Will We Ever Send Humans to Venus? | At the Smithsonian

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Q: We’ve efficiently despatched people to the Moon, and there’s discuss of sending folks to Mars. How about Venus?

—Alan E. Wright | Salt Lake City

Landing on Venus is difficult sufficient for robotic missions, says Bruce Campbell, a senior scientist at the National Air and Space Museum. The temperature at the planet’s equator averages 880 levels Fahrenheit and the atmospheric stress is 90 occasions the stress on Earth. While there aren’t any imminent plans to ship folks to Venus, scientists are keen to study extra about Earth’s neighbor, says Campbell, who lately led a crew in mapping a big a part of Venus’ floor. For occasion, if Venusian rocks fashioned in the presence of water, that may recommend the planet was once able to support life. Learning extra about how Venus’ evolution diverged from Earth’s could assist us perceive how different planets fashioned.

Q: Do kangaroos have bellybuttons?

—Robert Roesch | Louisville, Colorado

They don’t. Nor does any marsupial, explains Steve Sarro, curator of the small mammal home at the National Zoo. One defining trait of marsupials is that they’re non-placental, which implies there is no such thing as a umbilical twine delivering vitamins. Instead, the fetus is suspended in a yolk in one among the mom’s two uteruses for a couple of month. Then the joey makes use of its robust arms to climb from the base of the start canal into its mom’s pouch, the place it nurses and continues to develop for a number of extra months. During this time, the joey grows hair, opens its eyes and pokes its head out to see the world for the first time. Eventually, it begins to wander exterior of the pouch and strengthen its muscle tissues, however will leap again in if it feels frightened. Mothers typically have two joeys in a row: one exterior of the pouch however nonetheless nursing, and one other inside the pouch.

Q: It takes a lot effort to maintain our tooth wholesome, however historical tooth have survived inside skulls lengthy after different physique components have decayed. Why is that?

—Erik Bailey | Vallejo, California

When tooth are buried and left alone, they’re sturdy and resilient, says Douglas Owsley, head of organic anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History. Also, pre-agricultural people typically had much less tooth decay than fashionable ones do as a result of their diets contained much less sugar. Anthropologists can get quite a lot of info from the situation of those historical tooth, similar to how folks ready their meals, and which different teams on the globe shared their DNA.

Q: When did the struggle of 1914-18 start to be known as the Great War?

—Jack Rayl | Springfield, Missouri

Almost as quickly as the conflagration started. The Canadian journal Maclean’s famous, “Some wars name themselves. This is the Great War” in October 1914. Winston Churchill broke with British nomenclature when he known as the battle “the World War” in 1927, says David Ward, a senior historian emeritus at the National Portrait Gallery. Most British folks caught with “the Great War” into the late Nineteen Forties, calling the newer international battle “the War.” In distinction, Time journal began utilizing the phrases World War I and World War II in 1939, earlier than the United States entered the battle.

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