23 Aug

As the world homes in on Mars as the next habitable planet, some scientists think the answer may fall outside our solar system. Two planets show promise as potential environments for human life, a team of researchers recently stated in Science Advances.

The researchers point out that Earth may have become habitable largely due to the UV light it receives. Recent breakthroughs have indicated that UV light plays a role in the building blocks required to form life. The key, they believe, is to find a planet that has similar exposure to ultraviolet light.

To find the two perfect planets, scientists looked outside Earth’s solar system to find planets that had the right exposure to UV light. But there are more factors in play than being in a habitable zone.

21 Aug

NASA and Elon Musk seem to have very different visions for how life on Mars will work. NASA has discovered, through a recent research study, that Mars simply may not be habitable, even if Earthlings adjust the environment to try to make it that way.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that Mars’ atmosphere isn’t conducive to human life. If the lack of atmospheric pressure doesn’t rupture your organs, you would either suffocate or freeze to death. Musk and NASA have both considered various ways to increase Mars’ atmospheric pressure to allow humans to walk around without wearing a pressurized suit. One idea is to gradually release the carbon dioxide that is trapped on the surface of the planet. Musk’s idea for doing this involves dropping nuclear weapons on its poles.

19 Aug

Animal species aren’t alone in going extinct. It turns out, bacteria eventually vanish, as well, although until recently scientists thought it was a rare occurrence. But researchers have now found that 45,000 to 95,000 bacteria types have vanished in the past million years, a process that happened gradually rather than in a mass event like dinosaurs.

The information was uncovered in a research study designed to discover how simple organisms survive over many years. Study lead Dr. Stilianos Louca believes the evolution and diversification of bacteria has, in fact, shaped the geochemical composition of Earth over the course of history. One major example of this was the Great Oxygenation Event, which was caused by cyanobacteria, Dr. Louca says. This event dramatically changed the planet’s surface environments, as well as affecting the evolution of life that followed.

17 Aug

A celestial object formerly classified as a "brown dwarf" -- a name given to a body with greater mass than a planet but less than would be the minimum to turn it into a star --  was recently given the classification of planet. And astronomers have also detected massive electromagnetic energy emanating from it, which could possibly help in looking for additional exoplanets.

Melodie Kao, who headed up the research on the study that ID'd the new planet, told New Atlas, "This object is right at the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf, or 'failed star,' and is giving us some surprises that can potentially help us understand magnetic processes on both stars and planets."

15 Aug

OK, Goldilocks-inclined airline passengers: There's finally a way to let a flight crew know if the temperature of the cabin isn't to your liking. And you don't have to draw the attention of the entire passenger contingent by hitting a service button and then lamely try to explain that it isn't just you but you'd like the crew to do something about the temperature. While everyone stares at you.

In fact, the flight attendants appear to be on the side of the temperature-challenged in this instance. They, after all, are the ones that developed an app for this purpose, known as 2Hot2Cold, and unveiled it at an event at Washington's Reagan National Airport.

The app was developed as a joint effort between the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants from 20 airlines, and the Transport Workers Union, which represents roughly 15,000 flight attendants who work for Southwest Airlines.

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