This weekend’s “Galaxy Report” ranges from the fragile lifespan of technological civilizations to Stephen Hawking’s ‘lost’ Nobel Prize to probing for life on Saturn’s moon, Titan to colonizing Mars could accelerate human evolution.
Microbes, Natural Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence –Humanity’s greatest achievement might be building our successors, reports Harvard’s Avi Loeb for Scientific American.
Colonizing Mars could speed up human evolution –High radiation, low gravity and other environmental pressures could spur Martian humans to mutate relatively quicker than on Earth, reports Astronomy.
NASA’s Perseverance Rover Finds Signs of Epic Ancient Floods on Mars –New results from the mission reveal that its landing site of Jezero Crater has a surprisingly dynamic and complex hydrologic history, reports Scientific American
Climate change is an existential threat not to humanity but to our project of civilization –Will we humans make it? Does anyone in the universe make it? reports Big Think. The climate crisis is an existential threat not to our species (humanity won’t go extinct) but to our global, hyperconnected technological “project of civilization.”
Volcanic Eruptions Helped Dinosaurs Dominate Planet Earth –Massive eruptions transformed the climate in the Triassic era, creating the conditions in which dinosaurs diversified into many more species, reports The New York Times.
Did Death Cheat Stephen Hawking out of a Nobel Prize? –A recent study of black holes confirmed a fundamental prediction that the theoretical physicist made nearly five decades ago. But the ultimate award is beyond his reach, reports the New York Times.
Why philosopher Henri Bergson rejected the word “time” –Our temporal experience of the world is not divided into a series of neat segments, yet that’s how we talk about time, reports Big Think.
Black Hole Enigma –Does the Event Horizon Exist? –“Though widely accepted, the existence of event horizons, where the escape velocity for an object would have to exceed the speed of light, has not been proved,” reports The Daily Galaxy
The Nail-Biting Journey of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Is About to Begin, reports Nikk Ogasa for Scientific American–“Before it can study the first stars and galaxies, the observatory must endure a sea voyage, a rocket launch and an all-or-nothing deployment sequence in deep space.”
Chemistry Nobel Prize Honors Technique for Building Molecules –Benjamin List and David MacMillan received the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of asymmetrical organocatalysis, reports Jordana Cepelewicz for Quanta.
Work on Earth’s Climate and Other Complex Systems Earns Nobel Prize in Physics –Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann have been honored for their work that led to reliable predictions of the effects of climate change. They will share the Nobel with Giorgio Parisi, who has made pioneering studies of chaotic physical systems, reports Natalie Wolchover for Quanta.
‘Double’ galaxy mystifies Hubble astronomers reports ESA/Hubble Information Centre –“The features so befuddled the astronomers that it took them several years to unravel the mystery. With the help of two gravitational-lensing experts, the researchers determined that the three objects were the distorted images of a faraway, undiscovered galaxy. But the biggest surprise was that the linear objects were exact copies of each other, a rare occurrence caused by the precise alignment of the background galaxy and the foreground lensing cluster.”
NASA Won’t Rename the James Webb Space Telescope—and Astronomers Are Angry. The agency found no evidence that the flagship observatory’s namesake was involved in anti-LGBT+ activities, but some say that Webb bears responsibility.
China’s Moon trip reveals surprisingly recent volcanic activity –-The Chang’e-5 mission returned the first lunar samples since the 1970s, with bits of lava dated at two billion years old, reports Nature.
The largest ever cosmic microwave background camera –A new study details the inner workings of the Large Aperture Telescope Receiver, the cryogenic camera that will be installed at the Simons Observatory at 17,000 feet in northern Chile, reports the University of Pennsylvania
Lasers to Probe Origin of Life on a Frigid Moon and Take the Space-Time Pulse of Star-Shattering Collisions Built in Goddard Lab, reports the Goddard Space Flight Center –“On Saturn’s giant moon Titan, liquid methane and other hydrocarbons rain down, carving rivers, lakes and seas in a landscape of frozen water. The complex chemistry on this icy world could be analogous to the period when life first emerged on Earth, or it might yield an entirely new type of life. And even farther – light-years away in deep space, a black hole shreds the ultra-dense core of a dead star, warping the fabric of space itself and sending waves of space-time flying across the universe.”
Colossal Dyson Spheres Might Be the Key to Finding Intelligent Alien Life –Megastructures built by alien intelligence could leave a traceable signal behind, reports Interesting Engineering.
Scientist looks to AI, lensing to find masses of free-floating planets, reports Julie Freijat, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. – Exoplanet hunters have found thousands of planets, most orbiting close to their host stars, but relatively few alien worlds have been detected that float freely through the galaxy as so-called rogue planets, not bound to any star. Many astronomers believe that these planets are more common than we know, but that our planet-finding techniques haven’t been up to the task of locating them.
With NASA Data, Researchers Find Standing Waves at Edge of Earth’s Magnetic Bubble, reports the Goddard Space Flight Center–Earth sails the solar system in a ship of its own making: the magnetosphere, the magnetic field that envelops and protects our planet. The celestial sea we find ourselves in is filled with charged particles flowing from the Sun, known as the solar wind. Just as ocean waves follow the wind, scientists expected that waves traveling along the magnetosphere should ripple in the direction of the solar wind. But a new study reveals some waves do just the opposite.
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