It’s dark outside, permanently. The sun twinkles in the distance barely bigger than other stars. But the ground is warm, and oceans are teaming with life. That’s the scenario envisioned by Dan Hooper and Jason Steffen of Fermi National Laboratory in Batavia Illinois, who released a preprint yesterday about the possibility of dark matter heating planets that are otherwise too far from their host stars to be habitable. Read more
Researchers have completed an inspection of damage at the underground physics lab closed due to fire on March 17, says the lab’s director. The Soudan Underground Laboratory of the University of Minnesota was shut down for ten days after fire broke out in the timbers lining an elevator shaft that serves the lab site, located on level 27 of the mine, which is 710 metres underground (the underground location shields out cosmic rays that would act as a source of background noise for experiments in the lab). After going back in for the first time yesterday, lab staff found some damage from firefighting foam forced down the shaft that burst open the doors to the lab, and are reckoning with a need for substantial clean-up to remove debris from the fire that was brought in, says lab director Marvin Marshak. Read more
From the night’s television to what the cat dragged in, professors who want to gain credibility with their students should give up tweeting scholarly material and instead concentrate on tweeting social snippets of their lives. At least this is the message from a new study of 120 undergraduate students published in the current issue of the journal Learning, Media and Technology.
Mercury, the solar system’s smallest planet and a font of geophysical enigmas, is now squarely in researcher’s sights. On 29 March, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft radioed back the first ever images taken from orbit around Mercury, including never-before-seen portions of the planet’s far southern regions.
Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1960–the same year that a U.S. satellite snapped the first photo of the Earth from space, the same year that the CERN particle accelerator became operational, the same year that the Beatles got their name–a 26-year-old Jane Goodall got on a plane in London and went for the first time to Gombe Stream Game Reserve, in Tanzania. She carried with her only a notebook and some old binoculars. Almost every day since the day Goodall arrived there in July 1960, somebody has been watching the chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) of what is now called Gombe National Park, carefully recording their every movement.