Let’s hear it for Trailblazers.
The research, discoveries and contributions of these individuals cannot be underestimated – they can change lives, increase understanding and change perspectives.
My favorite was the creative approach used in the discoveries of the receptors for temperature and touch. The Nobel Prize-winning research by David Julius and Ardem Patpoutian was rooted in how chili peppers make us feel heat.
We are fortunate to have got a front row seat in history. and who knows? Perhaps some of the fascinating findings shared here every week may one day receive such recognition.
Microscopic tardigrades — you might know them as water bears — were around long before humans, and they probably outlived us too.
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These tiny creatures, the smallest animals with legs, have survived five mass extinction events in 500 million years. But they don’t leave behind a lot of fossils – not ones we can see anyway.
The third tardigrade fossil on record has been found within a piece of 16 million-year-old Dominican amber. The researchers called this a “once in a generation” discovery.
All those missions to the Moon and Mars are paying off as we learn amazing new things about our planetary neighbors.
China’s Chang’e-5 mission last December brought the first fresh lunar samples back to Earth in more than 40 years. Now, scientists have had a chance to study rocks that are 2 billion years old and determine whether the Moon was more volcanically active recently than they thought.
Images captured by the Persistence rover showed that flash flooding occurred enough to move massive boulders to Mars before the Red Planet’s climate changed and lost its water.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates announced an ambitious new space mission that will orbit Venus and eventually land on an asteroid, to be launched in 2028.
And NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test is set to launch on Nov. 23. The planetary defense mission will intentionally crash into the moon of an asteroid in September 2022.
Modern technology is revealing the secrets of royalty
An analysis using X-rays has shown that an obsidian “spirit mirror” used by Queen Elizabeth I’s confidant and advisor John Dee is actually a product of Aztec culture. The nearly 500-year-old mirror, made from volcanic glass, had spiritual significance to the Aztecs—and Dee used it in a spooky way.
Meanwhile, revised lines of letters between Marie-Antoinette and her alleged lover, Count Axel von Fersson of Sweden, are revealed using advanced scientific techniques for the first time. The once hidden words certainly seem to confirm their connection.
And a 2,700-year-old toilet was found during archaeological excavations of a former royal mansion in Jerusalem – quite a throne in its time.
Earth is not as bright as it used to be.
According to NASA, the researchers measured “Earthshine,” which occurs when “the dark face of the Moon captures Earth’s reflected glare and returns that light.”
Our planet’s “ghost lights” have dimmed dramatically over the years, so much so that scientists thought their data was flawed.
Criminal? A side effect of the ongoing climate crisis.
across the Universe
On the exoplanet WASP-76b, located 640 light-years from Earth, it is so hot that iron falls like rain from the sky.
On the day of the planet, which faces a nearby star, temperatures exceed 4,400 °F (2,426 °C).
Because of its proximity to the star, WASP-76b completes one orbit around it every 1.8 Earth days – absorbing thousands of times more of the radiation Earth receives from the Sun.
Now, researchers have also detected elements in the planet’s atmosphere that suggest the planet is even more extreme than they thought.
There’s something else to watch:
It took nearly 50 years for scientists to name this paper lantern-like tropical “mystery plant”.
This dinky dinosaur was the smallest of its kind when it roamed Wales 200 million years ago.
– Despite facing some very real drama while docking with the International Space Station, a Russian crew has defeated Tom Cruise to become the first person to film in space.
as you read? Oh, but there’s more. register here To get the next edition of Wonder Theory delivered to your inbox, brought to you by the author of Granthshala Space & Science Ashley Strickland, which finds wonder in planets beyond our solar system and explores ancient worlds.