The Race for Antarctica's Lost Lakes

American, British and Russian exploration teams are racing to make first contact with long-lost lakes deep beneath Antarctica's ice in search of new life forms and climate change data.

What's the Latest Development?

American, British and Russian research teams are in three-way race to make first contact with long-lost lakes beneath Antarctica's icy surface. In search of new life forms that would have evolved in isolation, as well as climate change data, the teams will drill through ice sheets thousands of yards thick before lowering probes to collect samples of water and sediment. They will have to work quickly. Just 24 hours after drilling, water will rise through the hole and freeze again, as though no drilling had occurred at all. 

What's the Big Idea?

Besides seeking new life forms, the explorers will collect data on the west Antarctic ice sheet. Glaciers in the ice sheet have been disappearing for years due to warming caused by global climate change. "If the sheet collapses, sea levels will rise at least 3 meters, and possibly as much as 5 meters, swamping low-lying areas worldwide." Sediments which the British team aim to collect should tell them when the ice sheet last collapsed. The longer ago it happened, the better; the more resilient the ice sheet, the less likely it is to collapse in the future. 

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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