2020

The amber piece with lizard leg and mycomycete (Image courtesy Alexander Schmidt, University of Göttingen and Scientific Reports)

An article published in the journal “Scientific Reports” describes the discovery of the oldest identified slime mold, attributed to the genus Stemonitis. It’s a fossil mold dating back to about 100 million years ago preserved in excellent conditions within a piece of amber discovered in Myanmar. Jouko Rikkinen, David Grimaldi and Alexander Schmidt examined this fossil, very useful for reconstructing the evolutionary history of these organisms part of the mixomycete (Myxomycota) group, a little known history because of the scarcity of fossils.

Perhaps the impact point of the largest young meteorite that struck Earth about 790,000 years ago was discovered

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” reports a study offering evidence that the impact point of the largest young meteorite that struck the Earth, about 790,000 years ago, is under a volcanic complex in today’s Laos, in the Bolaven plateau. A team of researchers collected geological evidence related to minerals such as tektites in the area and to the mapping and dating of basaltic lavas, from local gravitational measurements, and from the presence of a outcrop of crudely layered sandstone and mudstone boulders 10 to 20 kilometers from the area.

Strange Music by Alan Dean Foster

The novel “Strange Music” by Alan Dean Foster was published for the first time in 2017. It’s part of the Pip & Flinx series.

Flinx has been living with his girlfriend Clarity and obviously with Pip on the planet Cachalot for more than a year now when he receives the unexpected visit of Sylzenzuzex, a Thranx member of the United Church. This is not a courtesy visit because the Thranx explains that his help is needed for a very special mission on a backward planet that’s not part of the Commonwealth.

A problem emerged on the planet Largess, which has still limited relations with the Commonwealth although it may join it in the future. For the time being, advanced technologies are prohibited on Largess, but the presence of a human being who imported them has been reported. Officially, the Commonwealth can’t send anyone to capture the human but Flinx is a wanted man and the request for intervention comes from the United Church. The mission turns out to be really complex because the natives use a sung language and unexpected events might endanger it.

Skeleton of the probable T. rex nicknamed Jane (Photo courtesy Zissoudisctrucker)

An article published in the journal “Science Advances” reports a study that offers an analysis of the fossils of what was classified as Nanotyrannus offering evidence that actually they’re young specimens of Tyrannosaurus rex. A team of researchers led by Dr. Holly Woodward of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Science conducted a paleohistological examination on bone fragments of the specimens nicknamed Jane and Petey concluding that fibers and other microstructures were growing. According to their estimates, Jane was around 13 years old at the time of death while Petey was around 15 years old.

Isaac Asimov in 1959 (Photo Phillip Leonian, from New York World-Telegram & Sun)

Isaac Asimov was born in the village of Petrovichi, near Smolensk, Russia. His birth date is unknown: the reconstructions indicate that he was born between October 4, 1919 and January 2, 1920 and the latter date was adopted as his birthday.

Isaac Asimov’s writing career began in 1939, with the publication of the short story “Marooned off Vesta” in the magazine “Amazing Stories”. He soon became famous thanks to the first stories about positronic robots, which were followed in subsequent years by the ones that formed the then Foundation Trilogy.

Isaac Asimov was one of the writers who brought science fiction out of the world of magazines and a great scientific popularizer with his many articles and essays. A humanist and rationalist atheist, he brought many of his ideas into his literary works too, becoming one of the first great authors of hard science fiction, gaining a fame that spread worldwide. He left an legacy estimated in about 500 books of various genres.