“What we are getting is an incredibly powerful tool for understanding what went on in the past.”
Whenever you see this construction, get rid of it. It’s quite simple: “We are getting a powerful tool for understanding what went on in past.” No need for “what we are,” etc. and especially no need for “incredibly.”
Since “We are getting” is inept, why not say “We have a powerful tool….”? They are already using that tool, so they must have it. No “getting” required.
Another example from the same article:
“They looked at ancient and modern DNA of wild and domestic pigs, including specimens from the Iron Gates sites.What they found was that the farmers brought their pigs with them, but that over three thousand years, those pigs interbred with European wild boar.”
“They looked at ancient and modern DNA of wild and domestic pigs, including specimens from the Iron Gates sites. They found that the farmers [had] brought their pigs with them. During the next three thousand years, those pigs interbred with European wild boar.”
“They analyzed ancient and modern DNA of pigs, both wild and domestic…”
Variations on the phrase “looked at” represent a common crime of carelessness against the language. Radio announcers often say, “Looking at the weather, it should be sunny today….” It is a verbal tic that has no place in good writing.
The phrasing “DNA of wild and domestic pigs…” might suggest that the scientists studied one group of pigs that was both wild and domestic. The writer means to say that they studied DNA from two groups, one wild, the other domestic.
“An Archaeological Puzzle on the Danube”
– James Gorman, The New York Times, August 20, 2019