Alien Pathogens

Travelling to outer space is fascinating, but little do we think about what happens when distant planets are visited by humans, or when those humans come back to Earth. Critical to the survival of any planet is the close connection between everything in nature, which also affects us.

While it is a huge achievement to be able to visit outer space, it has raised many questions for scientists. One of the most important risks from such activities is the exposure to bacteria. One possibility is an astronaut contaminating their destination planet, while the other is bringing harmful bacteria back to Earth.

Scientists refer to these bacteria as alien pathogens and some believe it could be potentially harmful for the human population. This is a cause for concern as the world is currently in a terrible state due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other environmental issues.

However, many also believe that these pathogens do not pose too much risk to human health, claiming that the chance of one infecting Earth are zero. Scientists say that these pathogens react differently compared to the ones typically found on Earth.

Even if that is the case, astronauts still have a responsibility when travelling to distant planets to avoid contaminating those planets. Humans must avoid treating other planets the same way they have treated Earth. The consequence of our carelessness is clear.

Space travelers must be educated on ethical travelling to rule out even the slightest chances of pollutants from other planets infecting any planet.

Every day scientists are making new discoveries and the potential for travelling to Mars and other planets has drastically improved. Ways to ensure that these activities do not disrupt the life on any planet must be considered.

Scientists have come up with ways to minimize the after-effects of such activities, including chemical cleaning and heat sterilization to stay safe.

There has been news that NASA has already carried out decontamination processes for a mission that is set to launch this year. This is a proactive approach that could save nature and the human race from major catastrophes.

Oil Prices

Apart from knowing what’s going on in everyone’s life, commenting and talking about oil prices is a favorite sport for many. Interestingly, almost all social classes are quite keen to know about the daily rise and fall in oil and gold prices as their work is often directly or indirectly impacted by it. Even a student might worry about oil prices as it reflects in their transportation expenses.

For many years, oil prices were on an upward trajectory with minor changes. However, suddenly, the entire world was walloped by a deadly pandemic that caused everything to go upside down. But who would have though the impact of COVID-19 would be so harsh that oil prices would go negative.

It came as a massive shock for economists, politicians, and even the general public as this has never happened before. Even the Great Depression did not bring such a surprise for the world.

In these times, the demand for oil plummeted to the extent that oil traders no longer have any idea how to store excess oil. Although oil companies have been making endless efforts to curb the demand and find adequate storage, it is a rough time for them.

No one has anything to learn from history regarding this situation because this has never happened before! Oil refineries are also rejecting barrels of oil adding to the storage problem from oil manufacturers.

When will the situation get any better? No one knows! The world is dealing with a new virus. Huge corporations, politicians, and everyone else is in a race to find a solution to it and bring everything back to normal.

The recovery of this situation depends upon when normal transportation resumes to what it previously was, but this is only going to happen when the transmission of the Coronavirus lowers and people feel the need to buy oil for their transportation and business needs.

However, this situation favors the general public, tired of refilling their vehicle’s tanks every second day, at huge expense. The pandemic may have brought unlimited issues, but it really has controlled oil consumption, and consequently air pollution has also lowered in most major cities.

Bright Supernova

Have you ever wondered what stars are made of? Well, stars are burning balls of gas just like the sun is. However, as they are so far away from our solar system they appear as tiny fairy lights lighting up the sky. When a star explodes due to various reasons, there is an immense amount of light that is released within the solar system, which we obviously can’t see with the naked eye, but is recorded through telescopes and machinery. Recently, some astronomers saw a bright light that was 500 times brighter than a star explosion. This sparked their curiosity.

The gigantic explosion which took place was one of the brightest supernovas ever recorded by scientists. The supernova that burst was about five times the mass of Earth and occurred around 3.6 billion light-years away from Earth.

The team working on this research have scientists from Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard College Observatory. The scientists suggest that the supernova was a result of two stars that were merging and cause the giant explosion. The explosion was 10 times brighter than an average supernova explosion that occurs.

The lead writer of the article says that not only was this one of the brightest supernovas witnessed by researchers, it also has features which make it rare and unique in comparison to other supernovas that scientist have previously witnessed.

In a regular supernova the amount of radiation that is released by the explosion is less than 1 percent of the total energy produced. However, this supernova which was around 500 times brighter than an average supernova, had radiation levels 5 times higher than a normal supernova.

They believe that in the final times of the star, before the explosion took place, it shed off a massive shell that was made of gas due to the pulsating movement. The reason there was so much energy and light was that after the explosion the debris met with the massive shell of gas causing an even bigger explosion. Essentially, it acted as fuel to the explosion making it even bigger.

The timing of this explosion couldn’t have come at a better time as the scientists were developing new technology for viewing such natural phenomena on telescopes, at the time, enabling them to look back in time and find out about the first stars and how they died.

This will open up a way for scientists to know all about the history of stars, where they come from and look back generations for similar events that have occurred, which will give us more knowledge about our solar system.

Living Robots

There have been many movies focused on robots – plots that glorify robots, and plots that show them in a negative light, or even taking over the human race. In reality the time isn’t far off when robots will equal human intelligence. And interestingly, the first living robot has already been created.

A team of scientists claim to have built living robots called Xenobots which can pick up things, move around and most importantly, they can heal themselves. Just like we see in the movies.

The reasoning given behind the creation of these robots is that the researchers hope that one day these robots could be used to clean up microplastics in the ocean, helping the environment. And secondly, they could be used to inject drugs inside humans.

The robots are made from cells taken from frog embryos which are then rearranged to create primitive beings. The scientists believe these are one of a kind living machines. They are not robots in the traditional sense; however, they are not human beings either. They have synthesized the two together and created a new class altogether. They are living beings that are easily programmable.

The robots are a millimeter in length and were developed with the help of a supercomputer that uses an evolutionary algorithm. The supercomputer first tested thousands of 3D designs to create a form of life. The scientists then chose a handful of designs and tested them to see whether they could move or perform a basic task that was assigned to them.

The robots only have a lifespan of about 10 days as the heart cells are only able to contract and relax for that specific duration on their own. The functions the robots perform vary. They can go from pushing pellets into a central location to actually moving around objects.

Another advantage of these robots is that they are completely biodegradable. They cause no harm to the Earth, unlike robots that are made from other materials like steel and metal. There are no traces left behind of their existence.

Right now these robots are very tiny but researchers plan to expand their size and they believe that they could be built with nerve cells and other cells that are used to give cognitive abilities at some point in the near future.

When we consider the reality of the situation, it seems we are much closer to a world where humans and robots live together side by side. It may seem odd to many, however, with such discoveries and inventions, that the idea of robots becoming equal to humans is becoming stronger and stronger.

Materials older than the Solar System

Exactly how old is the solar system? The solar system is said to be older than a few billion years. That is a very long time. However, it is said that now scientists have made an amazing discovery and found particles that could be even older than the solar system.

Scientists have found grains of stardust that are said to be older than the sun. The reason why these are determined older than the solar system is that the sun was the first object in the solar system. Anything older than the sun is older than our solar system. The stardust was found in a giant meteor that fell in Mexico in 1969; however, the study was only published recently in response to another study that found the oldest material on Earth was a meteor in Australia.

As the stardust is from before the birth of the solar system, it acts as a time machine for us to actually find out how the solar system was formed and other key information that we need to help us understand the universe.

The study on the Mexican meteor, called Marie after the renowned scientist Marie Curie, focused upon a certain part that was different from the rest. The rock is made from calcium-aluminum rich inclusion (CAI) and is formed in a way that is very different from the rest of the meteor.

CAIs can date back to 4.8 billion years ago. This makes them one of the first few objects to be present or come into our solar system. However, the curious thing is that when the sun had formed, the temperatures went up to 1000 degrees. This means these particles would not have survived that temperature, which is why their discovery is particularly curious.

The scientists used new and unorthodox techniques to find out more about the CAIs. They found gases that supported their theory and through microscopic lenses they then found the particles.

Even though scientists have known for many years that pre-solar components do exist within meteors, there was never a way of definitely proving it. Now with the help of this team of researchers, scientists have made strides forward in finding out the origins, and the ages, of meteors.

In future scientists hope to find out more about the solar system through meteors as technology develops further, revealing a previously unexplored world.

Are Our Days Are Getting Longer?

As we move forward in life, it begins to seem that the days are getting longer and longer. Many of us might attribute that to exhaustion or lack of sleep, however, there is some scientific evidence behind the fact that the days truly are getting longer. Research shows that as the moon moves further away, the days on Earth seem to extend.

The moon, that we see every night is around 4.5 billion years old and is 200,000 plus miles away from Earth. However, it is said that because of the tidal forces that take place between the moon and Earth, the moon moves around 1.5 inches away from the Earth every year. This causes the Earth to rotate more slowly than it did the year before.

Scientists use a statistical method that is called astrochronology. Through this, astronomers looked back into the Earth’s past and tried to recreate the history of the planet. The results from the software revealed that only 1.5 billion years ago the moon was substantially closer to Earth than it is now. This, as a result, made Earth spin faster and a day on the Earth lasted around 18 hours.

So, through this observation it seems that as the moon moves farther away from Earth – Earth, in turn, spins slower. Hence, leading to a comparatively longer day. The moon and other solar bodies can greatly influence the spin of earth. Milankovitch cycles can help determine exactly where the sun’s light falls and then determine the days.

It is said that 6 million years ago during the cretaceous period, the day was 23 and a half hours long, now it is 24 hours long, which seems to be a huge difference in just this many years.

However, an interesting thing to note and keep in mind is that through geological research, it was found that in this same period the year would be a full week longer. This is because, through the measurements done in a geological study, they found that the year used to be longer than it is in the current time.

This change can also be attributed to the moon. This is because Earth’s orbit around the sun does not change. However, the tidal forces we discussed about have led to this change too. So as the days tend to get longer because of the moon, the years also get shorter due to it.

This discovery shows us how amazing and dynamic Earth and the solar system are. It shows us the secrets that the solar system holds and how humans are unaware of most of which has already happened in the planet’s past. As technology will further develop and new innovations will begin to take place, we will start to uncover more about Earth’s past and exactly how it impacts our future.