Will scientists soon learn the nature of dark matter? How did one of Saturn's moons come to be? And is a future of cybernetic limbs ahead for us or not? It's Earthy Thursday, our segment about news relating to science and the Earth. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Scientists have been searching for almost a generation to find the answer to one of cosmology's greatest conundrums: what is the massive but invisible stuff holding galaxies together? We're probably not going to find out an answer just yet but some promising results are emerging from one experimental attempt to detect dark matter.

Modern conservation efforts are, according to many activists, too little too late. The U.S. government has acquired criticism for its slow-paced and half-hearted efforts to protect many species. But it's important to remember that without even these sometimes ineffectual efforts nature would be a lot worse off.

Cassini's acclaimed mission to Saturn is ending tomorrow and we're fortunate to have learned as much from it as we have. Most of the attention has been on Titan, Saturn's famously clouded moon but some of the other objects in the Saturnian system have drawn interest after peculiar observations. One of these is Enceladus, whose origin may be stranger than scientists initially expected.

But NASA's not only exploring the outer solar system. They also want to take a look at what's going on further sunward. In fact, they want to send a probe all the way to the Sun. Here's more details, courtesy of National Geographic.

One of the hallmarks of many visions of the future is a humanity enhanced by technology, sometimes to the point of replacing our limbs with new robotic ones. But if we're to get there we'll need to improve medical technology and techniques. Sarah Fecht explains why modern amputations are still, in many ways, in the Dark Ages.


Top image by NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute