Hello, Out There: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Including a very old tree
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2016 5:14 AM CDT
This artist rendering shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima B. It's relatively close and might be able to sustain life.   (European Southern Observatory via AP)

(Newser) – A strange diagnosis and an intriguing discovery in deep space make the list:

  • Scientists Find Earth-like Planet Close By: After scanning the vast reaches of the cosmos for Earth-like planets where life might exist, astronomers have found one right next door. A rocky planet only slightly bigger than our own has been discovered orbiting the nearest star to our solar system, and it's probably in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold Goldilocks Zone where liquid water—a key to life—is possible. Best part: We might be able to get there sooner than you think.
  • Man's Death Blamed on Bagpipes: It sounds like a bad joke: A Liverpool man felled by his own dirty bagpipes. But, sadly, it's true. After seven years spent suffering from a dry cough and breathlessness, the 61-year-old musician died of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The rare condition is caused by an allergic reaction to mold, fungus, and dust—in this case, from the man's beloved bagpipes. Scientists warn that other musicians might be at risk, too.

  • When Columbus Set Sail, This Tree Was 500 Years Old: Introducing Europe's oldest tree. "Adonis," a Bosnian pine living in Greece's Pindus mountains, was declared this week to be 1,075 years old. Impressive for sure, but it's not even close to the record-holder in the US.
  • Scientists Make Shrunken, See-Through Mice: A new technique essentially allows scientists to make dead mice see-through—by stripping the lipids and water from the animals' tissues. The fat is what makes the tissues opaque; the removal of water is part of a shrinking process that leaves the body as little as 35% of its original size, which enables it to fit under a microscope. When it comes to human brain research, the implications could be huge.
  • Your Instagram Feed May Speak Volumes: A computer program looking at people's Instagram photos was able to pick out the photographers suffering from depression with surprising accuracy. It's all about the colors.
Click to read about more discoveries, including one about what might be the biggest pearl in the world, assuming a fisherman isn't telling a tall tale.