanic tuff of Wheeler Geologic Area in Colorado. Can you find the penguin? Thanks to Briefing reader Donna Singleton for suggesting Leif’s itinerary.

The answer will be in Monday’s e-mail, all thanks to Briefing photo editor and penguin wrangler Tom Houghton.This newsletter is always evolving — tell us what you think! Please send your feedback to

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by Smriti Mallapaty and John Pickrell

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