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Posts Tagged ‘life’

Milky Way Now Has a Twin (or Two): Astronomers Find First Group of Galaxies Just Like Ours


ScienceDaily (Aug. 22, 2012) — Research presented Aug. 23, 2012 at the International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Beijing has found the first group of galaxies that is just like ours, a rare sight in the local Universe.

This image shows one of the two ‘exact matches’ to the Milky Way system found in the survey. The larger galaxy, denoted GAMA202627, which is similar to the Milky Way clearly has two large companions off to the bottom left of the image. In this image bluer colours indicate hotter, younger, stars like many of those that are found in our galaxy. (Credit: Dr. Aaron Robotham, ICRAR/St Andrews using GAMA data)
 

The Milky Way is a fairly typical galaxy on its own, but when paired with its close neighbours — the Magellanic Clouds — it is very rare, and could have been one of a kind, until a survey of our local Universe found another two examples just like us.

Astronomer Dr Aaron Robotham, jointly from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and the University of St Andrews in Scotland, searched for groups of galaxies similar to ours in the most detailed map of the local Universe yet, the Galaxy and Mass Assembly survey (GAMA).

“We’ve never found another galaxy system like the Milky Way before, which is not surprising considering how hard they are to spot! It’s only recently become possible to do the type of analysis that lets us find similar groups,” says Dr Robotham.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120822221342.htm

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Arctic Biologist Shares Astonishing Sea Creatures With the World


  There is no road to the White Sea Biological Station, which sits at latitude 66° N on the cusp of the Arctic Circle. Located on the shores of its namesake, the White Sea, the only way to get there is by boat in summer and snowmobile in winter since the waters of Kandalaksha Bay are frozen six months out of the year.

Inside the station is an unlikely photo studio where Alexander Semenov, 25, is sharing his stunning photographs of arctic sea creatures with the global online community.

“I’m trying to act like the Discovery channel, but as a single unit,” says Semenov.

 Read more: http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2012/07/arctic-sea-creatures/?pid=2706

Giving Ancient Life Another Chance to Evolve: Scientists Place 500-Million-Year-Old Gene in Modern Organism

July 12, 2012 1 comment

July 12, 2012

Paleo-experimental evolution. (Credit: Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology)
 
Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action.

“This is as close as we can get to rewinding and replaying the molecular tape of life,” said scientist Betül Kaçar, a NASA astrobiology postdoctoral fellow in Georgia Tech’s NASA Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution. “The ability to observe an ancient gene in a modern organism as it evolves within a modern cell allows us to see whether the evolutionary trajectory once taken will repeat itself or whether a life will adapt following a different path.”

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711100726.htm

Evidence of Life On Mars Could Come from Martian Moon Phobos


ScienceDaily (June 29, 2012) — A mission to a Martian moon could return with alien life, according to experts at Purdue University, but don’t expect the invasion scenario presented by summer blockbusters like “Men in Black 3” or “Prometheus.”

The image shows the orbits of the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos and the spread of potential particle trajectories from an asteroid impact on Mars. (Credit: Purdue University image/courtesy of Loic Chappaz)
 

“We are talking little green microbes, not little green men,” said Jay Melosh, a distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and physics and aerospace engineering at Purdue. “A sample from the moon Phobos, which is much easier to reach than the Red Planet itself, would almost surely contain Martian material blasted off from large asteroid impacts. If life on Mars exists or existed within the last 10 million years, a mission to Phobos could yield our first evidence of life beyond Earth.”

Read more : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629015408.htm

Cassini sees tropical lakes on Saturn moon


June 15, 2012
Scientists had thought that Titan simply had extensive dunes at the equator and lakes at the poles, but now they know that Titan is more complex than previously thought.
by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Saturn’s rings lie in the distance as the Cassini spacecraft looks toward Titan and its dark region called Shangri-La, east of the landing site of the Huygens Probe. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spied long-standing methane lakes, or puddles, in the “tropics” of Saturn’s moon Titan. One of the tropical lakes appears to be about half the size of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, with a depth of at least 3 feet (1 meter).The result, which is a new analysis of Cassini data, is unexpected because models had assumed the long-standing bodies of liquid would only exist at the poles.

Where could the liquid for these lakes come from? “A likely supplier is an underground aquifer,” said Caitlin Griffith from the University of Arizona in Tucson. “In essence, Titan may have oases.”

Understanding how lakes or wetlands form on Titan helps scientists learn about the moon’s weather. Like Earth’s hydrological cycle, Titan has a “methane cycle,” with methane rather than water circulating. In Titan’s atmosphere, ultraviolet light breaks apart methane, initiating a chain of complicated organic chemical reactions. But existing models haven’t been able to account for the abundant supply of methane.

“An aquifer could explain one of the puzzling questions about the existence of methane, which is continually depleted,” Griffith said. “Methane is a progenitor of Titan’s organic chemistry, which likely produces interesting molecules like amino acids, the building blocks of life.”

Global circulation models of Titan have theorized that liquid methane in the moon’s equatorial region evaporates and is carried by wind to the north and south poles, where cooler temperatures cause methane to condense. When it falls to the surface, it forms the polar lakes. On Earth, water is similarly transported by the circulation, yet the oceans also transport water, thereby countering the atmospheric effects.

The latest results come from Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, which detected the dark areas in the tropical region known as Shangri-La, near the spot where the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe landed in 2005. When Huygens landed, the heat of the probe’s lamp vaporized some methane from the ground, indicating it had landed in a damp area.

Areas appear dark to the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer when liquid ethane or methane is present. Some regions could be ankle-deep puddles. Cassini’s radar mapper has seen lakes in the polar region but hasn’t detected any lakes at low latitudes.

The tropical lakes detected by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer have remained since 2004. Only once has rain been detected falling and evaporating in the equatorial regions, and only during the recent expected rainy season. Scientists therefore deduce that the lakes could not be substantively replenished by rain.

“We had thought that Titan simply had extensive dunes at the equator and lakes at the poles, but now we know that Titan is more complex than we previously thought,” said Linda Spilker from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Cassini still has multiple opportunities to fly by this moon going forward, so we can’t wait to see how the details of this story fill out.”

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-172

DNA of Thousands of Innocent People Still Being Collected by Police


Thursday, 07 June 2012

‘Privacy campaigners say the system remains “illiberal and uncertain” and accuse ministers of failing to ensure that the genetic fingerprints of those cleared of suspicion are removed from files.

Big Brother Watch also estimates it could cost forces up to £8million to sift through their records and remove DNA taken from people who were arrested but never convicted of crimes.

The warnings come despite the recent passage of the Protection of Freedoms Act, which was meant to scale down the biggest database of DNA profiles in the world, which has grown by almost 1m records since 2009.’

Read more: DNA of Thousands of Innocent People Still Being Collected by Police

http://www.davidicke.com/headlines

Terraforming – Alien Or Human, It’s Here


Monday, 28 May 2012

‘This is about as creepy as it gets. But it’s right in front of our eyes. Our planet is clearly under attack. Anyone even half awake can see the world today is careening towards disaster when there is no reason for it. Our resources are plentiful, and the vast majority of people on earth are loving, ethical and well meaning individuals.

However, those in places of authority and economic power appear to clearly be maniacal psychopaths constantly scheming for new ways to use and abuse humanity and its beautiful home called Earth, or Terra. As in Terraforming. We’ll get to that.

You name it. Politically, economically, socially, environmentally. It appears we’ve been literally invaded by something foreign to our world and are being systematically abused, dismantled and destroyed.’

Read more: Terraforming – Alien Or Human, It’s Here

http://www.davidicke.com/headlines