NASA sends a probe to an asteroid to study the origins of life on Earth. A predominant theory in linguistics is challenged by new evidence. And it looks like bees might finally be getting a break. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

As far as we know, life is only found on Earth. But there are some who believe the clues for its origins could be found in space. A new NASA mission will see a probe land on the asteroid Bennu and recover a piece of it, which might contain organic compounds important to the origin of life on Earth.

When European first arrived in the Americas they tended to view the locals as "primitives" or "savages," lacking in the "sophistication" of their own culture. But pre-Columbian cultures were often rich in their own right, featuring their own traditions of mathematics, writing, and advanced medicine. Now, the oldest piece of extant writing from the Americas before colonization has been conclusively dated.

For decades, Noam Chomsky has been one of the most acclaimed linguists in the world, with his hypothesis about the way people learn and understand languages central to many recent developments in the field. But even the most brilliant scientists are not infallible and just as Newton, Einstein, Darwin, and Freud have come under criticism over the years, so is Chomsky's model of language now under fire. You can read more about the contentious debate over at Scientific American.

Recently, Louisiana experienced a series of devastating floods which brought back terrible memories of Hurricane Katrina to many residents. Could the flood have been prevented however? Perhaps not, but evidence suggests they were worsened by human activity: specifically, by anthropogenic climate change (aka global warming).

In more uplifting news, we're sure many of you are familiar with the ongoing crisis surrounding bee populations, known as colony collapse disorder. Fortunately however, it would seem that bees may be making a recovery. Matt Miller covers in more detail at Slate Magazine.


Top image by Daniel Lobo