5 New Things We Know About The Universe

From floating ice-mountains on Pluto to a looming pyramid mystery, it’s been a big week for exploration

For thousands of years, humanity has been searching for the secrets of the universe, desperate to uncover the science, history and meaning of the world around us.

And yet, there’s still so much we don’t know. Every day, new discoveries are changing what we *thought* we knew about the cosmos and our place in it.

These are the biggest new developments that have got everyone talking.

1. Intriguing Anomalies In The Pyramids

For the last few months, archaeologists have been searching for hidden chambers in the Egyptian pyramids.

Now, the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry has announced that a thermal scan of the ancient pyramids built on the Giza plateau has identified mysterious anomalies.

Thermal cameras show three adjacent stones at the bottom of the Great Pyramid of Khufu have higher than expected temperatures.

Experts say the cause could be internal air currents, different rock types or a secret chamber.

2. Floating Ice-Mountains On Pluto

The mountains on Pluto may have more in common with icebergs in the ocean than the mountains we have here on Earth.

As National Geographic reports, “In some regions, these mountains are as large as the Rockies but are still buoyant enough to rise high above denser nitrogen and carbon monoxide ices. Made of water ice, these big blocks of material are probably floating on a “sea” of nitrogen ice.”

For a dwarf planet, Pluto continues to reveal a sizeable array of unique features. Other recent discoveries include ice volcanoes, a snakeskin-like landscape, blue skies and water ice.

[Image: NASA]

3. The Ancient City Frozen In Time

While unearthing the lost ancient city of Selinunte on the coast of Sicily, archaeologists have unraveled secrets hidden for more than 2,000 years.

Half-eaten meals and unfired pots are among the perfectly preserved artefacts left behind when the city was suddenly attacked. 

In the 5th century BC, Selinunte was invaded by the Carthaginians who killed and enslaved inhabitants, leaving the city as a ghost town.

Archaeologists have now been able to map out Selinunte’s houses, streets and harbour, offering new insights into how society functioned in ancient Greece.

[Image: Creative Commons]

4. Two Million 2,000 Year Old Coins In A Chinese Tomb 

Archaeologists have discovered more than two million copper coins while searching ancient tombs in China’s Xinjian District.

The coins, weighing in at ten tonnes, are decorated with ancient Chinese symbols and a square hole at their centre.

A five year excavation process has now unearthed a complex of tombs including a chariot burial site and eight separate tombs.

The team’s next step is to determine the inhabitants of the tombs. The main tomb is thought to house Liu He, the grandson of Han Dynasty ruler Emperor Wu.

[Image: CEN]

5. How Mars’ Atmosphere Was Blown Away

New results from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft have revealed solar storms blasting Mars’ atmosphere over billions of years are responsible for the red planet becoming the barren world it is today.

“Like the theft of a few coins from a cash register every day, the loss becomes significant over time,” said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator on the MAVEN mission at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“We've seen that the atmospheric erosion increases significantly during solar storms, so we think the loss rate was much higher billions of years ago when the sun was young and more active.”

NASA says the discovery could provide new insights into the planet’s evolution and habitability. 

Back in September, NASA announced the strongest evidence yet that liquid water is flowing intermittently on Mars, the first step in confirming that life can exist on the red planet.

[Image: NASA]

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