Two separate teams found the missing matter – made of particles called baryons rather than dark matter – linking galaxies together through filaments of hot, diffuse gas.
Because the gas is so tenuous and not quite hot enough for X-ray telescopes to pick up, nobody had been able to see it before.
“There’s no sweet spot – no sweet instrument that we’ve invented yet that can directly observe this gas,” says Richard Ellis at University College London. “It’s been purely speculation until now.”
So the two groups had to find another way to definitively show that these threads of gas are really there.
The idea of a universal basic income, whereby the state or another such sovereign provides all citizens with regular cash payments to supplement earnings, has existed in various incarnations for centuries, even if it is not yet a reality. In recent decades prominent intellectual advocates, like the Belgian academic Philippe van Parijs and American ex-union leader Andy Stern, have argued its merits, but the universal basic income — known by the acronym UBI — is gaining new momentum amid fears that automation will continue displacing the traditional working class.
A June 2016 petition-driven referendum in Switzerland on whether to implement a UBI system only added to the hubbub. Though nearly 77 percent of Swiss voters rejected the plan — and the Swiss are not exactly radical, women did not obtain the right to vote until 1971 — the plebiscite nonetheless drew serious attention to a concept previously considered eccentric if not insane. In the meantime, the Finnish government launched a two-year pilot study on UBI, whereby recipients are picked at random from the country’s unemployed and get €560 (or about $590) per month with no strings attached. Similar trial runs are now underway in Scotland, and the idea has plenty of advocates in the hipster salons of Silicon Valley.
As I cooked dinner the other night, I thought about the women I had been talking to. They're just entering, slogging through or just leaving their 40s. They belong to Generation X, born roughly during the baby bust, from 1965 to 1984, the Title IX babies who were the first women in their families to go to college. Or go away to college. Or to live on their own, launch a career, marry in their late 20s (or never) or choose to stay home with their children. They're a Latina executive in California, a white stay-at-home mom in Virginia who grows her own organic vegetables, an African-American writer in Texas, an Indian-American corporate vice president who grew up in the suburbs of New York, and dozens more. They're smart. They're grateful for what they have. They're also exhausted. Some of them are terrified. A few of them are wondering what the point is.
An awful lot of middle-aged women are furious and overwhelmed. What we don't talk about enough is how the deck is stacked against their feeling any other way.
Maybe it’s something about the 21st century, and the anxieties awaken by the new millennium. Maybe it’s the result of the social movements of the 60s that renewed interest in marginalized and erased histories. There’s no easy way to actually quantify this, but it feels like more and more characters I see in books are historians of some kind – regardless of their status, amateur or professional, these are characters who do sleuthing work about the past, consciously or not. This goes beyond having an interest in family history: the characters are deeply implicated in a process of finding out what happened, and interweaving multiple levels of history (the family, the community, the nation).