Rarefied, Resilient and Rumored: Our Best Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

After unexplained bright lights appeared over Randsburg, California, on Nov. 7, 2015, social media speculated about comets and UFOs, until the military announced it had conducted a fairly routine missile test. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Even though Baby New Year will be showing his face right around the corner, there's still so much to learn in 2017! The insatiable minds at HowStuffWorks are resolved to ask more questions and seek more answers before we ring in 2018. Until then, here are some of the stories you may have missed this week.

The Rarefied

Many living organisms — on this world and others — need drinking water and sunlight to survive, but that's not always the case. Microbes in the soil of Antarctica are beating the odds. A team of scientists from Australia and New Zealand have discovered microorganisms that thrive in its cold, dry conditions. During the winter season, much of Antarctica is plunged into darkness, and its soil has little to no carbon, an element on which all known life is based. The scientists believe these microbes live on air alone. Maybe life on other planets looks more like the organisms in the soil of Antarctica — read more about it in our story here.

The Resilient

When 'The Force Awakens' ended, the galactic government was destroyed, a sun was devoured and Kylo Ren killed Han Solo, one of the 'Star Wars' franchise's most popular characters. Unlike past 'Star Wars' films, the latest installment begins right where 'The Force Awakens' left off, but 'The Last Jedi' leaves no time to mourn Han Solo. Characters like Poe and Finn continue to fight the First Order with all their might, while Rey is more reflective. At a recent press conference, Daisy Ridley, the actress who plays Rey, said "[Rey] seeks something in [Han Solo] because there's an intimacy and something there she never dreamed of, and it's snatched away."

The Rumored

Today, people can mimic UFO phenomena with drones and CGI, but reports of strange objects in the sky date back thousands of years. The guys at Stuff They Don't Want You To Know wonder where the most UFO sightings are and if the answer will reveal the truth about them once and for all. North America far outpaces the rest of the world in UFO sightings, especially California. Why is California a popular destination for extraterrestrials? There are many possibilities. The state is home to 50 known military bases, and it's right next to Nevada, where Uncle Sam has testing facilities on millions of acres.

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