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Top stories: How a tree lives so long, wolf puppies playing fetch, and a giant telescope’s uncertain future

How the Ginkgo biloba achieves near-immortality

Long-lived humans having nothing on trees. Some forest giants, like the Ginkgo biloba, can live more than 3000 years. Now, in the most comprehensive plant aging study to date, researchers have revealed the molecular mechanisms that allow the ginkgo—and perhaps other trees—to survive so long.

Watch wolf puppies stun scientists by playing fetch

Playing fetch with your dog isn’t as simple as it seems. Your pooch must be perceptive enough to realize you want the ball back—and social enough to want to play with you in the first place. It’s such an advanced skill, in fact, that many scientists think it could have arisen only over thousands of years of domestication. But now, researchers have shown some wolves have the skill, too, indicating it may have been present in some form before we domesticated dogs.

New front emerges in battle to build giant telescope in Hawaii

In the midst of a 2-month truce after several months of tension over the construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, Hawaiian researchers announced the submission of eight white papers to the decadal survey in astronomy, known as Astro2020, at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu last week. The white papers describe the cultural significance of Mauna Kea, a peak many Native Hawaiians hold sacred, and the negative impact of the observatories on Indigenous people. They want Astro2020 to ensure that no federal money is used to build on state land without the consent of local kia’i, the mountain’s protectors. This is the latest move in the complex fight over the construction of the observatory.

FDA and NIH let clinical trial sponsors keep results secret and break the law

For 20 years, the U.S. government has urged companies, universities, and other institutions that conduct clinical trials to record their results in a federal database, so doctors and patients can see whether new treatments are safe and effective. Few trial sponsors have consistently done so, even after a 2007 law made posting mandatory for many trials registered in the database. In 2017, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration tried again, enacting a long-awaited “final rule” to clarify the law’s expectations and penalties for failing to disclose trial results. The rule took full effect 2 years ago, on 18 January 2018, giving trial sponsors ample time to comply. But a Science investigation shows that many still ignore the requirement, while federal officials do little or nothing to enforce the law.

‘Frankenstein’ material can self-heal, reproduce

Life is at the heart of much of our material world. We make two-by-four beams from wood, ethanol from corn, and textiles from cotton. But bricks? Researchers have now created a form of concrete that not only comes from living creatures but—given the right inputs—can turn one brick into two, two into four, and four into eight. Although the new material won’t build self-assembling houses anytime soon, it could soon lead to building components that can heal themselves when damaged. The living concrete could even offer Mars-bound astronauts a way to build structures from local materials plus a few adventurous microbes.