Another week of mind-bending news from the Blue Dot from NASA reports Hubble trouble to Albert Einstein’s assertion that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.
A Mysterious Crater’s Age May Add Clues to the Dinosaur Extinction –Boltysh crater in Ukraine formed around the same time as the Chicxulub event, raising questions about its role in this tumultuous era, reports Becky Ferreira for The New York Times.”
Is the Universe Open-Ended? An intriguing proposal about what makes reality tick under the surface, reports Caleb Scharf for Nautilus. “One of my favorite albeit heavily paraphrased quotes from Albert Einstein is his assertion that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. In truth, this statement holds back a little. The greater mystery is that the universe is actually capable of self-comprehension.”
Scientists detect signatures of life remotely, reports the University of Bonn. “It could be a milestone on the path to detecting life on other planets: Scientists under the leadership of the University of Bern and of the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS detect a key molecular property of all living organisms from a helicopter flying several kilometers above ground. The measurement technology could also open up opportunities for remote sensing of the Earth.”
Earth’s 27.5-million-year cycle of geological activity, reports New York University. “Geologic activity on Earth appears to follow a 27.5-million-year cycle, giving the planet a ‘pulse.”
Inside the race to rescue clues to Earth’s past from melting glaciers –Glacial ice records all manner of precious information about the planet’s environmental history, but it is melting fast. The Ice Memory project is scrambling to extract samples for posterity before it’s too late, reports New Scientist.
The Human Genome Is—Finally!—Complete–The Human Genome Project left 8 percent of our DNA unexplored. Now, for the first time, those enigmatic regions have been revealed, reports Sarah Zhang for The Atlantic. “These were the hardest-to-sequence regions, full of repeating letters that were simply impossible to read with the technology at the time.”
This Magnet Can Lift an Aircraft Carrier And Will Attempt Nuclear Fusion –The first module of the Central Solenoid is driving across the US under cover of night to be shipped to France to eventually attempt nuclear fusion, reports Becky Ferreira for Motherboard Science.
NASA reports trouble with Hubble Space Telescope–The Hubble Space Telescope, which has been peering into the universe for more than 30 years, has been down for the past few days, NASA said Friday. “The problem is a payload computer that stopped working last Sunday, the US space agency said. It insisted the telescope itself and scientific instruments that accompany it are “in good health. ‘The payload computer’s purpose is to control and coordinate the science instruments and monitor them for health and safety purposes,'” NASA said.
Experts Weigh In on Pentagon UFO Report –The vast majority of examined incidents were not caused by U.S. advanced technology programs, the forthcoming report concludes. So what’s going on? asks Leonard David for Scientific American.
“They Think It’s Real” –NASA Joins Investigation of UFOs, reports The Daily Galaxy. “Are we, both scientists and lay people, ready?” asks Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb in his introduction to his controversial new book, Extraterrestrial –The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth. “Is human civilization,” Loeb ponders, “ready to confront what follows our accepting the plausible conclusion, arrived at through evidence-backed hypotheses, that terrestrial life isn’t unique and perhaps not even particularly impressive? I fear the answer is no, and that prevailing prejudice is a cause for concern.”
How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously –For decades, flying saucers were a punch line. Then the U.S. government got over the taboo, reports Gideon Lewis-Kraus for The New Yorker.
Why is the Universe Spinning? asks The Daily Galaxy. ““Not only are the galaxies spinning, but also the stars within the galaxies, and the Earth is spinning, and the Earth around the sun and the moon around the Earth. Pretty much the whole universe is spinning,” says Noam Libeskind at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics. “We don’t really know why, and one way to try to answer that is to figure out where the spinning stops.”
Life May Have Been More Likely to Originate on Mars Than on Earth –The environmental setting makes all the difference, reports Dirk Schulze-Makuch for Air & Space. “renowned international team of researchers led by Benton Clark from the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, recently looked into one of the key questions in astrobiology—whether life is likely to have arisen on Mars. Their analysis, published in the journal Life, is the most comprehensive assessment of that question I’ve seen to date, and is based not only on current thinking about how life originates, but also on the latest results from the Mars rover investigations.”
The Ganges Is Returning the Dead. It Does Not Lie, reports The New York Times –The Ganges, or Ganga, is the holiest of India’s rivers, and most Hindus believe that dipping their body in it will purify their soul. But when the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit this spring, the river also became Exhibit A for the Modi administration’s failures and deceptions.
Is It Time to Give Up on Consciousness as ‘the Ghost in the Machine’? asks Peter Halligan for Singularity Hub,–science has not yet reached a consensus on the nature of consciousness, which has important implications for our belief in free will and our approach to the study of the human mind.
“The Iron Anomaly” –New research adds a wrinkle to our understanding of the origins of matter in the Milky Way. “New findings published this week in Physical Review Letters suggest that carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen cosmic rays travel through the galaxy toward Earth in a similar way, but, surprisingly, that iron arrives at Earth differently. Learning more about how cosmic rays move through the galaxy helps address a fundamental, lingering question in astrophysics: How is matter generated and distributed across the universe?”
The Gods Were Right –They punished Prometheus for stealing their fire. Now look what humans have done with it, reports The Atlantic.
The best places to find extraterrestrial life in our solar system, ranked –If there’s alien life nearby, where are we most likely to find it? asks The MIT Technology Review
How the U.S. Made Progress on Climate Change Without Ever Passing a Bill –A “green vortex” is saving America’s climate future, reports Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic.
The Biologist Who Fell to Earth –At 17, Juliane Diller was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Amazon. Fifty years later she still runs Panguana, a research station founded by her parents in Peru, reports The New York Times.
A Victorian science murder mystery –William Saville-Kent was a pioneering coral photographer. Was he also hiding a grisly secret?
As Astronauts Dock, China Takes Up Long-Term Residence in Orbit –Three Chinese astronauts arrived on Thursday to help build their country’s rival to the International Space Station, reports The New York Times.
The Immune System’s Weirdest Weapon –For decades, neutrophils have been miscast as mindless grunts. They’re more like super-soldiers, reports The Atlantic.
Mockingbirds Are Better Musicians Than We Thought –Their complex songs have striking similarities to Beethoven, Tuvan throat singing, a Disney musical and Kendrick Lamar, reports David Rothenberg for Scientific American.
Human Ageing process is unstoppable, finds unprecedented study –Research suggests humans cannot slow the rate at which they get older because of biological constraints, reports The Guardian.
Your free twice-weekly fix of stories of space and science –a random journey from Planet Earth through the Cosmos– that has the capacity to provide clues to our existence and add a much needed cosmic perspective in our Anthropocene epoch.