In Heinlein’s 1956 novel Time for the Stars, he described an experiment in which one identical twin was sent on a space mission while the other stayed at home. NASA has now announced that it will be using a set of twins to examine the effects of prolonged space flight on the human body. Astronaut Scott Kelly, veteran of two shuttle missions and a former ISS Commander, will spend a year aboard the ISS for NASA longest spaceflight ever. His brother, Mark Kelley, who flew four shuttle missions, including as commander of Endeavour‘s final flight, will remain on Earth as the control. Scott Kelly is scheduled to join the ISS crew in March 2014.
A new species of orchard bee discovered by Brazilian biologist Andre Nemesio has been named Euglossa bazinga, in honor of the catch phrase used by television character Sheldon Cooper on the show The Big Bang Theory. Cooper, portrayed by Jim Parsons, uses the phrase to indicate he has perpetrated a practical joke. According to Nemesio, the name is fitting since the bee had tricked scientists with its similarity to other species.
A collection of more than 300 fossils collected an examined by Charles Darwin have been found by Howard Falcon-Lang at the British Geological Survey after being lost for more than 150 years. The fossils included specimens collected by Darwin in the Galapagos as well as samples collected by Darwin’s colleagues, and were used to help Darwin formulate his theory of evolution.
Scientist R.C.W. Ettinger (b.1918) died on July 23. Ettinger is best known as one of the pioneers of the cryonics movement and founded the Cryonics Institute in 1976. His body is the 106th body frozen by the institute. Ettinger was injured during World War II and came up with some of his ideas during his long recuperation and his love of science fiction. Ettinger also published two science fiction stories in 1948 and 1950.
NASA has discovered a microorganism in California’s Mono Lake which has replaced phosphorus with arsenic in its cell components. This is the first organism ever discovered to use arsenic in this manner, which expands the possibility for the search for life, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial. Until this discovery, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur were considered the six basic building blocks of all known forms of life on Earth.