Science Wrap: Stars losing brightness, robots doing somersaults, Pentagon's 366 new UFO cases

Shaurya Thapa
Shaurya ThapaJan 21, 2023 | 08:00

Science Wrap: Stars losing brightness, robots doing somersaults, Pentagon's 366 new UFO cases

This week in science saw developments in radio signals, robots, UFOs and some sad news for the stars in our sky (photo-DailyO)

This week in science saw advancements in tracking radio signals with an Indian-Canadian team capturing a signal from a galaxy so distant that the waves are aged at over 8 billion years. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been dealing with more unanswered questions in the alien department with last year revealing 366 new cases.

The stars in the sky are unfortunately dimming due to Earth’s light pollution while new satellite findings reveal the truth behind the sinking township of Joshimath. Oh also, a humanoid robot is picking up objects and doing somersaults!


1- Radio signal from 8.8 billion years ago detected by Indian satellite 

A study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society highlighted the efforts of Canadian and Indian scientists at capturing a radio signal that emerged from what is being referred to as the most distant galaxy (unnamed). The radio signal has been detected by Earth for the first time thanks to the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) that is located near Pune, Maharashtra. 

the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune, Maharashtra. (Photo: National Centre for Radio Astrophysics)
the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune, Maharashtra. (Photo: National Centre for Radio Astrophysics)

Arnab Chakraborty from Canada’s McGill University was a part of the finding team and he offers the aims and possibilities behind this development, “But thanks to the help of a naturally occurring phenomenon called gravitational lensing, we can capture a faint signal from a record-breaking distance. This will help us understand the composition of galaxies at much greater distances from Earth.”

It’s only a matter of time before we start picking up “Jadoo” signals from the deepest corners of the universe!

2- Low brightness: Are the stars in the sky dimming?

With increasing levels of light pollution (brightening of the night sky by street lights and other human-made sources of light), the stars in our planet’s skyline are dimming and some are even vanishing!


Findings in the journal Science state that the number of visible stars reported at certain observation sites from 2011 to 2022 have decreased considerably indicating an increase in nocturnal sky brightness of 7 to 10% annually.

Spanish institution University of Santiago de Compostela’s physicist Fabio Falchi gave a rundown of the big picture as he told Associated Press.

“We are losing, year by year, the possibility to see the stars. If you can still see the dimmest stars, you are in a very dark place. But if you see only the brightest ones, you are in a very light-polluted place”.

3- Robot Atlas picks up objects and does a somersault!

Robotics has been trending this month thanks to the satirical horror film M3GAN and new developments in humanoid robots like Boston Dynamics’s Atlas. Named after the Greek mythology figure cursed with lifting the planet on his shoulders, new videos reveal that Atlas is not only capable of picking objects up to a certain weight limit but he can even do a somersault!

The robot is also being trained to think and figure out the properties of these objects rather than just mechanically carrying them. A control system is also being worked on to improve the stability of Atlas’s actions. In the video shared by Boston Dynamics, the robot can be seen carrying a block of wood, putting it down, lifting a tool bag and even indulging in what appears as a summersault. 


4- 10cms of Joshimath have been sinking since 2018

Ever since the Uttarakhand town Joshimath began showing signs of sinking, scientists have been discussing and debating the reasons behind this phenomenon. Now, with the help of satellite image analysis, we can also ascertain that nearly 10cms of the town’s surface had been sinking as far back as 2018. 

These findings confirm that Joshimath has indeed been established on the site of an ancient landslide complex with it exhibiting major gravitational instability since the past four years. However, instead of every part moving, only a few particular zones have displayed such instability that is now affecting the entire township. According to a consolidated report on the findings by the The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), and CNRS-EOST (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/ University of Strasbourg), two zones A and B appear to have been continuously moving in since 2018 on the downhill part of the slope.

Bonus (weird) science news: Pentagon encountered 366 new reports on alien sightings in 2022. Where are the answers?

As the character Angel puts it simply in Jordan Peele’s 2022 horror Nope, the Pentagon (US Department of Defence) tried renaming Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) to distract people from getting closer to “the truth”. But now with the number of UFO/UAP sightings not falling anytime soon, the Pentagon AKA the custodians of Area 51 are staying tight-lipped with their investigations. 

An unclassified document by the Pentagon was released on January 12, 2023 with the 11-page report stating that the US government has catalogued 510 reports of alleged sightings of UAPs filed by both civilians and military personnel. 366 of these cases were newly identified in 2022, while the remaining 144 were identified in a prior report that looked at UFO data compiled between 2004 and 2017.

It is quite obvious that some of these sightings might just be pranks or falsely reported information. For instance, 26 cases were identified as drones, 163 were classified as balloons, and six were even termed airborne clutter, such as birds or plastic bags.

(meme-Dazed Twitter)
(meme-Dazed Twitter)

The rest, however, are either being supported by mundane explanations or continue to be the stuff of conspiracy theories. With the case count crossing the 300 figure right now, the world definitely needs more than just 11 pages! More specifically, investigating these reports “X-Files” and “Men In Black” style is now the work of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), a new office founded by the Pentagon in early 2022 to investigate UAP-specific cases.

Last updated: January 21, 2023 | 08:00
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