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Venus is calling!

By Allison Kubo Hutchison NASA announced on June 2 that it would send two missions to the hot house planet. Once again NASA made robots will vist the Venusian skies for the first time since the Magellen orbiter mission which ended in 1994. These missions come after renewed interest in Venus due to the hotly debated phosphine controversy which if true could be a biosignature. The two missions were selected as part of the Discovery Program after a competitive peer review against the other possible missions. The two lucky winners are the DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy). DAVINCI+, led by James Garvin of Goddard Space Flight Center, will measure the composition of Venus’ atmosphere with the goal of understanding how it was formed (Pictured). It would be the first U.S.-led mission to sample and study the atmosphere since 1978 and the first probe to study th
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UNESCO Report Summarizes Five-Year Global Science Policy Trends

By: Hannah Pell On 11 June 2021, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) released a report titled “ The Race Against Time for Smarter Development .” This report consolidates a culmination of research over five years (2014-2018) on worldwide science policy trends and governance, centering on three key areas: research spending , digital technologies , and sustainability . UNESCO's conclusions offer answers to the question: are we using science to build the future we want? The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the necessity of global scientific cooperation and open science , the right of citizens to accessible and transparent science. Modern technological, environmental, and public health challenges are by no means restricted by geographic borders; their rampant severity is a consequence of our vast yet highly interconnected world. UNESCO has found that, although international scientific collaboration has increased (23.5% of all scientific publicat

We need more authentic storytelling in science

  By Aine Gallagher The day I attempted to give an inspirational team talk in Irish to a football team, was the most embarrassing day of my life. In Ireland, the Irish language is a minority language spoken by a small percentage of people. I have always loved but struggled to learn it and now, after an arduous 10-year journey, I speak it every day. Did I mention the word arduous? Joining this Irish-speaking team was the best thing I ever did because it immersed me in the language. In the beginning, it was awful! I was the one who stood on the sideline, feeling out of place, trying to join in but not understanding what was happening, and also had absolutely no personality to back myself up. Then fast forward a couple of years, things slowly became easier and somehow I found myself as the captain of the team. I was still extremely insecure about my Irish, but nobody else had volunteered for the job. For some reason, I had agreed to do it. So, it was half time of my first match a

Emergence of the Rainforest in Absence of the Dinosaurs

State Farm , Asteroid falling to Earth , CC BY 2.0 By Allison Kubo Hutchison Recently published in Science, r esearch focusing on the plants , rather than the usual star of the show, dinosaurs, reveals new information about the evolution of rainforests. But don’t worry we will talk about dinosaurs later. In the field of paleobotany, the study of fossilized plants, studying rainforests was once thought to be impossible. The high amounts of decomposition aided by high biodiversity were thought to prevent fossilization. However, that isn’t quite true. The fossils exist, they are just super hard to find. The results of over fifteen years of work in present-day Colombia reveal the evolution of modern-day rainforest by studying the pollen and leaves from 72 to 58 million years ago. Although millions of years have passed, the climate of Colombia now and before the end-Cretaceous eruption was largely the same. Before the extinction, researchers found pollen and spores from ferns and flowerin

What’s the price of physics history?

  By: Hannah Pell RR Auction, an auction house based near Boston, Massachusetts, recently sold one of Albert Einstein’s hand-written letters for $1.2 million. The letter is addressed to Polish-American physicist Ludwik Silberstein, a known challenger to Einstein’s relativity theory, going so far as to publish a 1936 essay in the Toronto Evening Telegram titled: “Fatal Blow to Relativity Issued Here.” Public displays of the academic debate aside, what else about the letter made it sell for nearly three times the predicted value? It contained the only hand-written example of Einstein’s famous mass-energy equations — E = mc^2 — from a private collection. Archivists at the Einstein Papers Project have said that there are only three other known examples. Arguably one of the most well-known physics equations ever, well, you can easily imagine why someone would just have to have it. This million-dollar document made me wonder: what other notable pieces of physics history have been a

Reset your Brain

  By Allison Kubo Hutchison New research published May 10 in Nature Medicine adds to the stack of evidence that Psychedelic drugs can be used to treat mental health. The study administered their test group with 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) in an attempt to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After three eight-hour sessions supervised by an attentive therapist, it was “found to induce significant and robust attenuation” of suicidality and impairment. At the conclusion of the study, 67 percent of the participants who were given MDMA no longer qualified to be diagnosed with PTSD. However, it is unclear how long the effects will last and larger, more racially diverse studies are still necessary to establish robustness. This is just the latest data point in research on psychedelic treatment. Other studies have shown that psilocybin (an active component of magic mushrooms) or lysergic acid (LSD) lowers distress in cancer patients with end-of-life anxiety. Other

DUNE and the Neutrino Mass Hierarchy Problem

  By: Hannah Pell Image credit: ProtoDUNE / CERN. Why does matter exist in the universe? Can we find evidence of proton decay, supporting Einstein’s dream of unified forces? These questions, among a host of others, are very much open for debate within high-energy physics, and one particle has the potential to help answer all of them: the neutrino. If only we could find out how much they weigh. This is the crux of the longstanding neutrino mass hierarchy problem that the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) aims to solve . Neutrinos oscillate between three different flavor eigenstates (electron, muon, and tau) and three mass eigenstates (1, 2, and 3). Each flavor state is a quantum superposition of the three mass eigenstates, so if the flavor is known, the mass isn’t (and vice versa). Although physicists can calculate the differences between the squares of masses based on experimental results (specifically Δ13 and Δ23), the discrete mass values are still currently unkn