How an endangered animal’s song mirrors an iconic rock beat
Plus: Scientists think they have found a planet in another galaxy.
When I think about stadium anthems, I think about Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” The BOOM BOOM CLASH BOOM BOOM CLASH rhythmic beat is iconic. It is one of those songs that gets ingrained in your psyche and you can’t help but sing along, creating a sense of community with your fellow singers — especially if you are an Indri indri lemur.
OK, so technically these endangered primates don’t sing Queen lyrics. But researchers have observed that their songs contain specific phrases — a good indication of categorical rhythms, when intervals between notes occur not uniformly, but in deliberate ways.
Think of the uniform intervals between the beats of a ticking clock. We probably wouldn’t categorize these uniform beats alone as music. On the other hand, we recognize the specifically timed or categorical intervals between the beats in “We Will Rock You” as music.
I’m Claire Cameron, the managing editor at Inverse. We have new stories for you today on the incredible Indri indri lemur, a planet in a galaxy, far, far away, and more.
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Astronomers may have just found the first planet outside our galaxy — A new study published in Nature Astronomy claims the first extra-galactic planet or extroplanet, M51-ULS-1b, orbiting a black hole or pulsar and a giant star.
While reviewing archived data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton space telescope, Harvard University astronomer Rosanne Di Stefano and her colleagues noticed that the X-ray radiation from a star in spiral galaxy M51 suddenly dimmed, then returned to its normal brightness. They say the dimming is likely the shadow of a planet passing between Earth and the star.
Located at the edge of a young star cluster near the center M51, the star M51-ULS-1 is either a neutron star or a black hole — all that’s left of a once-massive star. It glows so brightly in the X-ray spectrum that astronomers, using orbiting telescopes like Chandra and XMM-Newton, can see it from here in the Milky Way. Its gravity draws a steady stream of material from its nearby partner, a blue supergiant star that appears in Hubble Space Telescope images. The result is a system astronomers call a mass-transfer binary, and it’s about a million times more luminous than our Sun.
Go deeper: Look: Planet orbiting a dead star hints at Earth's future
Look: Genetic analysis reveals the ancient origin of the strawberry — Using genetics and fossils, researchers pinpointed the date strawberries started growing in the wild. They also uncovered a species new to science.
The strawberries you are most familiar with are likely garden strawberries: the plump, juicy Fragaria ananassa. But in the grand scheme of history, this hybrid species actually hasn’t been around that long. It came to fruition when two species were crossbred in the 18th century, after hundreds of years of cultivation.
But in the wild, strawberries have been around for millions of years. A new study in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Sciences pins down a timeline for the evolution of the Fragaria genus — and reveals a new species.
Go deeper: The future of food policy may be guided by a new “food compass”
An endangered animal could unlock the origins of musical rhythm — Scientists discover the endangered Indri Indri lemur can create musical rhythm — the first evidence of rhythm in a non-human mammal.
“The two rhythmic categories we found [for the Indri indri], are exactly the same of the intro of ‘We Will Rock You,’ by the famous band Queen,” De Gregorio, lead author on the study and researcher in the University of Turin’s Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, tells Inverse.
The simple, well-timed beats in “We Will Rock You” made the rock banger an iconic hit, but they also speak to the universal language that humans share across cultures and languages: rhythm.
According to Gregorio’s recent study, the Indri indri is the only other creature in the animal kingdom — so far — that can replicate Queen’s iconic beat. Her findings speak to a shared rhythmic language between humans and this rare creature, suggesting humans aren’t the only mammals who enjoy a well-timed beat.
Go deeper: Jack the Flipper: Why scientists are using psychopathy tests on fish
Alien signals from Proxima Centauri? What a year of detective work reveals — A radio signal detected from Proxima Centauri led to year-long detective work but did not turn out to be aliens.
Sofia Sheikh, an astronomy postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley, recalls her excitement when she first saw the signal. “I looked at it and I was like, wow this is exactly what we told our algorithm to return to us,” Sheikh tells Inverse.
Since it was established in 2016, Breakthrough Listen has tuned in to the cosmos to detect any type of technological signal that may be coming from an alien civilization.
But this signal, dubbed BLC1 for Breakthrough Listen candidate 1, was the first time a detection sparked a detailed search for its source because of its intriguing characteristics that match up with a possible alien technosignature.
The signal was detected by the 64-meter Parkes Observatory radio telescope in southeastern Australia. The telescope had been monitoring nearby star Proxima Centauri for 26 hours to observe the star’s flares when it detected BLC1.
Go deeper: Alien life could depend on this one geological event
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