HBD Wangari Maathai

Inverse Daily: What we think dinosaurs looked like may be wrong

Plus: What’s the Mars helicopter up to before its April 8 flight.

Antique illustration: Dinosaurs, Hadrosaurid
ilbusca/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Which of these questions is most interesting to you?

Whatever your choice, we’ve got some illuminating answers for you this Thursday morning.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse, and this is Inverse Daily, your morning newsletter for essential stories on science and innovation — with the occasional sidebars on beautiful video games.

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Before we jump in, I wanted to thank Inverse co-founder Dave Nemetz for his leadership and vision to make Inverse what it is today. Much of Inverse’s mission is directly from the brain of Dave! As he starts his next chapter, I encourage you to keep up with him on Twitter and subscribe to his own newsletter if you’re interested in insights on media and entrepreneurship.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for April 1, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Frozen antimatter may “alter our understanding” of the universe Researchers have for the first time slowed down an antimatter atom using lasers to more precisely study this physical phenomena, reports Sarah Wells.

It’s invisible to the naked eye, will self-destruct if you touch it, and should have caused the destruction of the universe just moments after the Big Bang. Enter antimatter, the bad boy of particle physics.

Thanks to its self-destructive tendencies, it has been historically challenging for scientists to catch enough antimatter — and hold onto it for long enough — to truly take a good look at it. Until now.

New research from a CERN-based ALPHA (Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus) collaboration has demonstrated for the first time how lasers can be used to slow down antihydrogen atoms, cooling them to near absolute zero (nearly -460 Fahrenheit) and making it possible to finally make precise measurements of these volatile particles.

Read the full story.

Get more on space science:

Watch the Mars helicopter unpack its tiny legs The Ingenuity helicopter is ready to leave the rover's side, unpacking itself on Mars, reports Passant Rabie:

After being tucked inside the Perseverance rover for over a month on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has slowly unfolded itself in order to stand on its own four tiny legs on the iron-rich soil of the Red Planet.

NASA released this week brief footage of the rover lowering the helicopter to a position that would allow the rover to gently place it on the Martian surface.

Read the full story and see the video.

More about Mars:

Human evolution theory debunked A new study challenges a dominant view about how ancient Homo sapiens became behaviorally modern, reports Emma Betuel.

Between 75,000 and 125,000 years ago in Africa, coastal dwelling Homo sapiens were splashing about in watery paradise — collecting shellfish to nourish their brains, storing water in ostrich eggshells, and decorating artifacts in their spare time.

That’s the scenario scientists hypothesize. When it comes to the ancient humans living inland, however, scientists haven’t historically been so generous.

While the enlightened coastal dwellers thrived, some scientists argued humans on the interior lagged behind, both socially and cognitively. A new series of unassuming artifacts uncovered over 370 miles inland suggests we’ve been selling them short for about 100,000 years.

Read the full story.

More on evolution:

What did dinosaurs look like? Paleoartist Robert Nicholls teamed up with paleontologist Jakob Vinther to create an exact model of the Psittacosaurus. The result was something neither could have predicted, writes Emma Betuel.

Robert Nicholls, a paleoartist from Bristol, England, was in the process of creating the world’s most realistic model dinosaur when he realized it was absolutely adorable.

It was, in fact, perhaps too adorable. The creature had been dead for over 100 million years, killed by some gruesome cause lost to time. Cute wasn’t exactly the vibe he was going for.

Read the full story.

More on dinosaurs:

Before we go, one more thing...

Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was born on this day in 1940. Maathai’s life was filled with scientific research, discovery, and activism for a fairer world and greener planet.

This speech from 2009 is an example of this sort of work: She tells the story of her involvement with Kenyan macadamia nut farmers who moved beyond a “culture of dependency” and became advocates for themselves while working together to be more independent in the global marketplace.

Maathai is maybe best known for the Green Belt Movement, an NGO based in Kenya that takes a novel approach to conservation of the environment, in that its efforts are what could be considered holistic. Its efforts range from tree planting to projects to corporate partnerships. Some 51 million trees have been planted in the country, thanks to the Green Belt Movement.

Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, and in its citation, the committee noted her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy, and peace.” Maathai died in 2011 of cancer, leaving a legacy that literally grows every day.

The work of the Green Belt Movement continues, encouraging women in Kenya to make their own money selling seeds and working in the forestry service.

That wraps up this edition of Inverse Daily. I would like to thank you for reading so loyally! You can follow me on Twitter at @nicklucchesi, where I share some of my favorite stories from Inverse, Input, and Mic every day.

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