Mars InSight: mission unveils surprising secrets of red planet's interior – new research

We may have walked on the Moon and sent probes across the solar system, but we know very little about what's going on inside other planets. Now, for the first time, we have been able to view the interior of one, thanks to Nasa's Mars InSight probe. The probe, which landed in 2018, is equipped with a solar-powered lander bristling with equipment, including a seismometer (a very sensitive vibration detector).

The results, published in three studies in Science, throw up some unexpected findings about Mars's interior, including a very large core.

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Branson mayor’s ‘reckless idiocy’ helped turn Missouri into a COVID-19 superspreader hotspot

One superspreader tourist town — and its "reckless" anti-mask, anti-vaccine mayor — is being blamed for seeding Missouri's ongoing COVID crisis, according to the Daily Beast.

Wastewater samples first detected the highly contagious Delta variant in Branson — best known for it country-western music shows — on May 10. Since then, the variant has spread like wildfire across the state.

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Climate 'mysteries' still puzzle scientists, despite progress

What worries one of the world's leading climate scientists the most?

Heatwaves -- and particularly the tendency of current models to underestimate the intensity of these bursts of deadly, searing temperature.

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Hospitalized right-wing radio host in ‘very serious condition’ regrets not being ‘vehemently pro-vaccine’: Family

The family of right-wing radio host Phil Valentine reports he has been hospitalized from the novel coronavirus and is in a "very serious condition," WKRN-TV reports.

He is being treated for "Covid pneumonia" in the critical care unit of a Nashville hospital, his family explained.

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NASA rover preparing to take first Mars rock samples

The Perseverance Mars rover is preparing to collect its first rock sample from the site of an ancient lake bed, as its mission to search for signs of past life begins in earnest, NASA said Wednesday.

The milestone is expected to take place within two weeks in a scientifically interesting region of the Jezero Crater called the "Cratered Floor Fractured Rough."

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'That boggles my mind': Fox News host claims Russian jet can fly 'twice the speed of light'

Fox News host Jillian Mele mistakenly reported on Wednesday that Russia has a military fighter jet that can fly at nearly "twice the speed of light."

"The jet features stealth characteristics and the ability to cruise at supersonic speeds," Mele said of Russia's new technology. "The new aircraft is smaller than other Russian fighter jets but can fly at a speed of almost twice the speed of light."

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An Oregon wildfire is so intense it is literally creating its own weather system

Southern Oregon is currently being consumed by a conflagration known as the Bootleg Fire. It has already devoured more than 606 square miles at the time of this writing (an area larger than the city of Los Angeles) and has only been 30 percent contained. The behemoth blaze is accelerating its growth, and has been growing by 80 square miles per day or more.

It is also doing something that makes it much more difficult to manage: creating its own weather.

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Trump official slashed salary of newly hired virologist because he was jealous he was making more money

At a time that Americans needed a smart and stable government, Donald Trump's COVID-19 Task Force was overwhelmed with petty squabbles.

According to the new book by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, I, Alone Can Fix It, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was preoccupied with the salaries of the people on the task force.

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Climate change and the Moon are teaming up to create record floods on Earth

At the time of this writing, at least 120 people have been confirmed dead because of severe flooding in Western Europe. It is tragically likely that, when this story is over, the number will be significantly higher. A German weather service (DWD) spokesman told CNN that in some areas there has not been this much rainfall in 100 years.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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COVID truther lies to Fox News that vaccines are ‘declining in effectiveness very quickly’

On Fox News Friday, Tucker Carlson played host to Alex Berenson, a COVID-19 truther who has consistently pushed falsehoods and wrong predictions about the pandemic. During the segment, Berenson falsely cast doubt on the effectiveness of the vaccines at protecting people from the virus.

"Masks are useless for their wearers, we have known that for at least a year," said Berenson. "What I've grown to conclude over the last 12 months is that masks are very simply symbolic, all that they are is a sign you are in a dangerous time and you need to listen to us. You know, if I don't see people wearing masks, I forget to be scared." He added that "Our vaccines, unfortunately, appear to be declining in effectiveness very quickly."

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25-year-long study of Black women links frequent use of lye-based hair relaxers to a higher risk of breast cancer

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Frequent and long-term use of lye-based hair straightening products, or relaxers, may increase the risk of breast cancer among Black women, compared with more moderate use.

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BUSTED: 7 'charlatans' -- from anti-vaxxers to anti-maskers -- who added to the misery of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic reached yet another grim milestone recently when, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the worldwide death count passed 4 million. The country with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths is still the United States, where more than 606,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus. Sadly, some people have done their part to add to the misery the pandemic has inflicted, and journalist Tom McKay calls them out in an article published by Gizmodo this week.

In his article, which is headlined "The Worst Charlatans of the COVID-19 Pandemic," McKay laments, "For some people, crisis is an opportunity — more specifically, an opportunity to blow up their own profile by preying on people's fears, making baseless claims, grabbing resources intended for others, and being generally dishonest, disingenuous, or greedy. A comprehensive list of those matching this archetype over the grueling months of the COVID-19 pandemic would be far too large to relay in full. But it would include a former president, medical professionals spreading exaggerated or simply fabricated claims about how best to fight the virus, amateur statisticians claiming their analyses proved the virus wasn't dangerous, fraudsters, far-right activists looking to convert influence into money, and wealthy businesses that filled their coffers."

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Geneticist explains how changing the language on race could help

British geneticist Adam Rutherford explained in The New Scientist that in his field the language they're using goes from "scientifically confused or ambiguous, to being rooted in a racist history that echoes in our present."

He explained that every field has its own jargon and that genetics is no different. But their terms deal with ancestry, evolution disease and behavior.

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