Stephen Hawking at the National Library of France

Stephen Hawking, one of the most well-known figures in physics and astrophysics passed away in the night at his home in Cambridge, England.

Stephen Hawking’s studies on black holes for which he became famous remain crucial in the field of physics and astrophysics. I wonder if in the end he was still lucid enough to realize the bitter irony of dying on Albert Einstein’s birth anniversary. With his sense of humor perhaps his last emotion was amusement. He was an atheist so he didn’t have the comfort of a religion but that of the appreciation of life.

The ANA Avatar XPRIZE website's home page

Peter Diamandis, Executive Chairman of XPRIZE, announced the start of a new initiative called ANA Avatar XPRIZE with the aim of developing avatars. A competition that will last four years with a prize of $10 millions offering teams all over the world the chance to develop robotic systems that can’t only move but also transmit visual and auditory sensations interacting with the environment and other people like if the user was on site.

Orion by Ben Bova

The novel “Orion” by Ben Bova was published for the first time in 1984. It’s the first book in the Orion series.

John O’Ryan is aware of the fact that he has extraordinary skills but doesn’t know their origin. His life doesn’t seem exceptional but one day ends up in the middle of what looks like a terrorist attack. With him a beautiful woman who caught his attention is involved and ends up killed not in the attack but in the strange events that follow it.

Determined to understand more about it, John O’Ryan starts investigating and finally finds someone who reveals his true identity. He’s not a normal human being but Orion, the champion of all humanity, whose destiny is to save it by fighting Ahriman the Dark One, who wants to destroy it, through time. The woman who charmed him is more than a human and acts alongside Ormazd the Golden One, Orion’s creator.

A female Eudorina colony with 32 large egg cells (Image courtesy Hiroko Kawai-Toyooka, University of Tokyo. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Communications Biology” describes a research that offers new clues about the genetic origin of the two sexes. A team of researchers led by Dr. Hisayoshi Nozaki of the University of Tokyo studied the volvocine green algae, a group of algae that includes species that have been studied for years in the research on this topic. In this case the analyzes focused on species of the Yamagishiella and Eudorina genera, discovering a key gene in the differentiation between males and females.

The chick's phosphorous mapping and photo (Image Dr. Fabien Knoll)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes the study of the fossil remains of a chick that lived about 127 million years ago and died shortly after its birth. A team of researchers led by Dr. Fabien Knoll of the University of Manchester examined this specimen that belongs to the Enantiornithes, a group of primordial birds that lived during the Cretaceous period. Its almost complete skeleton made it possible to analyze its bones’ structure and development, obtaining new data on those birds.