I know this week is hard, so before you read any further, join me in taking a deep breath in three… two… one. Breathe in, then out. Roll your shoulders back while you’re at it. Light a candle if you have one or maybe just imagine a huge, sweet-smelling flower that covers your nose in yellow pollen. Now we’re a little more grounded and you’re ready to read today’s Inverse Daily, which includes a visualization of a few million galaxies you have never seen before.
As you read that story, allow yourself to remember how very small we are. Then, embrace human resilience in today’s additional stories that cover Russia’s space program, America’s drinking water, and one thing movies seriously need to reevaluate. Thanks for showing up today.
“Mapping the entire cosmos is an ongoing challenge for astronomers,” writes card story editor Jennifer Walter. But “even incremental progress can give us an unprecedented look at what’s out there.” Scientists’ latest inch in the universe’s mile comes in the form of 4.4 million galaxies, released last week as a map and dataset.
To catch this sliver of the sky, “researchers spent seven years scanning the skies with LOFAR, a low-frequency radio telescope with an array of antenna stations scattered across Europe,” Walter writes.
The results of their efforts are a humbling insight into just how little we know about what floats beyond us — nearly a million “of the space objects documented in the dataset had previously never been seen with a telescope,” writes Walter, and the 4.4 million galaxies represented in the dataset represent just 27 percent of LOFAR’s entire survey.
But scientists aren’t leaving it at that. Walter reports that this “latest data dump is the second from an ongoing program, called the LOFAR Two-Metre Sky Survey, or LOTSS,” so researchers will continue to glimpse parts of space no human has ever seen before. If you’d like to join them in seeing space in a totally new way, click through the card story to see a simulation of every object the researchers recently modeled.
Planetary ambiance: NASA gives a tantalizing preview of how the Webb telescope sees stars
Russia’s space program, Roscosmos, will bear some of the consequences of its country’s brutishness on Earth; both the European Space Agency (ESA) and the U.S. are imposing sanctions on Russia with immediate consequences.
“On Monday, the European Space Agency (ESA) released a statement condemning the war and declaring that it will implement sanctions imposed on Russia by the agency’s member states,” writes Inverse space writer Passant Rabie. Before the ESA announcement, President Joe Biden has already declared that U.S. action would seriously maim Russia’s spacefaring, saying sanctions would “degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program.”
But the U.S. and Russia are still tangled. “Both the U.S. and Russia have had an ongoing partnership with the International Space Station (ISS) that’s lasted for three decades,” writes Rabie.
“There are currently seven people living onboard the ISS, including four NASA astronauts and two Russian cosmonauts.” The resulting tension seems to be building everywhere, especially on the head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin’s Twitter. There, Rogozin has been posting Russian and English commentary on the flux state of space exploration, saying on February 22 that, despite valuing his professional relationship with NASA, he feels “completely unhappy with the sometimes openly hostile US policy towards my country.”
Stay updated with Inverse: Elon Musk’s SpaceX ships satellite dishes to Ukraine
Your winter routine is simple: snow falls, shovel it, scatter salt. The good news is that it’s now spring, so we have a whole year to rethink that last part, which a recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says is destroying our water supply. Whoops!
“Salinization — the buildup of salt, particularly in freshwater ecosystems — can result from humans’ agricultural and mining activities, de-icing salt operations, and even climate change,” writes Tara Yarlagadda. According to the new research, “human-induced salinization causes substantial die-off of zooplankton populations in lakes across North America,” which in turn chops up food webs, and eventually, degrades the quality of our drinking water.
That said, Yarlagadda notes that “de-icing salts significantly reduce car accidents and injuries, so we can’t just give them up overnight.” What we really need is better environmental policies in North America, researchers say.
Tall, polluted, and salty: Earth can’t escape this one type of pollution
Hollywood loves its villains, but some of them have an unintentionally nefarious presence offscreen. To this point, Culture writer Sarah Stark asks readers to consider how the slimy, snorting Jabba the Hutt, who “next to a bronze-bikini-clad Princess Leia chained by the neck,” is “designed to evoke disgust.” “Simply by existing, a fat villain highlights the thin protagonist’s virtue,” she writes.
Experts tell Inverse that a viewer’s disgust at Jabba was learned from a deeper, older place than a movie theater; Christian values associate fatness with moral impurity, and that “race science” defining visual differences between people during the transatlantic slave trade “gave white colonizers a way to maintain their racial superiority over full-figured African women,” writes Stark. This history is rooted in tragedy and blood, but it seems like our modern society (that supposedly knows better) is resistant to sloughing it off.
“Fat people receive worse health care, which is often attributed to healthcare workers' anti-fat biases and medical equipment made for smaller bodies,” writes Stark.
“When police murdered Eric Garner, their defense team falsely argued that Garner’s weight would have killed him that day if police hadn’t.”
Back on the screen, you have certainly noticed how many modern cartoon evildoers are zaftig, as well as the practice of svelte actors wearing fat suits to “transform” into villains. Stark writes that these practices demonize “fatness and fat people, reinforcing our culture’s pervasive anti-fat bias.” Going forward, the entertainment industry needs to lose its historical bias, not the weight.
That shows character: How Adi Shankar went from YouTube to Netflix
About this newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to email@example.com.
- On this day in history: Today is American computer legend Mark Dean’s birthday. Dean was born on March 2, 1957, in Tennessee. Dean grew up to help design the one-gigahertz computer processor chip, and release the IBM personal computer in 1981. In 1995, Dean became the first Black IBM fellow, a reward that honors “technical distinction” within IBM.
- Song of the day: “Part 2/ IBM 1403 Printer,” by Jóhann Jóhannsson.