“Homo naledi seems very similar to modern humans in ways that we think reflect its behavior,” wrote paleoanthropologist John Hawks, Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in an email to The Daily Galaxy. “It had hands that clearly were adapted for toolmaking and tool use. It had teeth that seemed adapted to the kind of high-quality diets that we have thought were a pathway to the evolution of large, humanlike brains. Even though its brain size was around a third the size of ours, it survived for a million years or more in Africa where much larger-brained species lived, including early modern humans.”
Welcome to an extraordinary catch of news from the Cosmos. Today’s stories range from Why AI Needs a Genome to Our Solar System is a Cosmic Oddity to the Quantum Experiment that Could Prove Reality Doesn’t Exist, and much more.
“Oxygen flooded into the atmosphere as a pollutant, even a poison, until natural selection shaped living things to thrive on the stuff and, indeed, suffocate without it,” wrote evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.
In 2018, astronomers discovered several bizarre objects at the Galactic Center using 12 years of data taken from W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The objects are concealing their true identity behind an opaque screen of dust; they look like gas clouds, but behave like stars. “These compact dusty stellar objects move extremely fast and close to our Galaxy’s supermassive black hole. It is fascinating to watch them move from year to year,” said astronomer Anna Ciurlo at UCLA. “How did they get there? And what will they become? They must have an interesting story to tell.” (more…)
“We use special telescopes to catch X-ray light in the sky, and while looking at these X-rays, the telescopes noticed an unexpected feature and captured a spectrum of light, which is not produced by any known atomic emission,” said University of Miami astrophysicist Nico Cappelluti about a signal first detected in 2014. “This emission line is now called the 3.5 kiloelectron volt (keV). One interpretation of this emission line is that it’s produced by the decay of dark matter.”
“This is a great discovery!” said ESO team member Themiya Nanayakkara in fall of 2018 about the discovery that almost all of the sky is invisibly glowing with Lyman-alpha emission from the early Universe. “Next time you look at the moonless night sky and see the stars, imagine the unseen glow of hydrogen: the first building block of the universe, illuminating the whole night sky.”