This week in science

Blue Origin second human flight and more: Understand the world through 8 images

Blue Origin

Captain Kirk goes to space, and the James Webb Space Telescope prepares to...

Here are the biggest science stories of October 8–13, told in eight stunning images.

Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

8. They don’t make them like they used to

Marie Jackson

October 8

Researchers discovered that some ancient Roman concrete remains durable due to unexpected chemical reactions. Leucite in the volcanic rock of the concrete can dissolve in rain and reinforce the structure, preventing cracks that would otherwise form.

Marie Jackson

7. A friendly face

UCLA Health

October 8

Researchers at UCLA found visits from a human-controlled companion robot improve hospitalized children’s mood far more than interacting with doctors through a tablet. Ninety percent of children who had one visit from a robot were “extremely likely” to request another.

UCLA Health

6. Launch preparation

NASA/Chris Gunn

October 12

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope finished its 5,800-mile journey from California to French Guiana. The telescope is expected to launch into space on December 18.

NASA/Chris Gunn

5. Monitoring the melt

Lander Van Tricht

October 12

A 20-year observation of the Morteratsch and Pers glaciers in the Alps showed they’re melting faster due to climate change, even after the last summer was unusually cool and wet.

photo of Pers glacier melting

4. A pioneer remembered

University of Glasgow

October 12

Researchers rediscovered the first known paper published in a British medical journal by an African American author. In 1837, Dr. James McCune Smith published work exposing unsafe treatments at a Glasgow hospital using medical statistics.

University of Glasgow

3. Gamma ray galaxies

Harold A. Peña Herazo

October 12

Researchers studying gamma ray sources in space determined most come from blazars — galaxies with supermassive black holes emitting particles that make them visible. These rare galaxies are extremely difficult to detect visually.

M. Kornmesser/European Southern Observatory

2. Straight to the heart

Özugur et al./iScience

October 13

Researchers found injecting algae into tadpoles’ hearts supplies enough oxygen to support brain function, or even revive oxygen-deprived neurons. Since tadpoles are transparent, algae can photosynthesize inside them.

Özugur et al./iScience

1. To boldly go...

Blue Origin

October 13

Blue Origin sent its second human crew to space, this time including Star Trek star William Shatner. Shatner, now the oldest person ever to go to space, called it “the most profound experience I can imagine.”

Blue Origin