Black hole

Black Hole Image Captured

Earlier this week, scientists produced the first image of a black hole located in a galaxy called Messier 87. The galaxy, M87, is over 55 million light years away from Earth; the supermassive black hole has a mass 6.5 billion that of our sun, according to the National Science Foundation. Over 200 researchers worked together to capture the first image of a black hole and achieved this through EHT, a network of global telescopes.

Scientists used 8 radio telescopes from different points across the globe. Using Very-Long-Baseline-Interferometry, scientist were essentially able to create a virtual telescope and create an image of the now discovered black hole. With these telescopes, researchers took over 5,000 trillion bytes of data over two weeks. Black holes contain large amounts of matter, forcing light to be sucked into them due to their tremendous gravitational force. M87’s black hole has an enormous mass, leading researchers to believe it to be the largest black hole to be measured from Earth.

This is just the beginning as far as our understanding of black holes goes, said National Science Foundation director France Córdova. "Black holes have sparked imaginations for decades, they have exotic properties and are mysterious to us. Yet with more observations like this one, they are yielding their secrets. This is why NSF exists. We enable scientists and engineers to illuminate the unknown, to reveal the subtle and complex majesty of our universe."

Smiling Benefits Mood

Leadership from researchers of Texas A&M and Tennessee spearheaded an experiment that analyzed  138 studies from over 11,000 participants, ultimately arriving at the conclusion that smiling benefits our emotions. We have always been told that if we just smile, we will feel better. Contrary to conventional wisdom, psychologists have disagreed with this notion. This was further reinforced in 2016, when 17 teams of researchers failed to recreate an experiment that argued smiling did provide a boosted mood.

However, a team of researchers from the University of Tennessee, took a different approach to this study and utilized a measurement called meta-analysis. The team combined data from over 138 different studies, ultimately discovering that facial expressions have an effect on internal mood. By simply smiling, one can help benefit their mood, according to Nicholas Coles, UT PhD student in social psychology and lead researcher on the paper. "We don't think that people can smile their way to happiness," Coles said. "But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work."

Global Warming Shrinking Glaciers at Exponential Rates

New studies show that Earth’s glaciers are melting at rates scientist had not anticipated. Over the past year, over 369 billion tons of snow and ice have melted, with over half occurring in the United States. Research indicates that inland masses of snow are melting 18 percent faster than scientist had hypothesized, while our world’s glaciers are melting 5 times as fast as they were in 1960.

Scientists say these accelerations are due to the presence of global warming and are leading to rising sea levels that have already seen a steady and unnatural increase. The leading reason for these meltings can be attributed to warmer ocean temperatures, which is largely caused by human caused climate change. Researchers state that these rising ocean levels are putting coastal cities at greatest risk, with fear of inevitable flooding if change isn’t acted on soon. Michael Zemp, a leading researcher on this topic and professor at the University of Zurich said this issue is more imminent than most people realize. "In these regions, at the current glacier loss rate, the glaciers will not survive the century," Zemp said.

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