Could there be life on the saddest planet in the universe?
Plus: It’s not easy being indie.
The idea of a rogue planet is a wild one. Thought of emotionally, it’s also a little lonely and a little sad. A planetary body that has presumably been ejected from its Solar System, on its own in space. Maybe “rogue” isn’t the right word, as it implies the planet chose to go on its own path. They could just as easily be called rejected planets.
Essentially, these planets don’t have a sun to warm them. But they might not be totally dead. Under their frozen surfaces, the capacity for life might actually exist.
The idea of life existing in the most unlikely of places is at the center of our lead story today by space writer Passant Rabie. The idea of a free-floating planet is a new one; just a decade old, Rabie writes: “...it wasn’t until 2011 when [astronomers] found evidence of up to 10 free-floating planets roughly the mass of Jupiter.”
So how could life form on Earth-sized planets that don’t have a sun? Well, if they had oceans at one point, vents on the planet's surface under the water could be emitting radiation that could spark life, underwater, on a frozen-over planet with a sun.
If you needed to feel today that your problems aren’t as huge as they seem, our lead story might be able to help get your mind right.
I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse. That story and more are in this edition of Inverse Daily. The Inverse mission is to share big ideas about science and innovation in an entertaining style and look at entertainment and culture with deeply curious methods. It’s Friday, people! Like a rogue planet, you can go your own way.
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This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for July 9, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.
Rogue planets — NASA's Kepler discovers a group of free-floating planets without a host star that may have been ejected from their star system. Space writer Passant Rabie reports:
In a study published this week, astronomers used archival data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope to discover a group of Earth-size rogue planets orbiting untethered to a home star in deep space.
These rebellious planets may have been violently ejected from their star system, but they could still host life beneath their icy cold surfaces. Upcoming space missions could look at them and figure out what they’re like.
Go deeper into the realm of planet science:
- Scientists now have some ultra prime targets to look for aliens
- Astronomers discover new dwarf planet or strange comet on eccentric orbit around the Sun
- A new study on red dwarf stars could resolve the paradox of alien life
What insects did before dinosaurs — Scientists discovered an ancient fossil of the winged insect Theiatitan azari, which holds the key to the world's oldest known form of insect communication. Nature writer Tara Yarlagadda has the story:
Etched into ancient rock, scientists think they’ve identified the oldest, and perhaps most unique, form of insect communication. They published their findings this week in the journal Nature.
“We have an insect with a very different 'tool' to communicate — and much older,” study co-author André Nel, a professor at the National Museum of Natural History in France, tells Inverse.
It’s approximated to be 310 million years old. It lived during a time of mammal-like reptiles and before the dinosaurs.
- Look: 50-million-year-old fossil captures a parasitic phenomenon
- Plant DNA found for the first time in animals, bizarre study reveals
- Noise pollution: What the future of the cricket means for Earth's fate
It’s not easy being an indie — Amid heated discussion about indie developers and their relationship with Sony, our sources say the topic is more complicated than it seems. Gaming trends writer Christopher Groux has the story:
A startling claim from an indie dev rocked PlayStation nation last week.
In a Twitter thread, Iain Garner laid bare the difficulties of working with PlayStation as an indie developer. Garner, founder of Neon Doctrine, didn’t name names, but replies downthread and elsewhere on Twitter made it crystal clear which company he was talking about.
“Platform X gives developers no ability to manage their games,” Garner accuses. “In order to get promotion, you must jump through hoops, beg and plead for any level of promotion.”
When Garner says “get promotion,” he means prominent placement on the PlayStation Store homepage or inclusion in high-profile discount sales. For a small studio, discoverability can be the vital difference between keeping the lights on or laying people off.
More on the business of gaming:
- Sony Housemarque deal: There's a silver lining to gaming's biggest trend
- Sony Bluepoint deal: Why the acquisition would be a huge blow to players
- Xbox Game Pass smart TV app could help — or destroy — PlayStation
Review: The 2021 BMW 540i — Transportation writer Jordan Golson’s BMW 540i xDrive test unit came in a beautiful Alpine White with a Mocha Nappa Leather interior and stickered for $77,935. That's a lot of cheese, and, as always, whether it's worth it depends on whether you have $77,935 and want a BMW 5 Series. Here’s a snippet of the review:
I've written many times that sedans are dead, and that's true at lower price points, but up in the luxury world, they're anything but. BMW is indeed shoveling truckloads of South Carolina-made X-whatever SUVs out the dealership door as fast as they can build them — but BMW still sold almost 27,000 5 Series cars last year, and it's for one simple reason: they're excellent.
Open the door, and you immediately know you're not in some mid-tier sedan. The ($2,500) leather is soft and cosseting. It's obviously not Rolls-Royce caliber (which BMW owns, by the way), but it's some of the nicest you'll find on this side of $100 grand.
More car reviews:
- The 2021 Ford Bronco is an off-roading beast
- The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is the people's electric car: Look
- 2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster review: One reason it's worth all $203,000
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- Before we go: O.J. Simpson, Tom Hanks (pictured above in 1995’s Apollo 13), and Courtney Love were all born on this day.