The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel (Famous Fantastic Mysteries. All-Fiction Field, Inc. / Lawrence Sterne Stevens)

The novel “The Purple Cloud” by M.P. Shiel was published for the first time in 1901. It’s freely available on Project Gutenberg’s website.

An expedition is set up to reach for the first time the North Pole and win the huge prize left in his will by a millionaire for the one who succeeded in accomplishing such a feat. Adam Jeffson finds a place in the expedition thanks to his fiancée, who resorts to poisoning her own cousin to prevent him from taking part to it instead of her fiancé.

Over the course of his journey, Adam Jeffson starts having a growing sense of forces guiding him. Through vicissitudes, he manages to be the first to reach the North Pole but when he begins his return journey he finds only corpses and only a purple cloud of unknown nature as a possible cause.

PulChron setup (Photo courtesy ESA)

ESA began experimenting with a new type of clock called PulChron based on pulsars. Activated at the end of November 2018, this system is based on the impulses generated by these neutron stars that spin very rapidly in extremely precise times. 18 pulsars monitored with various radio telescopes were used for the measurements, which provide extremely accurate time references for various purposes such as verifying the performance of the Galileo European navigation system’s satellites.

Doctor Who - The Mind of Evil

“The Mind of Evil” is an adventure of the eighth season of “Doctor Who” classic series, which aired in 1971. It follows “Terror of the Autons” and it’s a six parts adventure written by Don Houghton and directed by Timothy Combe.

The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning) are visiting Stangmoor Prison to witness the demonstration of a new technology that can remove negative impulses from the minds of criminals. The Doctor is skeptical and the process leaves the prisoner in a great state of prostration.

The Doctor tries to stop the use of the machine but Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) can’t support him because he has to manage a very important peace conference. The death of the leader of the Chinese delegation could make the conference fail before it even begins.

Nanjinganthus dendrostyla fossil (Image courtesy Fu et al.)

An article published in the journal “eLife” shows the discovery of a plant that was named Nanjinganthus dendrostyla dating back to about 174 million years ago, during the Early Jurassic period, which has characteristics typical of angiosperms, which are the plants with flowers. A team of researchers discovered 264 specimens of 198 individual flowers preserved in 34 plates in the South Xiangshan Formation, China. So far, fossil discoveries indicated that flowers appeared 125-130 million years ago.

The Human Division by John Scalzi

The novel “The Human Division” by John Scalzi was published for the first time in 2013 putting together a number of short stories published previously. It’s part of the “Old Man’s War” series.

The Colonial Union is working hard diplomatically with various alien species to try to build new alliances or at least to make new deals and avoid more wars. The situation is made more complex by the fact that someone seems intent on sabotaging those efforts, for example by destroying the spaceship on which a human ambassador is traveling.

Ambassador Ode Abumwe is forced to meet an alien delegation with very little time to prepare after her colleague who was supposed to lead the diplomatic mission was killed. Harry Wilson is only a lieutenant of the Colonial Defense Forces (CDF) but his intelligence work gives him the authority to assist Abumwe and Captain Sophie Coloma, who is on alert to prevent her spacship from getting destroyed.