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We need to talk about the ultimate science hack for making cookies

Plus: Five thousand years ago, a group of people left Taiwan and changed the world.

Close-up of top of chocolate chip cookie
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At Inverse, our love for writing about new and thought-provoking science is perhaps only matched by our passion for food and cooking. In fact, we have an entire Slack channel dedicated to recipe sharing — often for baked goods, including cookies. And how else is one supposed to make cookies than to make the batter, spoon it out on a sheet for baking, and then lick the spoon cleaner than a top-of-the-range dishwasher ever could?

According to the CDC, however, licking the spoon (or bowl, let’s be real) is exactly what you should not be doing when you make cookies. In fact, the agency has an entire campaign against eating raw cookie dough, never mind how delicious this apparently dangerous treat may be for your health. Fortunately for us cookie lovers, science has our backs — all it takes to eat cookie dough without worry is to make a couple of little tweaks to your favorite recipe (here’s one of mine).

I’m Claire Cameron, the managing editor at Inverse. We have new stories for you today on cookie dough, ancient oral traditions in the south Pacific, 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 Monday, October 25, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox. ✉️

Five thousand years ago, a few humans set sail from Taiwan. The rest is history.

CSA-Printstock/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Genetics study reveals the route of an ancient Pacific Ocean odyssey In a new study published in Nature, researchers use modern Polynesian’s DNA samples to trace ancestral paths of ocean migration across the Pacific Ocean.

According to some accounts, Hawai’iloa sailed from his homeland on a fishing trip but instead found the islands Hawai’i, Kaua’i, O’ahu, and Maui — the latter three named after his children. Hawai’iloa’s story is just one epic that intertwines the peopling of this part of the world, Polynesia.

Scientists are using groundbreaking methods to study the genetic material of Pacific Islanders to retrace those ancient ocean voyages. In doing so, they are confirming the veracity of origin stories like that of Hawai’iola.

Keolu Fox, a geneticist at the University of California San Diego, tells Inverse that these discoveries are helping scientists understand the story of how those islands came to be populated by people. Fox says it’s “far more dynamic and complex” than we ever thought.

Read the full story.

Go deeper: Viking discovery changes history and supports ancient lore

Pale Blue Dot.

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75 years ago, a Nazi rocket took the first photo of Earth from space The first photo of Earth taken from space is a grainy mess by today's standards, but it captured imaginations in 1946.

NASA astronauts have taken more than 900,000 images from space. But 75 years ago — before Scott Kelly was given a Nikon D4, and before the famous “Blue Marble” full view of Earth — there was this. The very first photograph of Earth from space.

On the surface, it is just a grainy black and white photo, taken on October 24, 1946. And while the more refined images of Earth would later eclipse it in popular memory, it was a big deal at the time.

“For 1946, it was an astounding accomplishment,” Michael Neufeld, Senior Curator in the Department of Space History at the National Air and Space Museum, tells Inverse. “It was a news item.”

See the photo.

Go deeper: Look: NASA’s SLS mega-rocket is one step closer to the Moon

Resist it.

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Is raw cookie dough safe? A food scientist reveals the best way to eat it — Raw cookie dough is a delicious reward for home bakers everywhere, but how dangerous is it to eat? A food safety scientist explains the risk and safe options.

Ultimately, it comes down to exactly what you’re eating — a recipe whipped up in the kitchen or specially made edible dough.

Kelly Reynolds, a professor of environmental science and public health at the University of Arizona who specializes in food safety, says people often forget there are two ingredients in a homemade dough that put you at risk. When it comes to eating cookie dough before it’s baked, she tells Inverse “it’s not a risk I would take.”

While the decision is up to your own risk assessment, it is important to know that eating cookie dough isn’t risk-free, Reynolds says. And even if you think you’ve never gotten sick from indulging in the dough, there’s still a chance you did and simply didn’t associate the two events.

But you can do simple things to make cookie dough safer to eat.

Get the hack.

Go deeper: Scientists rank 15 popular American dishes by health

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has nothing on this.

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SpaceX: Incredible video shows the Starship engine’s huge power — SpaceX is currently developing the Starship, a stainless steel rocket designed to send humans to Mars and beyond. Elon Musk aims to establish a city on Mars by 2050.

In a video shared via Twitter last week, the space-faring company hosted a static test-fire of a prototype Starship rocket. The ship, designed to send the first humans to Mars and establish a city, is currently undergoing testing at SpaceX’s facilities in Texas. This is the first time that the Starship has fired a vacuum variant of its Raptor engine, specifically optimized to propel the rocket through the depths of space.

The test fire marks another step forward in CEO Elon Musk’s overall mission to establish a city of 1 million people on Mars by 2050. To achieve this goal, Musk has calculated that SpaceX will need to send around one million tons of cargo to the planet.

See the video.

Go deeper: Tesla Full Self-Driving reveal, 5 years on

HBD Bootsy!

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