Decoding Aphantasia, a Mysterious Lack of 'Mind's Eye'

Plus: The Large Hadron Collider is back online, prehistoric art galleries, a small but mighty stellar explosion, Axiom-1 crew members return to Earth, the strongest solar flare in years, black holes hidden throughout the cosmos, Martian homes built with bacteria, and much more!  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 

Good morning,

Great news to start off for my fellow particle physics lovers -- CERN recently announced that the Large Hadron Collider is back online and stronger than ever. This massive machine is responsible for smashing protons together to help us understand the Standard Model.

You can read an awesome, in-depth explanation about the ins and outs of the LHC at the link in the headline above.

But if you’re up for something to twist your mind even more than particle physics, you might want to check out the story below about Aphantasia. It’s a very puzzling phenomenon that removes your ‘mind’s eye,’ or simply, ability to viscerally visualize objects in your mind. You may even have it -- it’s more common than you'd expect, though still super-elusive. Either way, it's absolutely fascinating.

The Axiom-1 space mission has finally splashed down to Earth after a week-long stay on the ISS. The crew's return was delayed multiple times due to things like dodgy weather, but hey, extra time in space? Maybe there's a silver lining.

Elsewhere in the cosmos, there might be a bunch of mysteriously medium-size black holes hanging out. For some reason, we have lots of information about small black holes and supermassive black holes -- but not medium ones? That’s why this might be a big one.

Below, you can also read about scientists planning to build Martian homes with bacteria, a stellar explosion that's small but very mighty, the largest solar flare in many years and a model that might help us find evidence of life on one of Saturn’s moons. And over at our site, there’s so much more!

Now, time for the mail.

📧The Mailbag📧

Andrea asks: Just read an article about a supernova and the radiation it generates. The article did not detail where the radiation goes. Will it have an effect on earth? What about surrounding planets?

Hi Andrea!

The short answer is that we’re probably safe from any supernova, or star explosion, in the foreseeable future. According to NASA, a supernova would have to happen at a distance less than 50 light-years away from Earth for us to feel any effects. Those effects would include things like, as you say, radiation damaging the ozone layer or indirectly disrupting our oxygen supply. And further, if our sun exploded somehow, our planet would be 15 times hotter than the sun’s regular temperature. Which is to say, we'd burn up and die. OK, but thankfully, all the supernovas that have thus far happened and are expected to happen in the cosmos are much farther than 50 light-years away. Exhale.

Thanks for the Q, Andrea!

Whenever you like, send science questions, thoughts, comments, chats, space-based worries, philosophical ponderings to my email or message me on Twitter! And if you're enjoying this column, please do forward it to your friends!

Enim scientia et astra!

Best of wishes,
Monisha Ravisetti Monisha Ravisetti
Science Writer, CNET
Can't Visualize Objects in Your Mind? Aphantasia May Be Why
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