A SpaceX Booster Falls and Breaks, and More Science News of the Week

A SpaceX Booster Falls and Breaks, and More Science News of the Week

Our top science stories this week include a physics experiment to turn light into matter, an update from NASA’s Juno mission (it’s about to make a close encounter with Jupiter’s moon Io), and a roundup of the best archaeological discoveries of 2023.

Physicists Designed an Experiment to Turn Light Into Matter

An artist’s impression of a pulsar—a rapidly spinning neutron star.
Illustration: Olena Shmahalo for NANOGrav

Plasma could be wrangled to collide photons and yield matter, according to physicists who ran simulations to explore the practical applications of a world-famous equation. – Isaac Schultz Read More

The Best Places to See Fossils in the United States

The Morrison Formation at Dinosaur National Monument.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Into fossils? Taking a road trip across the country and looking for a side quest? Perhaps you’re just looking for an escape from modernity writ large. Well, these are the places for you. – Isaac Schultz Read More

The Best Archaeological Discoveries of 2023

The grave of a horse rider in Malomirovo, Bulgaria.
Photo: Michał Podsiadlo

Few disciplines are as full of drama and surprises as archaeology, and this year was no exception. Archaeologists and anthropologists mined ancient genomes, excavated Roman weaponry from caves near the Dead Sea, and found a still-standing shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Huron. – Isaac Schultz Read More

Firefly’s Alpha Rocket Put a Satellite in the Wrong Orbit

The Firefly Alpha rocket launched on December 22.
Photo: Firefly Aerospace/Trevor Mahlmann

Following a successful liftoff, Firefly’s Alpha rocket seems to have misplaced its payload due to a second stage anomaly. The mission, called “Fly the Lightning,” was carrying a satellite developed by Lockheed Martin to test an electronically steerable antenna. – Passant Rabie Read More

Juno Spacecraft Gears Up for Closest Look at Jupiter’s Tormented Moon

The north polar region of the Jovian moon Io shown in this image taken on October 15 by NASA’s Juno.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS, Image processing by Ted Stryk

NASA’s curious Jupiter probe is getting chummier with the planet’s most erratic moon, Io. The Juno spacecraft will carry out the closest encounter any mission has had with the volcanic moon in over 20 years, collecting valuable clues about its mysterious activity. – Passant Rabie Read More

Iconic SpaceX Booster Falls and Breaks in the Ocean

The Falcon 9 rocket launching on December 23.
Photo: SpaceX

A Falcon 9 first-stage booster broke apart after completing its 19th mission, tipping over on the floating droneship in the Atlantic Ocean due to high winds. – Passant Rabie Read More

Man Gets Eye Exam, Learns He’s Had a Splinter Stuck in His Cornea for 15 Years

Image: Kitreel (Shutterstock)

Talk about an eyesore. In a case report this month, doctors have described finding a wooden splinter lodged inside a man’s cornea for apparently 15 years. – Ed Cara Read More

NASA Astronauts Test Out Moon Elevator for 2025 Landing Mission

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Doug “Wheels” Wheelock testing out the mockup elevator.
Photo: SpaceX

Ahead of NASA’s long-awaited return to crewed Moon landings, the space agency is testing an elevator that will carry astronauts from their spacecraft to the lunar surface. If all goes as planned, this elevator will be ready for the Artemis 3 and 4 missions, ambitiously set for 2025 and 2028. – Passant Rabie Read More

5 Real Medical Treatments That Sound Like Sci-Fi

An example of what a deep brain stimulation device looks like under X-ray imaging.
Photo: Hellerhoff/Wikimedia Commons

Modern medicine has extended our lives and reduced suffering in all kinds of ways. Many of the impactful interventions we have available today have been around for a long time, like antibiotics, most painkillers, and various forms of cancer screening. But every once in a while, scientists come up with novel treatments that jump the line from “cool” to “whoa.” Here are five sci-fi medical innovations that are already here or close to fruition. – Ed Cara Read More

Being a Hypochondriac Might Help Send You to an Early Grave, Study Suggests

Image: Pixfiction (Shutterstock)

Being overly worried about getting sick may, actually, help send you to an early grave, new research out this month suggests. The study found that people diagnosed with hypochondriasis were noticeably more likely to die during the study period than those without it. – Ed Cara Read More

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

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