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As any historian of medieval East Asia or player of Civilization V: Brave New World will tell you, 15th century Koreans were really, really, really good at science.

[rebelmouse-image 19475372 dam="1" original_size="700x467" caption="A statue of King Sejong the Great in Seoul. Thanks, guy! Photo by Republic of Korea/Flickr." expand=1]A statue of King Sejong the Great in Seoul. Thanks, guy! Photo by Republic of Korea/Flickr.

Under the judicious rule of Sejong the Great, the kingdom's top researchers spent a lot of time looking at space and making maps of it.


In 1437, during one of these looking sessions, a bunch of scientists thought they discovered a bright new star, one that easily outshone everything else in the sky (eat it, Luyten 726-8A).

14 days later, it disappeared.

Unbeknownst to the ancient sky-watchers, the "new star" was not new at all. It was, instead, what's known as a "classical nova" — an ultra-dense, white dwarf star that sucks so much matter off a neighboring star it causes a giant, nuclear explosion. The star gets super bright for a short period of time before once again fading into the cosmic background — like a stellar version of Pokémon GO.

The problem is, 15th century Korean scientists didn't exactly keep the best records. For starters, it was the 15th century, and pretty much everyone had rickets. Also, the modern Korean alphabet wouldn't be invented for another seven years.

You'll be shocked to learn the location of the star that went nova was lost to time.

Until now.

After 580 years of searching, a team of researchers from four continents has finally located the star, making it the oldest such nova to have its location accurately documented.

Lead researcher Michael Shara had spent nearly 30 years looking for remnants of the stellar explosion, known as Nova Scorpii. (A great name for any Dutch speed metal band that might be looking, btw. Don't sleep on it!)  

Shara told The Atlantic's Marina Kornen that attempting to locate the site had been like "searching for a needle in a billion haystacks." Initially, the American Museum of Natural History curator and his team believed they'd find the nova between two stars in the constellation Scorpio. With the aid of online astronomical catalogs, which weren't a thing the first time Shara looked back in the 1980s, the astronomers combed through records of hundreds of millions of stars until, eventually, they focused in on a planetary nebula near the original search area.

In a classic "That's no moon, it's a space station" moment, the team rapidly realized that the nebula was the nova — or at least the remnants of it. They had been looking between the wrong two stars the entire time.

The team published its findings in the August edition of Nature.

"When we relaxed our criteria as to where to look in the constellation, we found the nova in 90 minutes," Shara told Space.com.

Image by K. Ilkiewicz and J. Mikolajewska.

This 2016 image, taken by a telescope in Chile, shows the star — indicated by two long, red hashmarks — surrounded by the cloud of hydrogen it ejected in 1437. The smaller red "plus sign" in the center shows the star's location at the time it went nova almost six centuries ago.

Thanks to research by Shara and others, we know a lot more about novas than we did in 1437 — and even more now that Nova Scorpii has been tracked down.

In addition to classical novas, astronomers have observed frequent "dwarf novas" — much smaller explosions — across the visible universe. Shara has long suspected that both types of novae arise from the same star systems at different points in time rather than from different systems altogether.

Images from the 1930s and '40s, published in the paper, show the star pair that produced the 1437 nova undergoing a series of dwarf novae — lending Shara's theory some weighty backup.

Whether you specifically care about the dynamics of matter exchange in binary star systems of not, it's hard to deny that — holy crap — this is amazing.

[rebelmouse-image 19475374 dam="1" original_size="700x364" caption="Image by tyrogthegatekeeper/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Image by tyrogthegatekeeper/Wikimedia Commons.

When those 15th century Korean astronomers looked at the sky, they knew they were witnessing something important about their universe.

With the right tools, some tenacity, and a bit of luck, human beings have made it possible to find out what that is. Even after a 600-year search.

Science, then, as now, totally rules.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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