December 2018

Hair bulb and extremity (Image Sly.cooper91)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a genetic research on the origin of the various hair colors in human beings. A team of researchers led by professors Ian Jackson and Albert Tenesa of the Scottish University of Edinburgh studied the hair-related genetic characteristics of 343,234 people who took part in the UK Biobank study, mainly linked to health research. Among the findings there are eight new genetic variants linked to red hair and variants of nearly 200 genes associated with blonds and brunettes.

The short story “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar was published for the first time in 2016.

Anyone willing to go to Mars as a colonist has the opportunity to make the one-way trip but on jalopies, one-person spacecraft, not exactly safe. A swarm of jalopies is traveling to the red planet with all the risks involved, but people like Haziq have left everything, including his family, to go and live on Mars. To spend the time, travelers listen to music like Mei or talk to each other over the radio to break up their loneliness, sometimes even communicating with people like Eliza, a nurse working in the Earth’s orbit.

Riccardo Giacconi receiving the 2003 National Medal of Science

On Sunday, December 9 Riccardo Giacconi passed away. He was the father of X-ray astronomy and Nobel Prize in physics in 2002 for his contributions in that field. In 1962 Riccardo Giacconi discovered the first extraterrestrial X-ray source, named Scorpius X-1. In 1970 he oversaw the launch of NASA’s Uhuru satellite, the first specialized in X-ray astronomy, followed in the following decades by increasingly sophisticated stellites such as the Einstein Observatory (HEAO-2) in 1978, designed while Giacconi was director of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in 1999.

Empress of the Sun by Ian McDonald (Italian edition)

The novel “Empress of the Sun” by Ian McDonald was published for the first time in 2014. It’s the third book in the Everness series and follows “Be My Enemy”.

After a jump into another universe, the airship Everness gets seriously damaged immediately after an arrival much more complicated than expected. Everett Singh tries to understand what went wrong since his calculations seemed correct and soon realizes that he and his fellow travelers didn’t end up on another Earth but on a Discworld built by the Jiju, very powerful and ferocious descendants of the dinosaurs. Empress of the Sun, the sovereign of one of the Jiju factions, would like to have the Infundibulum.

Charlotte Villiers is aware that recovering the Infundibulum is no longer just a matter of personal power but of security for the human beings of all the Earths because they’d have no way to defend themselves from the Jiju if they could find a way to jump into parallel universes. Meanwhile, Everett M Singh struggles to pretend to be his doppelganger because of the difficulties in concealing his superhuman physical abilities and the consequences of his choices at the end of “Be My Enemy”.

Stenopterygius was a Jurassic marine reptile that according to a research was warm-blooded

An article published in the journal “Nature” shows a molecular and microstructural analysis of a fossil of Stenopterygius, a marine reptile that belonged to the order of ichthyosaurs and lived about 180 million years ago. A team of researchers examined a fossil found in the Holzmaden quarry in Germany of which various soft tissues also got fossilized. This allowed to find chemical traces consistent with blubber, fatty tissue similar to whale fat and other aquatic or semi-aquatic mammals’ fat, all warm-blooded species. The conclusion is that Stenopterygius was warm-blooded as well.