Last night was a beautiful lunar eclipse. This one was special because it occurred when the moon was at perigee, the closest approach to the Earth. So the moon appeared larger, and then went into eclipse. The next time this will happen is in 2033.
Sadly, my part of New Jersey was overcast, so I couldn’t see it at all. Bummer
It’s the first day of Fall (here in the northern hemisphere). The sun is now directly above the southern hemisphere.
There have been many different versions of the Tree of Life, but a new one is almost ready that includes over 2.3 million species. You can view the current tree.
These trees show how different organisms are related through common ancestors.
Tree of Life
Vsauce has a really cool video on some ways that language and math are intertwined. Including how it all is interwoven with the world around us.
Alzheimer’s is transmissible, but is not catching. What does that even mean? Well, you can’t get it by being near someone with it, but if your brain comes into contact with the brain of someone who has it, you can get it. But how does that even happen? Well, watch this:
Two years ago, in September 2013, cavers went deep into the Rising Star cave in South Africa. They found fossils of a previously undiscovered ancestor of humans. The new species, Homo naledi, fits into a fossil gap between the Australopithecine, and Homo erectus. The followup expedition found more bone fossils than at any other pre-human site in Africa. They found bones from at least 15 individuals.
Many of the features fell between what you would expect for Australopithecus and Homo: teeth, pelvis, hands, etc. The skulls looked like Homo, but the brain case was a little of half the size of H. erectus’s.
It is difficult to determine how old the fossils are. They weren’t found embedded in rock, which would allow radiometric dating, and are too old for carbon dating. If H. naledi is very old, it could predate Lucy; if young, it would be contemporary with H. erectus. But most likely is that it would fit in just as the Australopithecines and Homo branched, around 2,000,000 years ago.
You can read more at National Geographic, The Atlantic, and the Washington Post.