Our very strange Universe delivered its usual fascinating news stories over the past few days, ranging from Evolution Tells Us We Might Be the Only Intelligent Life in the Universe to How James Webb will reveal what Hubble missed.
Evolution Tells Us We Might Be the Only Intelligent Life in the Universe, reports Nicholas R. Longrich for Singularity Hub. “Could intelligence simply be unlikely to evolve? Unfortunately, we can’t study extraterrestrial life to answer this question. But we can study some 4.5 billion years of Earth’s history, looking at where evolution repeats itself, or doesn’t.”
An Ocean May Lurk Inside Saturn’s ‘Death Star’ Moon–New research is converting some skeptics to the idea that tiny, icy Mimas may be full of liquid, reports Kenneth Chang for The New York Times. “With a large crater carved out of its surface, Mimas, a 250-mile-wide moon of Saturn, bears more than a passing resemblance to the Death Star in ‘Star Wars.’ (When the Millennium Falcon first encounters the Death Star, Obi-Wan Kenobi ominously says: “That’s no moon. It’s a space station.”)
How James Webb will reveal what Hubble missed –Hubble’s deepest views of space revealed fewer than 10% of the Universe’s galaxies. James Webb will change that forever, reports Big Think.
Violent Neutron Star Collision Discovered Near Earth’s Birthplace, reports Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. ““How invigorating it was to glimpse a cosmic puzzle touching us all! How thrilling is the expanding global quest investigating all flavors of dead and exploding stars to probe our shared origins,” Columbia University astrophysicist Szabolcs Marka wrote in an email to The Daily Galaxy.
Mars ‘lake’ may actually be volcanic rocks buried beneath the ice cap –Radar images of Mars’s southern ice cap indicated that there could be a lake there – but a new set of simulations hints that it could be volcanic rock instead, reports New Scientist.
Life could be thriving in the clouds of Venus, reports Eric Verbeten University of Wisconsin– Is there life on Venus? For more than a century, scientists have pondered this question. Now, there is renewed interest in Venus as a place that could support living organisms.
Alien Octopus Hypothesis (YouTube Video) –Could one of Earth’s most intelligent species be an alien, ‘seeded’ on the planet by an interstellar genetic code? Scientists speculate that the clue might be found in the ancient precursor to life: RNA.
Intelligent life probably exists on distant planets — even if we can’t make contact, astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi says, for the Washington Post. “I am confident, however, that intelligent life-forms inhabit planets elsewhere in the universe. Math and physics point to this likely conclusion. But I think we’re unlikely to be able to communicate or interact with them — at least in our lifetimes.
What happens if a space elevator breaks –-You don’t want to be under one if the cable snaps, reports Ars Technica.
In a First, an ‘Atomic Fountain’ Has Measured the Curvature of Spacetime –The atom interferometry technique uses the effects of time dilation to reveal subtle changes in gravity’s strength, reports Scientific American.
The Boston Globe: 2021 was so weird, that big UFO news totally went over our heads. Is the potential reality of extraterrestrials too overwhelming — or too frightening — for our human brains to absorb? asks Will Dowd.
Any Single Galaxy Reveals the Composition of an Entire Universe –In computer simulations of possible universes, researchers have discovered that a neural network can infer the amount of matter in a whole universe by studying just one of its galaxies, reports Charlie Wood for Quanta.
How Will the Universe End? Scientists Seek an Answer in the Biggest Galaxy Map Yet–““This project has a specific scientific goal: to measure very precisely the accelerating expansion of the universe,” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Julien Guy told Wired. By measuring the expansion over time, scientists hope to shine a light on dark energy—the mysterious force that seems to be blowing the universe apart—and predict the ultimate fate of the cosmos,” reports Singularity Hub.
We Discovered a Rogues’ Gallery of Monster-Sized Gas Giants, reports Nautilus.
Image credit: with thanks to European Southern Observatories (ESO)