A Life on Our Planet Nails the Planetary Problems But Misses the Political Ones

David Attenborough is 93. Over the course of his lifetime, the beloved natural historian and broadcaster has seen the planet go through unimaginable changes. Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have soared, as has the human population, while biodiversity has declined precipitously. He details these shifts in a new documentary released on Netflix on Sunday, which he calls his “witness statement” for the natural world.



David Attenborough wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: David Attenborough in the new film David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.


© Screenshot: Netflix (Getty Images)
David Attenborough in the new film David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.

The new film, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, beautifully and persuasively argues in favor of a fundamental reshaping of humanity’s relationship with nature. But in doing so, it misses something more subtle: the fact that not all of humanity are equally responsible for exploiting Earth.

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That’s not to say it’s not well worth a watch. The new movie is both deeply moving and

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NASA and US Space Force team up for planetary defense, moon trips and more

NASA and the United States Space Force are banding together for the future of human spaceflight. 

As the agency moves forward with its Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the lunar surface by 2024, NASA is also working on its relationship with the newly-minted Space Force, which was formed Dec. 2019. Today (Sept. 22), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NASA and the U.S. Space Force. 

This agreement officially joins the two entities in collaboration with regard to “human spaceflight, U.S. space policy, space transportation, standards and best practices for safe operations in space, scientific research and planetary defense,” NASA said in a statement

Related: What is the Space Force?

NASA and the Space Force have penned this MOU to “affirm a strong interest in continuing their longstanding partnership for

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Stellar winds hint at how planetary nebulae get their stunning shapes

In their dying throes, some stars leave behind beautiful planetary nebulae — disk, spiral or even butterfly-shaped clouds of dust and gas (SN: 5/17/18).

How these fantastically shaped clouds arise from round stars is a mystery. New observations of red giant stars suggest that massive planets or other objects orbiting dying stars help stir up stellar winds and shape planetary nebulae, researchers report in the Sept. 18 Science.

“We were wondering how stars can get these beautiful shapes,” says Leen Decin, an astrophysicist at KU Leuven in Belgium. So she and her colleagues examined 14 stars in the red giant phase, before they become planetary nebulae. Data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile revealed that stellar winds — fast-moving flows of gas, dust and subatomic particles such as protons — ejected from the red giant stars have different shapes, including spirals, disks and cones.

Mathematical

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