What has NASA's Planet-Hunter Telescope Found?

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space observatory has already identified more than 1,200 planetary candidates and tomorrow NASA will announce a new discovery by it.

What's the Latest Development?

NASA will tomorrow announce a new discovery by its Kepler planet-hunting telescope in a press conference featuring astronomers and—oddly—a representative of visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd. Kepler, an Earth-orbiting space observatory was launched in March 2009 to seek an Earth-sized planet orbiting within the "habitable zone" of its star that would enable it to support liquid water, and possibly life.

What's the Big Idea?

The number of confirmed alien planets now stands at more than 600, bolstered by the announcement on Sunday of 50 newfound alien worlds by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). More than 50 new exoplanets — including one "super-Earth" that could potentially support life — have been discovered using data from the HARPS spectrograph in Chile.

A new study says alcohol changes how the brain creates memories

A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
  • This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
  • The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
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How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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Heatwaves significantly impact male fertility, says huge study

As the world gets hotter, men may have fewer and fewer viable sperm

Surprising Science
  • New research on beetles shows that successive exposure to heatwaves reduces male fertility, sometimes to the point of sterility.
  • The research has implications both for how the insect population will sustain itself as well as how human fertility may work on an increasingly hotter Earth.
  • With this and other evidence, it is becoming clear that more common and more extreme heatwaves may be the most dangerous aspect of climate change.
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