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OPINION: Feeling stressed by the news? Pay attention to what’s happening in science

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope, released in Sept. 2009, is one among the largest the telescope has ever produced. It gives the most detailed view so far of the entire Crab Nebula.
This image from the Hubble Space Telescope, released in Sept. 2009, is one among the largest the telescope has ever produced. It gives the most detailed view so far of the entire Crab Nebula.

Only a few weeks ago, among all the election news and general political unrest happening in the United States, there was a brief moment of respite. Twitter had a fun time with a rather interesting piece of news from outside of that stressful realm. 

“The moon is wet!” users exclaimed with delight, and the term soon spread rapidly around the platform.  One can always count on Twitter to turn a scientific discovery into a meme — the photo of the black hole taken last year being compared to the Eye of Sauron still haunts me. 

Indeed, scientists had recently confirmed H2O molecules exist on the moon’s surface. Such a discovery is not only interesting, but it also raises further questions for these scientists to explore. 

We’re living in a time of deep political and social unrest, and I want to emphasize it is always good to stay informed and up to date about such issues. Yet the overwhelming amounts of negative news can cause a lot of anxiety and stress over the state of the world. 

It’s important that we occasionally take a step back from this sort of news. While the answer for this is usually to consume news related to entertainment, I suggest we turn to a different subject — science. 

There are so many incredibly cool things happening in the various scientific fields right now. We’re in an age of unprecedented scientific knowledge and discovery, and if one only chooses to look, there’s so much to learn and appreciate. 

One field of study that tends to catch the most attention — as evidenced by Twitter’s field day with water on the moon — is astronomy. 

If you haven’t been paying attention to news in this realm, you might never know, for example, that there’s been a meteor shower happening this past week, known as the Leonid meteor shower. It’d be a shame to miss something like that! 

And you might never have known the stars in our Milky Way weren’t always ours. Rather, a series of collisions with other galaxies have led us to the stunning galaxy we live in today, the most important of which being a merger with the Kraken Galaxy a long, long time ago. 

But if space isn’t your thing, there’s all sorts of other fields to consider. 

Interested in geology? You might be surprised to find scientists recently discovered there may be a secret underground “dark river” that lies 620 miles beneath the surface of Greenland. 

Or if biology is more up your alley, you may be interested in learning about the supposed million-yearlong rainstorm that occurred at the end of the Triassic Period. It resulted in an extinction event that has been credited with bringing an explosion of life that gave us species we still have and love today, such as coral reefs and conifer trees. 

Of course, even in the world of science news, you’ll still get stories that inspire a bit of stress. Climate change is the most obvious one. Many news outlets frequently publish stories relating to this incredibly important issue. Yet what makes these outlets so great is that these stories are mixed in among other uplifting ones about the wonders of space, fascinating new discoveries in physics and more. Important issues like climate change and the current COVID-19 pandemic are given their due attention, but the outlets aren’t swamped with such stories. 

Science news isn’t just interesting — it’s also incredibly important to our increasingly technological society. There’s a reason STEM is getting so much attention right now, with students being encouraged to consider these challenging fields as potential career paths. 

But you don’t have to be a STEM student to support the world of science. Just the act of reading science news in and of itself has a positive effect. Clicks onto stories about science increase revenue and showcase an interest in these stories. This leads to news outlets publishing more stories about science in the future. 

There is so much to learn about when it comes to our strange, wonderful world, and as issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and political unrest flood news channels, it’s always good to occasionally take a step back and venture into a different news realm. 

When it comes to science news, there are so many outlets to consider, from the popular National Geographic to slightly lesser-known sites such as Science Alert. But it doesn’t matter how you choose to explore. All that matters is that you do. 

Our universe is budding with fascinating secrets just waiting to be discovered, and when they are, there ought to be an audience waiting with bated breath to listen and learn. 

Molly Hayes (she/her) is a junior studying English. She plans to earn a Master of Library Science.

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