Tag Archives: survival

Commissioned by NASA in the 70’s – How They View Outer Space

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The terminator: where perpetual day meets perpetual night on the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f. Photo: NASA


The universe is big and, while we may be able to explore it in depth in the future, we can’t yet see a lot of it up-close. Scientists make inferences about an exoplanet’s finer details from larger observations, using what they know about how space works, but we can never know for sure what that planet is like until we land on it and walk around. That’s where artists come in: They show us what is out there as best as they can, helping us to imagine our greater universe. Here are examples of the most eye-opening work they’ve done for NASA.

Where Ice Meets Water

The surface of the exoplanet Trappist-1f  looks like a place where a supervillain would live. This photo actually depicts a place called the “terminator” — no relation to the cyborg from the Arnold Schwarzenegger films — where the daytime side of the planet meets the nighttime side. Trappist-1f, like all the other planets in that solar system, orbits its star in such a way that the same side is always facing light and heat, and the other side is in perpetual darkness. While there could be water on the warmer side, the dark side of the planet could be icy.

This planet is part of the Trappist-1 system, a star and seven rocky planets in the constellation Aquarius, about 40 light years from Earth, that scientists recently discovered. The planets are so close together that aliens on each planet would be able to see the skies of the others.

A New Civilization on Mars

screenshot-www.ibtimes.com-2017-05-06-12-29-19A Mars colony will need workers of all kinds. Photo: NASA


As humans search for alien life in the universe and seek to land on and explore other planets, Mars is a huge target. It is Earth’s closest neighbor, other than the moon, and scientists believe basic life forms could have once thrived on the planet before its atmosphere thinned out and Mars dried up and cooled off.

These two posters, part of a series, are simple but they can get people fired up about the prospect of exploring and even building a space colony on another world, which astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says we have to do in the next 100 years if humans want to have a prayer of avoiding extinction. A full colony would need experts like engineers and doctors, sure, but also people to teach the colony’s children about Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos and do other community tasks.

The center of the galaxy

screenshot-www.ibtimes.com-2017-05-06-12-30-16Black holes are famous for sucking, and they can tear you into a stream of atoms without even breaking a sweat.Photo: NASA


Supermassive black holes suck, but in a cool way. They have such an enormous mass packed into such a small space that their gravitational pull is too strong for even light to escape them. These dense objects are millions of times more massive than the sun and lie at the centers of galaxies, destroying anything that comes too close by ripping it into a stream of particles. But as it consumes life, it also gives it: Scientists have found evidence that new stars form within the galactic outflows, powerful winds of gas the supermassive black hole blows out.

A vision of the future

screenshot-www.ibtimes.com-2017-05-06-12-30-32Will humans one day be able to explore the solar system like they would a foreign country? Photo: NASA


If we want to see amazing things in outer space, we don’t have to leave our solar system. These three posters from the Visions of the Future series depict the gas giant Jupiter and two moons of Saturn, Titan, and Enceladus — and humans getting spectacular views of their natural beauty.

Enceladus is special particularly now because NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected hydrogen coming from that moon, which certain life forms could use as a source of energy. Added to the heat source beneath its icy surface and it could have the ingredients to support alien life.

The next frontier

screenshot-www.ibtimes.com-2017-05-06-12-30-52A space colony imagined in the 1970s comes complete with trees and patio decks. Photo: Rick Guidice/NASA


What is life like in a doughnut-shaped space colony? This work from the 1970s, one of a series by various artists, imagines it like a suburban haven in the heavens, including patio decks, trees, skylights and tennis courts.

It’s possible a future human colony somewhere other than Earth would be built in space, but most of the talk today focuses on Mars and other planets. If that planet is far away, however, humans will have to make themselves comfortable on the spaceship trip over, and this doesn’t look like a bad way to travel.

A planet born from dust

screenshot-www.ibtimes.com-2017-05-06-12-31-05Life on a gas giant forming in a young solar system would look up at the night sky and see more dust than stars. Photo: NASA


This artist imagined what an early solar system would look like as it grows, including a cloudy planet at least as large as Jupiter forming from the dust around its star, complete with a ring of dust and ice. “If we were to visit a planet like this, we would have a very different view of the universe,” NASA says. “The sky, instead of being the familiar dark expanse lit by distant stars, would be dominated by the thick disc of dust that fills this young planetary system.”

A land of three suns

screenshot-www.ibtimes.com-2017-05-06-12-31-17This moon orbits a planet that is in a solar system with three stars instead of one. Photo: NASA


Are three suns better than one? After astronomers for the first time found a planet within a triple-star system — in which three stars orbit the same point — an artist imagined what it would look like to live there. This view, NASA says, is from “a hypothetical moon in orbit” around that planet, a gas giant just a little bit more massive than Jupiter.

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World-first Evidence suggests that Meditation Alters Cancer Survivors’ Cells

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World-first Evidence suggests that Meditation Alters Cancer Survivors’ Cells

We’re often told that being happy, meditating and mindfulness can benefit our health. We all have that one friend of a friend who says they cured their terminal illness by quitting their job and taking up surfing – but until now there’s been very little scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Now researchers in Canada have found the first evidence to suggest that support groups that encourage meditation and yoga can actually alter the cellular activity of cancer survivors.

Their study, which was published in the journal Cancer last week, is one of the first to suggest that a mind-body connection really does exist.

The team found that the telomeres – the protein caps at the end of our chromosomes that determine how quickly a cell ages – stayed the same length in cancer survivors who meditated or took part in support groups over a three-month period.

On the other hand, the telomeres of cancer survivors who didn’t participate in these groups shortened during the three-month study.

Scientists still don’t know for sure whether telomeres are involved in regulating disease, but there is early evidence that suggests shortened telomeres are associated with the likelihood of surviving several diseases, including breast cancer, as well as cellular ageing. And longer telomeres are generally thought to help protect us from disease.

“We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology,” said Linda E. Carlson, a psychosocial research and the lead investigator at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, in a press release. She conducted the study alongside scientists from the University of Calgary.

“It was surprising that we could see any difference in telomere length at all over the three-month period studied,” said Carlson. “Further research is needed to better quantify these potential health benefits, but this is an exciting discovery that provides encouraging news.”

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As part of the research, 88 breast cancer survivors who had completed their treatment more than three months ago were monitored. The average age of the participants was 55, and to be eligible to participate in the study they all had to have experienced significant levels of emotional distress.

They were separated into three groups  – one was asked to attend eight weekly, 90-minute group sessions that provided instructions on mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga. These participants were asked to practice meditation and yoga at home for 45 minutes daily.

The second group met up for 90 minutes each week for the three months, and were encouraged to talk openly about their concerns and feelings.

The third control group simply attended one six-hour stress management seminar.

Before and after the study, all participants had their blood analysed and their telomere length measured.

Both groups who attended the support groups had maintained their telomere length over the three-month period, while the telomeres of the third group had shortened. The two groups who’d attended the regular meetings also reported lower stress levels and better moods.

Although this is pretty exciting research, it’s still not known whether these benefits will be long-term or what’s causing this biological effect. Further research is now needed to find out whether these results are replicable across a larger number of participants, and what they mean for our health long-term.

But it’s a pretty huge first step towards understanding more about how our mental state affects our health. And it’s part of a growing body of research out there – a separate group of Italian scientists published in PLOS ONE a few weeks ago also showed that mindfulness training can change the structure of our brains.

Of course for many believers in meditation, this discovery probably isn’t that exciting. Research back in the ’80s had suggested that cancer patients who join support groups are more likely to survive.

Source: http://www.sciencealert.com/world-first-evidence-suggests-that-meditation-alters-cancer-survivors-cells