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News on the most recent advances in science

Staying updated with the most recent advances in science has never been easier. ThePhysicist gathers news about the most recent advances in the world of scientific research and analyses them regularly.


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What Are You Looking At?
A Florida redbelly turtle casts a suspicious look as he is being photographed on the grounds of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The redbelly turtle inhabits ponds, lakes, sloughs, marshes and mangrove-bordered creeks, in a range that encompasses Florida from the southern tip north to the Apalachicola area of the panhandle. Active year-round, it is often seen basking on logs or floating mats of vegetation. Adults prefer a diet of aquatic plants. The Center shares a boundary with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses 92,000 acres that are a habitat for more than 331 species of birds, 31 mammals, 117 fishes, and 65 amphibians and reptiles. The marshes and open water of the refuge provide wintering areas for 23 species of migratory waterfowl, as well as a year-round home for great blue herons, great egrets, wood storks, cormorants, brown pelicans and other species of marsh and shore birds, as well as a variety of insects.
Artemis II Astronauts Participate in Moon Tree Dedication Ceremony
The Artemis II crew, NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman, and Christina Koch, and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, pose for a photo after a Moon tree dedication ceremony, Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at the United States Capitol in Washington. The American Sweetgum tree planted on the southwestern side of the Capitol, was grown from a seed that was flown around the Moon during the Artemis I mission.
Starliner to the Stars
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in Florida. NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test is the first launch with astronauts of the Boeing CFT-100 spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The flight test, which launched at 10:52 a.m. EDT, serves as an end-to-end demonstration of Boeing’s crew transportation system and will carry NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to and from the orbiting laboratory. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Crews Unpack NASA’s Europa Clipper Spacecraft
Technicians inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida prepare to rotate the agency’s largest planetary mission spacecraft, Europa Clipper, to a vertical position on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, as part of prelaunch processing. Slated to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket later this year from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, Europa Clipper will help determine if conditions exist below the surface Jupiter’s fourth largest moon, Europa, that could support life.
Hurricane Season Begins
An external high-definition camera on the International Space Station captured this image of Hurricane Idalia at 11:35 a.m. Eastern Time on Aug. 29, 2023. Idalia was a category 1 storm over the Gulf of Mexico with sustained winds of 140 kilometers (85 miles) per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. June 1 marks the beginning of the 2024 hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean.
Webb Spots a Starburst
Featured in this new image from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope is the dwarf galaxy NGC 4449. This galaxy, also known as Caldwell 21, resides roughly 12.5 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. NGC 4449 has been forming stars for several billion years, but it is currently experiencing a period of star formation at a much higher rate than in the past. Such unusually explosive and intense star formation activity is called a starburst and for that reason NGC 4449 is known as a starburst galaxy. Starbursts usually occur in the central regions of galaxies, but NGC 4449 displays more widespread star formation activity, and the very youngest stars are observed both in the nucleus and in streams surrounding the galaxy. It's likely that the current widespread starburst was triggered by interaction or merging with a smaller companion; indeed, astronomers think NGC 4449's star formation has been influenced by interactions with several of its neighbors.
Deputy Program Manager Vir Thanvi
"I say that to my team, whenever I have an opportunity. I share with my team that they are enabling science and exploration for dozens of missions being supported by NSN. Initially it just seems like words, but once they start realizing [their contributions] are real, I can tell you those people don't want to go anywhere. They just feel that sense of accomplishment." —Vir Thanvi, Deputy Program Manager, Exploration and Space Communications Projects Division, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Apollo 10 Ends Successfully
Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, lunar module pilot, egresses the Apollo 10 spacecraft during recovery operations in the South Pacific. U.S. Navy underwater demolition team swimmers assisted in the recovery operations. Already in the life raft were astronauts Thomas P. Stafford (left), commander; and John W. Young, command module pilot. The three crewmen were picked up by helicopter and flown to the prime recovery ship, USS Princeton.
Helen Ling, Changemaker
Helen Ling was a supervisor for the computing group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1960s. She was influential in the inclusion of women in STEM positions at JPL. Ling encouraged women within the computing group to attend night school in order to obtain degrees that would allow them more professional opportunities within JPL. A pioneer for women's rights in the workplace, Helen Ling was so admired in the computing group that those who worked under her lovingly referred to themselves as "Helen's girls." Many of them went on to become computer scientists and engineers within JPL thanks to the mentorship and guidance of Helen Ling.
A Moonlit Moonwalk
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins places a sample marker in the soil before collecting a sample during a nighttime simulated moonwalk in the San Francisco Volcanic Field in Northern Arizona on May 16, 2024. A sample marker provides a photographic reference point for science samples collected on the lunar surface.
NASA Administrator Remembers Apollo Astronaut William Anders
The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on the passing of Apollo astronaut Maj. Gen. (ret.) William “Bill” Anders, who passed away June 7, in San Juan Islands, Washington state, at the age of 90. “In 1968, as a member of the Apollo 8 crew, as one of the first three people […]
Sols 4209-4211: Just Out of Reach
Earth planning date: Friday, June 7, 2024 Curiosity is going to have a busy 3-sol weekend. We have one more sol of intense contact science activities at this really beautiful and fascinating location before moving on. What makes this place so special? We are seeing a lot of variety in the rocks in terms of […]
NASA Ames Astrogram – May/June 2024
Swarming for Success: Starling Completes Primary Mission by Tara Friesen After ten months in orbit, the Starling spacecraft swarm successfully demonstrated its primary mission’s key objectives, representing significant achievements in the capability of swarm configurations.  Swarms of satellites may one day be used in deep space exploration. An autonomous network of spacecraft could self-navigate, manage scientific experiments, […]
NASA Invites Media to Rollout Event for Artemis II Moon Rocket Stage
NASA will roll the fully assembled core stage for the agency’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket that will launch the first crewed Artemis mission out of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans in mid-July. The 212-foot-tall stage will be loaded on the agency’s Pegasus barge for delivery to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Media […]
NASA Selects Contractor for Lifecycle Services Support
NASA has selected Amentum Services Inc. of Chantilly, Virginia, to provide program, science, engineering, operations, and project management support at the agency’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The Fully Integrated Lifecycle Mission Support Services 2 contract is a single award, hybrid contract, consisting of cost-plus-fixed-fee core requirements and indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity task orders. With a […]
What Are You Looking At?
A Florida redbelly turtle looks warily at the camera in this photo from Feb. 29, 2000. This image was captured on the grounds of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which shares a border with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge contains 92,000 acres that are a habitat for more than 330 species […]
NASA Exploring Alternative Mars Sample Return Methods
NASA is moving forward with 10 studies to examine more affordable and faster methods of bringing samples from Mars’ surface back to Earth as part of the agency’s Mars Sample Return Program. As part of this effort, NASA will award a firm-fixed-price contract for up to $1.5 million to conduct 90-day studies to seven industry […]
NASA Crew Flight Test Astronauts to Call White House, NASA Leaders
Following their safe arrival at the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will participate in a pair of Earth to space calls Monday, June 10, regarding their historic mission aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft: Known as NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, the duo will speak first at 1 p.m. EDT with NASA […]
‘Super’ Star Cluster Shines in New Look From NASA’s Chandra
Westerlund 1 is the biggest and closest “super” star cluster to Earth. New data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, in combination with other NASA telescopes, is helping astronomers delve deeper into this galactic factory where stars are vigorously being produced. This is the first data to be publicly released from a project called the Extended Westerlund 1 and 2 Open […]
NASA to Discuss Upcoming Spacewalks for Station Repairs, Upgrades
NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station will conduct three spacewalks targeted for June. NASA will discuss the upcoming spacewalks during a news conference at 4 p.m. EDT Tuesday, June 11.Live coverage will air on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of […]
At long last: Europe's new Ariane 6 rocket set to debut on July 9
Europe's new Ariane 6 heavy-lift rocket is set to launch for the first time on July 9 after a series of delays.
This Week In Space podcast: Episode 114 —Starliners & Starships
On Episode 114 of This Week In Space, Rod and Tariq talk about the launches of Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Starship.
SpaceX wants to build 1 Starship megarocket a day with new Starfactory
During a successful fourth flight test of Starship this week, SpaceX stated another big goal: Building one megarocket a day at its new Starfactory.
Arrokoth the 'space snowman' probably tastes like sweet soap
Kuiper Belt Object Arrokoth, the farthest object ever explored by a spacecraft, likely tastes sweet — and soapy.
Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who captured 'Earthrise,' killed in plane crash
Bill Anders, who as an Apollo 8 astronaut was one of the first people to fly to the moon in 1968, was killed on June 7 when the vintage plane he was piloting crashed off the coast of Washington.
NASA wants new ideas for its troubled Mars Sample Return mission
NASA's Mars Sample Return mission has faced quite a few hurdles, and the agency has selected ten studies to try and find more affordable and quicker means of going about the project.
Virgin Galactic launches VSS Unity space plane on final suborbital spaceflight with crew of 6 (photos)
Virgin Galactic launched its seventh commercial spaceflight mission on June 8 during the final flight of its VSS Unity suborbital spaceplane.
SpaceX lands Falcon 9 rocket for 300th time (video)
SpaceX landed one of its Falcon 9 rockets for the 300th time tonight (June 7), notching the milestone during a Starlink satellite launch.
Jupiter's raging gas cyclones may actually mirror Earth's oceans. Here's how
Jupiter and Earth's oceans have more in common than you might think.
Why is Neptune's magnetic field so weird? An exotic molecule may be the answer
An exotic molecule stabilized by intense pressure found in the icy depths of Neptune and Uranus could help explain a long-standing mystery.
Maps of heavy metals in Wellington, New Zealand soils show impacts of urbanization
A new study from GNS Science marks a significant step in the assessment of environmental contamination in Aotearoa New Zealand's capital.
Scientists and Indigenous leaders team up to conserve seals and an ancestral way of life at Yakutat, Alaska
Five hundred years ago, in a mountain-rimmed ocean fjord in southeast Alaska, Tlingit hunters armed with bone-tipped harpoons eased their canoes through chunks of floating ice, stalking seals near Sít Tlein (Hubbard) glacier. They must have glanced nervously up at the glacier's looming, fractured face, aware that cascades of ice could thunder down and imperil the boats—and their lives. As they drew near, they would have asked the seals to give themselves as food for the people and talked to the spirit of Sít Tlein to release the animals from his care.
Neuroscience can explain why voting is so often driven by emotion
The British electorate has been more volatile than ever in recent years. The elections of 2015 and 2017 saw the highest number of voters switching parties in modern history. And current polling suggests we're about to see more of the same.
Study finds fresh water and key conditions for life appeared on Earth a half-billion years earlier than thought
We need two ingredients for life to start on a planet: dry land and (fresh) water. Strictly, the water doesn't have to be fresh, but fresh water can only occur on dry land.
Will food chains break as seasons become more unpredictable?
"There are really four dimensions," begins the narrator of The Time Machine, H. G. Wells's classic Victorian adventure novel. "Three which we call the three planes of space and a fourth, time." Humans cannot help but think of time as somehow different, perhaps because, as the narrator muses, we continuously move in one direction along it from the beginning to the end of our lives.
New fossils show what Australia's giant prehistoric 'thunder birds' looked like
Until about 45,000 years ago, Australia was home to a giant flightless bird called Genyornis newtoni, which was 2 meters tall and weighed up to 230 kilograms.
Records of Pompeii's survivors have been found—archaeologists are starting to understand how they rebuilt their lives
On Aug. 24, in A.D. 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted, shooting over 3 cubic miles of debris up to 20 miles (32.1 kilometers) in the air. As the ash and rock fell to Earth, it buried the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Nonreciprocal quantum batteries exhibit remarkable capacities and efficiency
In physics, nonreciprocity occurs when a system's response varies depending on the direction in which waves or signals are propagating within it. This asymmetry arises from a break in so-called time-reversal symmetry, which essentially means that a system's processes observed as they evolve over time will be different compared to those processes observed on rewind.
Saturday Citations: Praising dogs; the evolution of brown fat; how SSRIs relieve depression. Plus: Boeing's Starliner
If there's one thing I've learned about dogs, it's that praise is super-effective for training; a new Hungarian study confirms these anecdotal findings and reinforces that notion that praise is more effective as a pedagogical approach than, for instance, scolding or criticism or deliberately placing one infraclass of mammals above another one with a childish insult like this one:
The sun is reaching the peak of its activity—here's how that could cause more auroras and solar storms
Many more people around the world than normal were recently able to see the northern and southern lights overhead with the naked eye. This unusual event was triggered by a very strong solar storm, which affected the movement of the Earth's magnetic field.
AI Will Become Mathematicians’ ‘Co-Pilot’

Fields Medalist Terence Tao explains how proof checkers and AI programs are dramatically changing mathematics

Banning Fossil Fuel Ads Would Be Legally Difficult in the U.S.

This week U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called for bans on fossil fuel ads, but legal challenges would make nationwide restrictions difficult to implement in the U.S.

Why More Space Launches Could Be a Good Thing for the Climate

A space technology company CEO explains how growing competition in the commercial space industry may help boost climate science

Prime Number Puzzle Has Stumped Mathematicians for More Than a Century

Experts have only started to crack the tricky twin prime conjecture

Women Are More Likely to Get Drug-Resistant Infections

More countries must recognize how gender affects exposure to pathogens, finds a review by the World Health Organization

Some People with Insomnia Think They’re Awake when They’re Asleep

You say you haven’t slept all night. Brain scans say you have. New science says both inferences may be right

Neuralink’s First User Describes Life with Elon Musk’s Brain Chip

Thirty-year-old Noland Arbaugh says the Neuralink chip has let him “reconnect with the world”

How Astronomy Helped Create Your Smartphone’s Camera

The next time you snap a selfie, consider thanking an astronomer for your phone’s camera

Do Plants 'Think'? Our Understanding of Consciousness May Be Too Limited to Know

Zoë Schlanger’s new book The Light Eaters explores the surprising science of plant intelligence.

We’re Approaching 1.5 Degrees C of Global Warming, but There’s Still Time to Prevent Disaster

Scientists say it’s likely that at least one of the next five years will exceed an average increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures

Geoscientists found the most dangerous part of a famous West Coast fault
Seismic data reveal that the Cascadia megathrust consists of at least four segments, the most dangerous of which may lurk offshore of Washington.
Fossil finds amplify Europe’s status as a hotbed of great ape evolution
A kneecap and two teeth belonged to the smallest known great ape, a study contends. If so, it’s the first to coexist with another great ape in Europe.
Wildfire smoke may cause tens of thousands of premature deaths
A modeling study of California wildfires from 2008 through 2018 estimates that smoke exposure was responsible for as many as 55,700 premature deaths.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope could help solve these 5 exoplanet puzzles
A lot of people are focused on signs of alien life, but the space telescope will have a lot to say about exoplanet geology and formation.
This protist unfolds its ‘neck’ up to 30 times its body length to scout prey
With geometry’s help, 'Lacrymaria olor' can extend its long, necklike protrusion in less than 30 seconds.
Horses may have been domesticated twice. Only one attempt stuck
Genetic evidence suggests that the ancestors of domestic horses were bred for mobility about 4,200 years ago.
Scientists are fixing flawed forensics that can lead to wrongful convictions
People have been wrongly jailed for forensic failures. Scientists are working to improve police lineups, fingerprinting and even DNA analysis.
China’s Chang’e-6 snagged the first samples from the farside of the moon
The samples, which will be returned to Earth in late June, could help researchers figure out why the moon’s two sides are so starkly different.
In 2018, Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted like a stomp rocket
The stomp rocket–like mechanism is a newly observed type of eruption.
The sun is entering solar maximum. Expect auroras, and more
May saw the strongest auroras in recent memory. As the sun gets more active, those light shows may be a preview of what’s to come until at least 2026.
In Highly Connected Networks, There’s Always a Loop
Mathematicians show that graphs of a certain common type must contain a route that visits each point exactly once.

The post In Highly Connected Networks, There’s Always a Loop first appeared on Quanta Magazine

Can Psychedelics Improve Mental Health?
Research suggests that psychedelic drugs can reopen critical periods of brain development to create opportunities for re-learning and psychological healing. In this episode, co-host Janna Levin speaks with Gül Dölen, a neuroscientist studying the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances.

The post Can Psychedelics Improve Mental Health? first appeared on Quanta Magazine

Most Life on Earth is Dormant, After Pulling an ‘Emergency Brake’
Many microbes and cells are in deep sleep, waiting for the right moment to activate. Biologists discovered a widespread protein that abruptly shuts down a cell’s activity — and turns it back on just as fast.

The post Most Life on Earth is Dormant, After Pulling an ‘Emergency Brake’ first appeared on Quanta Magazine

Cryptographers Discover a New Foundation for Quantum Secrecy
Researchers have proved that secure quantum encryption is possible in a world without hard problems.

The post Cryptographers Discover a New Foundation for Quantum Secrecy first appeared on Quanta Magazine

Mathematicians Attempt to Glimpse Past the Big Bang
By studying the geometry of model space-times, researchers offer alternative views of the universe’s first moments.

The post Mathematicians Attempt to Glimpse Past the Big Bang first appeared on Quanta Magazine

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