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Symphony of Science: "The Case for Mars"

John Boswell has done it again -- he's created another Symphony of Science music video, this time called "The Case for Mars." The video lays out the reasons why scientists think we should go to Mars, but it's made poetic by Boswell's auto-tuned symphonic electronica. Enjoy.

Featuring: Robert Zubrin, Carl Sagan, Brian Cox (looking dashing as always), and Penelope Boston.

Lyrics after the jump.

[Robert Zubrin]
Mars is the next logical step
In our space program
It's the challenge that's been staring us in the face
For the past 30 years

It has water, it has carbon,
It has a 24 hour day
It has geothermal energy
Mars is a place we can settle

[Carl Sagan]
There is a giant rift in its surface
5,000 kilometers long
There is a volcano as wide as Arizona

[Zubrin]
So there's the choice in life
One either grows or one decays
Grow or die
I think we should grow

[Sagan]
Mars is a world of wonders

[Brian Cox]
It has canyons, river valleys,
and giant ice sheets

[Sagan]
Mars is a world of wonders

[Zubrin]
It shouldn't be humans to Mars in 50 years
It should be humans to Mars in 10

We either muster the courage to go
Or we risk the possibility of stagnation and decay

We've got cosmic radiation
Zero gravity
Martian dust storms
Back contamination

But these are dragons that we can take on

[Sagan]
In our time we have sifted
The sands of Mars
Established a presence there
And fulfilled a century of dreams

[Cox]
The Mars rovers have really
Captured our imaginations
They genuinely are explorers
In the old-fashioned sense

[Zubrin]
If you put out a call
For volunteers for the first crew to Mars
They'd be lined up coast to coast

(refrain)

[Cox]
Mars is a dry frozen version of our home
Covered in red dust and sand

[Penelope Boston]
At one time
In the ancient past
Mars was very similar
To the conditions of early earth

[Zubrin]
There will always be people with new ideas
On how humans should live together

[Cox]
We now have "eyes" and "ears" on the surface

[Zubrin]
What's left after you go is
The good you've left behind
You have to believe in hope
You have to believe in the future

There are more and more people coming around to the point of view that
A positive future for humanity requires human expansion to space

(refrain)

We're at a crossroads today
We either muster the courage to go
Or we risk the possibility of stagnation and decay

(See previous videos: A Glorious Dawn, Our Place in the Cosmos, We Are All Connected, The Unbroken Thread, and The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science). Check out the Symphony of Science website for more information, free downloads, lyrics, and so on.)

Original image
Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
Original image
Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Original image
Gregory H. Revera, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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Space
Study Suggests There's Water Beneath the Moon's Surface
Original image
Gregory H. Revera, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Astronauts may not need to go far to find water outside Earth. As CNN reports, Brown University scientists Ralph E. Milliken and Shuai Li suspect there are significant amounts of water churning within the Moon’s interior.

Their findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, lean on the discovery of glass beads encased in the Moon’s volcanic rock deposits. As recently as 100 million years ago, the Earth’s moon was a hotbed of volcanic activity. Evidence of that volatile time can still be found in the ancient ash and volcanic rock that’s scattered across the surface.

Using satellite imagery, the researchers identified tiny water droplets preserved inside glass beads that formed in the volcanic deposits. While water makes up a small fraction of each bead, its presence suggests there’s significantly more of it making up the Moon’s mantle.

Milliken and Li aren't the first scientists to notice water in lunar rocks. In 2008, volcanic materials collected from the Moon during the Apollo missions of 1971 and 1972 were revealed to contain the same water-flecked glass beads that the Brown scientists made the basis of their recent study. They took their research further by analyzing images captured across the face of the Moon and quickly saw the Apollo rocks represented a larger trend. "The distribution of these water-rich deposits is the key thing," Milliken said in a press statement. "They're spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn't a one-off. Lunar pyroclastics seem to be universally water-rich, which suggests the same may be true of the mantle."

The study challenges what we know about the Moon's formation, which scientists think occurred when a planet-sized object slammed into the Earth 4.5 billion years ago. "The growing evidence for water inside the Moon suggests that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the Moon had completely solidified," Li said. "The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question."

The findings also hold exciting possibilities for the future of space travel. NASA scientists have already considered turning the Moon into a water station for astronauts on their way to Mars. If water on the celestial body is really as abundant as the evidence may suggest, figuring out how to access that resource will definitely be on NASA's agenda.

[h/t CNN]

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