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476 years later, Henry VIII’s most powerful weapon might finally have met its match

Plus: Mummies found in China reveal the truth about an ancient civilization.

Henry VIII', 1935.  Henry (1491-1547) was King of England and Lord of Ireland (later King of Ireland...
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In the year 1545, the Mary Rose warship was the ultimate weapon. Able to fire a broadside — an entire ship’s length of guns — at an opponent, she was a formidable testament to the power of one of England’s most infamous kings and the cutting-edge of military technology. Until that is, she was scuppered by French naval forces in the waters off the Isle of Wight.

To this day, no one knows how, exactly, the Mary Rose was condemned to Davy Jones’ locker. Some accounts say her gunports — a totally new feature for war vessels at the time — may have led to her downfall. But what we do know is that today, the Mary Rose faces a new threat that is literally eating the remains of the ship from the inside out.

I’m Claire Cameron, the managing editor at Inverse. We have new stories for you today on the plague of the Mary Rose, a sketchy skincare product aimed at gamers, NASA alien news, and more.

A technical note before we get started — Thank you to everybody who has written about their trouble with the streak feature (our counter that tracks consecutive opens). We are working on a solution!

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Thursday, October 28, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox. ✉️

Hype or hope?

Sol Vazquez Cantero / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Goop for gamers: Valkyrae’s RFLCT skincare reveals a concerning new trend — As streamers and influencers use their popularity to expand into new markets like skincare, it’s exposing fans to junk science and questionable products.

At the center of this is Rachel Hofstetter, known to her YouTube fans as Valkyrae. The 29-year-old video game streamer, best-known for playing Among Us with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was selling a new product called RFLCT, a skincare line designed to protect its users from the electronic blue light emitted by phones or screens. The internet did not react kindly.

So is RFLCT just a cash grab based on Valkyrae’s online popularity and good looks? Dr. Michelle Wong, an Australia-based chemistry Ph.D. and cosmetic chemist with 290,000 YouTube subscribers agrees that blue light skincare solves a “problem” that doesn’t actually exist. “Based on the current evidence, they're not very damaging to your skin,” Wong tells Inverse.

Hofstetter did not comment for this story — but she is just part of a more worrying trend.

Read the full story.

Go deeper: May contain myths: 5 biggest food allergy misconceptions debunked

Is there life on Mars?


NASA scientists have a new plan: How to report signs of aliens — After heated debates and disappointments over past candidates for Martian life, NASA scientists have a new rubric for scoring signs of extraterrestrial life.

In the 1970s, NASA’s Viking 1 and 2 spacecraft touched down on Mars and conducted three experiments designed to detect signs of life. One experiment came back with positive results, two came back negative, scientists argued over the ambivalence, and astrobiology stagnated.

“We didn’t make progress for decades,” NASA’s chief scientist James Green tells Inverse.

Green doesn’t want to see that happen again, which is why he is one of the co-authors of a new paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature that proposes a new framework and scale for determining just when evidence for alien life rises to the level of discovery.

The paper details the Confidence of Life Detection, or CoLD scale, designed not only to help scientists determine how close they are to discovering alien life and to maintain comity during debates but to clearly communicate findings leading up to and including such a historic discovery as, well, aliens.

Read the full story.

Go deeper: Alien signals from Proxima Centauri? What a year of detective work reveals

The Mary Rose today.

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A famous Tudor-era ship is being eaten alive — but scientists have a solutionAfter years lost at sea, scientists are finally learning what has been eating away at Henry VIII's favorite ship — the Mary Rose — using new technology.

For the first time since its recovery in 1982, scientists are now able to use new X-ray scattering and chemical analysis techniques to see into the dried-out wood itself and identify conservation risks firsthand.

Eleanor Schofield is head of conservation & collections care at the Mary Rose Trust and a co-author of a new paper on the paper. She tells Inverse that while the ship survived its water-logged rest, it’s certainly worse for wear. Unlike its glory days, the Mary Rose is now plagued by cellulose-eating bacteria from the depths of the ocean that are destroying the ship’s wooden hull from within.

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Matter, scientists are now in a race against time to identify and target these microbes before it's too late — and so far they’re winning.

Read the full story.

Go deeper: Melting ice reveals new clues to the ancestors of an ancient Asian empire

The secrets of the mummy are revealed.

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Look: Mysterious mummies represent an ancient “cosmopolitan” culture — Buried in boat-shaped coffins in an ancient desert cemetery, these mummies were once thought to be distant travelers. But genome analysis suggests otherwise.

The boat-shaped coffin, complete with an oar, is the final resting place of a person who died up to 4,000 years ago in modern-day China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang.

The grave the coffin was found in and the other surrounding graves are unique, but the bodies inside are even more so: they’ve been extremely well preserved, thanks to the region’s extremely dry, cold climate.

Though the Tarim Basin mummies were discovered over 100 years ago, researchers are just now beginning to understand their past.

Read the full story.

Go deeper: How a natural ice mummy unlocks the history of tattoos

HBD, Doctor Who XI

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