In October 2017, employees of the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii recorded a new object in the solar system. Initially, astronomers thought it was a comet, but the "alien" did not have the characteristic cloud of dust and gas. Therefore, it was retrained into an asteroid, and then, having calculated the speed and trajectory, it was attributed to interstellar objects. The space wanderer was named Oumuamua, which means "a messenger from afar" in Hawaiian. In shape, the asteroid looks like a reddish cigarette more than 200 m long. In addition to the shape unusual for space objects, astronomers were surprised by the speed of Oumuamua - 26 km/s. This value is difficult to explain by the influence of gravity of the planets, so some scientists have suggested that Oumuamua is an alien ship.
Astrophysicists are still trying to understand how the first interstellar object in the solar system formed and where it came from. Scientists Yun Zhang of the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Douglas Lin of the University of California believe that Oumuamua is a fragment of a planet that came too close to the host star and fell apart under the influence of tidal forces. Zhang and Lin's model explains the elongated shape, dry rocky surface, and acceleration of the asteroid, but this is not the only hypothesis.
Daryl Seligman of the University of Chicago and Gregory Laughlin of Yale University explain Oumuamua's unusual properties by its chemical composition. According to the calculations of scientists, the interstellar object is an iceberg of molecular hydrogen (H2), which is accelerated by sublimation - the transformation of solid ice into gas. In this case, the asteroid loses mass and can acquire an asymmetric shape.
Astrophysicists from Harvard and the South Korean Institute of Astronomy and Cosmology Abraham Loeb and Tim Hoang argue with the hydrogen hypothesis. In an article dated August 17, 2020, they argue that such an iceberg would quickly evaporate due to collisions with other objects and could not cover the distance between star systems. Researchers hope the mystery of Oumuamua will be unraveled after the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile, the center for the discovery of interstellar objects, begins to operate. But until an explanation has been found, some believe Oumuamua is an alien ship.
Due to the uncontrolled use of antibiotics, the number of superbugs resistant to these drugs is growing. Therefore, scientists are looking for new ways to fight microbes. One of them is antivitamins, that is, substances that are chemically similar to vitamins, but are completely opposite in function to them. These include 2-methoxythiamine, which is produced by bacteria to destroy rival microbes. Scientists from the University of Göttingen, the Max Planck Institute and the University of Texas A&M in the course of experiments found that this substance destroys bacterial proteins, but does not affect humans in any way. The researchers' discovery means that antivitamins may become new antibiotics in the future.
Another promising way to "fight" microbes is predatory bacteria. Alone or in packs, they hunt larger competitors. Microbes cannot escape from these microorganisms or become resistant to them, like antibiotics. Scientists have conducted experiments on mice, rabbits and chickens and found that the immune system does not react in any way to predators, and they eat only microbes and do not harm other cells. If researchers find out exactly how these bacteria target victims, they could be used as a cure.
Italian scientists have studied the lava tunnels on Earth (underground caves that form when the hot magma cools unevenly) and came to the conclusion that they can become housing for space colonists. According to the calculations of the researchers, the diameter of the lava tunnels on the Moon and Mars reaches 800 m: a small city can fit in such a space. The underground shelter will protect the colonists from radiation and cold air from the surface of the planets. Scientists, together with the European Space Agency, are planning to send robots to the moon to explore the lava tunnels in more detail.