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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
But physicists also want to see general relativity fail a test.
Driving the news: UCLA's Andrea Ghez and her colleagues report today in Science that light from a star (dubbed S0-2) passing close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is affected as Einstein's theory predicts.
Details: Using the historical data for the star's orbit as a reference, the teams took measurements of the light emitted from the star as it moved by the black hole. They observed it was redder because, as predicted, it lost energy due to the effects of gravity from the black hole.
Researchers applaud the new study — the precision of the measurements, the patience of the endeavor, and the avenues of investigation it opens. But Einstein's continued success is a challenge for the field.
What's next: Knowing details of S0-2's path, researchers want to track the star to see if its orbit will rotate like general relativity predicts.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Connecting brains directly to machines has helped paralyzed people begin to speak and amputees feed themselves again — early steps toward the miraculous cures that have been the main focus of the neurotechnology field, Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes.
But a smaller group of researchers and startups — plus the Pentagon — are working toward an even longer-term goal fraught with scientific and moral hurdles. They plan to improve on healthy humans, in a bid to pick up where evolution left off.
How it works: These technologies communicate with the brain — from outside the skull or by sticking electrodes straight into it — in order to read neural data, and often also to write information back in.
But a likely earlier outcome is connecting brains and machines to help people learn the way they always have — just a little faster.
What's next: One early concern is whether these inventions would be out of reach for some, granting wealthy people superpowers while leaving others with nothing more than their natural cognitive abilities.
Last week, NASA extended the life of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite for 2 more years, through at least 2022, Axios' Miriam Kramer reports.
Details: TESS is just at the end of the first year of its primary mission. In that time, the telescope discovered a variety of planets, including one that’s only about 80% the size of Earth.
Go deeper: Explore the interactive TESS graphic
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Special report: Factory Moon (Axios)
Cosmic Crisp: A new apple launches (Brooke Jarvis, California Sunday Magazine)
The opioid epidemic you haven't heard about (Laura Salm-Reifferscheidt, Mosaic)
The brain's waste disposal problems (Eileen Drage O'Reilly, Axios)
The quietly changing consensus on neutering dogs (Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic)
The team's experimental setup. Photo: Sebastian Leuzinger/Auckland University of Technology
A "living stump" of New Zealand's iconic kauri tree seems to share water with a neighbor, hinting that trees could be more deeply connected than previously understood.
The big picture: If trees are found to act more like a resource-sharing superorganism, the "whole view on the functioning of the tree and forest would have to change," says Sebastian Leuzinger, an ecologist at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand and author of new research describing the stump.
What's new: Vast networks of microbes are known to move carbon and other nutrients between trees in what is known as the "wood wide web." The study — with an n of 1 — suggests water could be moved as well but by the trees' roots themselves.
What's next: Leuzinger wants to study whether water is regularly exchanged in intact trees as well.
P.S. There are beautiful pictures of kauri trees on the internet. I chose this one because sometimes science involves duct tape and bungee cords.
Spend some time in the woods: