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The Manatee Nebula (also known as W50 or SNR G039.7-02.0)

The Manatee Nebula formed when a giant star exploded more than 10,000 years ago, leaving a black hole at its core.Credit: B. Saxton, (NRAO/AUI/NSF) from data provided by M. Goss, et al.

A black hole at the core of the Manatee Nebula is a source of some of the most energetic particles the Galaxy can produce: cosmic rays. Matter ejected from a companion star spirals into the black hole, generating jets of plasma accelerated to near-light-speed. The finding supports the idea that black holes are a source of the high-energy particles that rain down on Earth from space.

Nature | 5 min read

Reference: Science paper

Blockbuster anti-obesity drugs such as Ozempic seem to dampen inflammation — raising hope that they could be used to treat diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, that are characterized by brain inflammation. This anti-inflammatory action might partly explain why these drugs, which mimic the hormone GLP-1, seem to provide strong protection against cardiovascular disease. “We know from animal studies and human studies that GLP-1 seems to reduce inflammation almost everywhere,” says endocrinologist Daniel Drucker, co-author of a study showing how the drugs work in the brain to calm inflammation.

Nature | 6 min read

Reference: Cell Metabolism paper

The first experiment to measure gravitational waves from space has been given the go ahead by the European Space Agency. The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will send laser-equipped spacecraft to orbit the Sun in search of gigantic ripples in space-time caused by mergers between supermassive black holes, the spiralling of colliding white-dwarf stars and other events. Construction of the multibillion-euro mission will begin in 2025, with the launch planned for 2035. “The first time I wrote a proposal for LISA was 31 years ago,” says Karsten Danzmann, who leads the LISA consortium. “People thought it was ridiculous. I said, ‘Just you wait.’”

Nature | 4 min read

Several recent small trials have seen gene therapy provide some hearing to children who had severe-to-complete hearing loss. “It’s an enormous breakthrough,” says geneticist Karen Avraham. “Other than cochlear implants, we haven’t really had any successful therapies to treat deafness.” The treatments aimed to deliver a gene called OTOF, which is needed by sound-transmitting hair cells in the ear. It remains to be seen how long the effect will last.

Science | 7 min read

Reference: The Lancet study

Features & opinion

Table of Contents

In November, a historic decision was made by nations at the United Nations climate conference to set up a loss-and-damage fund. The money is intended to help low- and middle-income countries deal with extreme weather events and slower disasters such as sea-level rise. But the fund is insufficient, and spending it will involve agonizing choices about who has suffered most. “Loss and damage is so dependent on people’s values and belief systems,” says environmental researcher Douwe van Schie.

Nature | 12 min read

Costs of climate change: Chart comparing loss-and-damage needs, low and middle-income countries' demand and fund pledges.

Sources: The Loss and Damage Collaboration/UNFCCC

Fast, accurate and accessible diagnostic tests are needed to eradicate tuberculosis (TB), a curable disease that nevertheless killed around 1.3 million people in 2022. “It’s the people who have TB and don’t know they have it, they’re the ones who are spreading the disease,” says environmental-health scientist Jerry Cangelosi. Ideas range from adapting COVID-test technology to using a phone camera to analyse TB-detecting nanoparticles. “The technologies are advancing, but honestly, it’s too slow,” says infectious-disease specialist Ruvandhi Nathavitharana. What is needed, she argues, is the kind of funding and political will that was directed against COVID-19.

Nature | 10 min read

This article is part of Nature Outlook: Medical diagnostics, an editorially independent supplement with financial support from Seegene.

“Poverty is financial,” says social psychologist Catherine Thomas. “But it’s also social and psychological.” In one programme she studied in Niger, an unconditional US$300 cash transfer was accompanied by life-skills training that improved self-confidence and community. It increased incomes for women in extreme poverty more than giving cash on its own, or microfinance schemes that tend to help entrepreneurial men who are at or above the poverty line. And it was cost-effective, says Thomas.

Nature Careers Working Scientist podcast | 21 min listen

This podcast is the first episode in How to Save Humanity in 17 Goals, a series made in partnership with Nature Food about work that addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is editorially independent and produced with financial support from the University of Queensland.

Last week, Leif Penguinson was hiding on a driftwood-strewn beach in Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge, in Hawaii. Did you find the penguin? When you’re ready, here’s the answer.

Today I’m delighted to discover the right way to store carrots: in a misted, sealed bag. Researchers analysed more than 100 refrigerated Lancashire Nantes carrot halves and found that they get bendy because moisture loss causes their cells to lose their shape.

Thanks for reading,

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by Katrina Krämer, Smriti Mallapaty and Sarah Tomlin

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