Hello Nature readers, would you like to get this Briefing in your inbox free every day? Sign up here.

A six-pointed star shines red in front of the blackness of space.

This image of the star, which is called 2MASS J17554042+6551277, uses a red filter to optimize visual contrast. The background shows other stars and galaxies.NASA/STScI

JWST star image makes scientists giddy

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured a crystal-clear image of a distant star as part of a test shot to calibrate its 18 hexagonal mirrors. It is the highest resolution infrared image ever taken from space. “The telescope performance so far is everything that we dared hope,” says JWST scientist Jane Rigby.

New Scientist | 5 min read

No such thing as ‘COVID toes’?

A surge in people with discoloured toes does not seem to be linked to COVID-19. ‘COVID toes’ have sore or itchy patches that are a classic sign of chilblains, a skin condition that typically appears in cold weather. Researchers took an immunological deep dive into 21 people who developed COVID toes in early 2020 in the United States. Most of them showed no sign of having been infected with SARS-CoV-2. The uptick in cases might have been the result of people getting cold feet while chilling at home during lockdown, or more awareness of the condition because of media reports. The case is not yet closed, but physicians say, either way, don’t worry: symptoms generally go away on their own within weeks.

Nature | 6 min read

Reference: PNAS paper

#ScienceForUkraine gathers help

Researchers from around the world have contributed to a list of jobs, scholarships and accommodation for colleagues forced to flee Ukraine because of the Russian invasion. The #ScienceForUkraine Twitter account and website list hundreds of paid academic positions for scientists, academic transfer opportunities for students and temporary housing. Students and scholars from Ukrainian institutions, who are not Ukrainian citizens, are also welcome. However, many researchers in the war zone don’t have the time or resources to access such opportunities. And Ukrainian men aged 18–60 are not allowed to leave the country.

Chemistry World | 7 min read

Features & opinion

Call time on 50-year argument over growth

In 1972, environmental scientist Donella Meadows and the System Dynamics group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published their influential modelling study, The Limits to Growth. It warned that continued economic and population growth would deplete Earth’s resources and lead to global economic collapse by 2070. Since then, the debates haven’t stopped — especially when solutions involve curbing economic growth. Proponents of ‘green growth’ and ‘post-growth’ have upcoming opportunities to agree on how to transform economies so the world lives within ecological limits, argues a Nature editorial. “In 1972, there was still time to debate, and less urgency to act. Now, the world is running out of time.”

Nature | 5 min read

UK has just one Black chemistry professor

Materials chemist Robert Mokaya is the only Black chemistry professor among 575 such professionals in the United Kingdom. He is also a trustee of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), which reports that racial and ethnic inequalities are pervasive in the UK chemical-sciences community. Many Black students choose the field: 4.9% of students studying chemistry-related subjects identify as Black (3.0% of the UK population identifies as Black). But most do not continue into research careers, and even fewer become senior academics. "In academia, you have to get signals from more senior colleagues that it is time to apply for a more senior role that comes up,” notes Mokaya. “Early in my career, the signals I got is that this is not the place for you and it is not the right time for you.” The RSC has put forward a plan to tackle inequalities that it hopes will inspire other organizations.

BBC | 6 min read

Reference: RSC report

CDC directors: we need data to save lives

Five former directors of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who collectively led the agency for more than 25 years, urge lawmakers to give the agency the power to gather standardized public-health data from across the country’s fragmented health system. “If there is one thing we have learned from the public health emergencies of the past two decades, it is the importance of having robust everyday systems that can be scaled up in an emergency,” they say. “Starting new data systems in a crisis is a recipe for failure.”

The Hill | 6 min read


“If you do something new or innovative, expect trouble. But think critically about it because if you’re wrong, you want to be the first one to know.”

Astrophysicist Eugene Parker, the namesake of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, offers his advice to early-career scientists. Parker has died aged 94. (UChicago News | 7 min read)