RESEARCH NEWS & VIEWS disruptiveness index should not be embraced backgrounds and experience of the members 1. Wuchty, S., Jones, B. F. & Uzzi, B. Science 316, uncritically. Because it relies on citations to of small teams and those of large teams? Are 1036–1039 (2007). 2. Wu, L., Wang, D. & Evans, J. A. 566, 378–382 articles, it can be calculated only after enough differences in talent between collaborators (2019). time has passed since publication for citations more or less pronounced in small scientific 3. Catalini, C., Lacetera, N. & Oettl, A. Proc. Natl Acad. to accumulate. This limits the applicability teams than in large collaborations? These Sci. USA 112, 13823–13826 (2015). of the index in areas in which citations build questions await further examination. ■ 4. Hirsch, J. E. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 102, 16569–16572 (2005). up slowly, or its use as a tool for evaluating 5. Hutchins, B. I., Yuan, ., Anderson, J. M. & the impact of recent policies. Moreover, Wu Pierre Azoulay is at the Sloan School of Santangelo, G. M. PLoS Biol. 14, e1002541 and colleagues’ article leaves open the ques- Management, Massachusetts Institute of (2016). 6. Funk, R. J. & Owen-Smith, J. Mgmt Sci. 63, 791–817 tion of mechanisms: why would small teams Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, (2017). be more likely to perform disruptive work? USA. How much overlap is there between the skills, e-mail: [email protected] This article was published online on 13 February 2019.

NUCLEAR ssentially influenced by the average nuclear produced by their mutual interactions. However, a lingering question had been whether were modified when inside Origin of and a nucleus; that is, whether their structure was different from that of a free . In 1983, a startling discovery by the European changes in nuclei Collaboration (EMC) at the -physics laboratory CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, The structure of a neutron or a proton is modified when the particle is bound in an provided evidence for such a nucleon modi- . Experimental data suggest an explanation for this phenomenon fication1. The modification, known as the that could have broad implications for . See Letter p.354 EMC effect, manifested itself as a variation in the momentum distribution of inside the nucleons embedded in nuclei. This result GERALD FELDMAN to the days of , whose was verified by subsequent experiments at experiments in the early 1900s on the the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in n 1983, it was discovered that the internal of α- ( nuclei) by revealed Menlo Park, California6,7, and at the Thomas structure of a nucleon — a proton or a neu- a compact, dense core at the centre of atoms3. Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jeffer- tron — depends on its environment1. That Since then, have been working to son Lab) in Newport News, Virginia8. Iis, the structure of a nucleon in empty space is understand the structure of the atomic nucleus Although the existence of the EMC effect different from its structure when it is embed- and the dynamics of its component parts. Simi- is now firmly established, its cause has been ded inside an atomic nucleus. However, despite larly, since the revelation in the late 1960s that elusive. Current thinking offers two possible vigorous theoretical and experimental work, nucleons themselves have internal constituents explanations. The first is that all nucleons in a the cause of this modification has remained called quarks4,5, extensive work has focused on nucleus are modified to some extent because unknown. On page 354, the CLAS Collabora- studying this deeper underlying structure. of the average nuclear field. The second is tion2 presents evidence that sheds on this For decades, it was generally thought that most nucleons are not modified, but that long-standing issue. that nucleons in nuclei were structurally specific ones are substantially altered by inter- The advent of nuclear physics dates back in­dependent of each other and were e acting in what are called short-range correlated (SRC) pairs over brief time periods (Fig. 1). The current paper provides definitive evidence a b Atomic nucleus in favour of the second explanation. The EMC effect is measured in experiments in which are scattered from a system Neutron of particles, such as a nucleus or a nucleon. Up The are selected so that the quantum-mechanical waves associated with the electrons have a wavelength that matches the dimensions of the system of interest. To study the interior of a nucleus, energies of Proton 1–2 GeV (billion ) are needed. To probe the structure of a smaller system, such as a nucleon, higher energies (smaller wavelengths) are required, in a process called

SRC pair deep (DIS). This process was central to the discovery of the quark sub­ structure of nucleons4,5, which resulted in the 1990 in Physics9. In DIS experiments, the rate at which Figure 1 | Modified and in nuclei. a, Nucleons — neutrons and protons — are scattering occurs is described by a quantity composed of elementary particles called quarks. Neutrons contain one ‘up’ quark and two ‘down’ quarks, called the scattering cross-section. The mag- whereas protons contain two up quarks and one down quark. b, In atomic nuclei, nucleons can briefly nitude of the EMC effect is determined by interact in what are known as short-range correlated (SRC) pairs. The CLAS Collaboration2 reports plotting the ratio of the per-nucleon cross- evidence that these interactions alter the internal structure of the nucleons inside the nucleus. section for a given nucleus to that for the

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as a function of counterparts. In this sense, the nucleons future experiments in which or their the momentum of the quark that is struck by are isophobic; that is, similar nucleons are (antineutrinos) are scattered from the electron. If there were no nucleon modifica- less likely to pair up than are dissimilar asymmetric nuclei. Because protons and neu- tion, this ratio would have a constant value of 1. nucleons. Therefore, owing to the asymme- trons have different quark compositions, and The fact that this ratio decreases as a function of try in the numbers of neutrons and protons because protons are more strongly affected momentum for a given nucleus indicates that in medium- and heavy nuclei, the prob- by the in-medium modification than are neu- individual nucleons in the nucleus are some- ability of protons forming neutron–proton trons, and antineutrino scattering how modified. More­over, the fact that this SRC pairs increases roughly as the ratio of cross-sections can show variations that could decrease occurs more rapidly if the mass of neutrons to protons, whereas the probability erroneously be attributed to an effect of some the nucleus is increased suggests that the EMC of neutrons doing this tends to plateau10. The exotic physics — such as deficiencies in the effect is enhanced for heavier nuclei. CLAS Collaboration of , or possible The CLAS Collaboration has used elec- “A lingering has used this specific mechanisms for understanding the tron-scattering data taken at Jefferson Lab question had feature to solidify its between matter and in the . to establish a relationship between the size of been whether conclusions by dem- Before any such claim can be made, the dif- the EMC effect and the number of neutron– protons and onstrating a clear ferences in the EMC effect for protons and proton SRC pairs in a given nucleus. A key difference between neutrons would have to be taken into account. ■ feature of the work is the extraction of a math- neutrons the per-proton and ematical function that includes the effect of were modified per-neutron EMC Gerald Feldman is in the Department of SRC pairs on the scattering cross-section and when inside a effects for asymmet- Physics, George Washington University, that is shown to be independent of the nucleus. nucleus.” ric nuclei heavier Washington DC 20052, USA. This universality provides strong confirmation than . The fact e-mail: [email protected] of the correlation between the EMC effect that this distinction emerges directly from the 1. Aubert, J. J. et al. Phys. Lett. B 123, 275–278 (1983). and neutron–proton SRC pairs. The results data provides further support for the authors’ 2. The CLAS Collaboration. Nature 566, 354–358 indicate that the nucleon modification is a interpretation that the nucleon modification (2019). dynamical effect that arises from local arises from the formation of SRC pairs. 3. Rutherford, E. Phil. Mag. 21, 669–688 (1911). variations, as opposed to being a static, bulk One implication of the present study is 4. Bloom, E. D. et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 23, 930–934 (1969). 5. Breidenbach, M. et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 23, 935–939 property of the medium in which all nucleons that information deduced about free neu- (1969). are modified by the average nuclear field. trons from DIS experiments on deuterium 6. Arnold, R. G. et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 52, 727–730 (1984). The authors have focused on neutron– or heavier nuclei needs to be corrected for 7. Gomez, J. et al. Phys. Rev. D 49, 4348–4372 (1994). 8. Seely, J. et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 202301 (2009). proton SRC pairs for a particular reason: it the EMC effect to account for the modifica- 9. Lubkin, G. B. Phys. Today 44, 17–20 (1991). turns out that these pairs are more common tion of the neutrons in the nuclear medium. 10. The CLAS Collaboration. Nature 560, 617–621 than their neutron–neutron or proton–proton Another consequence concerns current and (2018).

CANCER to meet their metabolic demands. The enzyme stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) catalyses the formation of a specific double bond in palmitate, a saturated fatty (a fatty Tumours use a metabolic acid without a double bond), and this type of desaturation reaction is needed in the path- way that generates the monounsaturated fatty twist to make lipids palmitoleate and oleate. These fatty acids are key building blocks for the phospholipids To survive and divide, cells need a constant supply of lipid called that are components of cellular membranes. monounsaturated fatty acids. Tumours can achieve this by an unsuspected route The authors investigated the effect of an SCD that harnesses a metabolic pathway also used in hair follicles. See Letter p.403 inhibitor on human cancer cells grown in vitro. They found that some of the types of cancer tested were highly sensitive to SCD inhi- MARTEINN THOR SNAEBJORNSSON the synthesis or modification of fatty acids (the bition, and either stopped dividing or died, & ALMUT SCHULZE building blocks for lipids) can reduce tumour whereas others were insensitive and continued growth in several animal models of cancer2, to divide. This was unexpected, because the bnormal cellular is a although this approach has not been successful predicted outcome of SCD inhibition would hallmark of cancer cells, from altera- in the clinic yet. Vriens et al.3 report results on be the accumulation of saturated fatty acids tions in the pathways that use glucose page 403 that might indicate a way forward. that are toxic to cells at high concentrations4. Ato aberrant activation of lipid metabolism. One reason that anticancer strategies target- Vriens et al. found that cancer cells that are Lipids are a highly complex class of ing lipid metabolism have been ineffective in insensitive to SCD inhibition contain high with many cellular functions1, one of the most the clinic could be that alternative pathways levels of sapienate, a type of a monounsatu- important of which is to provide the building compensate for the pathway that is blocked rated fatty acid that is usually produced in the blocks for the synthesis of cellular lipid mem- by a given drug. Vriens and colleagues have sebaceous gland. Sapienate is produced5 from branes. Most tissues in the adult body rely on identified one such compensatory pathway palmitate by an enzyme called FADS2 (Fig. 1). lipids obtained from the diet or those made in in cancer cells that enables the cells to make FADS2 is also required6 in mammalian tissues the liver, but many cancer cells instead acti- monounsaturated fatty acids if the pathway for the processing of omega-3 and omega-6 vate lipid-synthesis pathways to support their that they normally use is blocked. This alterna- essential fatty acids, which are those obtained rapid proliferation2. This difference between tive pathway is known to act in oil-producing from the diet. normal and cancerous cells suggests a pos- sebaceous glands in human hair follicles, The authors report that, relative to its sible tumour-cell vulnerability that might be and the authors’ discovery has revealed that expression in normal tissue, FADS2 expres- exploited therapeutically. Indeed, preventing cancer cells can also harness this pathway sion is elevated in samples from human liver

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