Why Our Solar System May Not Be So Rare
As our ability to identify planets beyond our solar system improves, it is becoming clear that our planetary neighborhood may not be so unique, meaning other Earths are well within the realm of possibility.
What's the Latest Development?
Emerging techniques for detecting planets beyond our solar system suggest that our planetary neighborhood might not be so unique, and that other solar systems might have an even more compact arrangement of planets. In a statistical analysis of the star HD 10180, which is just 6% larger than our sun and composed of similar elements, astronomers estimate that as many as nine planets may be orbiting it, and all within the star's inner realm. Previous studies suggest that solar systems tend to be 'maximally packed', i.e. if planets can form, they will, and remain as close together as gravity will allow.
What's the Big Idea?
Astronomers' hunt for planets outside our solar system is just a few years old, but they have already confirmed the existence of more than 760 exoplanets, and more than 90 planetary systems have been found with more than one planet. Current detection techniques, however, favor finding massive planets—gas giants where life is unlikely to exist—that orbit smaller stars. But further observations may reveal that, similar to our galaxy which is rife with planets, our own planetary arrangement may also be more mediocre than exceptional.
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It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
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- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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