ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE STUDIED KURT COBAIN TO CREATE A ‘NEW’ NIRVANA SONG, AND IT… KINDA ROCKS

Though hits like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “In Bloom” remain FM staples decades later, the tragic 1994 death of singer-songwriter Kurt Cobain cut short any future catalog for grunge rock pioneers Nirvana. But in 2021, we actually have a “new” Nirvana song — thanks to artificial intelligence and a pitch perfect assist from a cover band leading man.

As part of the Lost Tapes of the 27 Club, a project that is using artificial intelligence to create new music in the style of famous musicians who died at the age of 27, the “new” Nirvana song “Drowned in the Sun” was born. The Lost Tapes of the 27 Club zeroes in on famous musicians whose lives were cut short, talents like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and of course Cobain, and uses AI to analyze dozens of an artist’s songs to create something new and original in their trademark style.

There’s no doubt this new Nirvana tune evokes the trademark vibe of Cobain’s gritty guitars and crunchy melodies, and the AI actually generated some very Cobain-esque lyrics, including the chorus, “I don’t care, I feel as one, drowned in the sun.” The song-writing was all handled by AI, though Nirvana tribute band lead singer Eric Hogan helped provide the Cobain-esque growl to bring the lyrics to life.

Check out the tune below:

On the tech side, the project utilized Google’s AI program Magenta to study and break down the recurring components of the songs and generate the “new” tune from those building blocks. The AI studied everything from stylistic tendencies to note choices to get the sound just right. The same approach was taken with lyrics, with AI studying several different songs to “learn” the artist’s writing style.

Though the project is a fascinating use of AI, it also has a deeper purpose: bringing to light the need for mental health. The effort is being spearheaded by the organization Over the Bridge, which provides mental health assistance for those in the music industry. Over the Bridge board member Sean O’Connor told Rolling Stone the music industry has a tendency to normalize and romanticize depression, and this project aims to ask the question: “What if all these musicians that we love had mental health support?”

Astronauts Really Could Carry M16s on the Moon

In For All Mankind, U.S. Marines pack heat in space. That could happen in real life, too—with a catch.

YOUTUBE/APPLE TV+

  • The second season of the Apple TV+ series For All Mankind shows U.S. Marines in space using M16s.
  • Astronauts probably wouldn’t use real M16s in space—but they could still use guns.
  • Low gravity and crazy temperature swings would make traditional guns inoperable in space.

The Apple TV+ sci-fi series For All Mankind, set against the backdrop of the Cold War, just introduced a new element: space guns.

The ongoing second season of the acclaimed series, which imagines an alternate history in which the Soviets beat NASA to the moon and the global space race never ended, depicts spacefaring U.S. troops using M16s. In real life, however, a weapon like the M16 would be extremely difficult to operate in space.

Using weapons in the extremes of space, including wild temperature swings and low gravity, would present challenges for both those who design and carry the weapons.

In For All Mankind, NASA, stung by its crushing defeat in the space race, redoubles its efforts to take the lead against the Soviets. That includes sending women into the Apollo program and building a giant, sea-launched cargo rocket called “Sea Dragon.”This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

By the 1980s, the first American lunar colony, Jamestown, is firmly established on the moon, supplied by regular Space Shuttle missions. The seizure of an American lithium mine by Soviet cosmonauts triggers the deployment of five U.S. Marines to the Jamestown colony, all armed with space versions of the M16A2 rifle.

The M16 was obviously designed to function on Earth, in Earth gravity, within a band of temperatures normally found on Earth. The rifle can work in deserts in temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and in “extreme cold weather,” the U.S. Army says. (That’s as specific as it gets.)

While those conditions seem broad by Earth standards, in space, it’s a different story.

Gravity itself will vary, from zero-gravity conditions far from planetary bodies to one-sixth of Earth’s gravity on the moon. Temperatures on the moon can swing wildly, from a high of 260 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 280 degrees.

gi on patrol

A U.S. soldier with the 1st Cavalry Division on patrol, Vietnam, 1971.CHRISTOPHER JENSENGETTY IMAGES

Gravity would affect all aspects of the M16, from how bullets are seated in the magazine to how the buffer spring would bounce the bolt carrier group back and forth inside the weapon. The internal action of the M16 is precisely timed, and a change in gravity would throw everything off.

Changing the mass of various internal parts, spring weights, and even the type and amount of gunpowder used might make a lunar M16 workable—but it would require a lot of testing under lunar conditions. One concern: The M16 uses gunpowder gases to cycle the weapon. Just how would that hot, pressurized gunpowder gas behave in low gravity?This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Bullets in principle should work fine, since they use their own propellant and don’t rely on oxygen. But again, the big issue here would be gravity.

Under Earth gravity, an M16 bullet starts a slow, inexorable drop as soon as it exits the barrel, one that eventually ends up with the bullet plowing into the ground. Earth’s gravitational influence means a terrestrial M16 bullet will drop 24 inches at 400 yards. While a bullet fired under lunar gravity would still eventually plow into the lunar soil, at one-sixth gravity, the same bullet would fly a flatter, steadier trajectory for far longer.

There’s no wind in space or on the moon, so there would be no need to calculate for windage at longer ranges. At 400 yards, wind at 10 miles per hour will blow an M16 bullet 21 inches off course—enough to miss a man-sized target. A lack of wind will make it easier to hit a target, at least in the horizontal axis.

soldier in the saudi desert

The M16 can work in Earth environments as diverse as searing deserts and freezing tundra, but that’s nothing compared to conditions on the moon.HISTORICALGETTY IMAGES

Temperatures would prove to be another challenge. Engineers could probably develop a lubricant that operates within a 500-degree band, but Space Marines would need to be careful with their rate of fire. A gun already heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit would start to have heat issues more quickly than one on Earth, including bullet propellant igniting in the chamber before the trigger is pulled (“cooking off”) and even melting rifle parts.

And then there’s a problem totally unique to the moon: moon dust. The dust, a fine coating of lunar soil found up to 60 miles above the moon’s surface, could get into a rifle’s internals and cause it to jam. The M16 is particularly vulnerable to jamming, and is even equipped with a dust cover to prevent dust, dirt, and sand from entering the weapon before it’s fired. How would you keep moon dust out of an M16 during combat?RELATED STORYEverything You Actually Need to Know About Guns

For All Mankind does give the space M16s some thought. On the show, the rifles are white and silver, colors that let them blend in with the moon dust, and they’re equipped with collapsing stocks and optical sights.

Real M16s in the 1980s featured fixed stocks and lacked optical sights. Collapsing stocks would be more ergonomic for shooters in large, bulky spacesuits. The raised optical sight, meanwhile, would be easier for an astronaut in a space suit to use, but a laser sight would allow the space shooter to shoot accurately without aiming.

m16 for all mankind

A space M16.YOUTUBE/APPLE

Our reality has been spared a world with space rifles, but with the establishment of the Space Force and the increasing militarization of space, it seems inevitable that small arms will eventually make their way into space and beyond.

First interstellar comet may be the most pristine ever found

First interstellar comet may be the most pristine ever found
This image was taken with the FORS2 instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in late 2019, when comet 2I/Borisov passed near the Sun. Since the comet was travelling at breakneck speed, around 175 000 kilometres per hour, the background stars appeared as streaks of light as the telescope followed the comet’s trajectory. The colours in these streaks give the image some disco flair and are the result of combining observations in different wavelength bands, highlighted by the various colours in this composite image. Credit: ESO/O. Hainaut

New observations with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) indicate that the rogue comet 2I/Borisov, which is only the second and most recently detected interstellar visitor to our Solar System, is one of the most pristine ever observed. Astronomers suspect that the comet most likely never passed close to a star, making it an undisturbed relic of the cloud of gas and dust it formed from.

2I/Borisov was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov in August 2019 and was confirmed to have come from beyond the Solar System a few weeks later. “2I/Borisov could represent the first truly pristine comet ever observed,” says Stefano Bagnulo of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, Northern Ireland, UK, who led the new study published today in Nature Communications. The team believes that the comet had never passed close to any star before it flew by the Sun in 2019.

Bagnulo and his colleagues used the FORS2 instrument on ESO’s VLT, located in northern Chile, to study 2I/Borisov in detail using a technique called polarimetry. Since this technique is regularly used to study comets and other small bodies of our Solar System, this allowed the team to compare the interstellar visitor with our local comets.

The team found that 2I/Borisov has polarimetric properties distinct from those of Solar System comets, with the exception of Hale-Bopp. Comet Hale-Bopp received much public interest in the late 1990s as a result of being easily visible to the naked eye, and also because it was one of the most pristine comets astronomers had ever seen. Prior to its most recent passage, Hale-Bopp is thought to have passed by our Sun only once and had therefore barely been affected by solar wind and radiation. This means it was pristine, having a composition very similar to that of the cloud of gas and dust it—and the rest of the Solar System—formed from some 4.5 billion years ago.

By analysing the polarisation together with the colour of the comet to gather clues on its composition, the team concluded that 2I/Borisov is in fact even more pristine than Hale-Bopp. This means it carries untarnished signatures of the cloud of gas and dust it formed from.

“The fact that the two comets are remarkably similar suggests that the environment in which 2I/Borisov originated is not so different in composition from the environment in the early Solar System,” says Alberto Cellino, a co-author of the study, from the Astrophysical Observatory of Torino, National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), Italy.

Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer at ESO in Germany who studies comets and other near-Earth objects but was not involved in this new study, agrees. “The main result—that 2I/Borisov is not like any other comet except Hale-Bopp—is very strong,” he says, adding that “it is very plausible they formed in very similar conditions.”

“The arrival of 2I/Borisov from interstellar space represented the first opportunity to study the composition of a comet from another planetary system and check if the material that comes from this comet is somehow different from our native variety,” explains Ludmilla Kolokolova, of the University of Maryland in the US, who was involved in the Nature Communications research.

Bagnulo hopes astronomers will have another, even better, opportunity to study a rogue comet in detail before the end of the decade. “ESA is planning to launch Comet Interceptor in 2029, which will have the capability of reaching another visiting interstellar object, if one on a suitable trajectory is discovered,” he says, referring to an upcoming mission by the European Space Agency.

An origin story hidden in the dust

Even without a space mission, astronomers can use Earth’s many telescopes to gain insight into the different properties of rogue comets like 2I/Borisov. “Imagine how lucky we were that a comet from a system light-years away simply took a trip to our doorstep by chance,” says Bin Yang, an astronomer at ESO in Chile, who also took advantage of 2I/Borisov’s passage through our Solar System to study this mysterious comet. Her team’s results are published in Nature Astronomy.

Yang and her team used data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which ESO is a partner, as well as from ESO’s VLT, to study 2I/Borisov’s dust grains to gather clues about the comet’s birth and conditions in its home system.

They discovered that 2I/Borisov’s coma—an envelope of dust surrounding the main body of the comet—contains compact pebbles, grains about one millimetre in size or larger. In addition, they found that the relative amounts of carbon monoxide and water in the comet changed drastically as it neared the Sun. The team, which also includes Olivier Hainaut, says this indicates that the comet is made up of materials that formed in different places in its planetary system.

The observations by Yang and her team suggest that matter in 2I/Borisov’s planetary home was mixed from near its star to further out, perhaps because of the existence of giant planets, whose strong gravity stirs material in the system. Astronomers believe that a similar process occurred early in the life of our Solar System.

While 2I/Borisov was the first rogue comet to pass by the Sun, it was not the first interstellar visitor. The first interstellar object to have been observed passing by our Solar System was ‘Oumuamua, another object studied with ESO’s VLT back in 2017. Originally classified as a comet, ‘Oumuamua was later reclassified as an asteroid as it lacked a coma.

Prof. Brian Greene Shows You How to Time Travel!

Prof. Brian Greene, author of “The Elegant Universe” will show you the right way to time travel as he joins Faith in a discussion of the underlying science of time travel and clears up some time travel myths like, is it ok to interact with your younger self while time traveling? (Turns out, it’s OKAY.)

Acclaimed physicist Brian Greene reveals a mind-boggling reality beneath the surface of our everyday world.

“The Fabric of the Cosmos,” a four-hour series based on the book by renowned physicist and author Brian Greene, takes us to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time, and the universe. With each step, audiences will discover that just beneath the surface of our everyday experience lies a world we’d hardly recognize—a startling world far stranger and more wondrous than anyone expected.

Brian Greene is going to let you in on a secret: We’ve all been deceived. Our perceptions of time and space have led us astray. Much of what we thought we knew about our universe—that the past has already happened and the future is yet to be, that space is just an empty void, that our universe is the only universe that exists—just might be wrong.

Interweaving provocative theories, experiments, and stories with crystal-clear explanations and imaginative metaphors like those that defined the groundbreaking and highly acclaimed series “The Elegant Universe,” “The Fabric of the Cosmos” aims to be the most compelling, visual, and comprehensive picture of modern physics ever seen on television.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/the-fabric-of-the-cosmos/

‘Odd’ lights spotted in North Carolina sky prompts several theories

The strange lights were seen floating over the state’s Indian Trail community

Could it be?

A mysterious light cluster was spotted in the night sky near Charlotte, N.C., over the weekend, leading to a debate on social media over the possible presence of UFOs in the area, according to a report. 

The strange lights were seen floating over the state’s Indian Trail community and subsequently posted on the “What’s Up Indian Trail?” community Facebook page.

“Anyone know what these lights were tonight?” Alisa Homewood remarked, according to The Charlotte Observer. “No sound at all. They flickered like lanterns, but followed the same exact path up until they disappeared which was odd.”

“My initial thought when I saw the lights was it was the helicopters in the distance, but as the lights got closer there was no sound. Then they went straight up into the sky and disappeared. No smoke, no debris,” she continued.

A few hundred people have since reacted to her post on the community page, offering different opinions for the odd phenomenon, ranging from UFOs to a SpaceX rocket, according to the paper

One of her photos captured a glowing trio of blue lights, which Homewood apparently could not explain. 

“The blue light I didn’t notice until after I took the pictures. In the sky it did not look blue, it looked like a group of bright lights,” she said, according to Charlotte Observer reporter, Mark Price. “I thought it was odd though, that a few people have seen and photographed that same blue-ish grouping of lights.”

The sighting comes as the CIA’s recently decided to declassify more than three decades worth of UFO documents, which one expert called a “real-life X-Files.” 2020 was also arguably the best year ever for UFO coverage.

What’s the Color of the Universe?

The universe is a pretty mesmerizing place. From all of the natural wonders here on earth to the Tesla roadster flying through our galaxy, there’s certainly not a lack of wonder surrounding us. All this amazement naturally leads us to one prominent question, “what color is it?”

Okay, well, maybe that’s just me, but a group of researchers has solidly confirmed what color the universe is. Are you ready for it? It’s beige. But not just any beige, the color of the universe is named “Cosmic Latte”. A team of astronomers from Johns Hopkins University gave the universe’s color that name in 2002 after running a series of tests collecting massive amounts of light samples.

Initially, in 2001, the researchers thought that the universe was a slightly less attractive greenish white, but in 2002, they issued a correction claiming that the light from 200,000 studied galaxies averaged together comes out to a beige-ish white. And, if you were wondering what the hex triplet value for this “beige-ish white” is, it’s #FFF8E7. All images and videos courtesy of the creative commons or used in accordance with fair use laws.

Nostradamus’ predictions for 2021: Asteroids, zombies and a bad outlook

Nostradamus’ predictions for 2021: 
Asteroids, zombies and a bad outlook.

And you thought it couldn’t get any worse?

World-ending asteroids, zombies and ruinous famine are on deck for 2021, according to French philosopher Michel de Nostradamus, whose track record for predicting the future has been freakishly accurate.

Nostradamus, who died in 1566, has famously prophesied calamitous events through his “Les Prophéties,” a collection of poetic quatrains. The Renaissance-era seer alluded to such events as the French Revolution, the development of the atomic bomb and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Now, close readers of his work say he foresaw a 2021 even more destructive than this hellscape of a year.

In his writings, he mentions “Few young people: half-dead to give a start.” This can only mean one thing, according to Yearly-Horoscope: a zombie apocalypse.

“Fathers and mothers dead of infinite sorrows / Women in mourning, the pestilent she−monster: / The Great One to be no more, all the world to end,” the philosopher went on, ominously.

Nostradamus also appears to allude to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 — but writes that the following year will be even more destructive, perhaps bringing famine to the world. Already, the pandemic has resulted in millions of Americans heading to food banks for the first time. And the UN has warned that food insecurity will be an even bigger problem in 2021.

“After great trouble for humanity, a greater one is prepared,” Nostradamus wrote. “The Great Mover renews the ages: / Rain, blood, milk, famine, steel, and plague, / Is the heavens fire seen, a long spark running.”

Next up? An asteroid: “In the sky, one sees fire and a long trail of sparks.” Already, we’ve had a few close calls — on Christmas Day, a huge asteroid zipped right past Earth. In November, a pickup-size asteroid squeaked by our planet about 250 miles over the southern Pacific on Friday the 13th.

However, historians often point out that Nostradamus’ writings are incredibly vague — or even downright nonexistent. So take heart. Things could actually get better next year.

Tony Robbins puts money behind Cape Canaveral space balloon business

The company says it will offer “opportunities for groundbreaking research and life-changing travel experiences for off-world travels.”

Self-hep guru Tony Robbins is reportedly putting some of his money behind a Cape Canaveral start-up that wants to send people to space onboard balloons.

The company, Space Perspective, announced Wednesday in a press release that it has secured $7 million “for the development and early flights of Spaceship Neptune to the edge of space.”

A high-performance space balloon with a pressurized capsule.  (Space Perspective)

“The infusion of capital advances the human space flight company another step closer to fundamentally changing the way people have access to space for research and tourism,” the statement read.

Space Perspective said it chose investors who are the “cutting edge of venture capital.” Among its investors is Robbins.

“My life is dedicated to delivering people extraordinary experiences that expand human consciousness,” Robbins said in a press release. “I always say a belief is a poor substitute for an experience and Jane and Taber’s work at Space Perspective will deliver a life-changing experience to people across the world and help us all realize that we are part of a human family sharing this remarkable planet.”

According to the company, the “space balloon” uses a pressurized capsule technology that “gently travels to and from the edge of space over a six-hour period.”

The company says it will offer “opportunities for groundbreaking research and life-changing travel experiences for off-world travels.”

It’s first flight, Neptune 1, is scheduled around the end of the first quarter 2021 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility.

What does Saturn sound like from space?

THE sound collected by a spacecraft passing between Saturn and its rings has been beamed back to Earth – and it’s left scientists perplexed.

Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft dived between Saturn and its innermost ring – an area no man-made object has visited before.

 A stunning image of Saturn taken by Nasa's Cassini spacecraft in 2014
A stunning image of Saturn taken by Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft in 2014Credit: Cover Images

Scientists were excited to hear what Cassini had to offer, but were surprised to be met with an eerie silence.

“The region between the rings and Saturn is ‘the big empty,’ apparently,” said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Cassini will stay the course, while the scientists work on the mystery of why the dust level is much lower than expected.”

 These graphs show the difference in sound taken near Saturn's rings in December 2016 and April 2017
These graphs show the difference in sound taken near Saturn’s rings in December 2016 and April 2017
 Artist's impression of Cassini above Saturn's northern hemisphere before making one of its Grand Finale dives
Artist’s impression of Cassini above Saturn’s northern hemisphere before making one of its Grand Finale dives
 Cassini is taking 22 dives between Saturn's rings before it will crash into the planet on its final mission
Cassini is taking 22 dives between Saturn’s rings before it will crash into the planet on its final mission
 This image was made by the Cassini spacecraft in 2006 and shows two of Saturn's moons
This image was made by the Cassini spacecraft in 2006 and shows two of Saturn’s moonsCredit: AP:Associated Press

The “sounds” of Saturn’s rings are actually particles of dust that can be heard by the spacecraft’s plasma detector.

Back in late 2016, Nasa recorded lots of dust particle noises.

But just months later, the mysterious planet has gone silent.

Instead of crackling, which can be heard in the first minute and 18 seconds in the video above, the April recordings are eerily quiet.

It should be full of popping sounds from dust particles bouncing off each other.

‘A GRAND FINALE’

Dr Daniel Brown, an astronomy expert at Nottingham Trent University, said: “The 13-year Cassini mission is now coming to an end with its grand finale.

“The space probe has revealed many surprises about Saturn and its moons, including further evidence of life-supporting conditions in the ocean below the surface of Enceladus.

“The mission will end with a controlled crash into Saturn in three months’ time, but in the meantime it has started with the first of 22 stunning orbits diving in between Saturn and its rings.

Something which has never been done and is also quite risky.

“As an astronomer, I have been amazed by the rings around Saturn from a young age.

“These dives might just be the thing that can tell us more about how old these rings are and how they work.

“What is particularly interesting is that they are amazingly bright, as if the ice has not been covered by meteorite dust, but we’ll see today what more Cassini tells us.”

Instead, it sounds more like static from a TV screen and an unexplained whistling noise.

Nasa claims the whistling is a type of plasma wave which they will investigate further.

“It was a bit disorienting — we weren’t hearing what we expected to hear,” Cassini scientist William Kurth said.

Cassini has spent 12 years monitoring Saturn, but is scheduled to crash onto the planet in September, after completing its final mission.

SpaceX plans to race remote-controlled cars on the moon in 2021, and has drafted in a legendary Ferrari designer to help

elon musk nasa kennedy space center ksc post launch briefing smiling smiles laughing happy may 30 2020 demo2 demo 2 KSC 20200530 PH KLS04_0108_orig
SpaceX founder Elon Musk 
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to launch vehicles designed by Frank Stephenson — of McLaren, Ferrari, and BMW fame — onto the Moon’s surface for a remote-controlled car rally.
  • The cars will be sent into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in October 2021, SpaceX said.
  • The vehicles will be partially designed, built, and raced by two teams of high-school students.
  • Moon Mark, an entertainment and education company, is teaming up with aerospace companies Intuitive Machines and Lunar Outpost to organize the car race.

SpaceX wants to race remote-controlled cars on the surface of the Moon.

Elon Musk’s aerospace company plans to launch the vehicles in October 2021 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

It has enlisted legendary designer Frank Stephenson — known for his work at BMW, Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren, and others — to help design the cars.

The two vehicles will be partially designed, built, and raced by two teams of high school students, according to a statement published in November.

They will be carried in a Nova-C lunar lander made by Intuitive Machines.

The race is being organized by Moon Mark, a multimedia and education content company, which partnered with aerospace company Intuitive Machines. Space tech firm Lunar Outpost also joined the race partnership on November 17, the statement said.

Stephenson accepted the appointment as the race design director for Moon Mark Mission 2021 in November.

Those students racing the cars had to first earn the reward.

On July 14, Moon Mark announced that two teams of high school students had created valid car designs in just four weeks: “Team Atlas” is from Buenos Aires, and “Team Ilstar” comes from Shanghai.

The challenges they faced included drone and autonomous vehicle racing, e-gaming, and a space commercialization entrepreneurship contest, according to a statement.

“The two top teams from the qualifying rounds will win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build and race two vehicles on the Moon,” the companies said.

They will now work with Stephenson, an automotive designer, to create a vehicle that they will speed across the moon’s surface.

“This is a project helping to develop the innovators of the future, allowing them to dream big and realize that nothing is impossible,” Stephenson said in a statement.

“Space is a fascinating place, remaining untapped for budding designers and I’m very much looking forward to sharing some of my knowledge to those involved in this innovative project,” he added.

Mary L. Hagy, Moon Mark Founder and CEO said: “His extraordinary experience and talents in automotive and aerospace design will bring insight and inspiration to our young innovators.”

On November 25, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket for the 100th time, delivering 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit.

It was also the company’s 23rd flight of the year and the rocket’s seventh successful launch — the most SpaceX has achieved for any individual Falcon 9 rocket.

Spectacular ‘Christmas Star’ will appear for the first time in 800 years

If you had to describe 2020, you probably wouldn’t say that it was the year the planets aligned. That phrase is reserved for use in good times, and the past year hasn’t been a lucky one for most.

But while things haven’t exactly fallen into place for 2020 thanks to the pandemic, we will be closing the year off with a spectacular space show in which everything lines up just right. Later this month, two planets in our solar system will align, creating a double planet for the first time in 800 years.

Perhaps planets aligning is a good omen for 2021? Either way, it’s a rare event and you need to make plans to watch. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait around for another 400 years for it to happen again. Here’s what you need to know.

The planets are finally going to align

Want to watch a double planet in action? Look up at the sky just after sunset on the evening of Dec. 21, and you will see a rare alignment of Jupiter and Saturn take place. That evening, the two planets will appear closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages.

Planets in our solar system only align every 20 years or so, and the last time these two planets were this close together was on March 4, 1226. In other words, these planets won’t align again in your lifetime.

This event won’t just align Saturn and Jupiter, either. It will make the two planets will look like one single point of bright light in the sky. But while the event will make Saturn and Jupiter look like they’re a double planet, the gaseous planets are still going to be hundreds of millions of miles apart, according to NASA.

The event has been dubbed “the great conjunction,” a nod to Jupiter and Saturn being the biggest gas giants in our solar system.

There has been quite the intergalactic build-up to the big show. Jupiter and Saturn have been making moves to approach each other since the summer, slowly inching closer together months before the final show.

How to watch the planetary display in action

Want to check out the show? Dec. 21 will be the optimal time for seeing the double planet. However, the two planets are actually going to be separated by less than the diameter of a full moon from Dec. 16 to Dec. 25, so you may want to gaze up at the sky a few days before the finale.

You’ll need to use a telescope or binoculars to view the planets, but you’ll get a bonus show, too. Not only will the Saturn and Jupiter double planet be visible, but so will several of their largest moons.

You’ll have the best vantage point if you’re in a location near the equator. Don’t panic if you’re in a different spot, though. You can still see the event from anywhere on Earth as long as the weather is good.

The best time to see this happen is in the western sky shortly after sunset. The phenomenon will be visible for about an hour after the sun goes down, so grab your telescope and head outside right after the sun sets.

If you miss it, your only other shot at catching Jupiter and Saturn this close together will be on March 15, 2080 — and the planets will be much higher in the night sky, making the view less accessible to sky-watchers on planet Earth. If you miss that show, you won’t get another shot until after the year 2400.

Physics suggests that the future has already happened

Our intuition tells us that the future can be changed, but Einstein’s theory of relativity suggests that there is no real difference between the future and the past.

The future, present and past may actually not be as different as we think, says science writer and astrophysicist Adam Becker. He explains this mind-bending idea to Michael Marshall and Melissa Hogenboom, with help from the animators at Pomona Pictures.

Oreo builds asteroid-proof bunker above permafrost line, fills it with cookies and powdered milk

The company provided the bunker’s coordinates, just in case

Oreos will survive the apocalypse.

The threat of asteroids striking the Earth and causing a global catastrophe has inspired some groups to build bunkers to not only protect survivors, but also to ensure the safety of certain plants and animals. Now, the makers of Oreo have ensured that the popular snack will live past any possible asteroid strikes.

In a video published on its YouTube page, Oreo says it was inspired by the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway. According to the seed vault’s website, it is a storage facility for various seeds that has been designed and built to withstand both natural and manmade disasters. It is located above the permafrost line, placing it in the Arctic Circle.

According to Oreo’s video, the vault was also created specifically in regards to Asteroid 2018VP1, which has a slight chance of hitting Earth’s atmosphere on Nov. 2. While it’s unlikely that the asteroid would even survive entering the atmosphere, Oreo apparently isn’t taking any chances.

Oreo explained the vault and how it’s protecting Oreos on its Twitter account. According to one post, “Each cookie pack is wrapped in protective Mylar which can keep our cookies safe from temperatures of -80°F to 300°F.”

In another post, Oreo explains that the vault also contains vials of powdered milk, which reportedly only need to have powdered snow added before being ready to have Oreos dunked in it.

Each cookie pack is wrapped in protective Mylar which can keep our cookies safe from temperatures of -80°F to 300°F.

Oreo has provided the coordinates of the vault, 78°08’58.1″N, 16°01’59.7″E, which places it near the Svalbard seed vault. According to a tweet from the cookie maker, however, there is a coded lock on the door, ensuring the contents are saved for an apocalyptic event.

ARISS to Celebrate 20 Years of Ham Radio on the International Space Station

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) will soon celebrate 20 years of continuous ham radio operations on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA is commemorating the milestone with a newly produced infographic highlighting the educational contacts via amateur radio between astronaut crew members aboard the ISS and students. Over its 20 years, ARISS has supported nearly 1,400 scheduled ham radio contacts with schools, student groups, and other organizations.

Planning for ARISS began in 1996 as a cooperative venture among national amateur radio and amateur satellite societies, with support from their respective space agencies. The ARISS ham radio gear actually arrived on the station before the Expedition 1 crew, headed by Commander Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL. The FCC issued ham radio call sign NA1SS for ISS operations. After Expedition 1 arrived on station, some initial tests with ARISS ham radio ground stations and individual hams confirmed the ham gear was working properly. The first ARISS school contact was made with students at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Illinois on December 21, 2000, with Shepherd at the helm of NA1SS on the ISS, and ARISS operations team mentor Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, guiding the operation on the ground.

NASA produced a video of students talking with astronaut Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR, during an ARISS contact in May 2020.

Before and during scheduled ham radio contacts, students, educators, parents, and communities learn about space and related technologies, and radio communication using amateur radio. ARISS has inspired thousands of students, promoting exploration through educational experiences spanning science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.

ARISS relies on a large network of amateur radio operator volunteers, many associated with radio clubs in the communities where students and groups participating in the contact reside. ARISS volunteers support satellite ground stations, serve as technical mentors, and provide additional help in the areas of education, community outreach, and public relations.

While student-to-astronaut radio contacts are a primary objective for ARISS, the capability has also inspired further experimentation for amateur radio in space and evaluation of new technologies. In September, ARISS announced that the initial element of its next-generation ham radio system had been installed in the ISS Columbus module. The new radio system replaces equipment originally certified for spaceflight in mid-2000. The onboard ham station also provides a contingency communications system for the ISS crew. Several astronauts have also enjoyed using NA1SS to make casual contacts with — and delighting — earthbound members of the ham radio community.

In the US, ARISS sponsors include ARRLAMSAT, and NASA, the ISS National Lab-Space Station Explorers, and NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program. Global organizing partners include International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-societies as well as AMSAT organizations, and space agencies in Canada, Europe, Russia, Japan, and elsewhere.

The next proposal window for US schools and educational organizations to host an amateur radio contact with a crew member on board the ISS opened on October 1 for contacts that would take place from July through December 2021.

Like many educators who have coordinated ARISS radio contacts for their students, teacher Rita Wright, KC9CDL, an ARRL member, described the first ARISS school contact as inspirational and having a lasting impact on their community. Five months after their contact, nearly 500 students greeted Bill Shepherd when he visited Luther Burbank School. Wright said it was “like tossing a pebble into a stream.”

“The ripple effects are still occurring, and I suspect will continue to occur for a long time,” she said. “We have a young staff, and witnessing these events has inspired some to look for other interdisciplinary projects. They are beginning their dream. Many of our students are looking forward to careers associated with the space industry.” 

UFO Doc ‘The Phenomenon’ Gets New Trailer, Release Date

The Phenomenon Key Art
Courtesy of Farah Films

James Fox’s feature exploring 70 years of history behind proving UFOs exist will now have a digital release on Oct. 6.

UFO documentary The Phenomenon, which takes an expansive look across 70 years’ worth of history behind proving the existence of UFOs, right up to the latest discoveries, has a new trailer and release date.

The feature — from director James Fox — was originally slated for a wide North American theatrical release via 1091 Media this fall, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic will now premiere worldwide on all digital platforms on Oct. 6.

Co-written by Fox and Marc Barasch, The Phenomenon features never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with key eyewitnesses, experts and officials, including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, President Clinton’s White House chief of staff John Podesta, former Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Intelligence Christopher Mellon, and former U.S. Energy Secretary and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, as well as Jacques Vallee, who served as a scientific consultant on Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

E.T. actor Peter Coyotes narrates the film, which was produced by Fox and Dan Farah (Ready Player One), among others.

The Phenomenon is meritorious. It makes the incredible credible,” said Reid, while former Senior CIA Officer and member of the Senior Intelligence Service, Jim Semivan, described it as, “The most important documentary of the year and the most accurate examination of the world’s greatest mystery.”

Vallee said: “Seventy years of secrecy has led to this. The most credible documentary ever made about UFOs.”

Chris Mellon, former United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence at the U.S. Department of Defense, said: “I can’t think of a better way for people to begin educating themselves on this long-neglected issue than watching The Phenomenon. The film provides a badly needed remedy for the unwarranted stigma that for too long has prevented government and academia from taking this important topic seriously.”

See the trailer below: