We know a lot. But we don’t know a lot more.
I think that’s super exciting. Every day, we discover something that expands our knowledge of the world! And every day, you and I have an opportunity to contribute to that.
This is why I’m publishing a series I like to call, “Look what we found!” Each month, we debrief on five exciting discoveries that remind us how much new knowledge is always within reach.
Read on and get inspired!
In the 1980s, a team of archeologists excavated a site on Mount Ebal in the West Bank. Decades later, another team sifted through the first team’s discarded debris. That’s when they found a small, folded lead tablet. It was carefully examined, and the results are now in: It is from the 13th or 14th Century B.C., is written in an ancient ancestor language to Hebrew, and the author was righteously pissed. Here’s the English translation of the inscription:
“Cursed, cursed, cursed - cursed by the God YHW.
You will die cursed.
Cursed you will surely die.
Cursed by YHW – cursed, cursed, cursed.”
Yahweh was the god who protected ancient Israel, and this is now being called the oldest-known Hebrew inscription. We can’t know who wrote it, of course, but we can pretty well bet that the cursed person is now indeed dead.
Convention says that all planets are spherical. But the European Space Agency (ESA) just announced that they discovered a new planet that’s shaped like a rugby ball. They believe it’s not a typical sphere because it’s so close to its host star that tidal forces, like the way the Moon’s gravity pulls on earth, are able to pull it out of shape. So, are there other planets like this? Maybe, and astronomers will be on the lookout for them now. In the meantime, the universe has a new shape!
A paper in the journal Nature Communications just proved that a relatively unremarkable fossil from Montana is actually a distant ancestor of the octopus and vampire squid — one that, at 328 million years old, predates even dinosaurs. Since it was discovered in 1988, the limestone fossil has been sitting in a drawer at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. But researchers recently noticed that it showed ten sucker-lined limbs (instead of eight) and evidence of an ink sac, meaning it’s a vampyropod, or in the squid and octopus family.
This little guy is by far the oldest creature of its kind that’s currently known to humans — its discovery tells us that octopus-like creatures are at least 82 million years older than we thought. What I love about this is that the fossil isn’t even a new find; it just contains information that people hadn’t noticed before. Just goes to show how much is under our noses.
Since the Hiawatha asteroid crater was discovered in Greenland in 2015, some scientists have wondered if its impact had caused the last ice age. A new study in Science Advances says no. New dating technology shows that the asteroid had actually hit far earlier than the latest Ice Age — but it still could have caused an earlier one, which researchers will now look into. We do know that Greenland was once a lush landscape hovering around 20 degrees Celsius (or 68 degrees Fahrenheit), and knowing the timing of this asteroid’s impact can help uncover what effects it did have on the climate. Score one for incremental progress!
Apparently ants can sniff out cancer? Dogs have been able to sniff-differentiate cancerous cells from healthy cells in the past, and now ants, which use smell to accomplish tasks in their own lives, have been successfully trained to do the same. Researchers at the French National Centre for Scientific Research say this discovery could make for a much less expensive way to detect cancer in patients — and better detection makes for more treatment, and ideally, better outcomes. So here’s to those ants.