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What was the weather like in New York last week? You can look it up on weather.com. What was it like on March 7, 1953, in the pre-internet era? You might be able to find it at the library, in the New York Times edition of that day. In fact, with weather data, you can go back pretty far. People began recording daily…

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Humans have long been fascinated by the huge Cosmos above us. Perhaps this fascination has been best put to words by Carl Sagan in his influential book, Cosmos: “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the…

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Evolution explains how living things change over successive generations, giving rise to diversity. Across the evolutionary history of Earth, the formation, changes, and extinction of species have been observed. Even though evolution happens very slowly, we see evidence of its action in the shared traits among seemingly…

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Thanks to NASA’s Kepler Mission, over one-thousand potentially habitable exoplanets have been discovered to-date, orbiting around their respective stars. An exoplanet refers to any planet outside of our solar system. The discoveries of these worlds are a major accomplishment for us, but the question still persists:…

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How long has life been around on Earth? Is life an inevitable part of planet formation? The second question is tough to answer, but if life formed soon after the planet formed, then this has important ramifications for the abundance of life in the Universe. In an article published in the leading journal Nature by…

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The airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a flying observatory aboard a modified Boeing 747 that takes infrared astronomy readings at approximately 41,000 feet above the Earth’s surface. It recently observed a mini-eclipse of the extrasolar planet named “GJ 1214b”. Scientists wanted…

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When studying the origin of life on Earth, scientists must rely on past data, physical laws, and models  instead of direct observations. After all, we can’t know for sure what the world was like 4 billion years ago, when the first microscopic life was formed from a mixture of non-living molecules. But knowing about…

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No living organism can survive in the dead of space, right? The unlikely exception: water bears. Also known by their scientific name, tardigrades, water bears are incredibly resilient microscopic aquatic animals. There are over 1000 species of the animal, and various forms have been found to survive in temperatures and…

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Unlike humans, who depend on oxygen to breathe, bacteria have the ability to breathe many other molecules besides oxygen. While most of our Earth is soaked in oxygen, there are areas that have little to none. In sediments at the bottom of lakes, oceans and marshes, oxygen is consumed rapidly within few centimeters…