Bleats

The InSight Lander Is Safely On Mars And Would Totally Make For A Heartwarming Adventure Film

Who wouldn't want a delightful movie about a bunch of NASA probes joining forces to find their lost rover pal?

After six months in space and a harrowing seven minute descent to the surface, NASA’s InSight probe is now on Mars and sending back images, because science is amazing and human beings are goddamn incredible when we work together and it’s just something in my eye is all SHUT UP YOU’RE THE ONE CRYING.

InSight is the smallest probe to successfully land on Mars despite being technically a triple-robot: there’s the lander, which will stay where it’s arrived, and the two CubeSats MarCO-A and MarCO-B.

It’s a huge deal because getting stuff to Mars is a hell of a task. Around half of all launches to Mars have ended with very expensive bits of probes scattered on the surface, not least because there’s barely any atmosphere and nothing to help slow things down when they arrive at supersonic speeds. Or, in the case of InSight, 19,795km per hour.

And the science that InSight will carry out is very exciting – it’s all about carrying out geological and seismological studies to discover more about the planet’s composition and history – but let’s be honest; that’s not what we’re hoping.

We realise that InSight’s staying where it has landed, not least because it’ll be drilling a five metre probe into the surface, but we’re still hoping that once it gets its bearings InSight will team up with the still-active Curiosity rover to find their lost buddy Opportunity, the rover who was buried during the dust storms earlier this year and who not been heard from since.

It just needs a catchy title. Married at First InSightI Am Curiosity (Yellow)MarCO-B Polo? We’ll think of something.

Honestly, it’s a Pixar film just waiting to happen. Does Wall-E need a sequel yet?

Climate Change Robbed Us Of Our Chance To All Ride Unicorns - Or More Accurately Furry Rhinoceroses, Which Is Even Better

Let's be honest: who among us has not dreamed of galloping across the tundra astride a giant rhino?

Climate change is not new – although the current rate is unprecedented, as is the fact that we know what’s happening and how to mitigate it and yet aren’t doing so – which is why 36,000 years ago we stopped proudly striding through Siberia next to mighty wooly rhinos the size of mammoths.

We know this because of new research by an international team of researchers including teams in Adelaide and Sydney.

Their top-flight sciencing overturned the conventional wisdom that the mighty Elasmotherium sibiricum died out 200,000 years ago for unclear reasons and replaced it with the new due date – by which stage modern humans and Neanderthals were hanging around the region – and the discovery that it was changes to the vast Siberian grasslands from a gradually cooling and drying Earth that finally knocked them out.

They also discovered that the Siberian rhino was genetically very distinct from other wooly rhino species, as well as the smaller and wool-free Sumatran and African rhinos which we still thankfully have among us today, albeit in dangerously small numbers.

Many of the reports of this research have been variations on “we used to live alongside unicorns!” because the ice age rhino was called the “Siberian Unicorn” courtesy of its giant single horn. And that’s both misleading and silly, but also buries the lede. They were GIANT WOOLY RHINOS! How is that not enough for anyone? GIANT. WOOLY. RHINOS.

Also, it’s nice to discover that at least one of the megafauna extinctions wasn’t because of humans.

Sorry, diprotodons.

Oh Super, Now Our Antidepressants Are Breeding Antibiotic-Beating Superbugs

Now, this news is legitimately depressing.

As you’re likely aware, humankind’s fondness for antibiotics has been creating fresh strains of “superbugs”: bacteria which are immune to our medicines, because evolution is an endless arms race and bacteria are way breedier than we are.

The problem is being compounded by antibacterial things in cleaning products, toothpaste and hand wash, among other creations which provide bacteria with excellent experimental circumstances to try out different us-harming strategies.

But now something which isn’t obviously antibacterial has been implicated in the battle, showing that stuff is even more complicated than we realised.

Note: Avril was not officially part of the research team.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have released a study which suggests that fluoxetine is contributing the antibiotic resistance,

It’s a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (or, to use the more familiar abbreviation, SSRI) and is the active chemical in Prozac and Sarafem. The problem is that over ten percent of the chemical leaves the body and enters the water table through our mighty sewerage systems, and it appears to have a mutative effect on bacteria (at least, on the E. Coli strains tested in the U of Q study).

What’s worse is that this news is itself very depressing, and medicating that now feels cruelly ironic.

Alanis was also not part of the research team.

Now, all joking aside, it’s important to point out that the drug still does vastly more good than harm so if you’re on it do not stop.

But it also means that we need to do more research on what other chemicals might be contributing to antibiotic resistance without our noticing.

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