10 Fascinating Scientific Discoveries in January 2024 – Video

10 Fascinating Scientific Discoveries in January 2024 – Video

the low gravity environment of the moon. But what if we could have more permanent roads on the lunar surface? Well, that might become a reality sooner than we think. NASA has recently revealed plans to create a network of roads on the moon to improve transportation for future lunar missions.

These roads would be created using a special type of concrete made from lunar soil called “Lunarcrete”. This material is not only abundant on the moon but also has the advantage of being able to harden in the vacuum of space.

The construction of these roads would not only make travel easier for astronauts but could also serve as a foundation for future lunar habitats and infrastructure. This is a significant step towards establishing a sustainable human presence on the moon and paving the way for future exploration of other planetary bodies.

As technology advances and science continues to push boundaries, the possibilities for discovery and innovation in the field of space exploration are endless. January 2024 is already shaping up to be an exciting month for scientific breakthroughs, and we can’t wait to see what else the future holds.

Watch the video by John Michael Godier

Video Transcript

Science marches onward and upward, and the  new year promises no shortage of developments   in science so here are ten interesting  scientific discoveries for January of 2024. Number 10. The Shark that Smelled in Stereo 365 Million years ago a shark evolved the  ability to smell essentially in stereo,  

Making it the first member of the shark family  that could do so. This ability is still around,   Hammerhead sharks for example have a wide  spacing between nostrils that allow them   to localize prey more easily. This new shark  found in the fossil record of the Sahara desert  

In Morocco likewise shows evidence of this  ability, but in this case this is the most   primitive and early example known that possessed  it among the sharks and cartilaginous fish. Stereo abilities are extremely useful and are  a common biological feature. Two eyes gives  

Depth perception, two ears aural perception, and  again here the case is smell perception to zero   in on the prey. That this evolved under water is  amazing on its own. The sense of Smell both in   water and air work very similarly, you can detect  molecules in these mediums. Sharks do this too,  

They can smell molecules dissolved in seawater,  most famously those that make up blood. But not   as distantly as is often cited, it’s limited to  about a quarter of a mile in the best cases and   while their sense of smell is far better than a  humans, it’s not that different from most fish.

And shark attacks are rare, with many species  either being too small or simply not aggressive   enough to present much of a problem. Moreover,  if a shark smells blood from a quarter mile away,   it’s not too likely to investigate as by the  time it smells the blood, it’s gonna be faint,  

And whatever was there is probably long gone,  meaning that while blood in the water leads   to a shark attack is true in a sense, but  also can be misleading. Most of the time   a drop of blood doesn’t lead to an attack,  unless there is a lot of it, as in chumming,  

And it seems worthwhile to check out by the shark.  But if it’s right on top of you, and it’s on the   attack, if it’s the right species it can smell  exactly where you are even without the blood.  

This ancient shark was among those species, and  could do it hundreds of millions of years ago. Number 9. Penguin Naps Last  Just Four Seconds … with a catch The chinstrap penguin is a well known wide  ranging southern bird that can be found  

In Antarctica, surrounding islands but also  even southern Chile and Argentina. Each year,   it comes time to incubate the eggs. The birds  mainline predators are the leopard seals,   which will attack them directly and can actually  reduce the populations of the birds in certain  

Areas by as much as 20 percent during a year.  Obviously this means reproduction is highly   important for this species, and eggs and infants  themselves have many predators of their own. Interestingly, this seems to have led the adult  male chinstrap penguins to have developed a very  

Peculiar sleep cycle when incubating. They only  take naps, which have an average duration of just   four seconds, but they do it 10,000 times a day.  The reason for this is probably pretty obvious,   to stay alert and on the lookout for  egg hunting seabirds like Skuas that  

Specifically seek out penguin eggs. Perhaps  we should alter the colloquialism cat nap,   to Penguin naps, because they seem to be the  apex nap taking species on planet earth. Not   to mention, they are among planet  earth’s snazziest formal dressers. Number 8. The Color Changing Nebula

Researchers from Brazil using the VISTA  telescope in Chile’s Atacama desert were   engaging in a nine year search for signatures  of past supernovae. During this search,   one single nebula was displaying  anomalous behavior unlike any other   known nebula in the Milky Way. This nebula  is changing colors for unknown reasons.

The nebula is near an anomalous object known  as VVV-WIT-12. The WIT part in that catalog   designation stands for what is this, and the  catalog comprises a list of objects that aren’t   quite classifiable through normal means. In this  case, we may actually be seeing a very young,  

Newly formed star exhibiting variability which  is reflecting off the Nebula causing it to   change color but also cause variations  in brightness over a four year term. Further study with the coming Vera Rubin  Observatory should allow for more in   depth study and a better understanding of star  formation in nebulas. Interestingly as an aside,  

If that is indeed the case then it’s  a very short term transient phenomenon   that we just happened to catch, but  it’s possible that most nebulas do   this for a time just after new  stars ignite and begin fusion. Number 7. The Ice Supervolcano of Pluto

There’s no question that Pluto is an enigma.  What was once thought to be a frozen wasteland   with not much going on revealed itself as a  dynamic world with some very young looking   surface features indicating active geology.  Recent studies of the New Horizons data set  

However have revealed something peculiar  that may explain the Freshness of Pluto’s   surface. An ice supervolcano the size of  the Yellowstone supervolcano here on earth. Known as Kiladze crater, the feature on Pluto  seems to be cryovolcanic rather than an impact  

Structure and may have ejected enormous amounts of  material onto Pluto’s surface just a few million   years ago. Interestingly, the surrounding ejecta  appear to be chunks of frozen ammonia and water   ice. This is particularly interesting because the  hypothesized subsurface ocean of liquid at Pluto  

Predicts just such a mix of ammonia and water.  It’s uncertain if such a mix could be a solvent   for life, but it’s interesting nonetheless.  Pluto could be an ice shell every bit as   habitable as Europa or Enceladus, sporting the  same general sorts of active geologic processes.

Number 6. Ancient Antarctic  Valleys Locked under Ice Glacial ice is usually the ultimate in landscape  changing forces. The ice ages in their wake left   huge tracts of land scoured, along with deposits  of silt and rocks transported huge distances  

That are evident in some areas to this day.  Antarctica is no stranger to this process,   with many of its glaciers slowly moving like a  conveyor belt. But Antarctica wasn’t always like   that, and had in the distant past hosted  dinosaurs and much warmer temperatures.

As it migrated however, it froze and  glaciated leaving its topography forever   changed and scoured. Except in one spot.  Under the East Antarctic Ice sheet studies   using radar measurements from satellites have  identified one area where instead of scouring,   the glaciers just locked onto the landscape  and didn’t move. This preserved area consists  

Of valleys and preserved fjord structures,  along with the action of former rivers. This   preserved topography is believed to have been  covered in ice for the last 34 million years,   leaving a buried but preserved  landscape from the paleogene period. Number 5. The Highest Energy Pulsar

Pulsars are extremely energetic rapidly rotating  neutron stars that emit beams of radiation into   space. How this works is that rotating pulsars,  which can spin hundreds of times a second, tear   charged particles from their surfaces, inject them  into the pulsar’s very powerful magnetic field,  

And that directs them into beams at the  poles. This process typically emits energies   around 1 trillion electron volts. That was until  measurements from a Pulsar in the constellation   Vela upset that by being about 200 times more  powerful than any other pulsar so far measured.

It’s unclear just how that’s occurring, very  highly energetic particles were measured coming   from its direction leading scientists to  suspect that the Pulsar’s magnetic field   lines are somehow disrupted and may have  temporarily snapped sending out a hail of   unusually energetic particles but if that’s the  case then the Pulsar should soon recover and  

Return to emitting lower energy. If it does not  calm down however, it could signal new physics. Number 4. Roads on the Moon It’s hard to forget seeing the astronauts  of some of the Apollo missions driving   their lunar rovers kicking up dust  and bouncing around in the low gravity  

Environment. That terrain was rough.  But if we are to ever colonize the moon,   that level of trouble in transport could be  a problem. Researchers in Germany recently   used a powerful laser to melt simulated lunar  soil and see if it would be suitable to create  

Paving slabs that could be used to pave roads on  the moon to facilitate future transport better. It turns out, if you heat lunar soil to 1200  degrees celsius, it will melt and form a black   material very comparable to concrete in its  properties. Actually instituting that would  

Be an issue, you’d need to put a giant energy  hungry laser on the moon, but the researchers   also found you could do it with a 1.5 meter  lens focusing and concentrating sunlight on   the surface of the moon, which is eminently more  practical. Interestingly, unlike roads on earth,  

Any lunar roads we build are sure to still  be there billions of years after we first   constructed them. Maybe they will be among  the last artifacts of humanity to disappear. Number 3. Shipwrecks are Useful It’s long been known that when a ship sinks in  the oceans, it will be colonized and used by  

Life. Indeed the Titanic is slowly being eaten  by rusting iron consuming bacterial colonies   called Rusticles and is home to all sorts of  deep ocean life. We even intentionally sink   ships sometimes as artificial reefs and diving  destinations, and other than just a few places  

In earth’s oceans that are either too cold or too  anoxic, wooden ships do not survive intact on the   bottom of the ocean for long because they  get colonized by wood boring teredo worms. But now it’s recently been found that shipwrecks  are useful in another somewhat unexpected way.  

Fishing through bottom trawling tends  to wreak havoc on oceanic ecosystems,   often basically harvesting everything in their  path including sea life we don’t eat. The thing   is fishermen using bottom trawling try to  avoid shipwrecks because they endanger their   equipment. Scientists recently took a look  at shipwreck sites off the coast of Scotland  

In an otherwise very active fishery and found  that the shipwrecks were providing oases for   sea life. It’s possible that this may actually be  helping the fisheries recover their populations,   and that more intentional shipwrecks  are desirable, along with the protection   of old ones as a new tool in marine  conservation and fishery management.

Number 2. The Pristine Star System Star systems are dynamic especially early  in their history. Our own star system saw   much planetary migration before settling  into its current resonances. Much rarer   are star systems where this does not occur,  and the member planets are basically in the  

Same situation as when they first formed.  This seems to be the case with the star   HD 110067 which hosts six exoplanets,  all of them in the sub-Neptune class,   which sits between Earth and Neptune in size. The planets are in such a resonance that it’s  

Suspected that they are unchanged from  their formation a billion years ago. Discovered by TESS in 2020, and later  also studied by the Cheops satellite,   the system showed dipping patterns  inconsistent with what was expected,   leading to the discovery of all six planets and  also determining their unusual very rhythmic  

Resonance. The planets are very close to their  star, so it’s likely that they are extremely   hot on level with Mercury and venus. The system  promises to shed light on planet formation in   protoplanetary disks, as well as how sub-neptune  worlds form. The star they orbit is sun-like,  

But the planets are very different from what we  have. They also appear to be low mass planets,   suggesting gas atmospheres or water rich deep  interiors. The next step is observations with   the James Webb Space Telescope to try  to characterize these worlds further. Number 1. The High Energy Cosmic Ray from Nowhere

In 1991 the most energetic cosmic ray ever  observed, known as the Oh My God Particle,   hit earth’s atmosphere and was detected by the  Fly’s Eye experiment at the University of Utah.   This particle hit with the power of a baseball  and was so powerful that no one has been able to  

Identify a source extreme enough to have created  it. Strangely, while many other high energy cosmic   rays have been detected since, none that were  anything close to the power of the OMG particle. Until now. And it’s deepened the overall mystery.  Researchers in Japan have detected the second  

Most energetic particle ever seen, and it’s  in the same class as the OMG particle. These   particles are sufficiently powerful that  scientists can determine what direction   they came from, whereas with weaker  particles, magnetic fields in space   can obscure their origins. They were able to  trace OMG particle back to an origin point,  

But there wasn’t anything in the area  powerful enough to have produced it. This new particle, known as the Amaratsu particle,   is actually worse in this regard because  its origin is even more puzzling because   its originating space basically contains  almost nothing at all. It came from the  

Local void. Interestingly, the two particles  were detected using two separate methods,   proving that these things are real and not  instrumental flukes. Even a supernova is not   powerful enough to accelerate these particles,  and the other issue is that particles have a hard  

Limit as to what they can sustain as they  cross space and interact with radiation,   and these particles violate it. Flagrantly.  What their origin actually is remains unknown,   but could strongly be hinting at new physics  of which we currently have no understanding of.

Thanks for listening! I am futurist and science  fiction author John Michael Godier currently   mildly concerned that the penguins aren’t getting  enough quality sleep. As if living in Antarctica   wasn’t hard enough, you can’t even get any  good sleep down there either. Planet Earth,  

I’m tellin’ ya and be sure to check out my  books at your favorite online book retailer   and subscribe to my channels for regular,  in-depth explorations into the interesting,   weird and unknown aspects of this  amazing universe in which we live.

Video “10 Interesting Scientific Discoveries for January 2024” was uploaded on 01/25/2024 to Youtube Channel John Michael Godier