My monthly science highlights – 2)

rainYes, this is the second of my monthly science round-up blogs.  As I said last time they’re not in any order.  Nor are they necessarily of mind boggling importance, they are just things that have caught my eye this month in some of the news feeds I follow.  The first two hold out the possibility of life on other worlds, the second highly intelligent life.  As for the others, hope, fingers crossed and something to look at:

Streaks of salt revive hopes of water on Mars.

Yes another water on Mars story.  This time they’ve discovered salty streaks on slopes that grow over time suggesting that in the Martian summer water seeps to the surface and flows.  I guess the significance of this is simply that if we are going to send a (at least initially) one way mission to Mars finding water is a major step forward.

Possible detection of aliens.

As a science fiction writer this is the jackpot.  The Kepler telescope was pointed at a certain patch of sky for four years looking for the tell-tale signs of exoplanets – a slight darkening of the star for a few days at regular intervals as the planet passes in front of it.  However, one star 1480 light years away darkened by 20%, staying darkened for 5 to 80 days.  They describe this a bizarre.  They have several theories including a cloud of breaking up comets.

They also say it looks like something an alien civilisation might build! But then they predicate the statement with ‘Aliens should always be the last hypothesis you consider’.  But they’re the one who’ve mentioned it??

Sea anenomies can live forever

So what I hear you say.  Well, in some of my stories aging has been conquered, people live for hundreds and thousands of years.  Not a new science fiction theme I know.  However, as I’ve blogged before, I believe science is getting closer to finding a ‘cure’ for aging and perhaps being alive now we have missed this momentous discovery by a only few generations.

We age because we are genetically programed to do so.  As we get older our cells become less able to accurately replicate themselves.  However, it appears sea anenomies don’t suffer from this, they don’t age.  Their cells replicate perfectly on and on.   Prof. Dan Rokhsar at the University of California is looking at these creatures to find the gene that allows them to do this.  So who knows?

barge09Balance and getting older

This caught my eye as, although not yet in my dotage, I certainly can’t claim to be ‘young’ and looking ahead the spectre of physical decline looms.  It seems as we get older our balance deteriorates for a number of reasons.  With age and inactivity, the unconscious processes your brain goes through to help you balance may not integrate as well or as quickly as they used to. Another result of ageing is that the quality of the information provided by your visual, vestibular and somotosensory systems declines. Your eyesight gets worse, with increased susceptibility to glare and poor depth perception.   The normal sensory feedback from your joints to the brain is reduced by swollen feet and ankles and poor flexibility.  Diseases in weight-bearing joints, such as arthritis, may cause errors in foot placement.

I could go on, but I’m becoming depressed.  However, there is hope!  Moderate exercise as with so much as we get older is going to help improve strength and balance.  Yoga, Tai chi, bowls, dancing can all help.  The article doesn’t mention golf, but it must help as well, surely?

Space ship models

If you like your sci-fi movies have a look at this on the BBC site.  The lengths that they went to in building the models of space-ships for Interstellar.  Also how they used what we know now to produce space ships that have a logic to them.  Oh, and they also blow them up!  


I will leave you with these thoughts – we inhabit a rock that is 12,756 km wide spinning at 460m/sec orbiting a star at 30km/sec in a solar system that orbits the black hole at the centre of our galaxy at 220km/sec.

As always comments and/or observations are welcome.

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

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