A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Searching the skies for the building blocks of life in the universe

Credit: Getty images

The time has come for the James Webb Space Telescope to take exoplanet astronomy to the outer reaches

Since its 25 December, 2021 launch aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana and following 30 years in the making, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the Christmas Day gift to astronomers that keeps on giving.

Like many astronomers in Europe, Pierre-Olivier Lagage, an astrophysicist at the Paris-based French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), has been preparing for JWST for years.

A joint project with NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), JWST started beaming back its first images of the cosmos in July 2022 after arriving at its vantage point 1.5 million kilometres from the Earth and unfurling its distinctive giant sunshield.

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Mysterious radio bursts from space detected

Credit: Gettyimages

The object, first discovered in 2019, emits frequent and repetitive bursts of radio waves

Astronomers using the U.S. National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, or VLA, as well as other powerful telescopes have found the second known highly active, repeating fast radio burst, or FRB, raising more questions about the nature of these little-understood objects and the role they play in intergalactic space.

The object, in the outskirts of a dwarf galaxy nearly 3 billion light-years from Earth called FRB 190520, emits frequent, repeating bursts of radio waves. VLA observations found that the object also constantly emits weaker radio waves between its frequent bursts.

"These characteristics make this look a lot like the very first FRB whose position was determined -- also by the VLA -- back in 2016," said Casey Law, one of the authors of the paper. "Now we have two, and that brings up some important questions."

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On this date: The U.S. and Soviet Union meet in space

Credit: Gettyimages

Superpowers meet in space

July 17th, 1975 was a historic date for space missions. On this date, the U.S. spacecraft Apollo 18 and the Soviet Soyuz 19 met and docked in space. It was part of a mission trying to develop space rescue capabilities. The two spaceships opened a hatch and the commanders Thomas P. Stafford and Aleksei Leonov shook hands. The two crews exchanged gifts, thus honoring the first meeting of such kind. Although it was during the Cold War and the two superpowers were adversaries, they celebrated the achievement and were later congratulated by the United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. The mission was praised as a token of cooperation and peace.

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Sailing into interstellar space

Credit: Masumi Shibata, courtesy of Breakthrough Initiatives

One of humanity's earliest inventions could be the key to safe interstellar travel

U.S. National Science Foundation grantee astronomers based at The University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles concluded that if spacecraft are to withstand interstellar travel, a laser-powered light sail that billows during acceleration and can endure the light of a million suns is a key requirement. The team, inspired by sailboats and parachutes, undertook the task of designing a prototype interstellar sail.

The principle behind the size, shape and material is to create a sail made of nanoscopically thin material. It would include an array of powerful lasers, carry a microchip-sized probe, and travel at a fifth of the speed of light -- fast enough to travel to Alpha Centauri in about 20 years instead of the 80,000 years it would take a rocket to make the trip.

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How scientists are ‘looking’ inside asteroids

The shape of asteroids such as 243 Ida can reveal information about what they're made of, which can, in turn, tell us more about the formation of the solar system. Image credit - NASA/JPL/USGS

Asteroids - treasure troves of knowledge

Asteroids can pose a threat to life on Earth but are also a valuable source of resources to make fuel or water to aid deep space exploration. Devoid of geological and atmospheric processes, these space rocks provide a window onto the evolution of the solar system. But to really understand their secrets, scientists must know what's inside them.

Only four spacecraft have ever landed on an asteroid – most recently in October 2020 – but none has peered inside one. Yet understanding the internal structures of these cosmic rocks is crucial for answering key questions about, for example, the origins of our own planet.

'Asteroids are the only objects in our solar system that are more or less unchanged since the very beginning of the solar system's formation,' said Dr Fabio Ferrari, who studies asteroid dynamics at the University of Bern, Switzerland. 'If we know what's inside asteroids, we can understand a lot about how planets formed, how everything that we have in our solar system has formed and might evolve in the future.'

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3 Important Questions No One Knows The Answers To

Credit: Gettyimages

The Universe

There is nothing more paradoxical, thrilling, and surreal than the universe we live in. It's so out of the explanation, wild, and complex, that there is no need for additional fantasy or fiction over it. We just have to take a look around, try to comprehend the nature of even a small thing like a flower or a bug, let alone something like our solar system, and suddenly we enter into the endless rabbit hole with no definitive answers. Since the beginning of our civilization, we have always wondered about the meaning of life, the laws of nature and yet there is a new theory changing the old one, a new fact proving us wrong. It's like an infinite loop we are going through. Although, our understanding of the mechanisms of nature is progressing and from a pragmatical point of view we have advanced a lot, there are some philosophical questions that still leave us in numb bewilderment.

Here you can enjoy a short video of three of them and ponder over it.

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Time: Do the past, present, and future exist all at once?

Credit: Gettyimages

What is time?

Here, we are in front of the most perplexing philosophical question of all time. But what does that "of all time" actually mean? Do we suggest that something was happening back there in the past, which is done right now and we can only remember it? Or that it is still present somehow, not only in our minds but in the mysterious interwoven tissue of space-time? Or it is just an expression? Well, one thing is for sure, on that topic we can't really lean on science for a decisive answer. In fact, it is the scientific discourse that brought even more confusion or we can say perspectives to the question. There are many theories and most of them seem to be equally plausible. So what are your personal feeling about it? Do you believe that there is only the present moment or maybe you are eternalist? Here is a short video that will maybe shed a light on that enigmatic issue.

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Blades of Glory - The First Helicopter on Mars

Image credit: Pixabay

Helicoptering the Red Planet

For thousands of years, mankind has been gazing at the sky, wondering and creating theories about what is there. In 1610, Galileo started the era of scientific exploration of space with the first telescopic observations of the night sky. 300 years later, on June 20, 1944, the V-2 rocket for the first time passed the Karman line (the border between earth atmosphere and space) and marked the first official space flight. On February 20, 1947, the first animals - fruit flies, were launched into space. And so, step by step, we reached the moment, when the first man-made object is going to take off, hover, and land back on the surface of Mars. Let's see what is all the fuss about...

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China is Reaching for the Moon

Image credit CNSA

Chinese Lunar Exploration Program

The Chinese Lunar Exploration program has the brave goal to bring astronauts to the moon in the 2030s and eventually to build an outpost near the lunar south pole. The program includes 4 phases: 1. Reaching lunar orbit - already done by Change'1 in 2007 and Chang'e 2 in 2010. 2. Unmanned landing and driving on the moon surface - done by Chang'e 3 in 2013 and Chang'e 4 in 2019. 3. Collecting samples and sending them to the Earth - this is the task of the current Chang'e 5 and the future Change'6 missions. 4. Building a robotic research station near the Moon's south pole.

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SSA Recent Posts

02 December 2022
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Portrait of Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939) as he sits behind his desk in his study, Vienna, Austria, 1930s. The office is filled with figurines and statuettes of various origins. (Photo by Authenticated News/Getty Images) V...
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30 November 2022
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: American artist, musician and producer of Haitian and Puerto Rican origins Jean-Michel Basquiat, in front of one of his paintings, during an exhibition at the Yvon Lambert gallery. (Photo by julio donoso/Sygma via Getty Images) The art of Bas...
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27 November 2022
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Portrait Franz Kafka, around 1905; Getty Images Thoughts to reflect on 1. "A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." 2. "All language is but a poor translation." 3. "By believing passionately in something that still does not exist...
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