The concept of extraterrestrial life is often associated with outlandish science fiction hypotheticals, little gray Martians, and conspiracy theorists donning tin-foil hats. Despite its seemingly fantastical nature, scientists continually look towards the vastness of space seeking to answer the big question: Are we alone? Around 778 million kilometers away from Earth, Jupiter’s fourth largest moon, Europa, orbits the gas giant. This formerly inconspicuous moon has been the one of the centerpieces of discussion ever since scientists discovered ice on its surface in the 1970s.1,2 With recent groundbreaking findings, deniers of extraterrestrial life have certainly been given even more of a run for their money.
We hear about zombies all the time in movies, books, and TV shows. They often start with a corpse coming back to life and passing a virus onto others, who then get infected and pass it onto more people— and suddenly you’ve got a zombie apocalypse on your hands. But what happens when the virus itself is a zombie, resurrected from its thousand-year underground slumber? While they might not be the bringers of the apocalypse, the release of ancient viruses that were previously frozen underground is a new and unprecedented consequence of climate change that has researchers wondering if they might cause issues for us in the future.
On December 13, 2022, the world of clean energy changed forever with a groundbreaking announcement from the US Department of Energy. Fusion ignition had been achieved for the first time in history on December 5, 2022. Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) at the US National Ignition Facility successfully achieved one of the largest scientific milestones of the 21st century by producing an excess of energy – even more than they put in.
Immortality has always been one of those topics in science fiction that seemed a little too fantastical to ever be true. Maybe it’s not as full of paradoxes as time travel, or riddled with hypothetical questions like extra-terrestrials, but the concept of eternal life has long been seemingly rooted in our primal fear of death. Ever since humans could write, we’ve been fascinated with the preservation of life; from the ancient myths of the Fountain of Youth to the worship of everlasting deities, this fascination has truly stood the tests of time. Now that we finally have the knowledge and technology to potentially make immortality a reality, researchers are looking for ways to bring it out of science fiction and into the real world.
When I first watched Jurassic Park as a kid, I wasn’t at all worried about dinosaurs becoming a problem in the future. It was just science fiction after all, surely we can’t bring an extinct animal back to life! As time passed, the movie started becoming more of a cautionary tale and less fictional as the progress of scientific advancements continued to accelerate. In a world with climbing extinction rates yet remarkable technological innovations, it seems that the resurrection of extinct species is the solution to the extinction problem, but is it really a solution free of consequences?