FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT WARNS OF ALIEN ATTACKS ‘EARTH MAY NOT HAVE A BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD’


5.2K Former NASA astronauts have revealed that there is alien life all over our universe which he confirms via the discovery of the exoplanet Proxima B, where scientists speculate life may have existed. An exoplanet is a planet that orbits a star rather than suns!

The former astronaut does not agree with these scientific experts that aliens will allow themselves to be discovered by our current scientific methods. Leroy spent 230 days in space and held the view that alien lifeforms would not lead to a good situation for the Earth if they are discovered whether intentionally or not. ARE YOU READY FOR DISCLOSURE? In a column at space. Com, Chiao said: ‘The possibility of extraterrestrial life has fascinated humans since our awareness that such a thing could exist, and with the recent discovery of a possibly Earth-like planet around a star in our cosmic backyard, tantalizing new questions are being raised about the possibility of finding life elsewhere in the universe.’ Most astronauts do not spend over 100 days in space, but as Chiao spent so long in space, his opinion holds weight

In fact, he was one of the commanders of the International Space Station and while there, he completed four missions in space and had the opportunity to perform space walks. Over six space walks during an impressive 15-year career. On the surface, the exoplanet Proxima B may appear similar to the Earth; it also is entirely different according to Chiao. He states that the planet’s orbital period is only 11 days, and it does not rotate on its axis but has a radiation environment that is higher than the planet earth. Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in 2014, told the US Congress that at least half a dozen worlds exist beside earth in our solar system. Chiao is one of the few people on Earth who had the privilege of going to space and living in space for an extended period of time. The former astronaut was one of the commanders of the International Space Station and complete four mission in space and had the opportunity to perform SIX spacewalks during his 15-year-long career at NASA.

Interestingly, Chiao believes that the discovery of exoplanet Proxima B, in the Proxima Centauri system may be one step closer towards finding out we are not alone in the universe. Proxima B has been dubbed by many as the second Earth. The exoplanet is located just at the right distance from its star in order to have liquid water which in turn means it could also be home to alien lifeforms. ‘Measurements indicate that Proxima b is a rocky planet, just slightly larger than Earth, orbiting the star at the right distance to be able to support liquid water on its surface, and thus perhaps life,’ wrote Chiao in the article. While Proxima B may be remarkably similar to Earth, it also is entirely different explains Chiao. In the article, Chiao indicates that ‘the planet’s orbital period is only 11 days, and it does not rotate on its own axis. Also, the radiation environment is estimated to be much harsher than that for Earth. Still, scientists say some kind of life count exists there.’

Writing about Alien life, Chiao states: ‘I believe that life is always starting in some parts of the universe at the same time that it is dying out in others,’ he shares. We don’t know about each other, simply because the distances are so vast. We won’t easily find evidence of alien life around another star, especially those that are hundreds of millions of light-years away, or more.’ However, Chiao isn’t the only one who thinks we arent alone out there. In 2014 as scientists met with Congress, Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the California-based Search of Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute told the U.S. said that “At least a half-dozen other worlds (besides Earth) that might have life are in our solar system.” “The chances of finding it, I think, are good, and if that happens, it’ll happen in the next 20 years, depending on the financing, added Shostak.”

A giant meteorite has just been unearthed in Argentina


A 30,800-kilogram meteorite has been unearthed in Argentina over the weekend, and experts have declared it to be one of the largest meteorites ever found on Earth.

The discovery, made on the border of Chaco, about 1,078 km (670 miles) northwest of the Buenos Aires, has been attributed to a meteor shower that hit the region more than 4,000 years ago.

Weighing in at more than 30 tons, the find has been controversially named the second largest meteorite on Earth, but until further tests are completed, it’s too soon to give away that title just yet.

The undisputed king of Earth-based meteorites is a 66-ton whopper called Hoba, excavated in Namibia nearly a century ago.

While the Hoba meteorite has been fully uncovered from its resting place in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia, due to its size, it has never been removed.


It’s thought to have slammed into Earth some 80,000 years ago, and its age has been estimated to be between 190 million and 410 million years.

The rival contender for the second spot is El Chaco – a 37-ton meteorite discovered in the same Argentinian field as this new find.

Now experts will need to perform additional weigh-ins to see if this new Argentinian meteorite, called Gancedo, can beat that and secure the title below Hoba.

“While we hoped for weights above what had been registered, we did not expect it to exceed 30 tons,” Mario Vesconi, president of the Astronomy Association of Chaco, told the Xinhua news agency over the weekend. “[T]he size and weight surprised us.”

The meteorite was uncovered in Campo del Cielo (meaning “Field of Heaven”), an area on the border between the provinces of Chaco and Santiago del Estero.

This surreal place is blistered with meteorite craters – at least 26 cover an area of just 3 km by 19.2 km (1.8 x 11.9 miles), the largest measuring 115 by 91 metres (377 x 298 feet), thought to have been impacted by a powerful meteor shower between 4,200 and 4,700 years ago.

An estimated 100 tons of space debris have been excavated from the site so far.

The new Gancedo meteorite will now undergo a number of tests, firstly to confirm its weight, and secondly to confirm its status as an actual meteorite.

“We could compare the weight with the other large meteorite found in the province. Although we expected it to be heavier, we did not expect it to exceed 30 tons,” Vesconi told the Argentinian government’s news service, Télam.

“We will weigh it again. Apart from wanting the added confidence of a double-check of the initial readings we took, the fact that its weight is such a surprise to us makes us want to recalibrate.”

Congratulations, you just survived the hottest month on record – twice


NASA just analysed temperature records for August 2016, and has announcedthat not only was last month the hottest August on record – it also ties with July 2016 as the hottest month ever since meteorological records began in 1880.

So, good job, humans, we just made it through what looks to be the two hottest months in human history.

If your déjà vu is kicking in, don’t worry, you have heard all this before, kinda.

Just last month, we reported that July 2016 was the hottest month on record – some 0.84˚C (1.27˚F) warmer than the 1950-1980 global average, and 0.11˚C (0.2˚F) degrees hotter than the previous hottest-ever months.

July 2016 also happened to mark the 10th consecutive month of record-breaking heat across the globe, with June 2016 being the hottest June on record, May 2016 being the hottest May on record, and so on, all the way back to October 2015, according to NASA’s records.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) uses a slightly different measure to figure out global average temperatures, and has calculated that before July 2016, there have actually been 14 consecutive record-breaking months.

According to the NOAA’s records, the hot streak actually goes back to May 2015.

“The scary thing is that we are moving into an era where it will be a surprise when each new month or year isn’t one of the hottest on record,” Chris Field, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University, told News.com.

And how right he was, because August came and went, and now August is the 11th consecutive hottest month on record.

The difference here is that when we were talking about July 2016, the previous record-holders for the hottest month known to science were July 2015 and July 2011. This time, the previous record-holder wasn’t one or five years ago, it was last month.

“Although the seasonal temperature cycle typically peaks in July, August 2016 wound up tied with July 2016 for the warmest month ever recorded,” NASA reports. “August 2016’s temperature was 0.16 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest August in 2014.”

What’s perhaps most concerning about this news – even more so than the fact that we’ve just experienced the two hottest months on record back-to-back – is that August was when experts predicted something of a cool-down.

As Andrea Thompson points out over at The Guardian, it was thought that July 2016 would likely be the last record hot month of the year, given the dissipation of El Niño, which is typically associated with a sustained period of warming in the central and eastern tropical Pacific.

While NASA notes that it’s important to keep these individual records in perspective, because one, two, or even 11 record-breaking months don’t give us nearly enough data to start making assumptions about worldwide trends related to a 4.5-billion-year-old planet, longer-term trends have been carrying pretty much the same message.

“Whether one year is 0.1 degree warmer than any other – it doesn’t mean too much,”  Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, told Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic.

“The main issue is the longterm trend shows the planet is 1 degree Celsius – almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit – warmer than it was during the 19th century. That has a very large impact on polar ice, on agriculture, on coastal erosion, on water safety. It’s a century-long trend at this point.”

You can see that trend in action here:

hottestNASA

And if you’ve got a friend who’s still not convinced that something very bad and human activity-related is going on here, because “the climate has been changing throughout Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history”, the guys from xkcd have something to show them.

The bottom line is that hottest months on record can’t tell us much in the grand scheme of things, but in this case, they just so happen to be reflecting a much larger, and far more concerning reality – that Earth has never experienced warming like this before, and so far, we’re doing a pretty terrible job at mitigating that.

“We like anniversaries and records, but what the world is doing while we talk is changing,” says Schmidt. “And that’s the big takeaway.”

Scientists have just bred live mice without using fertilised eggs


Centuries-old assumptions about reproduction just got overturned.

In a world first, scientists have successfully bred mice without using fertilised eggs, and the results could have implications for endangered species with low female numbers, and one day even humans.

The experiment, performed by embryologists at the University of Bath in the UK, also suggests that egg cells might not be as vital to reproduction as we’ve assumed, with the team proposing that something as simple as a skin cell could act as an adequate replacement.

“This is [the] first time that full term development has been achieved by injecting sperm into embryos,” said one of the team, Tony Perry.

“Our work challenges the dogma, held since early embryologists first observed mammalian eggs around 1827, and observed fertilisation 50 years later, that only an egg cell fertilised with a sperm cell can result in live mammalian birth.”

The success of the experiment not only brings into question the assumption that only a fertilised egg can start dividing to give rise to life – it also suggests that something other than an egg cell can reprogram sperm to allow for embryonic development.
Until now, no one has been able to demonstrate that any other type of cell is capable of combining with sperm to produce offspring, and by proving that assumption wrong, the team has opened up the possibility for other kinds of cells being capable of doing the same thing.

“What we’re talking about are different ways of making embryos,” Perry told Ian Sample at The Guardian. “Imagine that you could take skin cells and make embryos from them? This would have all kinds of utility.”

For the experiment, Perry and his team extracted unfertilised eggs from female mice, and figured out how to coax them into becoming ‘pseudo-embryos’ called parthenogenotes.

Previous research has shown how if you take unfertilised mouse eggs and pop them into a chemical bath containing a type of salt called strontium chloride (SrCl2), you can basically ‘trick’ them into dividing into daughter cells, as if they’d been fertilised by a sperm cell.

In certain species of reptiles, these parthenogenetic embryos can grow into perfectly healthy offspring – with absolutely no males required – but in mammals, they’ve never survived, usually dying off within a few days.

The researchers decided to see what would happen when they injected sperm cells into their newly divided daughter cells, and found that the parthenogenetic embryos survived beyond the usual few days.

So they implanted the embryos into female mice, and report that they produced 30 pups with a success rate of 24 percent.

So far, the pups all appear to be perfectly heathy. Some even went on to have pups of their own – via more ‘traditional’ methods – and some of those had pups too.

“As far as we can tell, the baby mice were normal and healthy,” Perry told George Dvorsky at Gizmodo.

“We checked how long they lived, and their life expectancies were similar – in some cases longer – to those of controls. We found that the mice reproduced efficiently … and had similarly healthy offspring.”

mouse-babiesSome of the babies. Credit: University of Bath.

Now, If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, because they basically just used an egg and a sperm cell to create babies, the key here is that the daughter cells produced by the parthenogenetic embryos are completely different from daughter cells produced by a fertilised egg.

“Unlike normal egg cells, they can divide to form new cells, which Perry says makes them more like other cells in the body, like skin,” Andy Coghlan explains for New Scientist.

The next step is for the team to run through the same process, but this time replace the unfertilised eggs with skin cells, to see if a similar result can actually be achieved.

“Will we be able to do that? I don’t know,” Perry told The Guardian. “But I think, if it is ever possible, one day in the distant future people will look back and say this is where it started.”

Of course, it’s tempting to think about the possibility of somehow making human babies out of sperm cells and skin cells, or applying the method to mammal species with very few individuals left, but at this stage, it’s too soon to tell if the technique will work on something other than mice.

We’ll just have to wait and see, but at least we now have a back-up plan if one day all the female mice decide to call it quits.

This ‘highly sexual’ tortoise almost single-handedly saved his entire species


An Espanola giant tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis) by the name of Diego has recently been credited with almost single-handedly saving his entire species from the brink of extinction by fathering over 800 offspring over the course of his lifetime.

Diego’s ‘work’ to save his species started back in the 1960s, when there were only 14 wild tortoises – 2 male and 12 female – left on Espanola, the southernmost island in the Galapagos Archipelago and the only native habitat for the species.

Now, with roughly 2,000 captive-bred tortoises released into the wild, the species has rebounded, and it looks like Diego and his mates were largely responsible. Based on recent genetic studies, Diego has fathered roughly 40 percent of all those released.

“He’s a very sexually active male reproducer. He’s contributed enormously to repopulating the island,” tortoise preservation specialist, Washington Tapia, from the Galapagos National Park, told the AFP.

“We did a genetic study and we discovered that he was the father of nearly 40 percent of the offspring released into the wild on Espanola.”


Diego weighs 80 kilograms (175 pounds), and stretches 90 centimetres (35 inches) long and 1.5 metres (5 feet) tall – when he really stretches – and is estimated to be well over 100 years old.

He lives at a facility on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, where he shares an enclosure with six females who together are tasked with repopulating Espanola.

Despite knowing all about Diego’s sex life, the researchers who work with him don’t know much else about him. But what they do know is that he was discovered at the San Diego Zoo in the late-1950s, and was probably taken from the Espanola at some stage before that, though there’s no way to know for sure.

“We don’t know exactly how or when he arrived in the United States. He must have been taken from Espanola sometime between 1900 and 1959 by a scientific expedition,” Tapia told the AFP.

After years of captive breeding, Diego has fathered upwards of 800 offspring that have been reintroduced to the wild, putting his species back on the map, though work is still needed to ensure the population will continue to thrive.

“I wouldn’t say [the species] is in perfect health, because historical records show there probably used to be more than 5,000 tortoises on the island,” Tapia said. “But it’s a population that’s in pretty good shape – and growing, which is the most important.”

While Diego represents a success story, not all Galapagos tortoise species have been so lucky.

The AFP reports that there are 15 known species in the archipelago, and two have already vanished, including Chelonoidis abingdoni, which went extinct in 2012 after its last surviving member – a tortoise named Lonesome George – refused to mate in captivity during his 100-year-long lifespan.

Hopefully, as researchers continue to try and rebuild these populations – which were largely decimated by pirates in the 18th century – the islands in the Galapagos will return to their former glory.

Until then, rest easy knowing that at least one species – spearheaded by the insatiable sex drive of a single tortoise named Diego – is starting to do better.

This NASA probe will reach record speeds and withstand blistering temperatures as it gets dangerously close to the Sun


BI Graphics_Solar probe plus space conditions

Blazing hot temperatures. Sizzling space dust and subatomic particles flowing at supersonic speeds. Solar storms ejecting billions of tons of material as fast as 1,240 miles per second.

These are just a few of the insane conditions NASA’s Solar Probe Plus spacecraft will face as it plunges into the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, moving as fast as 450,000 miles per hour – venturing where no manmade object has been before, moving multitudes faster than any manmade object has ever gone.

The Solar Probe Plus will brave the sun’s insanity to take the first in situ, or in place, measurements of the conditions inside the corona to find out what makes it so hot – 200 times hotter than the surface of the sun. It will also investigate how solar winds (streams of charged and energetic particles flowing from the sun) are accelerated.

Here’s a breakdown of the intense environment Solar Probe Plus will have to endure on its journey to understand the sun.

UCI Student Accidently Creates A Rechargeable Battery That Lasts 400 Years


There’s an old saying that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. There’s no better example of that than a recent discovery at the University of California, Irvine by doctoral student Mya Le Thai. After playing around in the lab she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 400 years. That means longer-lasting laptops and smartphones and fewer lithium ion batteries piling up in landfills.

A team of researchers at UCI had been experimenting with nanowires for potential use in batteries, but found that over time the thin, fragile wires would break down and crack after too many charging cycles. A charge cycle is when a battery goes from completely full to completely empty and back to full again. But one day, on a whim, Thai coated a set of gold nanowires in manganese dioxide and a Plexiglas-like electrolyte gel. “She started to cycle these gel capacitors, and that’s when we got the surprise,” said Reginald Penner, chair of the university’s chemistry department. “She said, ‘this thing has been cycling 10,000 cycles and it’s still going.’ She came back a few days later and said ‘it’s been cycling for 30,000 cycles.’ That kept going on for a month.”

Thai’s discovery is mind blowing because the average laptop battery lasts 300 to 500 charge cycles. The nanobattery developed at UCI made it though 200,000 cycles in three months. That would extend the life of the average laptop battery by about 400 years. The rest of the device would have probably gone kaput decades before the battery, but the implications for a battery that that lasts hundreds of years are pretty startling. “The big picture is that there may be a very simple way to stabilize nanowires of the type that we studied,” Penner said. “If this turns out to be generally true, it would be a great advance for the community.” Not bad for just fooling around in the laboratory.

Old age does not begin until 74, researchers suggest in a new report which looks at the real impact of an ageing population


Old age does not begin until 74, researchers suggest in a new report which looks at the real impact of an ageing population
Old age does not begin until 74, researchers suggest in a new report which looks at the real impact of an ageing population 

Collecting the state pension and bus pass at 65 has traditionally been seen as a watershed moment where middle age ends and the twilight years begin.

But new research suggests that old age now starts at 74, with middle age lasting at least nine years longer than current estimates.

Academics from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, Austria, argue that old age should be measured not by age, but by how long people have left to live.

In the 1950s a 65-year-old in Britain could expect to live a further 15 years.

But today’s baby boomers are expected to live far longer after retirement. A recent estimate by the Office for National Statistics suggests that the average retiree can look forward to drawing their pension for up to 24 years – as much as 50 per cent longer than their parents’ generation.

Researchers say that old age should be defined as having 15 or fewer years left to live, which for the baby boomers means that they are still middle aged until their 74th year.

“If you don’t consider people old just because they reached age 65 but instead take into account how long they have left to live, then the faster the increase in life expectancy, the less aging is actually going on,” said Sergei Scherbov, World Population Program Deputy Director, at IIASA.

“Older people in the future will have many characteristics exhibited by younger people today.

“What we think of as old has changed over time, and it will need to continue changing in the future as people live longer, healthier lives. 200 years ago, a 60-year-old would be a very old person. Someone who is 60 years old today, I would argue is middle aged.”

Researchers at IIASA applied new measures of ageing to future population projections for Euopre up to the year 2050.

Categorising the point at which ‘old age’ begins is important for policy makers because it used as an indicator of increased disability, dependence and decreased labour force participation.

It is why the government is predicting a pensions black hole as more and more people retire and dip into savings pots.

According to government projections, public spending on the basic state pension will soar from £66bn in 2015/16 to £276bn in 2060/61.

Chancellor George Osborne has brought forward plans to raise the state pension age. It will now rise to 68 in the mid-2030s rather than 2046 as previously planned.

However the report authors argue that 65-year-olds today are healthier, less dependent on others and more mentally agile than ever before and so economic projection must take that into account.

Alan Walker, professor of social policy and social gerontology at the University of Sheffield, agreed that old age now begins much later than traditional assessments, but said there was a huge disparity in how long people could expect to live for.

“Our conceptions of ‘old age’ are hopelessly out of date because of population ageing,” he said.

“For many people, 70 is the new 50 and signifies the quiet revolution that has taken place in longevity.

“However I would not want to pin an arbitrary age, such as 74, because there is such huge diversity in later life. There is a massive nine year difference in average life expectancy between the poor and the affluent and a shocking 19 year difference in healthy life expectancy.

“But certainly the research is right in pointing to the fact that society has to catch up urgently with the new demographic reality, for example in the labour market.”

An average man who retired in 2012 can expect to live until the age of 86.2 years while a woman who turned 65 last year would have 23.9 years still to live on average, the ONS estimates.

Additionally one in seven 65-year-old women and one in 12 newly retired men will live to celebrate their 100th birthday.

Professor Peter Ellwood at Cardiff University said that older people were increasingly fit and healthy well into their 80s.

He has been conducting a ground-breaking 35-year study which shows adopting a healthy lifestyle dramatically cuts the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart-attack, stroke and dementia.

“It is important not just to live longer but to live healthier,” he said, “It should not just be about adding years to life, but adding life to years.

“We have found that living a healthy lifestyle is better than any pill and have proved that it is possible to fit and active after the age of 65.”

Members of the Caerphilly Health Study which showed a heathy lifestyle protects against a range of illnesses
Members of the Caerphilly Health Study which showed a heathy lifestyle protects against a range of illnesses

 

We finally know how water bears became so damn unkillable


Water bears, or tardigrades as they’re officially known, are chubby little anomalies that are damn near indestructible – they can bounce back from total desiccation, endure the greatest temperature extremes we can throw at them, and can even survive the frozen vacuum of space.

Now a team of scientists in Japan has sequenced their genomes, and finally shed some light on how they got so tough. It turns out tardigrades have developed a range of handy tools to help them avoid death time and time again – including a protein that acts as an in-built radiation shield for DNA.

Even cooler, the researchers showed that, when incorporated into human cells, this radiation-blocking protein also reduced the damage to human DNA from X-rays by an impressive 40 percent.

“We were really surprised,” one of the researchers, Takuma Hashimoto from the University of Tokyo, told AFP.

“It is striking that a single gene is enough to improve the radiation tolerance of human cultured cells.”

The team performed their genetic analysis on a specific species of water bear called Ramazzottius varieornatuswhich is arguably the toughest of all tardigrade species.

Among other anomalies, what they found in the tiny creature’s genome was a protein called Dsup – short for “damage suppressor” – which suppresses radiation damage, as well as the damage caused by desiccation, which be just as destructive to DNA.

“Tolerance against X-ray is thought to be a side-product of [the] animal’s adaption to severe dehydration,” lead researcher Takekazu Kunieda, also from the University of Tokyo, told Jason Bittel from Nature.

(An experiment last year showed that water bears can survive being totally dehydrated by turning into glass.)

Because it’s so much easier to study the animal’s genome within mammalian cells, the researchers manipulated the DNA in human cells to get them to produce pieces of the tardigrade’s genome – which is where they noticed that Dsup could also protect human cells.

If Dsup could also be transplanted into live humans, it could make us more resilient to radiation – something that would be extremely useful when we venture out further into space.

According to Ingemar Jönsson from Kristianstad University in Sweden, this makes the new paper “highly interesting for medicine”.

In addition to Dsup, the researchers also showed that the tardigrade genome contained 16 copies of anti-oxidant enzymes, while most animals have just 10, and they also have four copies of DNA repair genes – most animal cells only have one.

And the study could also help put to rest a debate that started last year, when a team of scientists sequenced a tardigrade’s genome and showed that almost one-sixth of its DNA came from other species – more than any other known animal species.

The researchers suggested that foreign DNA might be able to explain some of water bears’ unique properties, but a few weeks later, a separate group of scientists disputed the claim, and showed that the foreign DNA was most likely a result of contamination, not genetic transfer.

The new Japanese study backs up those critics, by finding less than 1.2 percent of the species’ DNA to be foreign after carefully purifying the Ramazzottius varieornatus DNA – a very normal amount for most animals.

And while some of the protective genes were imported from other species – such as the antioxidant enzymes – most were “home-grown”, Kunieda told Andy Coghlan from New Scientist.

“It lays to rest the proposal that tardigrades acquired their extreme survival biology through massive acquisition of genes from other species,” added Mark Blaxter from the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

The fact that water bears are so damn indestructible because of their own adaptations just makes them even cooler in our book – and in the future we might even find out that those protective genes could be useful for humans, too. We just got reminded why these guys are our favourite animals.

Babies can see and hear a lot more inside the womb than you might suspect


We should probably stop swearing…

When my wife became pregnant with our first child, we could barely contain our joy. Then we panicked.

To vanquish our ignorance, we both started reading immediately and obsessively on the latest science behind pregnancy and child development.

A few surprising facts stood out in that torrent of books, studies, articles, and apps.

But the ones I found the most eyebrow-raising had to do with the awareness possessed by babies in the womb: Their hearing and sight develops remarkably early and begins sponging up information far sooner than I expected.

When and what can babies hear?

Every baby, mum, and pregnancy are different, but most of a foetus’ inner ear structures form by week 16, allowing it to hear sound.

By 24 weeks, the cochlea, eardrum, ossicles, and other crucial ear structures are fully formed – and the ‘record’ light is on in the baby studio.

From then on developing babies can easily hear mum’s heartbeat, eating, breathing, walking, talking, exercising, burping, and digestive gurgling.

This may help explain why babies find noise so comforting. There’s also some evidence to suggest babies learn to recognise and react to mum’s voice while inside the womb.

Do loud sounds hurt unborn babies?

The sounds a mum exposes herself to are what a baby is exposed to as well, but babies can’t put in ear plugs.

The CDC says mums should avoid very loud noises exceeding 115 dBA – chainsaws, gunfire, jet engines, blaring music, loud concerts, and so forth.

Consistent loud noise (like heavy machinery) can also damage a baby’s hearing in the womb.

What about loud but non-damaging sounds? Those can surprise babies in the womb, sometimes enough to even make them cry.

When and what can babies see in utero?

Although a baby’s eyes can ‘see’ light starting around week 16, their peepers aren’t recognisable (as we know them) until about week 20.

The eyes first open between weeks 26 and 28, doing so most regularly starting around 32 weeks into a pregnancy. Development of vision is tremendously complicated, so a lot of it continues after birth.

And yet, a foetus can see inside the womb. Their vision is rather blurry, but they sometimes respond (with a flutter of activity) to bright sources of light like the Sun or a flashlight pointed at a woman’s belly.

Getting outside often might even help a baby’s eyes develop and reduce the risk of a few eye disorders.

What does it look like inside there?

Imagine being inside a big, thick, red balloon that’s filled with water. A flashlight projecting through your cheek to create a dull red glow is probably a good (and more practical) example.