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First Vine From Space Shows Endless Sun

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We’ve got plenty of images and video from space, but now we’ve got the first Vine of the cosmos, courtesy of astronaut Reid Wiseman, who landed on the International Space Station just a couple weeks ago.

It’s a great condensed view of one ISS revolution around the Earth, which takes roughly 92 minutes. That means astronauts on the ISS are treated to 15 or 16 sunrises in a 24-hour period — like at the end of Chris Hadfield’s explanation about how to puke in space. But on Wiseman’s Vine, you’ll notice that the sun never sets. Because space is magical. And because the space station’s orbit aligned with the line between light and dark on Earth, otherwise known as the day/night terminator line.

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A Giant Asteroid Named The Beast Will Buzz Earth Tonight

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Armageddon-WalkIf you have a nickname like “the Beast,” there are one of two things in play. It could be an ironic moniker, and you are in no way beastly at all—like when I make fun of my 14-pound dog after she tries to take down a pair really confused Great Danes on a walk around the neighborhood. Or, it’s entirely possible that you bear some of the features people normally associate with beastliness, like you’re huge, angry, and parents cross the street, clutching their children close to them, when they see you on the sidewalk. The asteroid set to buzz past Earth today, June 8, falls into this second category, and has definitely earned the nickname beast.

The Beast, also known by the much less lyrical name 2014 HQ124, is roughly the size of city block, and has been dubbed a potentially hazardous asteroid because of how close to our planet it will come. Before you sprint out the door to round up Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck in order to save the day, there isn’t really much to worry about. Though the asteroid will come close to our planet, close is a relative term. The flying space rock will still be more than 770,000 miles from us, which, if you’re doing the math, is more than triple the distance between the Earth and the moon. We should be just fine, but on the off chance that we all wake up dead tomorrow, know that someone, somewhere made a miscalculation.

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A Galactic Particle Collider And An Image Of 10,000 Galaxies

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I just got back from a local art fair, so it occurs to me that the Hubble is kind of like its own ready-made exhibit. I get lost in those images more than any paintings or sculptures, and space never fails to generate paradoxes and mind-boggling patterns. Today’s space news involves two such offerings: a particle collider and the best picture of the Milky Way, along with thousands of other galaxies.

While we have painstakingly created our own impressive particle colliders, the cosmos can do us one better. Five billion light years away, there’s a collision of galaxy clusters that are forming an accelerator estimated to be a million times stronger than the Large Hadron Collider. Clusters of this sort are the largest structures in the universe, and can consist of thousands of galaxies that continue piling up over billions of years as a result of collisions between smaller groupings.

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Museum Regrows Van Gogh’s Ear

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EarsLookingAtYouMost people have heard the story about Vincent van Gogh severing his ear. The tale has grown into a sort of morbid legend — some versions have him sending it to an unrequited love. According to other stories, he had a psychotic episode, or perhaps Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear disorder. A few years ago, a couple of German historians said fellow artist and friend Paul Gauguin cut off van Gogh’s ear with a sword during a fight. Then, apparently, he brought the ear to a prostitute, who was understandably not thrilled — she didn’t accept severed ears as payment. The new theory is that van Gogh took the blame because he didn’t want to get his “friend” in trouble because he was obsessed with him, and that the two took a pact of silence, even though Gauguin skipped town the next day. Regardless of which version of events one believes, it’s hard to deny that van Gogh’s ear lives on in infamy. And now, thanks to science, I mean that literally.

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Today Is The 60th Anniversary Of Alan Turing’s Death

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turingMost people know of Alan Turing as the inventor of the Turing Test, which he devised in 1950 to test a machine’s intelligence. The Turing test is really a test of a computer’s ability to “converse” like a human — the test consisted of a human essentially instant messaging or text chatting with either another human or a machine in another room. If, during the course of that text conversation, the human believed he was chatting with a human but was actually chatting with the machine, the machine has passed the test. These days, there’s a modern iteration of the Turing Test called the Loebner Prize, which, in addition to offering a grand prize of $100,000 for a computer who can effectively trick the judges into thinking it’s human (which no one has ever won — the competition will end when this happens), it offers a prize for the most human computer and the most human human. It can be said that the test doesn’t measure intelligence as much as it measures a computer’s ability (or a programmer’s ability) to mimic human speech, typos, inanities, curse words, slang, and all. I could go on about the Turing Test forever, but on the 60th anniversary of Alan Turing’s death, I wanted to explore some of the other details of his life, and the controversy surrounding his death.

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Researchers Find Evidence Of The Planet That Crashed Into Earth To Form The Moon

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MoonBack in the 1970s, scientists first hypothesized that the moon was formed when another planet, now called Theia, collided with a young Earth, roughly 4.5 billion years ago. The problem with that theory, though, is that computer models indicated that the moon would then have the same composition as the other planet, but the Earth and the moon are very similar in composition. In 2012, scientists found a way to reconcile that discrepancy — if the Earth was rotating much faster than it is now, then a big chunk of Earth’s mantle broke off during the collision, slowing the Earth’s rotation down and explaining why the Earth and the moon are so similar. But now, there’s another explanation — researchers have found material from Theia in a lunar rock found by Apollo astronauts, and it turns out Theia’s composition isn’t so different from Earth’s.