High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras this week when a
solar wind stream and a faint CME are expected to hit Earth's magnetic
field in quick succession. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% to 65% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on April 21-22.
At the same time, Earth will be passing through a stream of debris from
Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Sky watchers
are already seeing a smattering of late-night fireballs as Earth
approaches the diffuse core of the debris stream. Meteor rates are
expected to crest on April 22-23 with as many as 20 Lyrids per hour.
ENCORE: Discovering bacteria on Mars would
be big news. But nothing would scratch our alien itch like making
contact with intelligent life. Hear why one man is impatient for the
discovery, and also about the new tools that may speed up the “eureka”
moment. One novel telescope may help us find E.T. at home, by detecting
the heat of his cities.
Also, the father of modern SETI research and how decoding the squeals of dolphins could teach us how to communicate with aliens.
ENCORE: Monsters don’t exist. Except
when they do. And extinction is forever, except when it isn’t. So,
which animals are mythical and which are in hiding?
Bigfoot sightings are plentiful, but real evidence for the hirsute
creature is a big zilch. Yet, the coelacanth, a predatory fish thought
extinct, actually lives. Today, its genome is offering clues as to how
and when our fishy ancestors first flopped onto land.
Meanwhile, the ivory-billed woodpecker assumes mythic status as it
flutters between existence and extinction. And, from passenger pigeons
to the wooly mammoth, hi-tech genetics may imitate Jurassic Park, and
bring back vanished animals.
On Friday, April 10th, a G2-class geomagnetic storm erupted. Northern
Lights spilled across the Canadian border into the USA, where auroras
were photographed as far south as Colorado. At the time of this alert,
storm conditions are still underway with a possibility for more storming
when a belated CME arrives later in the day.
We all try to fight it: the inexorable march of time. The fountain
of youth doesn’t exist, and all those wrinkle creams can’t help. But
modern science is giving us new weapons in the fight against aging. So
how far are we willing to go?
Hear when aging begins, a summary of the latest biotech research, and
how a lab full of youthful worms might help humans stay healthy.
Also, a geneticist who takes a radical approach: collect the DNA
that codes for longevity and restructure our genome. He finds
inspiration – and perhaps genes as well – in the bi-centenarian bowhead
But what if age really is mind over matter? A psychologist’s
extraordinary thought experiment with septuagenarian men turns back the
clock 20 years. Will it work on diseases such as cancer as well?
Gordon Lithgow – Geneticist, Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, California
Manish Chamoli – Post-doctoral researcher, Buck Institute for Research on Aging
LUNAR ECLIPSE: Sky watchers on the Pacific side of Earth can see a brief but beautiful lunar eclipse on Saturday morning, April 4th.
The Moon will turn red, and possibly turquoise, too, as the lunar disk
passes through the shadow of our planet. Totality lasts for less than 5
minutes, so it is important to be outside at the right moment.
Archeologists continue to hunt for the city of Atlantis, even though
it may never have existed. But, what if it did? Its discovery would
change ancient history. Sometimes when we dig around in the past, we
can change our understanding of how we got to where we are.
We thought we had wrapped up the death of the dinosaurs: blame it on
an asteroid. But evidence unearthed in Antarctica and elsewhere
suggests the rock from space wasn’t the sole culprit.
Also, digging into our genetic past can turn up surprising – and
sometimes uncomfortable truths – from ancestral origins to genes that
code for disease. But do we always want to know?
ENCORE: Let there be light! Well, it’s
easy to do: just flip a switch. But it took more than the invention of
the light bulb to make that possible. It required new technology for
the distribution of electricity. And that came, not so much from Thomas
Edison, but from a Serbian genius named Nikola Tesla.
Hear his story plus ideas on what might be the breakthrough energy
innovations of the future. Perhaps hydrogen-fueled cars, nuclear fusion
electrical generators or even orbiting solar cells?
Plus, a reminder of cutting-edge technology back in Napoleon’s day: lighthouses.
Tiny solar flares on the Sun may be having an outsized effect on the
temperature of the sun's atmosphere. To investigate, scientists will
observe these "nano flares" using a space telescope built for black
ARCTIC ECLIPSE: On March 20th,
the first day of northern spring, Arctic sky watchers could witness
something rare and wonderful: Northern Lights during a total eclipse of
the sun. Earth's magnetic field is reverberating from a CME strike on
March 17th that sparked the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current
solar cycle. Days after the impact, auroras are still dancing around
the Arctic Circle. Those auroras could emerge in "broad daylight" this Friday
when the new Moon passes in front of the Arctic sun, producing a total
eclipse visible from Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, and many ships at
SEVERE GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's
magnetic field during the early hours of March 17th, triggering a
magnetic disturbance that has escalated into the strongest geomagnetic
storm of the current solar cycle (Kp=8). During the hours before
sunrise on St. Patrick's Day, bright green skies appeared over multiple
US states including Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, and the Dakotas.
You are what you eat. Whether you dine on kimchi, carnitas, or corn
dogs determines which microbes live in your stomach. And gut microbes
make up only part of your total microbiome.
Find out how your microbes are the brains-without-brains that affect
your health and even your mood. Also, why you and your cohorts are
closer than you thought: new research suggests that you swap and adopt
bugs from your social set.
Plus, the philosophical questions that are arise when we realize that we have more microbial DNA than human DNA.
And a woman who skipped soap and shampoo for a month to see what would grow on her.
DIRECTED X-FLARE: On March 11th at approximately 16:22 UT (09:22 PDT)
sunspot AR2297 unleashed a strong X2-class solar flare. Extreme UV
radiation from the blast is causing HF radio fade-outs and other
propagation effects on the dayside of Earth, primarily over the
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