Save the northern white rhino

Inverse Daily: Could this rocket go to Venus? Rocket Lab sure hopes so.

Plus: A Rolls Royce debuts that is perfect for the world’s richest astronomer.

Welcome to the Friday edition of Inverse Daily. I wanted to share some great reader mail from the Inverse Daily community before the weekend’s here, so no typical intro today.

The Magnavox Odyssey came out in 1972, and in the nearly 50 years since, video games have been adopted by people of all ages, evolving to mix art, tech, community, and commerce into a major force in the culture.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been asking for stories about video games from you. I’ve received several poignant memories and a few witty responses. Collectively, they reveal how video games shape the way many of us view the world and ourselves.

Here are a few:

  • “I'm an 80-year-old male and my son introduced me to vid games in the early ‘90s. I have many favorites, but the one I remember right off is Doom. The first-person shooter totally absorbed me.” —Bill
  • “My sons and I found a little game called Rocket League. It looked simple, and frankly, I thought it was more of a casual game. A ball, cars, rockets — what could be simpler? We don't fish; we play video games. And this one is the one that brings us together. They boost me, which is a great metaphor for life with kids. They boost you all the time and make you feel young.” —Joe
  • “Sid Meier's Civilization® II is the second offering in the multi-award-winning Civilization strategy game series featuring the famous ‘just one more turn’ addictive gameplay. It almost ended my marriage.” —David
  • “Video games have always made me feel special, capable, and taught me that I could achieve what I set my mind to. Guild Wars 2 also had battles that would involve hundreds of players.” —Stephen
  • Hollow Knight, my favorite game, has a genderless protagonist/MC, and I am a non-binary person, which makes me feel recognized and happy. It's a game that helped me fight anxiety, and I absolutely love it.” —Ray

I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief of Inverse. Let’s dive into a few mind-expanding stories before the weekend hits.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for March 19, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck in 2015.

Phil Walter/Getty

Venus bound — Rocket Lab wants to go to Venus, and it’s building a rocket that could fuel its goals, reports staff writer Mike Brown.

Earlier this month, the New Zealand-founded company unveiled its Neutron rocket, a project that’s been in development for more than five years.

It’s capable of launching over 17,000 pounds, or eight tons, to low-Earth orbit and is capable of human spaceflight. When it starts launching in 2024, it will enable the firm to support the growing trend of “mega-constellations” with hundreds or thousands of satellites.

Read the full story.

More like this:

Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Moment/Getty Images

Born of lightning — A new theory proposes that life on Earth comes from lightning, reports contributing writer Passant Rabie.

In a study published this week, minerals generated by lightning strikes revealed that storms on Earth billions of years ago may have delivered one of the main ingredients of life.

The evidence from the research suggests lightning played a pivotal role in creating one of the key ingredients for life: phosphorus.

Phosphorus is considered one of the main key ingredients for life. It is present in the backbone of DNA and is contained within the cell membranes of all living organisms. How it arrived on Earth, however, is still up for debate.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:

Steve Woods Photography/Cultura/Getty Images

Going in circles — Contributing writer Tara Yarladgadda reports on a new study that reveals why some marine mammals move in circles:

“Sharks are the most famous circlers, but they aren’t the only marine animals that do this. Other, more benign animals in the ocean also display similar circling behavior, including sea turtles and penguins.

“Now, a new study blows the idea that only sharks exhibit this behavior out of the water and sheds light on why so many marine creatures sometimes swim in circles.

“That some sea creatures circle around is not new information (back to the sharks), but this is the first study to use emerging 3D technology to unlock the secrets of this behavior across a wide variety of animals in the ocean.

“The sea creatures can detect geomagnetic fields in the ocean, which may help direct their movements.”

What they’re saying: “We hypothesized that some circling may be related to magnetic-based navigation because circling movements seem to be well-suited to examination of the geomagnetic field.” —Tomoko Narazaki, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Tokyo.

Read the full story.

More shark science:

The Tempus is painted in Kairos Blue, a new paint finish that incorporates blue mica flakes which glitter and reflect the light to appear almost as the night sky.


Nice wheels — Contributing writer Jordan Golson on this eye-popping story about a car fit for the world’s richest astronomer:

“The Rolls-Royce Phantom Tempus Collection takes the rolling-work-of-art concept where no one has gone before with an ultra-exclusive limited run of 20 cars featuring fabulous eyes-toward-the-heavens design touches ‘inspired by time, astronomical phenomena, and the infinite reaches of the universe.’”

Golson tells me the car “reminds him of the world’s most luxurious planetarium.”

See the photos and read more.

More transportation stories:

That’s it for today! You can follow me on Twitter @nicklucchesi, where I share some of my favorite stories from Inverse, Input, and Mic every day.

Najin, 30, and her offspring, Fatu (unseen), 19, two female northern white rhinos. The last two northern white rhinos left on the planet graze in their secured paddock on August 23, 2019, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, 147 kilometers north of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Tony Karumba/Getty

One more thing — On this day in 2018, the last male northern white rhinoceros died, leaving two females (named Najin and Fatu) as the last in the world, making the species functionally extinct. In 2020, the BBC reported on the “audacious plan” to save the species.

After failing to work in artificial insemination attempts, scientist are trying other tactics with carefully preserved northern white rhino sperm — like using southern white rhinos as surrogates to carry out the pregnancy.

In December 2020, two new northern white rhino embryos were produced. The embryos will be transferred into southern white rhino surrogate mothers to create northern white rhino offspring.

Thanks to science, there remains a shred of hope for saving this incredible creature.

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