Snarky article slams black hole image


Yesterday saw one of the greatest scientific achievements of the decade: the first direct photograph of a black hole. Specifically, the photograph showed the supermassive black hole located in the center of Messier 87, a galaxy 53 million light years away from Earth. Previously, any representation of black holes were artists renderings. This photograph, taken by a network of connected telescopes entitled the Event Horizon Telescope, represents a major breakthrough in the history of astronomy.

However, not everyone was impressed by this new photograph. One journalist in particular, Heather Schwedel of Slate, wrote an article entitled “We Need to Admit That the Black Hole Photo Isn’t Very Good.”

In the face of an extremely important moment for cosmological studies, Schwedel complained that the photograph is “too blurry” and “just not that aesthetically pleasing,” Apparently, she is unaware of the amount of painstaking work that went into trying to capture the photograph in the first place. An excellent video by Vox explains all the variables that went into this groundbreaking project. It shouldn’t come as a purpose that the result isn’t perfect since it is the first of its kind.

These kinds of snarky and cynical articles anger me because they undermine genuine human achievement. Its possible this article was intended to be deliberately infuriating as a way to increase clicks. Clickbait journalism is not just annoying for not providing genuine news, but for undermining it. The black hole photograph should be considered an accomplishment. Maybe more reporters like her should be able to show more respect.

Archeologists find related species


Archeologists have discovered the bones of a distantly related species called Homo luzonensis in the Callao Cave on Luzon Island in the Philippines. The fossils of the species belonged to two adults and one child.

According to researchers, the extinct human species lived on what is now the island of Luzon around 50,000 to 67,000 years ago. This time period concludes that the Homo luzonensis lived throughout the same time as the Denisovans, Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and the small-bodied Homo floresiensis.

What makes the Homo luzonensis different from other species is their distinct premolar teeth. The teeth are said to be unlike any other species belonging to the Homo genus.

Seven premolars and molars were found to be minor and more simplified than those of other Homo species. Even though some of the attributes can be compared to Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, both the teeth and jaw characteristics abide distinct as far as the peculiar features they synthesize.

“These adult teeth are smaller than any hominin known,” said Debbie Argue, a paleoanthropologist at Australian National University.

Researchers haven’t found enough bones to estimate how tall the Homo luzonensis would have been. Besides the lack of knowing how tall they would stand, the Homo luzonensis display their own mix of different traits and characteristics. For example, one toe bone looks practically identical to early hominions living in Africa more than three million years ago. 

The discovery of these distinct species is growing speculation of the story of human evolution.                         

“The more fossils that people pull out of the ground, the more we realize that the variation that was present in the past far exceeds what we see in us today,” said Matthew Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist at Lakehead University in Canada.

Hearing about discoveries like this really make a person think about how humans ended up on earth. With the help of scientists and researchers, information about our world and the species who used to walk among it provide vital insight in the ongoing discovery of evolution.

World’s biggest T. rex discovered


Paleontologists at a fossil site in Saskatchewan, Canada, discovered the heaviest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found. The dinosaur, which was unveiled last week in The Anatomical Record, is estimated to have weighed 19,500 pounds during its life.

The skeleton includes the skull and hips along with some of its ribs, leg bones, and tail bones, making it roughly 65 percent complete. Paleontologists have nicknamed the massive Tyrannosaurus rex “Scotty” and he would have been much heavier than the elephants that walk our planet today.

Although the bones were actually discovered in 1991, it took paleontologists over a decade to excavate them from the sandstone that they were in, and even longer to put all of the bones together.

This discovery is a large step for the paleontology community, but surprisingly these findings to not typically get much attention from the media outside of the science world. Articles about this enormous skeleton can be found on websites such as National Geographic, ScienceAlert and New Scientist, but not on any major news websites.

Our news feeds today are filled with politics, scandals and sports, but it is unfortunate that the news media today tend to shy away from science. Although dinosaurs have not walked our earth in 66 million years, these findings help scientists gather more information on important topics such as evolutionary biology and climate change. Hopefully this impressive discovery will get the attention that it deserves, because paleontology is still very relevant in science today.

Man dies from ‘brain-eating’ amoeba


Fabrizio Stabile, 29, died from an amoeba found in fresh water that can infect people by swimming up through the nose and into the brain. The deadly infection is extremely rare, but the Centers for Disease Control is investigating samples of water from a Texas surf resort where Stabile had been just days before he died.

The story, covered on by Michael Nedelman, is a good example of a basic news brief with a summary lede and a limited number of solid facts. The topic definitely meets the criteria for a compelling news story, as it is a rare and tragic occurrence, and the author does a good job of capitalizing on this aspect of the story without having all the information.

The CDC is still in the process of investigations at the surf resort to see if the amoeba is present in the water. It is not confirmed that Stabile ingested the amoeba at the surf resort or somewhere else, but it is probable that it happened there.

With some missing pieces to the story, the author decides to delve into some past cases of the infection as caused by the amoeba, even referencing CDC data and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. However, most important is the statement he includes about swimming precautions, warning everyone to try and keep water out of their noses while swimming in freshwater by plugging their noses or using a nose clip when going under.

The only criticism I have for the story is that there are no personal quotations included in the article. Nedelman quotes the GoFundMe page that was created in honor of Stabile, and he has quotes from Brittany Behm, a CDC spokesperson, which were written in an email. It would have been better if Nedelman had spoken to Behm on the phone at least, because email quotes usually sound too formal.

Overall, the story is a solid news brief that gives the reader as much information as the author knows, while at the same time providing background research and precautionary advice to prevent the tragedy from repeating itself.

Mushrooms could cure depression


“Magic mushrooms” are frequently considered to be a staple of counterculture because of their mind-altering potential. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine believe that it could be a huge breakthrough in the fight to combat mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

In an article for The New York Times, Laura M. Holson reports on the effort to get psilocybin, which is the psychedelic element in hallucinogenic mushrooms, changed from a schedule I drug to a schedule IV drug, a process that goes through the Federal Drug Administration. A schedule I drug is one that has no medical value, while a schedule IV drug does have medical value, like sleeping pills, which is the example Holson uses in her article.

This article did a good job trying to buckle down the key talking points on an issue that can be confusing and very controversial for a lot of people. Of course, there is more to this issue that can be discussed. One of the things that I wish Holson did a better job of explaining was how exactly that this drug can help cure anxiety and depression. The reason is that it gives the user a chance to introspectively evaluate their life in a very deep and meaningful way, which she does not mention.

The other thing I wish she wrote more about is how the research is done and how they exactly monitor the results. Do they see an increase in serotonin afterwards, or something along that line?

Overall, Holson did a very good job discussing a subject that I am sure will be discussed much more in the future.

Room to improve in Florence coverage


It seems like in these natural disaster events, particularly hurricanes, the national news outlets do the worst job in their coverage efforts.

Sites like CNN and Fox News, although well respected in their political and general news stories, fail in most efforts to convey a well-written or scientifically accurate weather story.

CNN’s latest article incorrectly gave a rain rate total that may only be the case in one section of the hurricane, which could also change from one moment to the next. Instead of recognizing the total amount of rainfall possible at the beginning of the story, the biggest killer in tropical cyclone landfall events, they do it later, in the latter half of the story.

Fox News’s latest article has similar issues, although this article has a little more scientific accuracy than CNN’s did.

They did a good job reporting storm surge numbers reported by the National Hurricane Center in their hourly updates. They also included a tweet from the NHC in their story, giving readers a primary source as to where they can get more information.

The two main issues in this article are with the title and a similar problem in CNN’s story.

First, the title focuses on the downgrade of Florence from a Category 2 to a Category 1 Hurricane. The NHC stressed particularly with this storm that it is irrelevant where Florence landed on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, as it will have impacts far beyond just its maximum sustained winds.

Second, it mentions the total amount of rain possible even later than where CNN put it, which should by far be the most significant part of the story.

Milky Way full of black holes


At the center of the Milky Way is one massive black hole, which we thought was the end of the story. However, a recent study shows that there are actually nearly 10,000 black holes surrounding this one massive black hole.

Apart from the thought that black holes sink to the center of a galaxy, this proves that black holes have the ability to join together in an area and gather near each other. A NASA telescope called the Chandra X-ray Observatory helped scientists discovers this observation.

This discovery is extremely important since prior belief was that isolated black holes don’t have the ability to be detected without an orbiting star, but since these multiples of isolated black holes formed practically a park of thousands, interaction with a star took place.

Media should explain what this discovery means to us. In this news, the focus is on the findings. However, this is immensely important to our galaxy, which is said to be 100,000 light-years across. This will lead to the discovery of a completely hidden population.

The locating of this tightly squeezed matter is just one example of the positive path our technology has taken to discovering more about this planet and the abilities of survival that may exist here. The capabilities of these new advances in technology will significantly help shape the future for discovering and proving theories for the galaxies thousands of light-years away.

A theorist explained that this helps estimate how many cosmic smashups might occur and generate detectable gravitational waves in our galaxy. The discovery of hidden populations will serve to show humans more information about our world and how to survive in certain situations, as this hidden area did.

Nonetheless, as the media are focusing on the discovery as a whole, the next step must include why this benefits the current population and how it will benefit the world we live in today.

Space station crashes into Pacific


One of China’s greatest space marvels, the Tiangong-1 space station, has met its fiery end by re-entering Earth’s atmosphere on April 1, breaking up over the Pacific. The exact location of the crash is still unknown.

At the size of a school bus, the 8.5-ton space lab has been unmanned since 2013 and lost contact with the Chinese in 2016, following an apparent malfunction that ended communications with the spacecraft. The Chinese have not publicly stated what this malfunction could have been.

The Chinese originally planned to use Tiangong-1’s thrusters to guide the spacecraft harmlessly into the ocean, but after the apparent communications malfunction the space station has gradually been dropping lower as it passes through the upper atmosphere. Scientists predicted the station would re-enter the atmosphere anytime between March 29 to April 2.

“With our current understanding of the dynamics of the upper atmosphere and Europe’s limited sensors, we are not able to make very precise predictions,” Holger Krag, head of the European Space Agency Space Debris Office, said in a statement. “The high speeds of returning satellites mean they can travel thousands of kilometers during that time window, and that makes it very hard to predict a precise location of reentry.”

According to CNN, China’s Manned Space Agency said the space station crashed into the Pacific Ocean at 8:16 p.m. ET on April 1, with most debris burning up in the re-entry process. While the exact location of the downed space station is unknown, it is most likely located north of an area known as “the spacecraft graveyard,” an area of the Pacific where most space agencies try to put space craft down into.

News coverage that surrounded the Tiangong-1 re-entry was unprecedented, only becoming big due to the chance of crashing on land. While no one has died from being hit by falling spacecraft debris, one woman in Tulsa, Okla., was struck on the shoulder by a piece of a rocket fuel tank, but was uninjured, in 1997.

TESS to take over Kepler’s mission


On April 16, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla. TESS was created by NASA and its main goal is to search for exoplanets. According to CNN, officials said Wednesday that TESS will search for planets that can sustain life, much like Kepler did since it launched in 2009.

After discovering more than 4,500 potential planets and exoplanets, Kepler will run out of fuel soon. Luckily, TESS will have arrived in space by the time that happens to continue the search for exoplanets. CNN stated that Kepler “will be abandoned in space, orbiting the sun and never getting any closer to Earth than the moon.”

To have a mission that outlives two years, TESS is expected to orbit around the Earth through the use of fuel and a gravity support from the moon. The mission will officially begin when TESS has an established orbit around Earth and when it passes instrument tests 60 days later.

Although similar in mission, CNN included the differences that Kepler and TESS do have. TESS will be able to “survey an area 400 times larger than what Kepler observed.” The area will also have 200,000 of the brightest stars. TESS will have four-wide cameras that will, for days at a time, take pictures and videos of the sky.

Through the transit method, TESS will search for exoplanets by detecting the brightness dips of stars as planets pass in front of them. NASA is predicting that TESS will find more than 1,500 exoplanets, but also think that TESS could find much more.

According to CNN, officials believe that out of the 1,500 possible exoplanets found, 300 could be similar to Earth or double the size of Earth, with the potential to support life outside of our solar system.

George Ricker, the TESS principal investigator at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, said that “we expect TESS will discover a number of planets whose atmospheric compositions, which hold potential clues to the presence of life, could be precisely measured by future observers.”

With Kepler, it was discovered that there were more planets than stars. TESS will reveal even more of those planets, allowing researchers to have a better understanding of the differences between these planets and whether they have the potential to sustain life.

Scientists find a new organ in body


Scientists believe they have found a new human organ that could possibly help to better understand its impact on diseases like cancer and how it spreads through the body. This new discovery could change lives by having a better understanding of diseases.

The organ is called interstitium, which is a series of interconnected, fluid-filled sections found in the body. Scientists found the interstitium in various parts of the body including the lungs, arteries, bladder and digestive tract. The interstitium is the body’s biggest organ; however, not all experts are convinced, according to CNN.

Dr. Neil Theise, professor of pathology at New York University Langone Health, who was a co-senior author of the study said, “I think it’s bigger than the skin, my estimate is that 20% of the volume of the body is this [interstitium].” The skin is roughly 16 percent of your body mass, which has been known to be your largest organ for years.

Doctors knew that the interstitium was in the body, it is not technically a “new” organ. However, they previously believed that it was a dense connective tissue. Now with updated technology, they can view what is truly there. The interstitium is basically acting as a “shock absorber” that allows our organs to swell and compress as we breathe, eat, and live.

Space station to make crash-landing


A Chinese space station that was launched in 2011 has begun a spontaneous crash-landing towards Earth. The station is expected to crash on Earth’s surface within the next few months.

Illustration of the Tiangong-1.

The Tiangong-1 space laboratory, nicknamed “Heavenly Palace,” weighs 8.5 tons and has begun its downward spiral towards Earth. According to CNBC, pieces as much as 100 kg could potentially crash onto Earth’s surface.

Chinese officials say that the space station’s functions failed after two years of orbiting Earth.

Jonathon McDowell, a Harvard University astrophysicist, claims that scientists will only be able to predict where pieces of the station will come down a few hours before it happens.

Current predictions, according to ABC News, have debris from the Tiangong-1 hitting the surface anytime between March 29 to April 2. The majority of the station will supposedly burn up on it descent to Earth, but it is possible that some debris will make the journey to Earth.

Information on the falling station is extremely vague, despite that the potential landfall is just days away. Chinese officials have not given much information on what exactly happened to the station since it ceased functioning on March 6, 2016.

Instead, researchers and scientists have been making assumptions about the impact of the fall. According to CNN, researcher Alan Duffy claims that “China’s secrecy around the space mission made the risks difficult to assess.”

CNN claims that the last space station that fell to Earth landed in the ocean. The first U.S. space station that ever fell landed in a part of Australia that was hardly populated and injured no one. The falling of the Tiangong-1 is similar to the space stations that fell before it and poses little threat to humans. Researches claim that the odds that the debris will damage ground activity is “very low”.

Only few types of materials could withstand the plasma in space. If titanium, makes the journey, according to CNN, it could fall to Earth.

This Tesla’s fate is to be announced


The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6 was successful. There is a Tesla roaming space right now, playing “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, with a mannequin wearing a spacesuit whose name is Starman in the driver’s seat.

In the Tesla, there is a screen that says, “Don’t Panic!” But what is going to happen to it now? And where is it headed?

Red Roadster and Starman (Courtesy of Elon Musk, Instagram).

This past Tuesday night, Elon Musk announced via his Twitter that the Tesla, named “Red Roadster,” exceeded its envisioned orbit and would eventually pass by Mars and into the asteroid belt.

According to CNNtech, experts in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory took a look at SpaceX’s data.

Based on their observations, they inferred that “the farthest it will go is about 250 million kilometers from the sun, or about as far as Mars,” contrary to what Musk predicted. This prediction by NASA was supported by Johnathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who also took a look at the data.

By November, it is believed that it will reach its farthest point from the sun. But by September 2019, CNNtech said that the Tesla will complete a full loop around the sun. The expected path of the Tesla, however, could change by then, rising another problem and discussion.

Because solar radiation can shift the Tesla into a different direction, or because excess gas in the second-stage rocket can also move it into an unknown path, it is hard to predict its path and final destination.

While they still can, astronomers are taking the opportunity to take shots of where the Tesla is now. They are saying that the it will be too far away from Earth to spot by next week.

While the path of the car aligns with Earth’s orbit, CNN informed its readers that space expert Marco Langbroek made calculations that predicted that the Tesla would not be spotted again until 2073. But even he said that any predictions made right now would lack reliability. Being an asteroid expert, he also said that another possibility would be that the car could be confused with an asteroid.

Luckily, NASA added the Red Roadster, as well as Starman, into its “artificial object catalog” to avoid it being mistaken with anything else.

Nobel awarded for fruit fly research


This Monday, the Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to Drs. Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Robash and Michael Young in recognition of their research pertaining to circadian rhythms.

After years of research, the trio was able to identify a molecule (called a “period”) that is linked to our bodies’ energy levels. As the day goes on, period levels drop, giving us the energy to get through the day. As night approaches, period levels increase, prompting us to call it a day.

The period molecule functions in all animals and is responsible for their daily cycles of wake and rest. But the model organisms this year’s Nobel Prize recipients used was none other than the humble fruit fly.

Being a cost-and-time efficient test subject, fruit flies are also genetically very similar to humans. As such, they have been the stars in numerous important areas of research, five of which led to past Nobel prizes.

New York Times‘ open-ended contributor David Bilder did a thorough job covering not only what happened, but why it is relevant and what are its consequences. He explained in simple terms what the research was and how it applied the ordinary person. He also called attention to the danger that research like the one that is the topic is in, with looming budget cuts from a Congress that does not understand the importance it holds. This also served the purpose of being a call to action for fascinated readers.

He also offered a brief history of the research behind the fruit fly, as a supplement to his urging readers as to the importance of this type of research. Overall, he provided enlightened and complete coverage of the event.

New tools aid reporting of unique events


The solar eclipse that covered the sky of United States last week had total coverage by the news media, not just Americans, but international journalists, too.

The total solar eclipse was the first to cross from the West Coast to the East Coast since 1918. But 1918’s eclipse couldn’t be covered by the news media in the same degree as the Aug. 21 eclipse.

It isn’t just the amount of time and information that news media have devoted to it. It is about the way news media have done it. New technologies have been used by the great news media conglomerates for offering a closer experience to readers. It is not enough to show them the eclipse with a camera. Now, news media offer 360 degree photos that can make the reader feel is in the place where the eclipse is happening without leaving the sofa.

After all, the purpose of journalism is informing and showing the news as well as possible to the audience. Therefore, it’s important that news media stay updated and don’t deny new technologies because they can enhance their work obtaining results never before imagined.

The clearest example is on the CNN web site. CNN has its own section of Virtual Reality and offers the following coverage of the eclipse:

That makes a difference between CNN and other websites and newspapers that don’t offer this service. The reader can find a different and improved experience there.

Next total eclipse will be in July 2019 and it can be viewed in Argentina and Chile. It is not until April 2024 when other total eclipse will cross United States from Texas to Maine. With  virtual reality still developing, who knows what kind of technologies could appear then and how readers could live next eclipse.

FDA OKs ‘living drug’ in leukemia fight


On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new and unconventional treatment that is expected to have an incredibly positive result on children with leukemia.

The treatment genetically alters the patient’s cells to be anti-leukemia specific cells, although experts are hopeful that it will also be useful against other forms of cancer. It is the first treatment of its kind to be approved by the FDA and its genetic nature has led writers from The New York Times to dub the cells it produces a “living drug.”

The treatment, named Kymriah and licensed to the Novartis pharmaceutical company, is predicted to cost $475,000 per patient and will be available in a specified chain of hospitals in as early as three to five days.

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post do well in covering the specifics of the treatment and the movement surrounding it, particularly in regard to sources. They cover people whom the treatment will affect, such as the sickly 12-year-old Emma Whitehead and her family, as well as health professionals and experts on the topic.

They go through people involved in every stage of the treatment’s development, from the University of Pennsylvania professor who pushed its development to the FDA officials who had the final say in getting it approved.

The newspapers also did their research and included explanations of how the treatment works, why it’s so costly and time consuming to produce, and how patients would be covered in the unlikely case of failure. Both news outlets seem to have covered all their bases while remaining factual and unbiased, making their articles both informative and professional.

Antibiotic resistance poses health threat


The world is dependent on antibiotics, however the efficiency of antibiotics in modern medicine is quickly decaying.

As bacteria mutates and changes, antibiotic treatment will no longer be efficient in treating illnesses. This means going back to a reality where people died from common illness like sinus infections or a scrape to the knee.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, spoke in a conference in April about one of the greatest global crises.

“The world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections will once again kill. If current trends continue, sophisticated interventions, like organ transplantation, joint replacements, cancer chemotherapy and care of pre-term infants, will become more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake. This may even bring the end of modern medicine as we know it.”

The problem lies with mutation of the bacteria. In some cases, when people use antibiotics to treat an infection, bacteria will mutate and become antibiotic resistant. They then will pass on their DNA to other bacteria in a process called “conjugation.”

According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in U.S. there are approximately 23,000 people who die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections.

With the number expected to rise health organizations around the world are looking into ways to prevent this from spreading.

One of the ways for prevention is to limit the use of antibiotics and not prescribe it as often. Another way is to track it. The CDC now have a system called the National Antimicrobial Monitoring System (NARMS).

“Surveillance for antibiotic resistant bacteria is a big part of our mission,” said Dr. Jean Patel, deputy director of the office of Antimicrobial Resistance at the CDC. “We do this to measure the burden of infection and also characterize the types of resistance we see. This helps us strategize how best to prevent resistance.”

Diseases and bacteria don’t know any borders. They aren’t concerned with politics. Prevention and treatment for antibiotic resistance is a global issue and every nations problem.

Is there a future for nuclear energy?


In the 1950s, nuclear energy was all the rage, promising to supply the world all of it’s energy. With the passing of time however, nuclear energy has faded from innovative to cumbersome.

Nuclear energy is costly, dangerous, and powerful. As the world looks to cleaner sources of energy, what does this hold for the future of nuclear energy?

Several large-scale incidents have paved the way for nuclear energy way out, including the incident at Chernobyl in 1986 and more recently Fukushima’s nuclear accident in 2011.

Mostly likely as a result of the disaster in Fukushima, Germany decided to phase out nuclear power altogether by 2022.

Also, South Korea, which invested many years into its nuclear energy technology will be scaling back in their nuclear energy consumption and released a plan called the “One Less Nuclear Power Plant” initiative one year after the incident in Fukushima.

Public opinion about the reliability of nuclear energy has tanked, putting politicians and world leaders in the midst to figure out what to do next. But it’s more than just public opinion, keeping nuclear energy around has a lot to do with economics.

While nuclear energy in the United States does offer some benefits, it’s too expensive to maintain when you take into account all of the money spent in making sure it’s done safely.

“You can make it go fast, and you can make it be cheap — but not if you adhere to the standard of care that we do,” said Mark Cooper of the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, referring to the United States regulatory body. “Nuclear safety always undermines nuclear economics. Inherently, it’s a technology whose time never comes.”

Scientists look to colonize Mars


The era of interplanetary civilizations is close to becoming a reality for mankind with the scientific world looking to colonize Mars. But with the possibility of leaving comes grim predictions from scientists of Earth’s future.

Professor Stephen Hawking issued a statement last November saying that humans would need to find a new planet to populate within the next 1,000 years, however he recently revised his previous statement to say that it would have to happen in the next 100 years for the survival of the human race.

Hawking talks about his predictions in  BBC’s new science series Tomorrow’s World, where he believes that climate change, asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth will force humans into extinction.

In a conference at the Royal Society of London, Hawking issued a statement about his predictions.

“I strongly believe we should start seeking alternative planets for possible habitation,” Hawking said. “We are running out of space on earth and we need to break through technological limitations preventing us living elsewhere in the universe.”

“I am not alone in this view and many of my colleagues will make further comments at the Starmus next month,” he said.

And the scientific community seems to be in agreement. Programs to colonize Mars are already underway. Some major companies looking into this are NASA, SpaceX and China’s space program.

According to information on NASA’s website, the goal is to send humans to the “Red Planet” by 2030.

In an official statement found on NASA’s website they go talk about past and future endeavors,

“For decades, the agency and its partners have sent orbiters, landers and rovers, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet and paving the way for future human explorers. The Curiosity rover has gathered radiation data to help us protect future astronauts, and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover will study the availability of Martian resources, including oxygen.”

Planets that may sustain life identified


NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has been able to locate 219 new planets outside our solar system.

Out of those located, 10 have the potential for hosting life, scientists announced Monday.

Kepler, which began its journey in 2009 by orbiting the sun, was tasked to find planets by looking for stars in the Cygnus constellation that dimmed.

Dimming occurs when a planet passes over the face of a star, however, some planet candidates identified by Kepler have turned out to be stars or other phenomena.

So, in order to be considered suitable for life, they await a rigorous confirmation process, which may eliminate some of the potential candidates.

However, since its beginnings, Kepler has located “2,335 confirmed planets orbiting a star other than the Sun – more than 80 percent of the total found by all the world’s observatories combined,” according to Traci Watson, reporter for USA Today.

The spacecraft won’t be there long though. Kepler suffered a mechanical failure back in 2013 that put a stop to its planet-finding mission, but it still continues to turn in and go over data.

Monday’s announcement at the NASA briefing when Kepler’s newest batch of information was divulged will probably be its last, according to scientists.

“Yeah, it feels a bit like the end of an era but, actually, I see it as a new beginning,” Susan Thompson, of the SETI Institute, said at a NASA briefing Monday. “It’s amazing the things Kepler has found … I’m really excited to see what people are going to do with this catalog.”

With space travel at its peak, the development of “candidate” planets that hold the environment for life is an exciting prospect.

Space exploration is more than just discovering new things, it’s about explaining things back home as well.

It is a new world for DNA editing


The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., a research center that is associated with Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, now has the rights to a powerful gene-editing technique, a technology worth billions of dollars, that has the potential to change the medical and agricultural world.

The birthplace of this gene-editing technique developed at the University of California at Berkeley, but this past Wednesday, the federal Patent and Trademark Office made the decision to issue over a dozen patents regarding this technique  to the Broad Institute. They did so because to the extent of their knowledge, they believed the inventions brought by these two institutions were irrelevant to each other.

Although the rights were accredited to the Broad Institute, the ruling now allows the University of California at Berkeley to own the rights to the use of Crispr on all types of cells. These new patents mean that all companies that want to use Crispr in the medical, agricultural, or any other field will potentially need to apply for a usage license from both the University of California at Berkeley and the Broad Institute.

The technique is called the Crispr technique, and it can be used to modify the DNA in the cells of humans, animals and plants. Biologists are most intrigued by the possibilities

Crispr has the potential for development of new disease treatments. This technique makes the altering of DNA in human embryos possible. These means it is now possible to edit out genes that could cause serious diseases in an infant.

National Public Radio and the New York Times were the only major publications to make an effort to cover this topic. Both were written from a scientific standpoint, explaining what gene-editing means for the future of medicine.