Tyson dives into the search for alien life, dark matter, and the physics of football.
- Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson joins us to talk about one of our favorite subjects: space.
- In the three-chaptered video, Tyson speaks about the search for alien life inside and outside of the Goldilocks Zone, why the term "dark matter" should really be called "dark gravity," and how the rotation of the Earth may have been the deciding factor in a football game.
- These fascinating space facts, as well as others shared in Tyson's books, make it easier for everyone to grasp complex ideas that are literally out of this world.
Gravitational wave researchers observe black holes of different sizes colliding for the first time.
- Gravitational wave researchers at LIGO and Virgo observatories spot black holes of different sizes colliding.
- The finding is unusual because previous black hole mergers involved partners of similar size.
- The new information re-confirms Einstein's theory of relativity.
The changes in brain structure aren't the only bodily changes caused by zero gravity.
- A new study finds that long term weightlessness can cause changes in brain structure, with an increase in white matter lasting a year after returning to Earth.
- The researchers believe it to be caused by an increase in fluid pressure on the brain.
- Potential solutions include creating artificial gravity.
I think my desire to go to space just declined a bit.<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="zLgT2QZy" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f9a7ab1cc3f27bb7d881581432778482"> <div id="botr_zLgT2QZy_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/zLgT2QZy-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/zLgT2QZy-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/zLgT2QZy-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Eleven astronauts, ten men and one woman, were given MRI tests before they went for extended stays on the International Space Station. They were then given follow up scans the day after their return and at several points during the year <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-04/rson-lsa040720.php" target="_blank">after</a>.</p><p>Not only did the researchers find that long-term exposure to zero-gravity increased the amount of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, but that the amount of white matter in the brain increased as well. Several of the astronauts also had deformed pituitary glands, the gland that tells all the others what to do, as a result of the increased pressure on it. <br> <br> These changes lasted for some time, just as other astronauts' vision problems have continued for years after returning to Earth. This suggests that some of the effects, particularly the increased amount of fluid, might be permanent. The higher amount of fluid also flowed through the cerebral aqueduct at an increased velocity. </p><p>The researchers hypothesized that these changes, like the previously mentioned vision problems, were caused by increased pressure in the head itself caused by an increased amount of fluid present, including blood. While Earth's gravity causes fluid to flow out of the head and pool towards the lower part of the body, weightlessness removes this tendency, and fluids begin to shift their locations. This effect <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/spaceodyssey/healtheffects.shtml" target="_blank">has been known</a> for a while and is also why many astronauts look like they skipped leg day or have puffy faces when they take pictures in space.</p>
What does this mean? Are astronauts in danger?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="4H6l2xhL" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="fd2eb2a69a1aed4b82241b02ed13feb5"> <div id="botr_4H6l2xhL_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/4H6l2xhL-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/4H6l2xhL-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/4H6l2xhL-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>It is too early to say what these changes to the brain mean. While some of the changes are associated with other symptoms, none of those have been seen in any of the astronauts yet.</p><p>However, ideas for how to reduce the build-up of fluids in the head are already being put forward. One suggestion is to create artificial gravity through the rotation of a centrifuge, like <a href="https://www.wired.com/2013/06/artificial-gravity-in-the-spinning-discovery-one/" target="_blank">the spaceship in "2001: A Space Odyssey"</a> has, or to create negative pressure around the lower parts of the body to draw fluid to them. Either of these mechanisms would cause less fluid to remain in the head.</p><p>The human body evolved to function decently in an environment where gravity is always a factor. As humanity ventures out towards the stars, the problem of how to keep that body working in such an alien environment will be a substantial obstacle. However, if we can solve the problem of getting into space in the first place, the issue of keeping fluid out of our heads seems comparatively simple. </p>
An astrophysicist proposes new designs for stellar engines that can move a solar system.
- An astrophysicist proposes two new designs for stellar engines.
- The engines would be able to move our sun and whole solar systems.
- Moving the sun would be necessary to avoid collisions with supernovas and other space catastrophes.
How a Supernova Could Nuke Us<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="ftiLvL41" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="56a462ca76420f3c5f5369666950fc72"> <div id="botr_ftiLvL41_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/ftiLvL41-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/ftiLvL41-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/ftiLvL41-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>A nearby star system may “go supernova".</p>
How to Move the Sun: Stellar Engines<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6fcbb1b3c1c323bd045aac634f4f75cb"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/v3y8AIEX_dU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p> Check out the explanatory video from <em>Kurzgesagt</em> for more information.</p>
A 2020 space mission wants to use zero gravity to disable some of the hardest cancers to fight.
- An Australian research mission, launched in 2020 by Elon Musk's SpaceX, will study effects of zero gravity on four cancers.
- Other missions with similar objectives are set to launch in 2022 aboard the new China Space Station.
- In earlier experiments, scientists found that microgravity can kill cancer cells.
Joshua Chou with a prototype of Australia's first microgravity device.
Photo by Sissy Reyes.
The research team, from left, Chelsea Ly, Carin Basirun, Jessica Domingo and Joshua Chou.
Photo: Joshua Chou.