Welcome to our newsletter. The cosmos is vast and profound, full of complexity that we often forget how to see.
It’s our job to cast the light of curiosity and wonder onto the world so that you can discover the Earth anew.
This is a special edition for newcomers to the email list. Hope you enjoy it.
A quick look at news from the big picture
NASA recently launched a rover that will land on Mars in early 2021. It will search for life, fly a drone, and make the first-ever recordings of the sounds of another planet. Link
Single-celled organisms may be more intelligent than we thought. They can use chemical signals to find their way through complex mazes. Link
LSD may function by reducing communication in brain regions responsible for planning and decision making, while increasing it in regions associated with sensory functions and movement. Link
This week’s big idea: The Fabric Of Reality
When I look up at the stars, I like to imagine the alien worlds that are in orbit around them.
Most of them are probably likely deserts, like Mars or Venus. Some have life on their surface and in their oceans, with flourishing ecosystems full of strange creatures. But a special few planets have intelligent life, with creatures that have knowledge.
Through countless generations, like us, perhaps they have learned what the stars are and their potential for fuelling life.
I imagine there’s a creature on one of these alien worlds, looking up at the stars above its head at the same time as I am.
I’d imagine that both of us look at the Milky Way galaxy stretching across the sky, and consider every star it contains as another possibility for a different version of a creature like ourselves.
But we know that despite the enormous number of stars, they are just one small part of the universe. The entirety of the Milky Way, with its 300 billion stars, is just one galaxy in an ocean of others, whose every crashing wave is older than both our species.
Beyond the galaxies are the superclusters of galaxies, and they flow with the currents of an impossibly enormous cosmic web of over 100 billion galaxies.
I imagine that we both know we’re sharing the same cosmic raft. We share a fate for where the immense tides take us, but are unaware of each other’s existence except for a spark of imagined connection.
This is what I like to think the word ‘universe’ means.
But I have to remind myself that it is only half the picture…
This incredible star is just one of many wonders in our night sky. If you know your constellations, Betelgeuse is the second brightest star in Orion.
Astonishing: Betelgeuse in comparison to our solar system. It is so incredibly immense that if swapped with our Sun it would engulf the orbit of Mars! (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada)
Posted by @Universal_Sci
We only have the ability to see this jellyfish’s true colours when we shine UV light onto it. Turns out it has polka dots.
Posted by @ganyujapan
Interesting how this species is ALMOST transparent. It hasn’t yet worked evolved transparent alternatives for the white tissue in the brain and spinal column.
Saw this on a rock and thought it was a fish scale.. turned out to be a baby flounder 🤯
Posted by @u/psychedelicwombatz
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