The moon landing: 50 years

It’s been 50 years since Apollo 11. The mission? To put the first man on the moon. Those men were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and they spent years preparing for the moon landing. 

When the astronauts reached the moon, they collected 20 kg of rocks to discover what it is made of. Mostly, scientists have discovered that the moon is 45% oxygen and 21% silicon, combined with metals like aluminium and iron. They also used isotopic dating to discover that the moon’s surface began to harden 4.5 billion years ago! 

However, there are still many things about the moon that we don’t understand.

This story is related to the Inorganic Chemistry section of the Chemistry A Level course

For more on this story, check out this article.

The mineral composition and geology of the surface of the moon (it isn't made of cheese).
The mineral composition and geology of the surface of the moon (it isn’t made of cheese). Prof Sara Russell, NHM.

The 100-hour MRI scan of the brain

Scientists just created the most vivid MRI scan of the brain ever made! Researchers did a post-mortem examination and scanned a brain for 100 hours to get detailed images of brain structiures. These scans help scientists to understand how small changes in the brain cause mental illnesses like PTSD. 

A new paper in Bio Rxiv explains that the brain was surrounded in a special casing to hold the brain still and kept air out. Then a powerful MRI scanner imaged brain structures which are usually very hard to see. These high resolution images will help researchers to study disorders like depression. 

Could you lie still for 100 hours to have your brain imaged in an MRI?

This story is related to the Methods of Studying the Brain section in the Psychology A Level course.

For more on this story, check out this article. You can find the published paper here.

A 3D MRI brain scan, with the highest resolution ever!
A 3D MRI brain scan, with the highest resolution ever! bioRxiv.org, Edlow et al.

Is There Anybody Out There?

There are no aliens on an interstellar rock flying around the solar system. This interstellar rock, called Oumuamua, is a very unusual cigar shape and caused a lot of speculation. Scientists from Harvard University thought it might be an artificial spaceship, because it accelerated as it was leaving the solar system. 

A new paper in Nature Astronomy has analysed Oumuamua and provided reasons for why it is such a weird shape and passed through our solar system. Scientists now think that it is the start of a new planet being formed!

This story is related to the Cosmology section in the Physics A Level course.

For more on this story, check out this article. You can find the published paper here.

An artist's impression of Oumuamua. [EPA].
An artist’s impression of Oumuamua. [EPA]