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Decoding Marie Antoinette’s Mystery Love Letters To A Swedish Baron

French scientists have developed a new technology to read the long hidden portions of the French queen's correspondence with Swedish royal Axel von Fersen, long rumored to be her lover.

Marie Antoinette With A Rose
Marie Antoinette With A Rose
Vahe Ter Minassian

PARIS — It's June 29, 1791, and revolutionary winds are blowing across France. Once the Ancien Régime falls, it will be just one year until the French Republic is born. At the Tuileries, Louis XVI and his family are anxiously awaiting news of their fate after the tragi-comic episode of their escape to Varennes, a village in the Lorraine region where the king, disguised as a bourgeois, was stopped and forcefully returned to the capital.

A chilly reception in Paris, on the evening of June 24, did not bode well: The king returned to a crowd of silent, gloomy eyes, between two rows of soldiers whose rifles were upturned, as is customary at funerals.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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