TGIF

Inverse Daily: A near-Earth asteroid and a raw imagining from the Late Pleistocene

Plus: What you should know about the B.1.1.7 variant of Covid-19, which is spreading quickly.

Before we jump into four essential reads for your Friday morning, I wanted to firstly promote this powerful, compelling essay from Ben Ashwell that we just published.

It’s called “It's time for men to start talking about male infertility. I'll go first.” I know I proudly say all our stories are must-reads, but this one especially falls into that category.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse. I’m glad you’re here.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for April 16, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

NASA's Pluto mission just hit a major milestone The NASA Pluto mission New Horizons on Saturday, April 17, 2021, will pass 50 astronomical units from the Sun on its way out of the Solar System, writes Passant Rabie:

Alan Stern, the principal investigator for one of NASA’s most audacious missions, says this weekend is almost a holiday. “Saturday is like a birthday.”

But it's more like in your car when the odometer turns some big round numbers, let's say 100,000 kilometers,” Stern tells Inverse.

Stern, New Horizons’ principal investigator, has watched the spacecraft venture further out into the outer Solar System since it launched toward Pluto and points beyond in 2006 and says this old spacecraft still has billions of miles left in it.

Read the full story.

More about the New Horizons mission:

  1. Scientists confirm discovery of the most distant object of the Solar System
  2. NASA shows off stunning photos and maps from New Horizons’ flyby of Pluto (2017)
  3. New evidence suggests something strange and surprising about Pluto
Macaca fascicularis, or the crab-eating macaque monkey, may not look very human-like, but this non-human primate is actually one of our closest genetic relatives and often used as a stand-in for humans in medical science.Shutterstock

Part-human, part-monkey Chinese and U.S. scientists have taken a big step forward developing human-monkey chimeras that could transform how scientists study disease, reports Sarah Wells:

Our understanding of the human body has skyrocketed in recent decades, opening doors for everything from brain-controlled prosthetics to world-changing mRNA vaccines. But there are still some secrets about the body (and the diseases that plague it) that we just might never know due in large part to ethical barriers they present.

But a U.S. and Chinese research team has just taken a huge step toward unlocking these previously unknowable secrets by developing robust monkey-human chimera (hybrids using genetic material from two different species) embryos that may sidestep ethical dilemmas using human cells with a clever loophole to explore such questions.

Read the full story.

From the chimera library:

  1. Scientists grow human muscles in pig embryos for the first time
  2. U.S. government lifts moratorium on human-animal chimera research (2016)
  3. Pig-human chimeras have a “safety switch” to prevent sentience
Mario Czaja, a former Berlin politician and now the head of the German Red Cross this week as that country fights the B.1.1.7 variant of Covid-19, which has spanned the globe.Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

What you need to know about the B.1.1.7 variant We know that B.1.1.7 is between 40 and 90 percent more transmissible than the “wild” virus. Now new research explains how deadly it is, reports Katie MacBride:

While the B.1.1.7 variant emerged in December in the United Kingdom, it’s now the cause of most new Covid-19 infections in the United States. As of Monday, there were 20,915 reported cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the U.S.

Information around the variants feels a bit like the information we were getting at the beginning of the pandemic: We know some facts, we don’t know others, and what we do know could change. There’s a lot of good faith research trying to figure out the characteristics of these new pathogens, and sometimes that information is confusing or even contradictory.

Here’s what science can and cannot explain.

More valuable Covid-19 reporting:

  1. 3 reasons why we're seeing more young people with severe Covid-19
  2. The evolutionary reason all your friends made babies during the pandemic
  3. Covid-19 and hearing loss: A new study explores an auditory mystery
Gray wolves take down a horse on the mammoth steppe habitat of Beringia during the Late Pleistocene (around 25,000 years ago).Julius Csotonyi

Understand the world through nine images An asteroid brushes by Earth, early human remains show friendly Neanderthal relations, and a new species gets a memorable name this week in science. It’s all in this week’s science best-of by Bryan Lawver.

See the full gallery.

Three more galleries of wonder:

  1. Mars helicopter: 13 astounding images show Ingenuity's first sols
  2. Look: Scientists discover secret to gigantic pterosaur flight
  3. 10 images of unlikely animal relationships: See why they work
Get a cannoli this weekend.

That wraps up this Friday 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 every day.

I will leave you with this photo from the #foodies channel on Inverse Slack. It’s a cannoli. I hope you find an excellent cannoli this weekend. If you do, send us a photo of it and I’ll put it in the newsletter. Send it to newsletter@inverse.com

Related Tags
Share: