While I daydream about taking the new Ford Bronco offroading, let’s get you caught up on the essential science and innovation stories from Inverse. I’m Nick Lucchesi, an editor here. We’re happy to have you along for the ride.
Before we hit the gas, have you taken our apocalypse poll yet? Vote on what items you’d put in your apocalypse backpack. We’ll publish the results later this summer.
What’s in your headphones — If you were moved to listen to outer space-themed music over the weekend, you weren’t alone. That’s according to information provided to Inverse from Spotify. The streaming giant says its playlist “Let’s See Them Aliens” saw listenership increase by 90 percent this month. Here are more stats: listens of NASA-related playlists jumped by 470 percent and listens of alien-related playlists jumped by more than 80 percent in late May — when chatter about the then-unreleased Pentagon UFO report was everywhere. Seizing the opportunity, Spotify opted to create its own, new alien playlist, which we’re happy to exclusively share with you first: The cl0se ënc0ūnteRs playlist. Its mix of Top 40 and genre classics creates a playlist where the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. (I would’ve added “Alien” by Beach House. A bit on the nose but a great song.)
Programming note — There will be no Inverse Daily on Friday, July 2, and Monday, July 5. Instead, we will deliver Sunday Scaries on Monday, July 5, because it’s going to feel like a Sunday for anyone who has the day off on Monday.
Mailbag — Which of these items would you put in your apocalypse bag? A Leatherman-style multitool, a self-winding watch, or a Pulaski axe? Answer this question and more in our annual apocalypse survey. Take the anonymous survey here. We will publish the results later this summer in a special guide.
Getting a cold or even the flu used to just be a, largely inevitable, part of life. But now we’re painfully aware that each sniffling person we pass or squeeze next to on the subway could be harboring invisible pathogens on the hunt for their next host.
But what if those pathogens were no longer invisible? In research published Monday in Nature Biotechnology, a team of researchers from Harvard and MIT designed a face mask — as well as a slew of other wearables — that can detect pathogens in just a matter of minutes. No wires required.
Thanks to CRISPR technology baked inside, Peter Nguyen, a research scientist at Harvard and first author on the study, tells Inverse these wearables go far beyond what your FitBit could ever hope to achieve.
- CRISPR could be the end of opioid abuse — study
- Is your mask effective against Covid-19? 3 questions to ask
- Wu Lien-teh: The origin story of the N95 mask reveals an important lesson
NASA captures a phenomenon over the Atlantic — A massive Saharan dust plume floating over the Atlantic leaves researchers with several pressing questions. NASA released images of the 2020 and 2021 plumes. Jenn Walter has the photos:
Last year, a massive cloud of dust made its way from the Sahara desert all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. NASA named it Godzilla.
Now, Godzilla’s back. Well, a new version of it.
More for the “dust” heads:
- NASA is trying to deal with its most annoying problem on the Moon
- Most pristine comet ever found may reveal the secrets of alien star systems
- Perseverance rover captures footage of a dust devil on Mars
Plants may survive the climate crisis — Scientists discover that birds are adapting to the climate crisis by carrying plants in a different direction, showing how animals adjust to a changing world. Tara Yarlagadda has the story:
Migrating birds are significant for many plant ecosystems, as they eat and then carry plant seeds in their gut far beyond a plant’s native habitat — some, as the study notes, more than 100 miles away.
If birds transport the seeds far enough north, they could theoretically disperse the plants to cooler habitats better suited to weather the climate crisis.
“Contemporary climate change is so fast that many plants require dispersal distances far beyond those that normally take place locally,” lead author Juan Pedro González-Varo, of the University of Cádiz, said in an emailed press statement.
- The simple fix that could keep us from killing millions of birds
- One change to your coffee routine could save a beloved animal, scientists say
- How do birds replace their feathers?
Some scientists are starting to turn their gaze toward the hellishly hot planet as a potential place to look for life in the Solar System — one more likely to bear fruit than Mars.
But there’s one small snag: Opportunities to look for alien life directly on other worlds are rare, so scientists will first try to rule candidates out. Typically, they will spend years studying various factors that affect whether or not an environment might be able to host life in the lab, or in a simulation. And doing just that, a study fresh off the press holds bad news for would-be Venusians — but also good news for hopeful Jovians.
- 7 mysteries about Venus that could soon be solved
- Why NASA's return to Venus could help save the Earth
- NASA’s Parker Solar Probe just detected something fascinating just above Venus
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- Before we go, happy birthday (🎂) to Gary Busey (77), Nicole Scherzinger (43), Amanda Donohoe (59), Kawhi Leonard (30), Colin Jost (39) (Source: AP.)