Inverse Daily: Deep space and unsolved mysteries claim Nobel Prize in Physics

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to a revolutionary model of the universe, as well as the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star outside of our solar system.

Good Wednesday morning. I hope you are marking this Leif Erikson Day in the classic style — by preparing for this coming Monday, when you’ll correct everyone on Christopher Columbus Day that it wasn’t Columbus who was the first European to arrive in the New World in 1492. It was actually Erikson, a viking from Iceland, who arrived in North America some 500 years earlier. ⚔️

In today’s newsletter, we break down Sony’s big news about the PS5, reveal the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, unlock the secrets of a community by looking at its sewage, and more. I’m Nick Lucchesi, executive editor at Inverse.

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INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“This is a glimpse into the chaos.”

— Astronomer Scott Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science. Around Saturn, it’s lit.

Sony’s PS5 might be playing it too safe

The PlayStation 5 may be setting itself up for a safe, straightforward launch that gives its biggest fans exactly what they want. That’s great news for the dedicated few that live for video games, but it does little to expand gaming’s appeal to those who don’t know how to hold a controller.

This week, Sony revealed that the next-generation wireless controller will look relatively similar to the one used by the PlayStation 4, which in turn looks very similar to the one used by every PlayStation in existence. Why change what works, right? The PS3’s pre-release “boomerang” controller was widely criticized in 2005 and probably put to bed any question of a radical redesign.

But Sony has shown interest in exploring new methods of controlling games. The Move controller wands, primarily used with the virtual reality headset, enable players to swing their controller like a sword, pick things up more intuitively, move around in a virtual world, and interact effortlessly. It’s more fun, more immersive, and more accessible.

Unfortunately, while Nintendo has gone all-in with Wii-like motion remotes for its Switch console, it seems Sony will primarily stick to the two-handed controller for another generation. Missed opportunity? It does feel like it. Read more.

More PS5 headlines from this week:

What goes wrong in Lucy in the Sky

Loosely based on the real-life experience of NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak, the new movie Lucy in the Sky (out now) follows astronaut Lucy Cola, played by Natalie Portman, as she floats in outer space, returns to Earth, and navigates her life in Houston, Texas. The film reveals how space travel can change people, in ways that last long after they return.

Lucy experiences intense emotions in space and back at home: awe, transcendence, longing, impaired judgment, anxiety, and ultimately, a violent episode. Most astronauts won’t experience the psychological unraveling Lucy does when they return from a mission in space, but space can cause profound changes to the mind that last decades.

“In ways, the dramatization of Lucy in the Sky points out that this fictional notion of astronauts ‘having the right stuff’ needs to be replaced with a view of astronauts ‘having the real stuff,’” says Douglas Vakoch, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and space expert. Read more about what space can do to your point of view.

The more you know:

Deep space and unsolved mysteries

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics honored an expanding model of the universe, as well as the discovery of the first-ever exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star.

The 2019 prize was split between Canadian-American cosmologist and physicist James Peebles, as well as astrophysicists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz.

Peebles developed a theoretical model of the universe in the mid-1960s, which has largely shaped our modern understanding of the ever-expanding universe, as well as its composition of 95 percent of dark matter and energy.

Meanwhile, in October of 1995, Mayor and Queloz announced the first-ever discovery of a planet outside our solar system orbiting a host star similar to our own sun. The discovery has led to a subsequent hunt for more exoplanets, 4,000 of which have been recorded thus far.

Both discoveries have shaped our understanding of the vast universe, and where our planet stands in its dark and mysterious midst while helping inspire future research. Read more.

Learn more:

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Secrets in the sewage

Scientists can tell a surprising amount about a community by testing wastewater. They can monitor legal marijuana use easily, for one. And two separate studies have looked at broader drug use in a community analyzing sewage. Read them here and here.

A new review is different: Using sewage data, researchers could actually see differences in how people eat, how healthy they are, and yeah, OK, what drugs they use.

Scientists identified some of the major differences between wealthier and poorer people based on their consumption habits, and they propose that educational and occupational disparities play a major role in people’s overall health. This is gross and really interesting.

More bathroom-based sociology:

An all-female spacewalk is finally happening

After a failed attempt at sending out the first all-female spacewalk back in March, NASA announced that history will indeed be made this month when astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir step out of the International Space Station together.

Although the ISS has had over 200 spacewalks since it went into operation in November of 2000, none of them had ever seen two female astronauts working together. However, in an upcoming series of 10 spacewalks to upgrade the solar array batteries of the space station, Koch and Meir are slated to make history. Here’s when it will happen.

More astronaut stories of interest:

Today’s good thing

That situation was so bad it became a meme. “This is Jimmy. Jimmy is 95 years old. Jimmy had brain cancer in 2015. Jimmy broke a hip in May 2019. Jimmy fell at home on Sunday, requiring 14 stitches. Jimmy showed up on Monday to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity. Jimmy is a badass.” You might have guessed by now that “Jimmy” is former US President Jimmy Carter, given he’s the most famous Jimmy associated with the house-building organization. CNN reported that Carter said, “I fell down and hit my forehead on a sharp edge and had to go to the hospital. And they took 14 stitches in my forehead and my eye is black, as you’ve noticed,” he said. “But I had a No. 1 priority and that was to come to Nashville and build houses.” Jimmy is a badass.

Meanwhile …

  • Apple’s AR glasses are set to debut as early as the second quarter of 2020, according to an analyst note Wednesday.
  • The solution to stopping deepfakes might be staring us in the face.

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That’s all for today’s Inverse Daily. Be like Jimmy. Remember Leif. And watch the history-making all-women spacewalk on October 21.

Today’s playlist: “Leif Erikson,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “International Space Station.”