"Humans obviously evolved a much wider range of communication tools to express their thoughts, the most important being language," said John Hoffecker, a fellow at the University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. "Individual human brains within social groups became integrated into a neurologic Internet of sorts, giving birth to the mind."
Continue reading ""The Human 'Super Brain' Emerged 75,000 Years Ago" --New Insights (Holiday Weekend Feature)" »
"Exactly how intermediate-sized black holes would form remains an open issue," said Dominic Walton of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "Some theories suggest they could form in rich, dense clusters of stars through repeated mergers, but there are a lot of questions left to be answered." NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is busy scrutinizing a class of black holes that may fall into the proposed medium-sized category.
Continue reading "Astronomers Search for Elusive, 'Hidden' Intermediate Black Holes" »
Astronomers think that the Milky Way was originally a pure disc of stars which formed a flat bar billions of years ago. The inner part of this then buckled to form the three-dimensional peanut shape seen in new observations.
Continue reading "Odd Orbits of Stars at Milky Way's X-Shaped Central Bulge" »
Life originated as a result of natural processes that exploited early Earth's raw materials. Scientific models of life's origins almost always look to minerals for such essential tasks as the synthesis of life's molecular building blocks or the supply of metabolic energy, which assumes that the mineral species found on Earth today are much the same as they were during Earth's first 550 million years--the Hadean Eon--when life emerged. A new analysis of Hadean mineralogy challenges that assumption.
Continue reading "Minerals Present When Life Emerged in Hadean Eon Vastly Different Than Today" »
When a star explodes as a supernova, it shines brightly for a few weeks or months before fading away. Yet the material blasted outward from the explosion still glows hundreds or thousands of years later, forming a picturesque supernova remnant. What powers such long-lived brilliance? In the case of Tycho's supernova remnant, astronomers have discovered that a reverse shock wave racing inward at Mach 1000 (1000 times the speed of sound) is heating the remnant and causing it to emit X-ray light.
Continue reading "Cosmic "Sonic Boom" Brightens Tycho's Supernova --Its Light Reached Earth in 1572" »
Astrobiologist David Grinspoon believes that scientists should look at our neighboring planets to help understand the perils of global warming. “It seems that both Mars and Venus started out much more like Earth and then changed. They both hold priceless climate information for Earth."
Continue reading "Venus' "Once Earth-like Atmosphere" --New NASA Probe to Explore Its Mysteries" »
Because planets and life are so young in our Universe, says Harvard's Dimitar Sasselov, perhaps "the human species are not late comers to the party. We may be among the early ones." Yet, If life does exist anywhere else in the universe, it may only be fleeting. Scientists are now to research how signs of life might look on dying planets. Astronomers have discovered hundreds of distant alien planets in the past two decades. Future missions could detect potential signs of life called biosignatures on those worlds, such as oxygen or methane in their atmospheres.
Continue reading ""Life on Alien Planets May Only Be Fleeting" --The New Search for ET Biosignatures" »
ISON! "The "Comet of the Century," first spotted in our skies in September 2012,has brightened brilliantly in the last few days as it nears its Nov. 28 close encounter with the sun. If it survives the heat, radiation and gravity of the Sun (which could cause it to disintegrate) there may be more chances to see it as it moves away from the sun, back toward where its origins in the distant Oort cloud far beyond the edge of our solar system.
Continue reading ""Comet of the Century" --A Blazing ISON on Its Approach to the Sun (Will It Survive the Encounter?)" »
It was the greatest extinction event of all time (at least by Earth standards): Since the first organisms appeared on Earth approximately 3.8 billion years ago, life on the planet has had some close calls. In the last 500 million years, Earth has undergone five mass extinctions, including the event 66 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. And while most scientists agree that a giant asteroid was responsible for that extinction, there’s much less consensus on what caused an even more devastating extinction, the end-Permian extinction, that occurred 252.2 million years ago, decimating 90 percent of marine and terrestrial species, from snails and small crustaceans to early forms of lizards and amphibians.
Continue reading ""The Great Dying" --MIT Insights into the Most Severe Mass Extinction in Earth’s History" »
There are approximately 620,000 asteroids that are tracked in our Solar System. This number represents less than one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the Sun. Now, a new space-age venture, Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company funded by Google's founders to establish a new paradigm for resource utilization that will bring the Solar System within humanity’s economic sphere of influence, has signed a Space Act Agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to design and implement crowdsourcing algorithm challenges in the effort to detect, track and characterize near-Earth objects (NEOs). All data compiled and used for these challenges will be open-sourced and publicly available.
Continue reading ""Space-Age Google" Joins with NASA to Crowdsource Asteroid Detection" »