The Largest Ocean in the Universe

Astronomers have discovered a huge mass of water -- some 140 trillion times the amount of water in all the Earth’s oceans combined. This water is 12 billion light years from Earth, evidence that water existed in abundance when the universe was young.

What's the Big Idea?


The word "ocean" doesn't quite do it justice. Two teams of astronomers have discovered an enormous reservoir of water in space that contains 140 trillion times the amount of water in all the Earth’s oceans combined. This reservoir is inside a quasar over 12 billion light years away.

As the light from this watery quasar took 12 billion years to reach Earth, the observations come from a time when the universe was very young--only 1.6 billion years old.

The discovery was made by scientists at the California Institute of Technology who used the Z-Spec instrument at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory in Hawaii and the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy in Southern California. The study was accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

What's the Significance?

The discovery shows that water has been prevalent in the universe for nearly its entire existence. This not only tells us about the history of the universe, but also sheds light on the presence of one of space's most valuable natural resources. Water is not only a key ingredient for life. This resource could be used to enable further space exploration. For instance, it could propel a hydro rocket for a return trip back to Earth.

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

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  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.

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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Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
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