Letters to the Editor
All about aliens06/16/2016 - 14:38 Astrobiology, Earth, Animals
New telescopes and spacecraft will soon help researchers scour our galaxy for signs of extraterrestrial life. But what might aliens look like? And if they do exist, why haven’t they returned our calls? These are just some of the questions addressed in the Science News special report “In Search of Aliens” (SN: 4/30/16, p. 24).
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News in Brief
Two more of the ingredients for life as we know it have turned up in space, this time from a comet orbiting the sun. While hints of both have been seen in comets before, this is the clearest evidence to date.
Glycine, the smallest of the 20 amino acids that build proteins, is floating in the tenuous atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, researchers report online May 27 in...
Solar outbursts may have supplied early Earth with the right stuff for life.
Based on telescope observations of young sunlike stars, researchers estimate that “super” solar flares bombarded Earth with energetic particles at least once a day around 4 billion years ago. Collisions between the particles and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere produced nitrous oxide, a planet-warming greenhouse...
Toddlers, I know from experience, believe themselves to be very, very special — the center, in fact, of the entire universe. With maturity, however, most of us learn that we are not quite as special as we thought. Other people are important, too.
It’s similar with Earthlings in general. As humans have learned about the size of the cosmos (and our not-so-central place in it),...
Just how fantastical a planet can be and still support recognizable life isn’t just a question for science fiction. Astronomers are searching the stars for otherworldly inhabitants, and they need a road map. Which planets are most likely to harbor life? That’s where geoscientists’ imaginations come in. Applying their knowledge of how our world works and what allows life to flourish, they are...
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Our galaxy is teeming with planets. Over the last 25 years, astronomers have cataloged about 2,000 worlds in 1,300 systems scattered around our stellar neighborhood. While most of these exoplanets look nothing like Earth (and in some cases, like nothing that orbits our sun), the bonanza of alien worlds implies a tantalizing possibility: There is a lot of real estate...
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In a 1967 episode of Star Trek, Captain Kirk and crew investigated the mysterious murders of miners on the planet Janus VI. The killer, it turned out, was a rock monster called the Horta. But the Enterprise’s sensors hadn’t registered any signs of life in the creature. The Horta was a silicon-based life-form, rather than carbon-based like living things on Earth.
Human Evolution galleryNow open01/18/2016 - 14:00 Science & Society, Human Evolution, Astrobiology, Biophysics
This new, permanent display marches through 7 million years of hominid history; highlights include a 3.5-million-year-old tooth from Tanzania, a Neandertal skull and the world’s oldest known wooden spear.NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM IN LONDONStratospheric Balloons Over AntarcticaFebruary 2, 2016
In this free public lecture, a physicist will explain how he uses...
There’s water on Mars. Yes, again.
In the most highly publicized Mars discovery of the year, NASA announced that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft had spotted hydrated salt minerals on the Red Planet (SN: 10/31/15, p. 17). The salty streaks appear in the same places as dark, hillside marks that lengthen and shrink with the Martian seasons. Brine probably oozes from the...
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Scientists are used to suspending disbelief when they go to movies. But The Martian, opening October 2, offers a mostly realistic view of conditions astronauts might encounter on Mars.
The movie “is a vision of a future we can step into and make happen,” says Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division and a science adviser to director Ridley Scott....