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Life on Mars.

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Astronomy's white whale.


Scientists have found yet another clue as to where it may have once existed.

Researchers examining images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have uncovered "massive" hydrothermal deposits in the planet's southern hemisphere, likely remnants of the same volcanic-activity-plus-water cocktail that provided the ingredients for early life on Earth.

"Even if we never find evidence that there's been life on Mars, this site can tell us about the type of environment where life may have begun on Earth," Paul Niles of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston announced in a press release marking the discovery.

The deposits are roughly 3.7 billion years old, according to researcher estimates.

Because Earth's crust is constantly shifting, it's virtually impossible to find parts of our planet containing evidence of the early primordial soup party that likely paved the way for the rest of us to evolve.

A visualization of how deep the water most likely was in Mars' Eridania basin, where the deposits were found. Image via NASA.

Having similar environments to study on another, slightly maroon-er planet just down the cosmic road from us could be a boon for researchers, whether or not they ever dig up Martian skeletons (or, far more likely, bacterial fossils).

Such environments contain ideal conditions for "life that doesn't need a nice atmosphere or temperate surface, but just rocks, heat and water," according to Niles.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched in 2005 in an effort to determine if water covered Mars' surface long enough for life to emerge.

Since entering orbit around the planet the following year, the probe has photographed craters full of ice, polar avalanches, and widespread mineral deposits similar to the one just found.

Thanks to the orbiter's continued good health, the search for evidence that life once walked (swam? slithered? cilia-paddled?) the red planet goes on — with a new signpost on the trail.

Could a breakthrough be imminent?

Perhaps in...

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You never know with Mars.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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People have clearly missed their free treats.

The COVID-19 pandemic had us waving a sad farewell to many of life’s modern conveniences. And where it certainly hasn’t been the worst loss, not having free samples at grocery stores has undoubtedly been a buzzkill. Sure, one can shop around without the enticing scent of hot, fresh artisan pizza cut into tiny slices or testing out the latest fancy ice cream … but is it as joyful? Not so much.

Trader Joe’s, famous for its prepandemic sampling stations, has recently brought the tradition back to life, and customers are practically dancing through the aisles.


On the big comeback weekend, people flocked to social media to share images and videos of their free treats, including festive Halloween cookies (because who doesn’t love TJ’s holiday themed items?) along with hopeful messages for the future.
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via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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