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Growing Plants On Mars May Be A Realistic Possibility

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mars plantsWork is underway to figure out methods of growing produce in space, which is especially vital for eventual Mars colonists. Space food leaves a lot to be desired, so scientists are working on getting more variety into astronauts’ diets. They’re also working on ways to create sustainable agricultural practices, given that resupplying Earthly goods will bend, if not break, the budget. But that will require astronauts growing their own food, which raises the question of how suitable an environment is Mars (or the moon) is for growing plants. According to a study recently published in PLoS One, both Mars and the moon may be much better suited for agriculture than previously thought.

Dutch researchers planted fourteen different species of plants in soil similar in composition to that on Mars and the moon—the same soil NASA uses for simulations. The control group in the study used Earth soil from an area without many nutrients. Scientists planted mustard, tomatoes, rye, carrots, wheat, and cress into 840 different pots—20 replicas of each kind of plant species in each of the three types of soil. From there, all the subjects were kept under the same greenhouse conditions with 16 hours of light each day and temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers let them grow for 50 days.

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Wish Granted: 7-Year-Old Writes And Stars In His Own Sci-fi Movie

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Many of us have dreams to make our own television shows or movies, but few of us are fortunate, talented, and/or lucky/driven enough to make that happen. But thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, one terminally ill 7-year-old from the U.K. was able to do just that.

Clark Doyle from Northwest England was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 3 years ago at the age of 4. The disease is a particular form of MD caused by a mutation in the dystrophin gene, which is involved in muscle fiber strength and connective tissue. The disease only manifests in males, though females can be carriers. There’s no cure for the disease, which causes weakness and loss of muscle mass, usually starting in the legs and pelvis, and then moving on to the arms, torso, and other areas. The disease causes muscle tissues to atrophy to the extent that most children afflicted by this condition are confined to a wheelchair by age 12, and eventually causes paralysis and death (life expectancy is approximately 25 years).

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Star Wars Franchise To Follow In Marvel Films’ Hulk-Sized Footsteps

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guardians of the galaxyFive years ago, when Disney’s four-fingered hands wrapped themselves around Marvel Studios for $4 billion, one of the main conversations among fanboys was the potential Mickey-fication of comic book movies. Given Marvel films are generally lighter fare than DC’s more broodish material, the House of Mouse’s presence was almost unnoticiable on the screen. But in the box office, it was very, very apparent, and Disney will use those same strategies in bringing Star Wars to audiences in every kind of media imaginable. Who’d have thunk it? A-hyuk!

Disney’s chief financial officer Jay Rasulo spoke at the Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference in New York City today, and he shined a light(saber) or two on where the franchise would be headed: everywhere. Disney’s ability to cram its way into people’s minds and hearts is only topped by its dedication to sapping wallets of all the money inside. So the marketing and moneymaking angle is the perfect place for Disney to figure into the Star Wars universe. But it’s with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its building presence through TV, books, video games, DVDs, toys and more that Rasulo and his team could be better prepared to handle a franchise that goes across galaxies and eras.

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Space Whisky Is About To Become A Tasty Alcoholic Reality

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ardbegAs I’ve gotten older, I’ve transitioned away from clear alcohol and towards the more rust-colored varieties. No more nasty vodka (an incident in high school took care of that), and times have to be tough for me to turn to gin. These days, I’m all about whisky, bourbon, and rye. Does this mean I’m finally growing up, or does this mean I’m in a state of alcoholic regression? I don’t know and don’t really care, because I like the booze I like. And because as far as I know, whisky is the only hard alcohol to have taken a ride in space.

Sure, there’s a beer made from moon dust (which I hear isn’t quite as tasty as star dust), a Chilean wine made from an ancient meteorite, and there’s currently a brewery onboard the ISS (you didn’t think Chris Hadfield was sober when he made all those videos, did you?). And yes, there’s enough pure alcohol in space to get everyone on either drunk every day for billions of years. Still, it’s pretty awesome that in four days, ingredients that have been coalescing in space will return as whisky. At least, that’s what Scottish distillery Ardbeg hopes.

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Telepathic Communication Is Real (At Least Over The Internet)

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brain-to-brainSome claim that twins can communicate telepathically; so can a whole race of people from Babylon 5. I’ve given telepathy a try myself, usually by trying to guess the card a friend has drawn from the deck (and pressed to his forehead, just for good measure), but alas, I don’t seem to be able to communicate with others via thought alone. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. A team of scientists recently published a study in PLoS ONE that demonstrates the feasibility of brain-to-brain
communication.

The international team of scientists includes researchers from Harvard, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Spain’s Starlab Barcelona, and France’s Axilum Robotics. The team wanted to find out if it was possible for two people to communicate by taking one’s brain activity and essentially inserting it into the second person. The team then figured that the internet was probably the best way to transfer information, so they wanted to see if it was possible for two people to communicate via the internet without talking or typing.

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Incredible Footage Shows A Man Climb Into The Mouth Of An Active Volcano

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I am no kind of daredevil, not by any stretch of the imagination. When I think back to all the stuff I did without thinking as a kid, a little touch of nausea hits my stomach and my knees hurt as I imagine all of the various ways things can go horribly wrong. (I used to regularly huck myself off 30 or 40-foot cliffs without a second thought with nothing but skis strapped to my feet, and now that thought terrifies me.) But you have to be thankful for the more adrenaline-fueled among us, because without them we’d never get videos like this one of people climbing down into the frothing mouth of an active volcano.

Sam Cossman and George Kourounis, with a sizeable assist from volcanic exploration pioneers Geoff Mackely and Brad Ambrose, recently became some of the first people to ever set foot inside one of the planet’s least accessible, most dangerous volcanoes. I feel like just a normal, everyday, right around the corner volcano would be more than enough for me, no need to go searching for something out of the ordinary.