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A decades-long study of a star orbiting the black hole at the centre of our Galaxy confirms predictions made by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Twenty-four years of observations of the S-02 star showed that its gravitational redshift — seen when gravity stretches light to a longer, redder wavelength — is just as predicted.
New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put Jo Johnson (his brother) in charge of both the department that oversees research and the Department for Education. It is so far unclear whether Jo Johnson will also pick up the universities and science brief, which he held from 2015 to 2018. The prime minister also brought in Dominic Cummings — a controversial political strategist who has strong views on science and research policy — as one of his senior advisers.
FEATURES & OPINION
By tasking people and rodents with solving puzzles inside virtual spaces, neuroscientists hope to learn how the brain navigates the environment and remembers spatial information. In this 12-minute documentary, researchers in three neuroscience labs explain how they are using virtual-reality technology to decode the inner workings of the human brain.
This video is editorially independent and produced with financial support from Shanghai Research Center for Brain Science and Brain-Inspired Intelligence, United Imaging Healthcare Technology Group Co., Ltd., TianQiao and Chrissy Chen Institute Clinical Translational Research Center, Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., and Cambricon Technologies Corporation.
Hawaiians who are challenging the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) are not opposing science, but urging caution, argues Native Hawaiian oceanographer Rosie Alegado. She offers a nuanced exploration of how the Native Hawaiian concept of kapu chimes with scientific concepts of ethics, regulation and sustainability.
History is littered with pockets of warmer and cooler periods, but current warming is “not only unparalleled in terms of absolute temperatures, but also unprecedented in spatial consistency within the context of the past 2,000 years”, says new research from climate-change scientist Raphael Neukom and his colleagues. Neukom tells the Nature Podcast how he determined that, for more than 98% of the globe, the warmest period has been within the past 100 years.
BOOKS & ARTS
Disorientation, heightened senses and communal spirit are the essence of Olafur Eliasson’s work, on display in a mid-career retrospective exhibition at London’s Tate Modern gallery. Discover how his art inspires hope that we can improve the world through recognition, consideration and creation.
In Skin Deep, writer and media lecturer Gavin Evans dissects the dubious pseudoscientific arguments still used to bolster racial stereotypes in sport and intelligence. Reviewer Angela Saini, who covers similar ground in her recent book Superior, explores how racist ‘science’ tries to paint a shoddy veneer of respectability over prejudice and hatred.
Nationalism thrives in India by bending to its aims both modern research and India’s past as an ancient civilization where science, technology and philosophy flourished, argues a new book by women, gender and sexuality scholar Banu Subramaniam. Reviewer Srinath Perur explores how a political movement is co-opting science, myth and pseudoscience.
Barbara Kiser’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes a century of psychiatry, the realities of migration, and Greenland’s ticking ice clock.
INFOGRAPHIC OF THE WEEK
“Overcoming my initial struggles after leaving China to start my PhD has been like riding a bike”, writes virologist Shuxuan Zheng. She describes how a move caused her to re-evaluate her routines — for the better.
Academic staff in India are debating the merits, and the downsides, of scrapping a common year-long probation scheme.