From tinkering on the fringes to Nobel glory

Andre Geim shared the Nobel prize in physics in 2010 for his co-discovery of graphene. He is director of the Manchester Centre for Mesoscience & Nanotechnology at the University of Manchester

What makes a good day for you?

There are two things. The first is a good result, one which you sort of expected but that never previously came through. A really great result is always unexpected, and you never believe it. But there is this second-tier result, where you have a marginal expectation and something happens and you feel lucky. The second is when you get a journal paper accepted. It's always a fight. Even our Nobel-acknowledged paper needed significant changes before it was accepted.

Winning a Nobel prize has been known to interrupt the winner's work. How has it affected yours?

Actually, before the Nobel prize I accumulated such inertia that I managed to go through the "prize barrier" relatively unscathed. Our work continues because it is a very hot area. It's very unusual for a Nobel to be given for something which continues to be incredibly hot. One of my colleagues said that when he heard the announcement, he thought to himself: "Oh good, now they'll leave this area for me." Then he saw another of our papers published, and thought: "damn, they're still working on it!"

Megaupload site takedown sparks Anonymous action

Yesterday's shutdown of the Megaupload file storage website, and the arrest of four of its founders in New Zealand, illustrates how a global Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) may be facilitating coordinated multinational clampdowns on alleged digital content piracy.

The move, led by the FBI, comes just a day after huge protests on the internet against SOPA - controversial US legislation designed to stop online piracy.

Megaupload allowed users to upload and store large files to make them easily downloaded by others, without using sophisticated peer-to-peer software. But the FBI alleges it was posting "movies, music, TV programmes, ebooks and business and entertainment software on a massive scale" - allegedly costing copyright owners $500 million in lost sales.

The Megaupload shutdown brought a rapid response from the hacktivist sector. Anonymous directed its denial-of-service attack weapon, the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC), at the US Department of Justice, plus major-league copyright owners like movie studios, recording companies and their respective copyright protection arms, the MPAA and RIAA. Unusually, it used a new trick that harnessed Twitter users to amplify the LOIC's effects.

Disrupted body clock may prime you for schizophrenia

Schizophrenia could be a profound form of jetlag in which the brain's central clock runs out of kilter with peripheral clocks around the rest of the body.

People with the illness often complain of sleeping difficulties, and last month a study of 20 people with schizophrenia confirmed that sleep disruption is common and not down to their medication or lifestyle (British Journal of Psychiatry), DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.096321).

Now we may be closer to understanding why: a genetic mutation that triggers schizophrenia-like symptoms in mice also appears to disrupt their circadian rhythm or body clock.

Russell Foster at the University of Oxford and his colleagues had been puzzling over the link between sleep disturbances and mental illness. So they investigated circadian patterns in mice with a defect in the SNAP25 gene, often used as an animal model to study the illness. SNAP25 has also been associated with schizophrenia in humans.

When the mice were kept under a schedule of 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of darkness, they were active when you would normally expect mice to be sleeping, suggesting that their circadian rhythms were disrupted.