Somewhere in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, a giant asteroid measuring 130 miles
in diameter orbits the sun.
The asteroid, 16 Psyche, is unique:
While most have icy or rocky bodies, this one is made of primarily iron
and nickel, much like Earth’s core.
All the iron on 16 Psyche could be worth around $10,000 quadrillion —
or $10,000,000,000,000,000,000, or $10 quintillion. To put that in
perspective, the combined gross domestic product of every country in the
world totaled around $74 trillion in 2015.
Now, NASA is gearing up to send a spacecraft to 16 Psyche. Its goal is
to better understand how Earth and other terrestrial planets came into
existence and developed layers like cores, mantles and crusts. Read more (5/25/17)
Today one group of researchers offers a fascinating theory in Proceedings of the Royal Society B:
Fusing the fossil record and phylogenetic work (that is, determining
the relatedness of species to one another), they found that baleen
whales probably got colossal just 3 million years ago—a sliver of time
in the grand evolutionary scheme of things—and climate change
probably triggered the transformation. That, of course,
carries troubling implications for how the giants might fare as Earth’s
oceans warm and acidify…