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Composite of two close-crop images of the farthest galaxies seen to date

The James Webb Space Telescope has captured two of the most distant galaxies (orange-red objects) ever observed. The galaxy on the right is dated to about 350 million years after the Big Bang, which occurred 13.8 billion years ago.Credit: Science: NASA, ESA, CSA, Tommaso Treu (UCLA); Image Processing: Zolt G. Levay (STScI)

JWST spots seriously old galaxies

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has imaged some of the most distant galaxies ever seen. If initial estimates are correct, light from these objects has travelled such great distances that they appear as they did just 350 million to 450 million years after the Big Bang. Along with more of the telescope’s findings, these observations indicate that galaxies formed and evolved earlier in the Universe’s history than astronomers had been able to probe until now.

Nature | 4 min read

US scientist compensated for China crackdown

Hydrologist Sherry Chen has won a settlement of nearly US$2 million from the US government for wrongful prosecution and dismissal from her job at the National Weather Service. Chen was arrested before the launch of the China Initiative, which was intended to protect US laboratories and businesses from espionage. The effort was abandoned in February this year amid accusations that it was biased against researchers of Chinese descent and had ruined lives over trivial concerns. The settlement sends a clear message, says Ashley Gorski, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union: “discrimination and profiling are unacceptable”.

Nature | 6 min read

Bronze hand might rewrite history of Basque

A flat, life-size bronze hand engraved with symbols could prove the existence of written Vasconic — the language that developed into Basque. “This piece upends how we’d thought about the Vascones and writing until now,” says linguist Joaquín Gorrochategui, who was involved in the analysis by the Aranzadi Science Society, a Basque research institute. “We were almost convinced that the ancient Vascones were illiterate and didn’t use writing except when it came to minting coins.”

The Guardian | 4 min read

Reference: Aranzadi Science Society press release (in Spanish)

COP27 climate conference

Image of the day

Ghanaian Nakeeyat Dramani Sam, attending the conference, demanded payment of funds allocated for climate change.

Ten-year-old activist and poet Nakeeyat Dramani Sam, from Ghana, got a standing ovation from COP27 president Sameh Shoukry and delegates after asking them to mend the broken US$100-billion promise of climate finance. (Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency via Getty)


It’s official — the talks, which were expected to finish today, have been extended at least into Saturday.

The issue of loss-and-damage finance — funding for low- and middle-income countries that are facing irreversible climate-related destruction — remains on a knife-edge. But the gap between the entreaties of high- and low-emitting countries is narrowing.

Late last night, the European Union attempted to bridge divides. Its big idea is for a fund (officially called a ‘facility’) into which donor countries could pay as much, or as little, as they wanted. “It’s a canny move,” says Nature’s Ehsan Masood. “It would appeal to both China and the United States. Neither country would be obligated to pay — and would prefer not to.” But a fund without the high emitters would be a non-fund, say campaigners and some countries. There’s no time for sleep, as delegates prepare to work through the night. I’ll be here too, and I look forward to updating you on Monday.

Flora Graham, Senior Editor, Nature Briefing


“Slow is very nice. When cycling up a hill, it feels hard. Just continue. You will get there.”

Physicist and artist Alexander Lagaaij, who has cycled from the Netherlands to Egypt, has some advice for world leaders (and the rest of us).

Features & opinion

Futures: science fiction from Nature

In the latest short stories for Nature’s Futures series:

• A robot’s inventor watches it grapple with human failure in ‘Potholes’.

• The end of the world helps repair a sibling relationship in ‘Fixing the rift’.

Nature | 4 min read

Five best science books this week

Andrew Robinson’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes a disturbing history of California’s energy grid and wildfires; a skillful introduction to space, time and motion; and a challenging survey of plant consciousness.

Nature | 3 min read

Podcast: Moving labs, moving countries

In this week’s Nature Podcast, the team looks into the mechanism of a gene implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, explores NASA’s Artemis I mission launch, and chats with me about what it’s like at COP27.

Nature Podcast | 26 min listen

Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

Quote of the day

“It feels like finding a unicorn.”

Ornithologist John Mittermeier shared his delight after a camera trap captured the first images ever taken of the black-naped pheasant-pigeon (Otidiphaps insularis), a chicken-sized, ground-dwelling pigeon. (Audubon | 6 min read)