NASA Finds Earth’s Older and Bigger Cousin

NASA announced that its Kepler mission has discovered a planet and star that closely resembles the Earth and our Sun.  Some have even been calling the discovery of the exoplanet “Earth’s older and bigger cousin”.

The planet and sun are part of the Kepler-452 system and are about 1,400 light-years away and located in the constellation Cygnus.

Called Kepler-452b the Earth-like exoplanet, cis located within the star system’s “habitable zone”.  That’s the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet

NASA said that the Kepler mission also discovered 11 other new small exoplanets located in the habitable zone of their star systems.

Ancient and Charred Scroll Made Readable Again by New Technologies

Scientists have developed some advanced technologies that have made it possible, for the first time, to read parts of a badly burned 1,500 year old scroll.

The scroll, written in Hebrew, was discovered in 1970 inside the Holy Ark of the synagogue at Ein Gedi, Israel.

Text of damaged scroll was made readable again through the use of high-resolution scanning and an innovative new virtual unwrapping tool developed by Professor Brent Seales from the University of Kentucky.

The scroll contains the beginning of the Book of Leviticus and carbon dating has indicated that it’s from the late sixth century.

Four-Legged Snake Ancestor Found in Brazil

Scientists studying a fossil taken from the Crato Formation in Brazil said that they’ve discovered an ancient species of a four-legged snake called Tetrapodophis amplectus.

It’s thought that the Tetrapodophis’s four legs weren’t used for movement but for grasping, either to grab prey or to clasp during mating.

The quadruped serpent, which was found to be an ancestor of modern-day snakes, lived during the Early Cretaceous period some 146 to 100 million years ago.

The scientists said that their findings have provided evidence that the snake may have evolved from animals that were ground burrowers rather than from sea-based ancestors.

Lots of Friends at 20 and Good Friends at 30 Provides Well-being Later in Life

A new study from the University of Rochester (New York) has found that having an active social life at 20 and having really good friends at 30 can be beneficial to a person’s well-being as they get older.

A busy social life at 20, according to the study, helps people build a set of useful tools that can help later in life.

The researchers said that people in their twenties often get to meet people from a variety of backgrounds and have different opinions and values than ours.  This teaches us how to best manage those differences.

For people in their thirties, the study showed that having the kind of active social life as they had while they were in their twenties provided no psychosocial benefits later in life.

But, those 30 year olds who said that they had high-quality relationships that were intimate and satisfying also had a high level of well-being as they got older.

Billionaire and Scientist Will Boost Search for ET

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking gave the search for extraterrestrial intelligence a significant boost this week when they announced the formation of the $100 million dollar Breakthrough Initiatives.

The multi-disciplinary project will span 10-years and use the world’s largest telescopes to mine data from the nearest 1-million stars in the Milky Way, and some 100 other galaxies.

The first two of these initiatives include “Breakthrough Listen,” which organizers say will be the most powerful, wide-ranging and intensive scientific search for signs of intelligent life in the cosmos.

The second initiative, called “Breakthrough Message,” will be a 1-million dollar international competition to compose digital messages that represent humanity and our planet, which one day could be sent to other civilizations beyond Earth.