Secret Link Uncovered Between Pure Math and Physics

An eminent mathematician reveals that his advances in the study of millennia-old mathematical questions owe to concepts derived from physics.

ISS astronauts will get their own Star Wars premiere—in space

Enlarge / In space, no one can hear you stream. Because the latency would kill you. (credit: NASA)

When you’re orbiting 400 kilometers above the Earth, getting to the movie-plex to watch the latest science fiction blockbuster is a bit of a drag. But the current crew of the International Space Station will still be able to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi, according to a report from Inverse—and they’ll do so while in orbit.

NASA Public Affairs Officer Dan Huot told Inverse that the ISS crew “will be able to watch it in orbit. Don’t have a definitive timeline yet.”

This is at least partially thanks to the improvements made in the ISS’s communications systems in 2013. Those updates were intended to improve the “scientific output” of the space station, which once had to essentially rely on dial-up speed connections. The High Rate Communications System (HRCS) gave the ISS a massive upgrade in its downlink and uplink speeds—increasing the bandwidth of uplink from the ground to 25 megabits per second, making it qualify as broadband under FCC guidelines. The downlink speeds—the rate at which ISS can send data to ground stations—is a blazing 300 megabits per second. The high-speed networking gear and accompanying Ethernet upgrades were executed by the ISS’s commander at the time, Canadian astronaut and interstellar rock star Chris Hadfield, and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn.

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The Closest Exoplanet to Earth Was Probably a Ghost

When the exoplanet Alpha Centauri Bb was announced in Nature in 2012, it was hailed a watershed moment in the search for Earth-like worlds beyond our solar system. But as eerie as it sounds, it now appears that Alpha Centauri Bb never existed.

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Get Ready For “Spooky,” the Halloween Asteroid!

On All Hallow’s Eve, an asteroid dubbed “Spooky” will make its closest approach to our planet. Hurtling along at an impressive 78,830 miles per hour, the 1,300-foot-wide object poses no threat to Earth…or does it? This Gizmodo video explains Spooky’s story.

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Report: Many Over-the-Counter Decongestants Are Basically Useless

Remember a few years back, when relieving your stuffy nose was a simple matter of going to your local pharmacy and buying Sudafed? And then one day Sudafed just….stopped working? You weren’t imagining it. According to new research, phenylephrine—the active ingredient drug makers swapped into over-the-counter decongestants when they took out pseudoephedrine—is basically useless.

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This Trick Might Make You Slightly Better at Spotting a Lie

When people try to spot a lie, they generally make a judgment on a number of factors, including body language, expression, and word choice. This may be a mistake. People are complicated creatures, and they send mixed messages. Picking just one criterion to indicate truthfulness improves the odds of ferreting out a lie—but only a little bit.

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How Apples Sparked an Evolutionary Domino Effect Among Insects

When it comes to the emergence of new lifeforms, we typically think of a single species evolving into another. But as a new study of fruit flies and parasitic wasps demonstrates, the emergence of a new species can set off a domino effect that, in this case, creates not one, but several new species.

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Sounds Gross, But Intestinal Worms Can Actually Be Good For You

Intestinal worms have an incredibly bad reputation. The thought of them sneaking around inside our bodies and eating us from the inside is pretty unpleasant. But for decades, results coming out of lab after lab have shown that some kinds of helminths can be extremely beneficial to their host, and aren’t parasites at all.

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Cosmic Rays Could Help Unlock the Secrets of the Pyramids

There’s a long and colorful history of people trying to unlock the secret of how the Egyptian pyramids were built—and possibly find hidden rooms and corridors, for good measure. And now, a new international project aims to peer through the stone walls of these ancient structures, using cosmic rays.

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This Extinct Species is Changing What We Know About Early Ape Evolution

Meet Pliobates catalonia, an extinct species of ape that roamed the jungles of Catalonia some 11.5 million years ago. Because of this ancient creature’s many surprising physical characteristics, researchers are having to revise their conceptions of what the last common ancestor of all living apes—humans included—might have looked like.

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Mapping 16th Century Social Networks with Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Want to know whether Anne Boleyn knew Utopia author Thomas More? There was a time when that answer would have involved painstakingly combing through historical archives hunting for arcane clues. But now you can search a massive online digitized database and get the answer in a fraction of the time.

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This Theory of Why Mammoths Went Extinct Will Make You See the Earth in a Different Way

The extinction of the mammoths in Eurasia occurred at the end of the Pleistocene. They didn’t die alone. A lot of different megafauna, including cave bears and giant sloths, went extinct at roughly the same time. There are plenty of theories on why mammoths went extinct: climate change, disease, geological upheaval, or being hunted by humans—but a new theory says the ground is responsible.

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Ancient Greek Warrior’s Tomb Yields Eye-Popping Treasures

An American husband-and-wife team working in Greece has uncovered the 3,500-year-old remains of a prominent ancient warrior who was buried alongside an assortment of riches. It’s being called the most important discovery made in continental Greece in over 65 years.

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That So-Called Alien Megastructure Could Just Be a Distorted Star 

The Kepler Space Telescope recently picked up unprecedented flickering behavior from a distant star, leading to speculation that—among other things—it might be an alien megastructure. Now, some astronomers are saying it might just be caused by a rapidly spinning and irregularly shaped star.

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A Simple Design Change Could Make a Thruster To Get Us to Mars 

A Hall thruster is powering many of the satellites moving around Earth right now. It needs 100 million (yes, you read that right, 100 million) times less fuel than chemical thrusters. But it was never remotely sturdy enough to get anything to Mars—until now.

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