space
Was It a Good Idea to Beam Our Best Techno to an Alien World?

In the year 2030, a powerful radio transmission originating from Earth will arrive at a potentially habitable exoplanet located approximately 12.4 light years away. Should any alien intelligence be there to receive it, they’re in for quite a treat: This binary stream of data contains short musical clips from some of the world’s best electronic musicians. It’s part art, part science—but considering we know virtually nothing about extraterrestrials, should we really be calling attention to ourselves? Read More >>

space
Periodic Table of Exoplanets Neatly Classifies Over 3,700 Known Worlds

Astronomer Abel Méndez‏ from the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico has put together a Periodic Table of Exoplanets, where each of the 3,700 confirmed exoplanets is slotted into its own discrete category—including planets that could harbor life. Read More >>

science
Decapitated Male Mantis Still Fucks

During sex, female praying mantises have a tendency to kill their partners with a decapitating cutting blow that would make a samurai proud. But as this shocking new video shows, just because a male doesn’t have a head doesn’t mean he still can’t get it on. Read More >>

nasa
Watch NASA’s Mars 2020 Parachute Unfurl at Supersonic Speeds

In preparation for NASA’s next robotic mission to Mars, the space station has performed a successful test of a special parachute that’s designed to withstand the intense speeds involved during an atmospheric descent. Read More >>

animals
US Lawsuit Is the First to Claim Elephants as Legal Persons

Yesterday, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a petition on behalf of three elephants being kept at a Connecticut zoo. The suit demands that the court recognise these animals as “legal persons” and release them to sanctuary, but given that the same legal team failed to secure similar person hood rights for chimps in New York, it’s not immediately clear how successful the new effort will be. Read More >>

photgraphy
NASA Captures Stunning Close-Up Photos of Antarctica’s Massive Iceberg

Back in July, satellite images showed a trillion-tonne iceberg calving and drifting away from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. Well, it’s summertime now in Antarctica, which means scientists are finally able to view this behemoth from up close—and the pictures are just as spectacular as we imagined. Read More >>

ai
Artificially Intelligent Drones Become Terrifying Killing Machines in Dystopian Short Film

In preparation for this week’s UN Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva, Switzerland, the Future of Life Institute has released a disturbing sci-fi short that shows what might happen if we fail to place an international moratorium on autonomous killing machines. Read More >>

war
US Air Force Wants to Put Lasers on Fighter Jets By 2021

The US Air Force’s scientific research wing is giving Lockheed Martin $26.3 million “for the design, development, and production of a high power fibre laser,” which it expects to start testing on a tactical fighter jet in four years. Sounds cool and certainly futuristic, but the jury’s still out on whether these weapons have any real tactical value. Read More >>

space
Warm Water Has Existed on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus for Potentially Billions of Years

If you were to fly over Enceladus’ southernmost regions, you’d witness a remarkable sight. With surprising frequency, this ice-covered moon spurts a plume of water into space—a telltale sign that a global ocean lies underneath. Scientists have struggled to explain how such a tiny moon could sustain enough energy to maintain a liquid ocean, but new research shows that a porous core could do the trick, and that Enceladus has been wet for billions of years—a potential sign of habitability. Read More >>

space
Aborting a Launch of NASA’S Orion Capsule Sounds Absolutely Horrifying

NASA is currently developing a space capsule, called Orion, that will eventually carry a crew of four astronauts to Low Earth Orbit and beyond. Should something go catastrophically wrong during launch, an abort system will work to save the lives of the astronauts—but whoa, would they ever be in for a hell of a ride. Read More >>

environment
‘Harmless’ Radioactive Cloud Drifts Over Europe Following Mysterious Nuclear Accident

The cloud of radiation that swept through Europe in recent weeks originated at a nuclear facility in either Russia or Kazakhstan, according to a report put out by France’s nuclear safety institute. The levels of radiation were never dangerous—at least for Europeans living outside of the immediate area affected—but the exact cause of the incident is still unknown. Read More >>

science
The Fungus That Turns Ants Into Zombies is More Diabolical Than We Realised

Carpenter ants of the Brazilian rain forest have it rough. When one of these insects gets infected by a certain fungus, it turns into a so-called “zombie ant” and is no longer in control of its actions. Manipulated by the parasite, an infected ant will leave the cosy confines of its arboreal home and head to the forest floor—an area more suitable for fungal growth. After parking itself on the underside of a leaf, the zombified ant anchors itself into place by chomping down onto the leaf. This marks the ant’s final act. From here, the fungus continues to grow and fester inside the ant, eventually thrusting a stalk through the ant’s head that releases fungal spores. This entire process, from start to finish, can take upwards of ten agonising days. Read More >>

space
SpaceX Launches Investigation After Rocket-Engine Explodes During Tests

On Sunday, a rocket-engine exploded during ignition tests at the SpaceX facility in Texas. The incident marks a setback for the company in what has otherwise been a pretty good year. Read More >>

watch this
Watch a Simulated Launch of the Rocket That Will Get Us to Mars and Beyond

NASA engineers are currently hard at work developing Space Launch System 1—what will be the biggest, most powerful rocket ever built. The inaugural launch of this behemoth won’t happen any earlier than 2019, but NASA has released a spectacular simulation of the launch to whet our appetites. Read More >>

science
Mammals Literally Came Out of the Dark Once the Dinos Were Gone

The first mammals emerged during the reign of the dinosaurs, adopting a nocturnal lifestyle to stay safe. It was only until the dinosaurs were wiped off the face of the planet that certain mammals began to assert themselves during the daylight hours, according to new research. Read More >>