How many Tyrannosaurus rex walked the Earth?

Tyrannosaurus rex (rex meaning “king” in Latin) lived throughout what is now western North America 68 to 66 million years ago, during the Upper Cretaceous period. Back then, there was a big island (an island continent) called “Laramidia” there. But, how many Tyrannosaurus rex walked the Earth? At the same time, and in total? Ashley …

Astronomers image the magnetic field of a black hole for the first time – here’s what it reveals

There was a lot of excitement when the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration showed the world the first ever image of a black hole back in April 2019. Weighing in at 6.5 million times the mass of our Sun, this supermassive black hole is located in the galaxy Messier 87, or M87, some 55 million light …

Regrowing a tropical forest – is it better to plant trees or leave it to nature?

David Burslem, University of Aberdeen; Christopher Philipson, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, and Mark Cutler, University of Dundee The destruction of tropical forests is a major contributor to biodiversity loss and the climate crisis. In response, conservationists and scientists like us are debating how to best catalyze the recovery of these forests. How do …

Early magma oceans of Earth detected in 3.7 billion-year-old Greenland rocks

Earth hasn’t always been a blue and green oasis of life in an otherwise inhospitable solar system. During our planet’s first 50 million years, around 4.5 billion years ago, its surface was a hellscape of magma oceans, bubbling and belching with heat from Earth’s interior. Helen M Williams, University of Cambridge

Has Earth been visited by an alien spaceship? Harvard professor Avi Loeb vs everybody else

Simon Goodwin, University of Sheffield A highly unusual object was spotted travelling through the solar system in 2017. Given a Hawaiian name, ‘Oumuamua, it was small and elongated – a few hundred metres by a few tens of meters, travelling at a speed fast enough to escape the Sun’s gravity and move into interstellar space.

Perseverance Rover: The Tech and Goals

Jim Bell, Arizona State University Editor’s note: On Feb. 18, NASA’s Mars 2020 mission arrived at the red planet and successfully landed the Perseverance Rover on the surface. Jim Bell is a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and has worked on a number of Mars missions. He …

Ocean pollution is a clear danger to human health

Ocean pollution is widespread, worsening, and poses a clear and present danger to human health and wellbeing. But the extent of this danger has not been widely comprehended – until now. Our recent study provides the first comprehensive assessment of the impacts of ocean pollution on human health. Jacqueline McGlade, UCL and Philip Landrigan, Boston …

Earth has stayed habitable for billions of years – exactly how lucky did we get?

Toby Tyrrell, University of Southampton It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that time then evolution would have come to a crashing halt and we would not be here now. So to understand how we came to exist on planet Earth, …

Why Crocodiles today look the same as they did 200 million years ago?

Max Stockdale, University of Bristol One of the most enduring tropes about crocodiles is to describe them as “living fossils”. They are cold, slow-moving, and scaly, so they look like how one might picture a dinosaur. Like many clichés, there is an element of truth to this comparison. The crocodiles from 200 million years ago …

SETI: new signal excites alien hunters – here’s how we could find out if it’s real

Michael Garrett, University of Manchester The US$100m (£70m) Breakthrough Listen Initiative, founded by Russian billionaire, technology and science investor Yuri Milner and his wife Julia, has identified a mysterious radio signal that seems to come from the nearest star to the Sun – Proxima Centauri. This has generated a flood of excitement in the press …