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NASA’s Most Powerful Rocket

After NASA’s marvelous achievement of sending humans to the moon for the very first time in 1969, NASA is now aiming to send the very first woman to the moon through its Artemis program.

Image: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/sls_block1_on-pad_sunrisesmall.jpg

NASA recently revealed a new rocket named the Space Launch System, entrusted with the responsibility of carrying the first woman to the moon at the beginning of the new decade. Almost 212 feet tall, the Space Launch System is the tallest of NASA rockets to be constructed with more than a thousand businesses taking part in the construction of the SLS. Not just the tallest, the Space Launch System is the most technologically sophisticated rocket built by NASA. The rocket is expected to play an instrumental role in future space endeavors.

Before being publicly revealed, the Space Launch System had been tested for its reaction to compression, tension, and integrity. SLS behaved accordingly to the engineers’ expectations so will now be launched on an unmanned mission to the moon in 2020 which, if proven successful, could open new doors for NASA to explore our vast solar system with the next destination being Mars.

Of course, exiting the Earth’s atmosphere and escaping into the vast universe is no easy job. For a rocket to overcome such a strong gravitational force, it requires an extremely powerful thrust and that is exactly what the engineers at NASA had in mind when designing the Space Launch System. While taking off Space Launch Rocket is capable of producing an unbelievable 8.8 million pounds of thrust. To imagine such a figure is mind-boggling let alone building a machine capable of doing it. If you think that wasn’t “jaw-dropping” enough, the Space Launch System is capable of achieving a record speed of Mach 23 or more than 17,000 miles per hour before separating from the crew capsule. For a rocket the size of a 20 story building, exiting earth at a rate of 17,000 miles per hour is simply a scientific marvel.

According to the NASA officials, The Space Launch System is capable of scientific feats.

“Missions to the Moon are about 1,000 times farther from Earth than missions to the International Space Station, requiring systems that can reliably operate far from home, support the needs of human life, and still be light enough to launch”

Moreover, According to NASA:

“These technologies will become increasingly more important for the 34 million mile trip to Mars.”

With billions of dollars spent on the construction and testing of NASA’s most powerful rocket the discovery of other distant planets including Mars may be another step closer.

Single Cell Creatures

Have you ever imagined which living creature was the first to be on Earth? Well, the answer is it was a unicellular organism, probably a bacterium. Unicellular organisms also known as single celled organisms, are believed to be the oldest form of life on Earth. These are organisms that consist of a single cell, unlike a multicellular organism that consists of multiple cells. Unicellular organisms do not have conscious thought, the sort you find in humans and other complex animals, due to the fact that single celled organisms do not have a nervous system.

It was believed that due to the fact that single celled organisms have neither a brain nor a nervous system, they do not have the ability to make complex decisions or the ability to memorize. However, scientists say they have recently discovered what they are calling signs and symptoms of complex decision making in a single celled organism, giving a new existence to an idea that was brushed off and not taken seriously over a century ago.

The single celled organism, named Stentor roeselii, is what sparked the interest of the scientists. This aquatic unicellular organism is a free-living ciliate species of the genus Stentor. It is a common and widespread protozoan, found throughout the world in freshwater ponds, lakes, rivers and ditches.

Scientists have found that Stentor roeselii responds differently over a period of a time to the same stimulus. This particular ability of the organism is evidence that it can make choices, or at least does whatever the single-celled equivalent of changing one’s thoughts are. It is not completely accurate to say that a creature without any type of nervous system is actively thinking, however, the discovery challenges many of scientists’ assumptions of animal intelligence.

Scientists started their research on the single celled organism to understand its behavior better. Multiple unicellular organisms were put through a ‘Poke Test’ where they were provided with the same stimulus over a period of time. It was observed that other organisms regularly responded less to repeated stimuli. Stentor roeselii, however, first bent far from the source of the stimulus, but later changed its procedures and flapped its cilia in defense, contracted, or floated away. This behavior is different from other similar single celled organisms.

The probability that the organism would pick one method over some other was almost a 50-50 split, suggesting that some biological mechanism is selecting one over the other almost like it is flipping a coin to choose. Saying that Stentor roeselii can make choices is a vague, rather than precise, explanation. However, until scientists keep probing the complex behavior of the organism, this may be the most accurate way to explain what is going on.

Insect Life on Mars

Can life really exist anywhere else in the universe other than Earth? Does this presence of life prove the existence of aliens? Till now, Mars is the only planet that has shown some kind of signs of the possibility of the existence of life on it. Research on this very topic has been going on for many years. Many found signs of life and many others disregarded those studies. But now, after countless studies on the topic, it is largely believed that there might really be some kind of life that exists on the red planet.

Emeritus William Romoser, a professor at Ohio University, has been conducting detailed research and study on this very topic. He claims that Mars has always had some kind of life on it. Romoser supports his claim by showing internet images taken of the planet where he highlights what looks like an insect on Mars.

There are still many kinds of research going on about the topic. The studies which have already been completed conclude that there is apparent diversity among the Martian insect-like fauna which shows many similarities with the insects found on Earth. The images taken of the Red Planet show the existence of life-forms that look somewhat similar to reptiles and bee-like insects. The pictures show the existence of Martian insects, even though they are blurry, they show different body parts of the insect. On Earth, an insect is identified by the presence of three regions of its body, the presence of a single pair of antennae and around six legs. These characteristics should likewise be valid enough to identify an organism as an insect, even if found on another planet. The insect-like forms which can be seen in the photos taken of Mars somewhat match these characteristics and hence, labelling them as insects should not be incorrect.

Some researchers do not agree with Romoser on his findings. They say that the proof which the professor is providing is not authentic enough. The ‘insects’ which he has highlighted can just merely be rocks or blips on the images. There is no proper believable image proof for the discovery which he claims to have made. They also say that one cannot simply believe such a big claim just because of something which is just a guess and was found in a blurry picture. They refuse to come to terms with the fact that the insect-like forms which he discovered in the pictures really are insects on Mars. They can even be shadows if one wants to call it that.

Although it has not yet been proven whether life really exists on Mars or not, the results of this research should spark the interest of other researchers and organisations to study this topic in more detail and hopefully in years to come, we might possibly get an answer to the most anticipated question ‘Does life exist on another planet?’

Venus Exploration

Every day, we hear stories and news of scientists willing to explore areas that are beyond a layman’s imagination. Now, scientists are planning a mission to Venus. Yes, Venus, the planet which is close to the Sun. It is believed that the planet is not bearable to humans mainly because of the high temperature and other toxic conditions including thick sulphuric acid clouds. However, scientists from NASA are on a mission to explore the planet in the hope of providing us with the most astonishing discoveries. Just like they discovered water while exploring the moon.

You might not be aware of the fact that Venus has been explored several times before. However, it is from the times when social media was non-existent and hardly any news went viral as it does now. Also, the explorations were largely carried out with the help of unmanned spacecraft so no one really has visited the planet personally before.

The existence of thick carbon dioxide clouds created many problems for the missions carried out in the past, making it very difficult for telescopes to penetrate further and this somehow defeated the real purpose of the mission.

NASA’s still don’t know how long it would take to implement a manned mission to Venus since the required technology is not yet available to the scientists. So that means, there is not only a lot of research to do, but the team also needs to figure and invent the right technology to turn the impossible into possible.

If the technology is unable to fulfil the mission properly then how could humans get to the final destination? Well, that depends on how well NASA research and plan out the entire process including the invention of technology that will help them reach their goals. With so many advancements in technology and research methods, we sincerely hope that scientists find the answers soon and that their technology will unveil some mind-boggling discoveries on Venus.

Sneakers Made from Algae

Image: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

With the impending doom of environmental change upon our heads and the development that is causing these drastic changes not looking like it will slow down any time soon, it has now come down to us as individuals to try and help the environment in whatever way we can. Celebrities have a larger platform to help – big names like Kanye West and Emma Watson have been joining the fight against climate change. Kanye West has recently shared a new prototype for his new Yeezy shoe which is due to come onto the market soon. The singer claims that the shoe is made from environmental friendly algae!

The designer of Yeezy says that eco concerns are integral to their company and they try to bring that into their work. Kanye believes that this shoe is the first step towards a bright future of eco-friendly and environmentally friendly shoes and accessories by the brand.

The sneakers are made from petroleum-based ethylene-vinyl acetate and the foam which is produced by algae. These sneakers were produced in Atlanta and the world has only been shown a prototype at the fast company festival. The rapper says that his headquarters in Wyoming will have a hydroponic farm where they will be growing their own algae. The pair that was shown to the audience was a very bland khaki type color, which may not be very appealing to some people – this is why the company is also looking into environmental friendly dyes. They want environmental friendly fashion to have more appeal to the market.

Making shoes from the foam of algae can help the environment in many different ways. Algae, unlike petroleum, is a renewable source, meaning it will regenerate and can be used multiple times, while petroleum once burnt can never be used again. However, due to the rise in the planet’s temperature we have more algae. The problem is that when algae dies, the bacteria that naturally decompose it also take in oxygen. This then leads to a lack of oxygen within the water which suffocates the marine life. Also, algae is on the surface of the water, so it begins to block sunlight from reaching into depths of the water. This leads to an over-production of toxins that would normal be killed by sunlight, which is bad for marine health as well as human health.

The Yeezy pair made from algae foam is said to be available in 2020, and are expected to be priced between 60 and 75 dollars. This really is a great initiative by a powerful and influential celebrity.

Human Extinction

The concept of human extinction seems like a future topic or myth. Whenever we do consider destruction, our mind usually goes towards weapons of mass destruction like nuclear weapons or biological warfare. Research that has been conducted by the students at Oxford University shows that in any year the chance of human destruction are 1 in 14000. When we consider that statistic objectively, the chance seem to be very likely. The study took into account things like super volcano eruptions and asteroids crashing into Earth.

Another piece of research done at Oxford showed that we do not consider mass extinction of humans as a very tragic thing. The 2,500 participants included residents of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. They were given the option of choosing between best to worst-case scenarios where the options were: no catastrophe, a catastrophe that wipes 80% people off the Earth, and a catastrophe that causes mass extinction. Most people considered the no catastrophe situation as the best-case scenario as predicted. However, when asked about the severity of the situation and which one made them feel bad, they chose the 80% of humans being wiped out, rather than mass extinction of humans, showing that humans do not consider mass extinction a tragic event. However, when the questions were switched from humans to zebras, it turned out that people considered losing all zebras as the worst possible outcome and felt very bad and sad about that possibility.

This is because we as humans consider death of some worse than the death of all, while in zebras they do not think death of a few zebras is as impactful or saddening as the death of all zebras.

Even though there isn’t much we can do about asteroid attacks or volcanic eruptions, when it comes to nuclear warfare, we humans have a way to change that if we believe that there is a better future, when hope and optimism is instilled within people.

The research also stated that when we consider all species that have ever lived on this planet, all of them have gone extinct at some time. Some are in the process of going extinct while others have already gone extinct. Homo sapiens are the only species who have been on this Earth for 200,000 years, so the research concludes that the chances of humans becoming extinct in any given year are likely to be 1 in 14,000, at the moment.

Experts believe that we are in the sixth mass extinction and there is no one to blame, but us. Due to the activities we have been doing on Earth, we are destroying the planet in some way or another and the extreme climate change which has been a result of this could ultimately lead to human extinction.