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The Subterranean Architecture Of An Anthill Looks Like A Macabre City Of The Dead

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Maybe you had an ant colony growing up, or maybe you had a friend or a cousin with one on a shelf in their bedroom. No matter how, most of you have laid eyes on one of these at one time or another, and these looks give you the impression that we have a pretty good idea of what the inside of random, wild anthills. To paraphrase the great Samuel L. Jackson, when you make assumptions such as these, you make an ass out of you, me, and umption, and that is certainly the case here. This video that has been making the rounds around the Internet, shows just how intricate and crazy these insect domiciles can be.

To explore and excavate an anthill, a team of researchers pumped the tunnels full of cement in order to preserve the architecture while they dug around. Don’t worry, this particular colony was already abandoned when the team did their thing, otherwise we’re talking a serious dick move here. They poured ten tons of cement, a task that took more than three days, and then they began the task of exhuming the dead city.

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Carl Sagan’s Words Accompany This Nifty Black And White Animation

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There are a wealth of things that are made better by having a Carl Sagan voiceover behind it. A trip to the dentist, getting a flat tire, and even childbirth. (I can’t speak from experience on that last one.) Computer animation and logo design company Mothlight Creations decided to use segments from arguably Sagan’s most profound work, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, to accompany their gorgeous black-and-white animated short From Dust. Of course this film can’t match the overwhelming sense of exploration that Sagan invokes, but it does a pretty damned good job.

It’s a vision we’ve all seen before: a rocket is getting read to take off into space, a wide-eyed astronaut on board, ready to conquer the galaxy. But director Daniel Winne lays on the old-timey effects to give it personality. The grain and artifacts on the “film” are almost too much at times, but it’s a great throwback to some of the actual footage taken during the heyday of the Space Race.

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Our Solar System Has A Twin, Sort Of

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second solar systemWhile we Earthbound creatures can still take pleasure in knowing we’re the only known living beings in the universe, we can no longer be so proud of our unique solar system, as European astronomers have discovered another planetary system that looks remarkably like our own, and is the first of its kind to be found. It isn’t an identical twin to our own, but I’m pretty sure we could make a cool “standing on opposite sides of a doorway” mirror illusion with it.

As you can probably imagine, this information was gleaned from the mounds of data collected by the Kepler space telescope before it malfunctioned earlier this year. The system is called KOI-351, and it features seven exoplanets. Scientists are hopeful it could give them a better idea of how these planetary systems form, since the jury is still out on that one.

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Hilarious Vintage Star Wars Game Commercial And A Bizarre 2001: A Space Odyssey Children’s Menu

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I’ll concede that I was only five when the above video game ad hit the airwaves, so I probably wasn’t old enough to give a fair assessment of how exciting new products tied in to George Lucas’ beloved franchise were. But even at my most young and geekly, I don’t think I ever got as excited about anything Star Wars-related as that dude. Not even when a kid moved in across the street who had like all of the Kenner toys and playsets. Not even when I was sitting down in the theater for Return of the Jedi, the first of the films I clearly remember seeing in theaters. Then again, maybe I just needed bigger hair.

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Space Blogger Alison Wilgus’ Webcomic Takes You Inside Of NASA’s Inner Workings

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Alison Wilgus writes about space and space exploration over at Tor.com, but she’s also got some serious chops when it comes to visual storytelling. This past summer she got the chance to visit NASA and watch one of its launches. Specifically, she was a guest of the program and got witness a launch for the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, through which all those astronaut tweets and blog posts that made Chris Hadfield a social media star were routed. The TDRSS also funnels data from the Hubble and other satellites, video from the ISS, and so on — as Wilgus puts it, “Basically anything in Earth’s orbit that’s transmitting information is tied to the TDRSS.”

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China Will Launch Moon Rover Yutu On December 1

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yutuWhile the U.S. and Russia haven’t spent much time in the last few decades focused on getting back to the moon, China is stepping up their space program and will soon perform the first soft landing on the moon in 37 years. I bet it’s pretty dusty up there. The nation’s Chang’e-3 mission is set to launch a lander and rover (named Yutu by a popular vote) on December 1 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province. (Technically, it’ll be December 2 their time.)

It will take around five days for Yutu to make it into lunar orbit, and it’s expected to land inside Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, on December 14. There’s a joke to be made here about putting Chinese food on board so that it would get to the moon in 30-45 minutes, but it feels slightly derogatory, and this is a celebratory news story.