top ten research highlights

The following highlights are the top ten most viewed research highlights on the English website of during the past month.


Earth science: Earth’s inner core rotation may be slowing down

Nature Geoscience, January 24, 2023

Please note the press release below has been updated.

The rotation of the Earth’s solid inner core relative to its mantle may have recently slowed down and could be rotating more slowly than the mantle, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience this week. These findings indicate that changes in this differential rotation co...

doi: 10.1038/s41561-022-01112-z

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Astrophysics: Finding signals of when stars collide

Nature, January 10, 2023

Oscillating signals detected in two short gamma-ray bursts that may have been created by the formation of a massive neutron star from two merging neutron stars are reported in Nature this week. The detection of such signals could provide an opportunity to study the properties of these events.

Collisions between neutron stars (dense cores of massive stars at the end of their lif...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05497-0

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Evolution: Oldest-known caecilian found

Nature, January 26, 2023

The oldest-known fossil of a worm-like amphibian known as a caecilian is reported in this week’s Nature. The finding sheds light on the origins of caecilians and their position in the amphibian group.

Modern-day caecilians are limbless amphibians that look like worms or snakes. Their origins are poorly understood, due to a paucity of relevant fossils. In this study, Ben K...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05646-5

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Technology: Enhancing empathic support with artificial intelligence

Nature Machine Intelligence, January 24, 2023

An artificial intelligence (AI)-based chat interface, named HAILEY, that offers assistance to mental health peer supporters who interact online with individuals seeking support, is described in a paper published in Nature Machine Intelligence. Peer supporters who took part in the study reported an overall increase in conversational empathy when using the interface and also felt more conf...

doi: 10.1038/s42256-022-00593-2

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Climate change: Greenland Ice Sheet warmer now than over past millennium

Nature, January 19, 2023

Recent temperatures on the Greenland Ice Sheet are the warmest they have been in the past 1,000 years, a reconstruction of central-north Greenland temperatures from AD 1100 to 2011 suggests. The findings, published in Nature, indicate that between 2001 and 2011 the ice sheet was on average 1.5 °C warmer than during the 20th century.

The Greenland Ice Sheet has an important ...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05517-z

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Environment: Assessing the world’s unused hydropower potential

Nature Water, January 17, 2023

Africa and Asia account for 85% of the world’s unused profitable hydropower, according to a global assessment published in Nature Water. The findings may help countries formulate hydropower development strategies that consider environmental and social impacts.

Hydropower is a relatively cost-effective energy source, expected to play a key role in the transition of some na...

doi: 10.1038/s44221-022-00004-1

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Environment: Mount Fuji’s springs flow from deep underground

Nature Water, January 20, 2023

Mount Fuji’s vast network of groundwater and freshwater springs, which has provided drinking water for millennia, is fed by deep aquifers, according to a study in Nature Water. These findings come from new hydrological tracer techniques and may aid our understanding of declining water quality from the mountain.

Japan’s Mount Fuji has provided water to millions of pe...

doi: 10.1038/s44221-022-00001-4

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Sustainability: Assessing the impact of tourism on Hawaiian coral reefs

Nature Sustainability, January 10, 2023

The most popular Hawaiian coral reefs may be being degraded by the tourists they attract, a paper in Nature Sustainability suggests.

Coral reefs are popular for their biodiversity and beauty, and are also vital ecosystems, nurturing fisheries and protecting coasts. Reef tourism can incentivize conservation by generating funds and supporting local livelihoods focused on protecti...

doi: 10.1038/s41893-022-01021-4

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Physics: Laser in the sky diverts lightning strikes

Nature Photonics, January 17, 2023

A powerful laser aimed at the sky can create a virtual lightning rod and divert the path of lightning strikes, a paper published in Nature Photonics demonstrates. The findings may pave the way for better lightning protection methods for critical infrastructure, such as power stations, airports and launchpads.

To date, the most common lightning protection device is the Franklin ro...

doi: 10.1038/s41566-022-01139-z

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Human behaviour: Financial incentives do not undermine vaccine programmes

Nature, January 12, 2023

Paying people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 does not lead to negative behavioural consequences, a Nature study reports. This finding may have implications for policy-makers who may be considering using financial incentives to spur behavioural change.

Financial incentives are used to catalyse behaviour change in many situations, such as encouraging people to give blood or p...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05512-4

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