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David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
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Bryan Cranston
Actor
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Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
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Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
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Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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E.T. could already be among us and we wouldn’t know, says NASA

Alien life may be so different from us that we wouldn’t even recognize it as life.

Axolotl (STEPHEN DALTON)

In Episode 146, late in the run of Star Trek — The Next Generation, its writers finally addressed an obvious issue with science fiction: How come no matter where we go out there, aliens look roughly like us? Obviously, the real answer is that they're played by human actors, but science fiction has helped instill in us a prevalent bias toward expecting extraterrestrial beings to have arms, legs, heads, not to mention spines, skin, and so on. Little green men are still men, after all.


But even on earth, we don't represent the norm. There are many more insects than there are humans, and in the oceans? Yipes. Consider giant tube worms.

Consider siphnophorae.

Physonect siphonophore (KEVIN RASKOFF)

Why on earth (sorry) should extraterrestrials look like us, or even be recognizable as living beings to our limited imaginations? How do we know they don't already live among us, floating, slithering, flying nearby?

The director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute, Penelope Boston, gave a keynote speech recently at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Symposium.

“It's not like you can walk into a new environment with your lovely robot on some other planet, look at the ground and go gosh it's life! Instead it's 'gosh it's blue something, and it's got a copper signal, and I don't know' — and then you have to investigate."

Boston showed the crowd her own rogue's gallery of omigosh-is-that-alive earthly creatures found in caves.

Gelatinous Glop and pals (PENELOPE BOSTON)

Boston frames this as the great challenge of astrobiology: Simply being able to recognize life when we see it. Our genetic tools fall short when it comes to examining unknown forms, and with her feeling that off-world life may be weird and microbial, we'll be essentially clueless about who we're meeting.

It's not like we can confidently ascertain life-supporting conditions with our limited knowledge. In harsh environments around the globe, we find living creatures where our current understanding tells us there can't be.

The astrobiologist ended her talk with he warning that we'd better come up with the technology to recognize life in whatever form it appears before we actually meet up with aliens. If we haven't already.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Surprising Science
  • Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
  • Recent glacial melting, caused by climate change, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.
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Creativity: The science behind the madness

Human brains evolved for creativity. We just have to learn how to access it.

Creativity: The science behind the madness | Rainn Wilson, David Eagleman, Scott ...
Videos
  • An all-star cast of Big Thinkers—actors Rainn Wilson and Ethan Hawke; composer Anthony Brandt; neuroscientists David Eagleman, Wendy Suzuki, and Beau Lotto; and psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman—share how they define creativity and explain how our brains uniquely evolved for the phenomenon.
  • According to Eagleman, during evolution there was an increase in space between our brain's input and output that allows information more time to percolate. We also grew a larger prefrontal cortex which "allows us to simulate what ifs, to separate ourselves from our location in space and time and think about possibilities."
  • Scott Barry Kaufman details 3 brain networks involved in creative thinking, and Wendy Suzuki busts the famous left-brain, right-brain myth.

Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
  • The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
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Politics & Current Affairs

How #Unity2020 plans to end the two-party system, bring back Andrew Yang

The proposal calls for the American public to draft two candidates to lead the executive branch: one from the center-left, the other from the center-right.

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