Meet the religious dinosaur hunters who want to prove evolution wrong
Plus: A planet in the wrong place.
I’m on the fence about Bigfoot. Though the confirmed existence of a gargantuan hairy creature known only in myth would delight me, I would worry about its future. Would scientists immediately try to tear it apart? Would the vloggers and TikTokers swarm its den in search of content? Come on, leave the poor hairy guy alone.
Then, there are the Young Earth Creationists, who would undoubtedly be thrilled to hang out with a Bigfoot or two. Some Young Earth Creationists are cryptozoologists themselves, out to disprove evolution once and for all. You can learn a little more about their mission in today’s newsletter, which also contains stories of a heretical planet, sound on Mars, and which vitamin D is better. No matter what you believe, we’re all here together.
This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Subscribe for free and learn something new every day.
Why Darwin-hating Christians are hunting for a “living dinosaur”
Cryptozoologists are looking for creatures that might not exist — the undiscovered Bigfoots and Loch Ness Monsters of the world. When you take a microscope to this niche sect of science, you’ll see evidence of an even more obscure belief system called Young Earth Creationism.
Writer Tamlin Magee puts it succinctly: “Young Earth Creationists are Christians who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible’s six-day creation story. They believe the world is around 6,000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs once occupied the Earth at the same time.”
Just so we’re all on the same page, there is no physical evidence to support this theory. But for some people, that’s just because we aren’t looking hard enough.
There have been at least 50 expeditions to find the Mokele-Mbembe, “a sauropod-like creature reported to have gray skin and be about the same size as an elephant,” writes Magee. “Whispers of its existence have circulated in Benin, Cameroon, and what’s now the Democratic Republic of Congo for hundreds of years.” But experts say that even if Creationists were able to witness the creature, evolution still holds up.
Astronomers spot a “heretical” massive planet forming where it shouldn’t be
A new Nature Astronomy study revealed a strange, distant gas giant — so distant, it barely graces its own star with its presence. In our solar system, the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn are presumed to have “formed when rocks clumped together into solid cores whose gravitational pulls then rapidly attracted titanic shells of gas,” writes Charles Q. Choi. “However, scientists have long suspected that not all gas giants were born via this ‘core accretion’ model.”
It’s possible that supermassive gas giants that live far from their star are built, instead, through “disk instability,” which happens when “large fragments of the protoplanetary disks of gas and dust surrounding young stars can rapidly and violently collapse under their own gravity to form giant worlds,” writes Choi.
The newly discovered giant, christened AB Aurigae b, is surrounded by gas spirals predicted by disk instability models, and its existence seems to uphold the theory. But scientists need to keep looking.
NASA Perseverance rover reveals how fast sound travels on Mars
“When the Perseverance rover landed on Mars in February 2021, it brought with it a suite of instruments, including the typical cameras and the less typical lasers,” writes Inverse editor John Wenz. “But it also brought something else — the first microphone to function and record on the Red Planet.”
Fascinatingly, the Mars recordings lead to astrophysicists discovering that Mars has two speeds of sound spurred on by the particularities of its atmosphere. “Once, the Red Planet’s old atmosphere allowed liquid water to pool on the surface of the planet — potentially sustaining life on the surface,” writes Wenz. “But thanks to the force of solar winds buffeting the planet, most of that protective atmosphere is gone now.”
Mars is now “encased in a tenuous carbon dioxide atmosphere less than one percent the pressure of Earth’s at sea level,” writes Wenz, and high-pitched sounds travel faster than low-pitched sounds. The difference in speed is small at just 10 meters per second, but if two astronauts were standing far enough apart, 10 meters per second would be enough for their conversation to dissipate in the Martian air.
Vitamin D may help your immune system work better — but only this type
Vitamin D is a tricky thing. Next time you’re forced to choose between your favorite vitamin, you might want to grab something with vitamin D3, which a Frontiers in Immunology study says could “help enable a critical immune system response to bacterial and viral infections,” writes Nick Keppler.
And don’t start with the “I love all vitamin D equally” thing, the fresh research also indicates that “high levels of vitamin D2 seem to deplete the body of D3,” writes Keppler, so you really do need to choose between the two.
In the study, “the group that took vitamin D3 had expression patterns that showed stimulation of genes associated with interferon activity, a critical part of the immune system’s defense squad to combat bacterial and viral infections,” writes Keppler. But critically, some experts believe that the potency difference between the two might be too minuscule to matter and that more research is necessary to truly crown one vitamin D king.
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- On this day in history: On April 5, 1881, Edwin Houston and Elihu Thomson received a patent for a centrifugal creamer that had the simple goal of separating light from heavy fluids.
- Song of the day: “C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan.