It was 8:07 p.m. on a Friday night in Riverhead, Long Island, when the operators at an RCA Communications outpost picked up a signal that had never been heard before on Earth. A sharp, insistent beep sang out over short-wave radios, filling up our ears with the knowledge that humans had succeeded in sending something to the wispiest edge of our protective blanket of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.
In the hours before dawn on March 11, 1437, the constellation Scorpio rose over the horizon near Seoul, Korea. Astronomers tasked with scanning the sky and noting nightly changes—aurorae, comets, shooting stars and the like—noticed something odd about the group of stars they called the tail of the dragon, one of the lunar mansions of the night sky.
Long ago, 15 bright radio pulses emerged from a dwarf galaxy about 3 billion light years away from Earth. Last Saturday, a telescope in a remote area of West Virginia picked up those signals from a distant corner of the universe, and yesterday, a group of astronomers and astrophysicists shared preliminary results on their observations.
When subjected to the pressures (and temperatures) of other planets, even familiar substances can get pretty alien. Case in point: the diamond rains of the ice giants. Scientists have long thought that massive planets like Neptune and Uranus—which probably-maybe (or maybe-probably) contain relatively tiny rocky cores covered with a mantle of slurried water, ammonia, and methane ices and surrounded by a thick atmosphere — are subject to rain made of literal diamonds. Now researchers have synthesised the process in a lab, showing how such conditions might occur.