30 Nov

In October of 2017, an oblong object was spotted through a telescope in Hawaii. The object was given the nickname Oumuamua, which means “a messenger that reaches out from the distant path,” but scientists were unsure of what the object actually was. Some believed it could be a comet, while others theorized that it might be an asteroid. None quite took the leap toward calling it extraterrestrial.

That changed recently, when Harvard astronomers released a letter stating that the object could possibly be alien-related. They officially labeled it as “interstellar craft,” saying that the object could be a piece of debris from some type of equipment that’s more advanced than our own technology. But it also postulates that the object could be a probe, sent to Earth to gather information on our planet.

28 Nov

Fans of the Godfather movies may recall a scene where a loyal solider of the Corleone family goes to a meeting with a couple of people from a rival family, ostensibly to work out a few differences. Just when that looks like a possibility, the Corleone soldier meets a quick and unexpected demise, despite having attended the meeting while wearing a bulletproof vest.

A package, wrapped in newspaper, appears at a Corleone hangout. In it is the man's vest, along with some dead fish. Puzzled, one of the mobsters wonders what it means. Another informs him that the Corleone soldier now "sleeps with the fishes", meaning he's gone to a watery grave. You know, dropped in a river wearing cement shoes made by a mob-controlled cement factory in New Jersey.

Anyway, those who might want to experience the feeling of actually sleeping with aquatic life without having to run an illicit errand -- or wear clunky shoes -- can now do so in what is being billed as the world's first underwater hotel underneath the Indian Ocean.

26 Nov

Brigham and Women's Hospital recently concluded a 5.3 year-long trial -- known as VITAL, which stands for VITamin D and OmegA TriaL (proving that any acronym is possible, with enough words) -- to ascertain the potential health benefits of Vitamin D as well as omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil.

While speculation has abounded for years as to those benefits, some of which have been hinted at here and there, no randomized trial of a racially diverse population has been conducted to nail down conclusions. Until now.

The verdict: Omega-3 fish oil cuts down on the rate of heart attacks, but does not impact one's risk for cancer or stroke; vitamin D doesn't affect cancer, stroke or heart attack in a major way, but does appear to decrease cancer deaths that began one or two years after study participants started treatment. Heart attack risk among African American participants taking omega-3s was reduced significantly -- by 77 per cent.

24 Nov

At first, the concept seems counterintuitive: If we're going to colonize Mars, which has no known life or settlements, why not do it on a grand enough scale to justify the enormous effort to get there?

On the other hand, though, living in a foreign and demanding environment will likely require every ounce of energy and resources available, so why not be efficient about the process? Besides, who wants to colonize Mars only to wind up living in the equivalent of a stadium-sized commune?

After all, as an article from Open Architecture argues, the concept of simple living is as old as Thoreau. The article goes on to ask, "Today, as we live and get lost in a world of consumption and environmental crises, what are our essential needs?"

22 Nov

A currently recognized benchmark for how the universe started and grew indicates that the day-to-day matter people deal with comprises approximately five per cent of the density of the universe. Dark matter, says the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (Lambda-CDM) model, makes up 27 per cent, and dark energy 68 per cent.

That last element refers to an as-yet-unproven force that is believed to be what keeps the universe expanding. Now, a new study asks whether the force exists.

Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, which was published in 1915, states that the universe was created by a Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago. However, the equations used to create Einstein's theory are complex to the point that when models work off simplified iterations of them, minor discrepancies can quickly morph into gigantic differences.

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