We had our first baby in August, pretty much in the middle of a Covid-19 lockdown. I hadn’t been to the office in months when she was born, and I still haven’t really been back since. In another world, I would miss so many “firsts” in my newborn’s life while working in a newsroom for sometimes nine or 10 hours a day, with a 30-minute commute on either side. Instead, I worked in the same apartment as her — which has its downsides, sure — and saw many of those firsts up close. I feel grateful.
Like many Americans who have been working from home since March 2020, I don’t particularly look forward to commuting to work five days a week, and if the last year and change can be counted as evidence, the productivity of a lot of us didn’t dip because we were in another building doing the same job. Most of us at Inverse want to see each other in the office (or indeed anywhere) occasionally, but we’re likely all going to keep working from home most days.
The office of the future is our lead story today. Tara Yarlagadda interviewed five experts, including architects and climate change consultants, about the future of the office post-Covid-19. The answers explore the ideas of green design and better mental health for workers as companies think about how to entice people to commute again.
I’m Nick Lucchesi, an editor at Inverse, and this is Inverse Daily, your daily dispatch of essential stories that mix science and culture.
This week’s question — What would it mean to you if we discovered proof of intelligent alien life? Send your thoughts — fewer than 100 words, please — to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re reading this on email, just hit reply. Here are a few of the weird (and enjoyable) ones I received recently. Thanks to everybody who keeps writing in!
- “It would be good to see the parasite identified as Homo sapiens have their delusions about being the crown of creation ruptured.” — MJ
- “Visits by aliens might very well prompt an explosion in the hot tub industry as we’re forced to sit, wait, and be tenderized for their upcoming dining pleasure.” —Paul
- “Hopefully they will take me back home. I'm tired of humans and their disregard for anything meaningful.” —Joseph
Keep the emails flowing. We’ll keep this question open for another day or so.
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These radical designs will save the office— The return to work post-Covid-19 vaccinations is an opportunity to improve our connection with the outdoors and redesign offices to be green, writes Tara Yarlagadda in her new feature:
Imagine a room where fractal patterns are painted onto the floor and sunshine floods in from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The walls are curved and plants line the baseboards. This isn’t a greenhouse from the future. It’s the office of right now.
Or it might be soon as HR departments and bosses ponder how to entice office workers to come back to work after more than a year of working from their kitchens and living rooms. While a remote workforce is a hacker’s dream, it’s also an incredibly likely future, according to recent survey data.
Related stories on the future and science of work:
- These robots want to read your mind while you work — you should let them
- How jobs and gender influence how much alcohol you drink
- The questions you should expect at your next job interview
What if we changed the Moon's orbit — Texas congressman Louie Gohmert asked the U.S. Forest Service if changing the Moon's orbit would curb the climate crisis. The answer is no. John Wenz has the story:
It’s always bigger in Texas. In this case, the “bigger” is a galaxy brain thought: To solve the climate crisis, why don’t we just move the Moon?
Sure, it sounds like a barroom hypothetical pitched after three Long Island iced teas or something a child would ask, but it’s a real question, posed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to National Forest System Associate Deputy Chief Jennifer Eberlein in a House Natural Resources Committee meeting this week.
Spoiler alert: It’s not a great idea. Because we love a challenge, Inverse asked actual scientists.
Related climate change reporting:
- Climate change: 4 storage systems that may help fulfill Elon Musk’s dream
- Climate scientists agree: achieving net zero is a deceiving trap
- A critical element of the climate crisis may be hidden in the Arctic permafrost
The Mars helicopter’s big moments — Having completed its seventh successful flight, here's a highlight reel of the best of Ingenuity, from its deployment to its first color photos and recordings. Elana Spivack has made this card story just for you. See the full gallery.
More about Mars:
- Mars rovers: 5 things you don’t realize until you drive one for 13 years
- 5 major differences between Perseverance and China’s Zhurong Mars rover
- The wild story behind one man’s fight to prove there is life on Mars
New research was announced at the (virtual) 238th meeting of the American Astronomical Society when a team from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) collaboration announced that by honing in on the right ways of searching for these cosmic phantoms, they’ve quadrupled the known number.
In doing so, they opened up a huge opportunity to understand not just these bursts but the very structure of the universe, measuring how much gas and matter they make their way through on their path toward Earth.
- Scientists confirm the source of mysterious radio bursts in the Milky Way
- We might finally learn what the hell makes fast radio bursts (2017)
- Mysterious flsahes of light help scientists map the universe (2016)
Does Enceladus have alien life? — The Cassini probe revealed a subsurface ocean beneath Enceladus' icy surface that may be habitable. A new analysis shows the chemistry has the right stuff, reports Passant Rabie:
A new study published in the journal Nature Astronomy continues the ongoing investigation into Enceladus’ possible habitability, comparing Earth’s deep-sea plumes — where microbial life thrives — with the ones found on the icy moon.
The research suggests those deep-sea plumes may be home to Earth-like microorganisms.
More about the liquid moon of Saturn:
- What's making extra methane on Saturn's ocean moon? (Popular Science)
- Scientists uncover the strange tale of how Enceladus got its stripes (2019)
- Methane from Enceladus could signal alien life (2018)
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- Before we go, happy birthday (🎂) to Peter Dinklage (52), Hugh Laurie (62), Joshua Jackson (43), Joe Montana (65), Jorja Smith (24). (Source: AP.)