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- ‘Alien probe’ asteroid is dead quiet, but is that good news or bad news?
A couple of months back, a really, really weird asteroid flew through our Solar System. It looked nothing like any object humanity had ever spotted in space, and was moving might fast. First it was identified as a comet, then an asteroid, and most recently scientists have been wondering if maybe it was actually an alien spacecraft. Now, after spending hours listening to the strange visitor with powerful radio telescopes, scientists say they haven't heard a peep.
The object, named Oumuamua, is shaped like a cigar. If it's really an asteroid it would be the very first interstellar asteroid — that is, a rock that originated outside of our Solar System — to be observed by humans, but its bizarre form and speedy entry and exit gave alien hunters reason to believe it might actually be otherworldly technology. Now, it seems, that question will have to wait a little longer to be answered.
Earlier this week scientists from the Breakthrough Listen project pointed their ears towards Oumuamua in the hopes of hearing something, anything, that couldn't be explained by some natural process. After a preliminary review of the data, they haven't found anything that would suggest the object is actually an alien probe, but whether or not we should be happy about that is up for debate.
Humanity has been hastily attempting to make contact with intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations for decades now. We've sent spacecraft out of our Solar System with directions on where to find us, and shot radio wave messages to distant stars in the hopes that someone is listening. If we're going to meet aliens, these are probably our best shots at making first contact, but should we even be trying?
Every scientist with an itch to find alien life has a counterpart who fears what that meeting may bring. Many astronomers and physicists, including Stephen Hawking, have warned that contact aliens could result in the utter destruction of mankind. We simply don't know whether intelligent beings living elsewhere in the universe will see us as a friendly neighbor, a threat, or simply a nuisance that should be wiped out simply because we're annoying them.
"Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach," Hawking famously said. "If so, it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for material to build more spaceships so they could move on. Who knows what the limits would be?"
For now, it appears that the strange object that just visited us isn't relaying messages with alien handlers on a distant star system, and maybe that's for the best.
- Monster Sharks: Four Fierce Giants That Rival Greenland's Ancient Beast
Sharks have been making headlines recently after a 2016 report of a Greenland shark that was around 512 years old resurfaced this week. In November, a dinosaur-era frilled shark was on our minds. Here are just a few of the most terrifying examples of sharks from across time.
- Missouri issues first fines over misuse of farm chemical in 2016
Missouri has issued its first fines over the misuse of a farm chemical in 2016 that went on to be linked in different formulations to widespread U.S. crop damage this year, the state said on Thursday. Authorities fined eight people a total of $145,125 for improperly spraying the chemical known as dicamba, used to kill weeds, in what Missouri called "the first wave of civil penalties issued to applicators," according to a statement. The delay between sprayings last year and the state's action shows how a long process of investigating many complaints about dicamba use is straining resources in farm states.
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- Russia: Man Caught With 30 Million-Year-Old Shark Teeth in His Luggage
Russian authorities have seized what they believe to be fossilized remains of a prehistoric shark from a smuggler headed for the Chinese border, customs services said. The customs service announced that a search in the luggage of a Chinese citizen who attempted to cross the border into his homeland turned up the artifacts, which he failed to declare. A university in Russia’s Primorye region later released a statement saying the 24 teeth belonged to sea predator Otodus obliguus, who lived some 30 million years ago.
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- What science says about why we get déjà vu
It's the sense of familiarity that feels misplaced because you know you haven't experienced the same thing before. For no apparent reason, you feel like you're reliving a past experience. It's called déjà vu, which is French for "already seen," and it happens to an estimated 70% of the population, according to How Stuff Works, with people aged between 15 and 25 years old experiencing it most.
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- 'Oumuamua: Interstellar Asteroid Investigated for Alien Communication and First Results Are In
Earlier this week, a team of astronomers announced that they would be using radio telescopes to study 'Oumuamua, currently considered the first known asteroid to visit us from another solar system. Radio signals emanating from the object could not occur naturally, so if the analysis picks up any sign of such signals, it would suggest that the object is in fact unnatural, a probe sent to us by an alien civilization communicating with its creators. If they do see any signal, that's an immediate sign that something weird is happening. "There should never be a fluke," Avi Loeb, an astronomer at Harvard University who suggested (and is working on) the new observations, told Newsweek.
- Massive Great White Shark, Mary Lee, Tracked For Five Years, Goes Silent
In September 2012, researchers put a tracking device on a 3,456-pound great white shark and named her Mary Lee. Probably not, says Chris Fischer, who leads ocean research expeditions and was part of the team that caught and tagged her. Mary Lee when she was first captured and tagged on a research vessel.
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- Barack Obama Dressed Up As Too-Cool-For-School Santa For His Latest Appearance