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- Known for his enthusiastic teaching style – including his penchant for dancing for joy when a student solves a thorny problem – Mathematics professor Jan Mináč has been named a fellow of the Canadian Mathematical Society. The honour recognizes his long-time contribution to teaching and research in the field. To Mináč, the award is also a calling card to help him introduce the academic world to the interconnectedness that can exist among people, ideas and research disciplines.
- NASA has thrown its financial support behind project Dragonfly– a drone mission co-led by Western planetary geologist Catherine Neish – to explore Saturn’s massive moon Titan. This week, NASA announced Dragonfly as its pick to examine Titan’s geology, chemistry and potential for life. Mission cost, excluding launch and operation, is USD$850 million. The plan is to build a quadcopter spacecraft that would launch in 2026 and reach Titan by 2034, and then explore the moon’s geologic, biologic and atmospheric conditions during its two-year mission.
Neish, an Earth Sciences professor and Planetary Science Institute (PSI) researcher, is co- investigator with R. Aileen Yingst.
- Astrophysicists at Western University have found evidence for the direct formation of black holes that do not need to emerge from a star remnant. The production of black holes in the early universe, formed in this manner, may provide scientists with an explanation for the presence of extremely massive black holes at a very early stage in the history of our universe. Shantanu Basu and Arpan Das from Western’s Department of Physics & Astronomy have developed an explanation for the observed distribution of supermassive black hole masses and luminosities.
- Life could have found a way to establish on Mars 4.48 billion years ago, according to a new study. That's when gigantic meteorites stopped crashing into the Red Planet and inhibiting life. Life could have thrived between 3.5 billion and 4.2 billion years ago, which predates the earliest evidence of life on Earth by 500 million years.