Tag Archives: Futurology

Futurology ~ Speedster star, Black Hole origins, TRAPPIST system, iPhone 8 AR, AI suicides, crazy-tough water bear


Scientists have a new theory as to how Black Holes might form

Star orbits Black Hole at 1% the speed of light — Astronomers have spotted a star whizzing around a vast black hole at about 2.5 times the distance between Earth and the Moon, and it takes only half an hour to complete one orbit. To put that into perspective, it takes roughly 28 days for our Moon to do a single lap around our relatively tiny planet at speeds of 3683 km (2288 miles) per hour.
~ Now that’s one cosmic Mazurka!

Wild new hypothesis for Black Hole formation — New research from an international team of scientists might have some answers to at least one of the critical questions, like how supermassive black holes, which range in size from millions to billions of solar masses, apparently formed very quickly in the early universe.
~ Looks like a massive Vape.

TRAPPIST 1 view — Last month, the solar system lost its collective chill when NASA announced the discovery of a seven-planet system called TRAPPIST-1, just 39 light-years from our Sun. The system is particularly exciting, not only because of its proximity to our planet, but because it has three planets within the habitable zone, where liquid water (and potentially life) could be supported. And on Wednesday, March 8th, NASA finally released its first-ever glimpse at the TRAPPIST-1 system (above left)…
~ Er, anyone else wishing for a few more pixels? 

Alien life jumping between Trappist planets — A new study from Manasvi Lingam and Avi Loeb at Harvard University makes the question of life in TRAPPIST-1 even more compelling: the researchers suggest that the TRAPPIST-1 planets are close enough to each other that microbes could travel from one world to another, via rocks.
~ I’ve jumped – or at least stumbled – between Trappists before. And rock was involved, so it sounds plausible to my finely-honed scientific sensibilities!

‘iPhone 8’ could herald start of Apple’s augmented reality ambitions — Computer simulations, and the means to visualize them, could be in the palm of your hand in new and potentially revolutionary ways later this year, if rumours about Apple’s forthcoming “iPhone 8” bear fruit.
~ Well, I dunno, if you start listening to that Tim Cook fellow, you can come up with almost any theory as to what Apple might produce. 

Facebook fighting suicides — Earlier this month, Facebook began turning some of those AI tools to a more noble goal: stopping people from taking their own lives. Admittedly, this isn’t entirely altruistic. Having people broadcast their suicides from Facebook Live isn’t good for the brand.
~ Well, here’s a tip: stop those bloody ads appearing!

Secret of the tcrazy-tough water bear is a protein — There’s no toughness like that of the water bear (or tardigrade), which looks like a cannon wearing a pair of wrinkled khakis. This microscopic critter can survive boiling water, alcohol, some of the lowest temperatures in the universe and blasts of radiation that would kill a human. Now researchers claim they’ve found an exclusively tardigradean protein that the creature produces, forming it into a glass bead.
~ Ah, well, now that you say it, it seems obvious!

Futurology ~ Mars spuds, lost spacecraft, Waze ways, FM everythings, super oil sponge


Spuds can grow on Mars — The International Potato Center (CIP) has launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars’ atmospheric conditions, as well as under extreme conditions on Earth. The CIP placed a potato inside a “specially constructed CubeSat contained environment” that simulates Mars temperature, air pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. They then used sensors and live-streaming cameras to record the soil and monitor the status of the potato. Preliminary results are positive as cameras inside the container show sprouts.
~ For sure, for sure. I bet they didn’t simulate the radiation load, though. 

NASA found a lost spacecraft — NASA has been having some real success locating wayward spacecraft, including its STEREO-B solar observer. The agency has now done it again, locating an Indian spacecraft that lost contact with the Earth nearly eight years ago.
~ Seriously, people, just stick a Tile on it. 

Waze and other traffic-dodging apps prompt cities to game algorithms — Waze and others are causing traffic planners to try to figure out how to gain back control of traffic systems. Navigation apps like Apple Maps, Google Maps and Waze started telling drivers to hop off the freeway at Fremont’s Mission Boulevard, cut through residential streets and then hop back on the highway where things were clearer – much to the distress of the people who lived there. Changes may simply reroute commuters into other neighbourhoods.
~ You’re not actually ‘stuck in traffic’. You are traffic. 

New tech turns any object into an FM transmitter — A research team from the University of Washington has introduced a technique called “backscattering” which uses ambient low-power radio signals to broadcast messages from random objects to smartphones in the local vicinity.The researchers hope the development could help support various smart city applications, and picture a future where anything from a poster at a bus stop to a road sign can transmit audio updates and information to passers-by.
~ Whereas I picture a future where every damn thing is beaming adverts at me. 

New sponge soaks up oil and can do so hundreds of times — Seth Darling and his colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have created a new material that can absorb up to 90 times its own weight in spilled oil, then be squeezed out like a sponge and reused. Most commercial products used for soaking up oil, called “sorbents,” act like a paper towel and are only good for a single use. (Once typical sorbents are used, they get incinerated along with the oil.)
~ Notice the absence of ‘ab’ in ‘sorbents’. So is that the ‘scence’ of ab now? And nobody tell Kevin Costner’s brother. 

Futurology ~ Sun hunch, NASA side mission, space junk, losing freeways, mind-boggling maths, bee drones, US genes


(Image from Nine Planets)
(Image from Nine Planets)

Scientists have a weird hunch about why the Sun spins too slowly — Physicists have long known that the Sun spins, like the Earth. But a few decades ago, they realized the surface of the Sun spins more slowly than their models predicted – not by a lot, but enough to signal that something they didn’t understand was going on. This kicked off a solar mystery.
A team of astronomers has stared into the Sun long enough that they think they’ve found the source of the slowdown.
~ I’d suspect tiredness.

NASA’s Trojan side mission —OSIRIS-REx is one of the busiest spacecrafts in the solar system. It blasted off in September 2016, and has been getting ready to rendezvous with the object of its mission, an asteroid called Bennu, to bring back samples to Earth. But before the spacecraft links up with Bennu in 2018, it’s been assigned a side project: for 10 days this month, OSIRIS-REx will investigate whether or not Trojan asteroids exist at certain points in Earth’s orbit called Lagrange points.

Space junk — An experimental Japanese mission to remove dangerous debris from orbit has ended in failure. It’s a frustrating setback given the mounting risks posed by the nearly two million bits of junk currently swirling around our planet.
~ Here’s my idea: stick a powerful magnet on one, and when it’s collected a few others, deal with them together. 

Losing freeways — Rip out eight lanes of freeway through the middle of your metropolis and you’ll be rewarded with not only less traffic, but safer, more efficient cities … it’s true, and it’s happening in places all over the world.
~ This is apt, as I feel like a loser every time I get trapped on Auckland’s. 

Maths is beautiful in theory, miraculous when applied, and awe-inspiring at every turn — Appreciate the diversity and implications of math. While an artistic temperament is often considered the exact opposite of the kind of personality that loves complicated equations, pure mathematicians are really just a bunch of lunatics endlessly working with abstraction and beauty. And folks who work in fields of applied mathematics often end up finding a use for those abstract ideas.
~ I used to use a calculator, but now Siri does all my maths. 

Bees are dying but … tiny bee drones — We rely heavily on bees and other species to pollinate our plants, and though there isn’t global data, there have been enough local die-offs to spark widespread concern, according to a report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Now, a team of scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan has engineered drones featuring a specially-engineered adhesive to pick up and deposit pollen.
~ I already saw this on Black Mirror

Huge US diversity thanks to 770,000 vials of spit — Genetics have been used to track historical migration before, but this new study gives us a look at recent history. Where the data is most remarkable is in its granularity: the ability to point not just to France but to specific regions of France, and track the migration of those groups of people over time.
~ And surprise! Despite Trump’s henchmen’s ideas, the US is very, very diverse. All that spit seems most appropriate.

Futurology ~ Life on Europa, odd astronaut DNA results, 2nd Life VR Social world, entry into physics, concrete


After four years' work, Sansar the VR world should arrive this year
After four years’ work, Sansar the VR world should arrive this year

Promising new tool may help find life on Europa — Scientists have tailored an old-school chemistry technique to analyse amino acid patterns, creating a tool for sniffing out alien biosignatures in just a few grams of seawater.
The method, 10,000 times more sensitive than similar techniques used by NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover, is ideally suited for a life-hunting mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, or Saturn’s Enceladus, lead study author Peter Willis told Gizmodo.
~ Not so good for dry planets, then. 

Odd DNA results for Scott Kelly — Astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly volunteered themselves as test subjects for NASA, which has been studying the pair since they’ve returned from their respective voyages in space: the identical twin brothers are subjects of a 10-part investigation to understand the impact of space travel on the body.
As identical twins, the brothers are genetically very similar. However, researchers found that while he was in orbit, Scott’s telomeres — the caps on the ends of chromosomes — grew longer than his twin brother’s. Though Scott’s telomeres returned to their pre-flight lengths shortly after he returned to Earth, these results were totally unexpected, since telomeres naturally shrink over the course of one’s life, and the stresses of spaceflight are supposed to accelerate this.
~ Must be a pain being born as an Identical Test Subject. 

Sansar, the new virtual reality world from Second Life’s creators — after four years work, will arrive later this year on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. “It is trying to solve some of the big problems that plagued Second Life for years,” reports MIT Technology Review, “such as that most users come in through what is essentially a front door and have a hard time finding things to do once they get in… In the demos I tried, I navigated via an atlas that shows a simple clickable thumbnail image of each destination along with its name.”
~ Let me in! Reality has become so freakin’ crazy!

Want to get into physics? Wired has some tips for you.
~ No, I want to get into Sansar! Meanwhile, Siri is the maths master for converting units easily. 

Concrete … what is it? we invented it, we lost it, we reinvented it — Here’s how we discovered concrete, forgot it, and then finally cracked the mystery of what makes it so strong. For concrete, we usually picture white pavements, swimming pools and building foundations. Most of us aren’t aware of concrete’s fiery volcanic origin story, or that concrete is a $100 billion dollar industry. In fact, it’s the most widely-used material on our planet after water. Ton for ton, humans use more concrete today than steel, wood, plastics, and aluminum combined.
~ “We are all Romans, unconscious collective…”

Futurology ~ 2017 in space, massive Antarctica object, Avatar robot, 2016 as horror film, Ebola vaccine, Vera Rubin and Dark Matters


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Next year in space — Wired has a story about all the great space stuff the magazine’s writers are expecting in 2017. One is that NASA needs to get to Mars, and is just about ready for liftoff: the SLS is still deep in its testing stages, and those will continue right up to the rocket’s projected 2018 launch date, when it’s set to carry the Orion spacecraft on an unmanned mission. In 2017, the rocket will enter its Green Run phase at NASA’s Stennis Space Center: a bunch of static booster-firing, resonance-checking test runs.
~ Pah! Mars is so 2016, don’t you think?

Satellite spots massive object hidden under the frozen wastes of Antarctica — Scientists believe a massive object which could change our understanding of history is hidden beneath the Antarctic ice. The huge and mysterious “anomaly” is thought to be lurking beneath the frozen wastes of an area called Wilkes Land. It stretches for a distance of 243 kms (151 miles) across and has a maximum depth of about 848 meters. Some researchers believe it is the remains of a truly massive asteroid which was more than twice the size of the Chicxulub space rock which wiped out the dinosaurs.
~ Well, that’s more likely than Nazi flying saucer bases. 

South Korean Avatar-styled robot — A robot which bears a striking resemblance to the military robots seen in the movie Avatar has taken its first baby steps. The robot standing in a room on the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea stands four meters (13 feet) tall and weighs 1.5 tons.
~ Designer Vitaly Bulgarov’s work experience includes work on Transformers, Terminator and Robocop.

2016 as a horror movie — This year has been pretty horrifying. Dozens of our favorite celebrities died, a gorilla was shot dead in front of children at the zoo and a former professional wrestling star was elected president. Not to mention America being taken over by a fatuous big-mouthed idiot.
So it makes perfect sense that 2016 should be made into a horror film: YouTube channel Friend Dog Studios published a fictional movie trailer based on the year’s events.
~ Hey, at least it was a good year for architecture

Obama wrote the most popular science journal of 2016 — The hottest scientific journal article of 2016 wasn’t on black holes or dinosaur-killing asteroids: it was on the Affordable Care Act, and it was penned by sitting President Barack Obama. Imagine that ever happening again.
~ Indeed.

Ebola vaccine 100% effective — A new Ebola vaccine provides 100% protection against one of the two most common strains of the Ebola virus. The results of this trial were released in The Lancet. Although the vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, has yet to be approved by regulators, the New York Times reports that scientists have already created an emergency supply of 300,000 doses, should another Ebola outbreak occur.
~ This is definitely very good news. 

The woman who convinced us that Dark Matter existed was never awarded a Nobel Prize — Vera Rubin, one of the most important astronomers of the 20th century, died on December 25th in Princeton, NJ at age 88. She played a seminal role in our understanding of dark matter, and should have been awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics … but never was.
~ Yet another very smart, overlooked woman scientist. Actually, 2016 cemented science’s sexual inequality problems

Futurology ~ Rosetta’s mish, Trump’s idiocy, humanoid undersea robot, solar road, imperilled water, hot Pole


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Watch Rosetta’s entire mission in four minutes — With the historic Rosetta mission now over, the ESA has compiled a four-minute simulation showing the spacecraft’s complete journey as it weaved around Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
~ Certainly saves some time. 

Trumps idiocy may drive some science — President-elect Donald Trump is tweeting again about the F-35 fighter jet. Last week, he said the F-35 program costs have gone “out of control,” and he was right, sort of. Except now his proposed solution appears to be a physically impossible fantasy plane. He has also decided what the world needs now is a new nuclear arms race.
~ Democracy has failed us. 

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Stanford built a humanoid submarine robot to explore a 17th-century shipwreck — Back in April, Stanford University professor Oussama Khatib led a team of researchers on an underwater archaeological expedition, 30 kilometres off the southern coast of France, to La Lune, King Louis XIV’s sunken 17th-century flagship. Rather than dive to the site of the wreck 100 metres below the surface, which is a very bad idea for almost everyone, Khatib’s team brought along a custom-made humanoid submarine robot called Ocean One.
~ Wel, that’s what I’d do. If I had a Stanford. 

The world’s first solar road has officially opened in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy, France — The solar road is 1 kilometre long and can generate enough electricity to power the street lights. The panels have been covered in a silicon-based resin that allows them to withstand the weight of passing big rigs, and if the road performs as expected, Royal wants to see solar panels installed across 1000 kilometers of French highway. There are numerous issues, however.
~ No parking. 

Stunning images show Earth’s imperilled water — Throughout Earth’s 4.37 billion year history, water has been a constant—and in constant flux. During some periods, it’s covered the planet in glaciers. During other, warmer periods, it saturates the atmosphere into a planetary greenhouse. These days, the planet is thawing off from it’s last ice cycle — and being warmed at an unprecedented rate by industrialised civilisation. DigitalGlobe wanted to know what the state of Earth’s water currently looked like, so deployed an army of high-definition drones to snap pictures over four billion square kilometers of water-formed landscapes.
~ At least its photogenic.

North Pole’s alarming warming — So far 2016 is the hottest year on record (the only thing that could pull 12 months of above-average temperatures down now is if our sun suddenly vanished, and in that case we’ve got bigger problems). And if the north pole is any indicator, freak hot weather isn’t going away. In fact, it seems to be getting freakier.
~ As Gizmodo’s scribe puts it, “Santa’s elves must be sweating their pants off up there.”

Futurology ~ Cassini’s rings, space mechanic, weight of humanity, binary brains, Caesarians and evolution, the future


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Cassini’s ring grazing orbits — A collage of images of Saturn’s stormy north pole was captured by Cassini on December 2nd, from a distance of approximately  640,000 kilometres( 400,000 miles), as the spacecraft was plunging toward the outer rim of the F-ring. The images above were taken with four different spectral filters, each of which reveals gases in different layers of Saturn’s atmosphere.
~ In that hexagonal storm on the right engulfing Saturn’s north, each wall is as wide as Earth.

NASA is building a space mechanic — You would never buy a hundred million-dollar computer without a repair plan, but that’s exactly what NASA does when it sends costly satellites into space. To ensure that its prized eyes-in-the-sky don’t become the solar system’s most expensive e-waste, the space agency is now building a robot capable of repairing and refueling satellites in orbit.
~ Grease, lube and solar panel change, please.

Weight of humanity — A study published in The Anthropocene Review has taken a stab at estimating the weight of Earth’s “technosphere”: all of the structures people have built, modified, or messed with in order to live here. As defined in the journal’s paper, the technosphere includes everything from factories to smartphones to the land we’ve farmed, and the planet-wide mountain of garbage we’ve created.
So far, they reckon it’s 30 trillion tons or roughly  50 kilos (110 pounds) of human-made crap per square meter.
~ Actually, if you think about it, we haven’t ‘added’ anything, as it’s all basically repurposed Earth stuff.

The brain’s basic computational algorithm is organised by power-of-two-based logic — So reports Sci-News, citing a neuroscientist at Augusta University’s Medical College. Researchers from the US and China have documented the algorithm at work in seven different brain regions involved with basics like food and fear in mice and hamsters.
~ Well, that’s a relief. Or not. 

Caesarians changing evolution — A new study from the University of Vienna, suggests that Cesarean sections are changing the trajectory of human evolution, altering physical characteristics in both mothers and babies. Trouble is, the researchers presented virtually no empirical evidence to support their extraordinary claim, and the credulous media simply took it at face-value.
~ Et tu. 

The future — It’s that time of year again, when people try and project and predict the future. To the future! It’s going to happen, but who really knows how? For one thing, in 2017 there will be a new iPhone, Kaby Lake CPUs will make it to the Mac, and Apple has been working on VR and Ai and AR so hopefully we’ll see something. Meanwhile, Wired has a podcast of more general predictions.
~ And Trump will make more stupid tweets and people of conscience will quail anew.

Futurology ~ Humanity to space, Mars traces, weather satellite, strange numbers, tall modular building, fast-charger, plastic muscles, climate strains


Brroklyn now has 363 pre-fab apartments stacked into a 32-stroey block: the world's tallest modular building
Brroklyn now has 363 pre-fab apartments stacked into a 32-storey block: the world’s tallest modular building sits at 461 Dean.

Humanity’s space future — Getting out of Earth’s gravity well is hard. Conventional rockets are expensive, wasteful, and as we’re frequently reminded, very dangerous. Thankfully, there are alternative ways of getting ourselves and all our stuff off this rock. Here’s how we’ll get from Earth to space in the future.
~ The alternative is make room, make room!

No life on Mars, but possible traces there was once — If we ever get proof of past life on Mars, it’ll come in the form of biosignatures, fingerprints that could only have been left by living organisms. We’re a long way from finding that smoking gun evidence, but an analysis of silica minerals discovered by NASA’s Spirit rover pushes us one step closer. Because of their similarity to silica deposits shaped by microbial life on Earth, these intriguing Martian minerals are now being called a “potential biosignature.”
~ ‘Potential biosignature’ sounds like a description of Trump’s appointees.  Further examination required. 

Better weather analysis — NASA and NOAA have launched the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R), the United States’ most advanced weather satellite yet, to study extreme storms, tornadoes, fires, lightning, and solar activity at unparalleled resolution.
GOES-R is on its way to a geostationary orbit 35,888kms (22,300 miles) above the Earth. When it reaches its destination, it becomes the first of a new generation of Earth-observing spacecraft that will extend NOAA’s ability to monitor weather in the western hemisphere until 2036.
~ So, how GOES-R it?

Strange number collisions — At the Hadron Collider in Geneva, physicists shoot protons around a 27-kilometre track and smash them together at nearly the speed of light. It’s one of the most finely tuned scientific experiments in the world, but when trying to make sense of the quantum debris, physicists begin with a strikingly simple tool called a Feynman diagram that’s not that different from how a child would depict the situation. But at a certain point, the logic starts to diverge
~ I do like the term ‘perturbative expansion’. 

World’s tallest modular building points to the future — 461 Dean has become the world’s tallest modular building. Designed by New York architecture firm SHoP, the Brooklyn residential tower consists of 363 pre-fab apartments that stack like Tetris blocks into a 32-story building. It’s an impressive architectural feat, to be sure—but 461 Dean is also an important test of modular design’s potential to make cities more affordable.
~ ‘I’m leaving, and taking my apartment with me!’

Battery charges in seconds, lasts a week — A new type of battery that lasts for days after a few seconds’ charge has been created by researchers at the University of Central Florida. The high-powered battery is packed with supercapacitors that can store a large amount of energy. It looks like a thin piece of flexible metal that is about the size of a finger nail and could be used in phones, electric vehicles and wearables, according to the researchers.
~ Path. Beat. Door.

New plastic muscles — Researchers at MIT have found a way to use cheap, nylon plastic as an artificial muscle, we’re now one step closer to creating artificial humans—and opulent fantasy theme parks.
~ So don’t throw away those shopping bags just yet.

Will human evolution be shaped by climate change? Probably not, as it’s happening too quickly, but these eminents all have interesting takes on the concept.
~ There’ll be some tech fixes while the super-rich build dream bio-homes and the poor suffer unimaginably, that’s my take. 

Futurology ~ Wolfram and Hawking on space travel, stunning solar eclipse, tube-grown chips, CRISPR genes


wolfworld

Stephen Wolfram devised interstellar travel — The new movie Arrival depicts first contact with aliens. Its producers faced the question of how interstellar spacecraft would actually work, and  turned to futurist Stephen Wolfram, who came up with an answer overnight (via Slashdot).
Wolfram’s theory posited that space is just one of the attributes emerging from a low-level network of nodes, where long-range connections occasionally break out of three-dimensional space altogether.
~ Yep, that’s exactly how I would have done it. If I was a genius who knew anything about this stuff. And we’d better do it, because …

Stephen Hawking says the only way humankind can escape mass extinction in 1000 years is to find another planet — During a speech at Britain’s Oxford University Union, Hawking detailed the history of man’s understanding of the universe and reiterated that the future of humankind lies in space. “We must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” he said. “I don’t think we will survive another 1000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”
~ I don’t think I will last that long either. 

Stunning eclipse captured — A total solar eclipse happens every 18 months, but is only visible from a few places on Earth, and lasts just minutes. Hungarian photographer György Soponyai lets you experience the magic anyway with digitally manipulated time-lapse captures of a total solar eclipse above the sky in remote Svalbard, Norway from start to finish.
~ This was two photos every 15 minutes over 12 hours. 

IBM growing chips in tubes — Tiny, molecular-level structures could, in theory, be used to make chips that are six to ten times faster than today’s silicon-based variety while using far less electricity.A  team of IBM researchers say they’ve made a breakthrough that brings the nano-dreams closer to reality.
~ Watch out for litigation from Pringles. 

CRISPR genes and humans — A team of scientists in China has become the first to treat a human patient with the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique. While the results of the trial are uncertain, it’s a historic milestone that should serve as a serious wakeup call to the rest of the world.
~ This is envisaged as an answer to various cancers. Hurrah to that. 

 

Futurology ~ Universe annihilation, Solar System map, Io’s activity, Venus life, Civil War cannonballs, new Aussie dinosaur


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Universe could annihilate itself at the speed of light — The universe could spawn a lethal bubble of pure vacuum that expands in all directions at the speed of light.
This excellent and highly entertaining new video produced by YouTube channel Kurzgesagt—In a Nutshell tackles a speculative natural disaster of epic proportions: the collapse of the universe through vacuum decay.
~ Sorry about the cheery start to this column! Maybe Electrolux could send a tech over ….

Most details Solar System map — The HI4PI map was produced using data from the Max-Planck radio telescope in Germany, and the CSIRO radio telescope in Australia. The stunning image was compiled from more than a million individual observations, and approximately 10 billion individual data points.
~ It will help us – I mean, some – understand how the galaxy works. 

Io’s very active volcanoes — Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanically-active body in our solar system, and a recent observational campaign offers a little more insight into the a terrifying hellscape that awaits any unfortunate space probes we send there.
~ ‘Hellscape’ does rather put me off visiting. But hey, what a great name for Samsung’s next smartphone!

Venus may once have been the most habitable — Venus is often referred to as Earth’s evil twin, but conditions on the planet were not always so hellish, according to research that suggests it may have been the first place in the solar system to have become habitable. The study, due to be presented this week at the at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Pasadena, concludes that at a time when primitive bacteria were emerging on Earth, Venus may have had a balmy climate and vast oceans up to 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) deep.
~ And there’s that ‘hell’ epithet again. 

Civil War cannonballs unearthed by hurricane — On Sunday, explosives experts were dispatched to Folly Island, South Carolina, after a resident found what appeared to be at least a dozen Civil War cannonballs uncovered by Hurricane Matthew.
~ The island was a staging area for Union troops. 

Australia discovers new dinosaur — Savannasaurus was a gigantic long-necked dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period some 100 million years ago. Its discovery sheds new light on sauropod evolution as well as how these impressive beasts managed to conquer the globe.
~ It’s always amazed me people think they know what the skin looked like from some bones, or even impressions of bones. They could have been polka-dotted for all we know. 

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