dark forest with mysterious eyes
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As the first asteroid confirmed to have originated outside the Solar System whizzed by at roughly 85,000 mph, scientists scrambled unsuccessfully to figure out some way to catch up to it. Was it different from the asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter? Was it even an asteroid? What if it was some kind of technology designed by an alien race?

The Breakthrough Initiatives program observed and gathered data from the asteroid, but found no evidence of life or signals indicative of technology. For all we’ve learned about space, the more we realize we don’t know, especially when it comes to aliens. More… “Should We Stop Looking for Intelligent Life?”

Joelle Renstrom‘s collection of essays, Closing the Book: Travels in Life, Loss, and Literature, was published in 2015. She’s the robot columnist for the Daily Beast and a staff writer for Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. Her essays have appeared in SlateAeonThe Guardian, and others. She teaches writing and research at Boston University with a focus on space exploration and artificial intelligence.

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Edward Snowden joined Twitter yesterday (as @Snowden, of course). He followed the NSA, had a conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and accumulated almost over 1 million followers in less than 24 hours. Check out our Storify summary of his first interactions.

Some writers require a soundtrack to their work. Music may propel words onto the page or shape what’s written. For other writers, music and writing simply don’t mix — only silence will do. Read Jacob Lambert’s perspective on music as muse. (The Millions)

Have you been reading Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat? Or been having trouble remembering the new person in the office? It turns out that humans’ ability to recognize faces is highly developed — and highly heritable. (New Scientist) •

Maren Larsen is the associate editor of The Smart Set. She is a digital journalism student, college radio DJ, and outdoor enthusiast.

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