Inverse Daily

Pass the salt: Reliable deep-space travel may come from iodine

Plus: A Sarah Sloat tribute!

Iodine could be a key ingredient in deep-space propulsion, and the new Tom Hanks movie, Finch, makes an excellent argument for better A.I.

We also get into two eternal questions: One involves cats. The other involves aliens. Yeah, you’re reading Inverse Daily, a morning serving of brain food from the editorial team at Inverse. I’m Nick Lucchesi, an editor here. Thanks for being with us!

Before we get started — A longtime member of the Inverse editorial hive-mind, and a person who has shaped a lot of what is great about this six-year-old operation, is moving on. Sarah Sloat, now the Senior Science Editor for Inverse, has held various positions, all of which have been integral to what we do. Sarah has written 2,027 (!!!) articles. Keep up with Sarah on her new adventures on Twitter at @sarah_sloat_.

Here’s Sarah on her favorite stories:

Some of my personal favorites include when I tried to figure out if getting lobsters stoned would let us cook them more ethically, and whether or not human consciousness can be traced back to ancient humans eating magic mushrooms. I’ll never forget when an anthropologist told me the ancient world was basically Lord of the Rings, or when I learned how intimately connected the Amazon rainforest and the Caribbean are. My first hit was “What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does To Your Brain” in 2015 and that sort of set the tone for many of the Mind & Body articles we still do today.
It’s been such an honor working with so many smart, funny, empathetic writers. Overall, I’m really proud of how Inverse covered the Covid-19 pandemic, especially as we transitioned into remote work. Mind & Body is a place to learn actionable ways to live a healthier life and how to navigate the strangeness of being human, Science reveals the wonder of our world and what we need to do to protect it, and Innovation highlights other worlds and a future just around the corner. I’m the biggest fan of all the journalists who keep these sections sparking curiosity.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Friday, November 19, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox. ✉️

Getty

Iodine time

[By Jon Kelvey]

Getting around in space is expensive in terms of actual money and resources.

First, you have to get your payload into orbit atop a rocket. Then — whether or not you’re working with a satellite or a spacecraft destined for another world — you have to make course corrections and possible accelerations, all using the limited amount of propellant you brought with you.

Remember Newton’s third law of motion? If you want to move forward in space, you have to throw something backward.

Read the full story.

Related:

Apple TV+

The best post-apocalypse movie of 2021

[By Tara Yarlagadda]

It’s been ten years since a fateful event devastated Earth, but Finch isn’t miserable.

He’s actually holding pretty well with his dog, Goodyear, in an underground compound powered by wind farms that shield his home from the intensely hot and dusty atmosphere above.

In the new sci-fi Apple TV+ movie, Finch, the titular character (played by Tom Hanks), isn’t overly preoccupied with the past so much as he is concerned about the future. But it’s not all post-apocalyptic roses: When Finch builds a C3PO-like robot with artificial intelligence and connects him to a local weather station, the A.I. informs him that a dangerous, end-of-the-world storm is coming very soon.

Read the full story.

Related:

Getty

Have aliens visited Earth?

[By Passant Rabie]

On September 5, 1977, the Voyager 1 space probe launched into space. As the mission was bound out of the Solar System, NASA packed Voyager 1 (and its companion, Voyager 2) with a golden phonographic record that contained sounds and sights from Earth that displayed the diversity of life on our planet.

The record included the sounds of birds and other animals, wind and thunder, greetings said in 55 different languages, a survey of music from Earth, a picture of street traffic in Thailand, and a woman breastfeeding, among other displays of human society.

The package was meant for an advanced, interstellar traveling alien civilization that would encounter the Voyager 1 probe.

Read the full story.

Related:

Getty

What are cats thinking?

[By Tara Yarlagadda]

Maybe you stare deep into your cat’s eyes, but it’s like being met with a blank wall. Or perhaps your cat is mysteriously swishing its tail or making strange clicking sounds. Regardless of the scenario, you’re probably dwelling on the same thought:

“I have no idea what my cat is thinking.”

If you’ve considered this, you’re not alone.

Read the full story.

Related:

Jodie Foster in Contact, the 1997 sci-fi classic. Foster marks a birthday today.Warner Bros.
  • About the newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to newsletter@inverse.com.
  • Notable birthdays: Meg Ryan (60), Jodie Foster (59; pictured above in Contact), Ted Turner (83), Jack Dorsey (45), and Adam Driver (38). (Source: AP.)
  • Song of the Day: “Smooth” (ft. Rob Thomas) by Santana, a staple of summer afternoons in the Inverse newsroom during the Sloat era.
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