Tag Archives | Earth

Does Moore’s Law Imply That Life On Earth Arrived From Elsewhere?

origin of lifeThe MIT Technology Review writes that earthly lifeforms appear to have 10 billion years’ worth of complexity, yet our planet is only 4.5 billion years old. So do our origins lie elsewhere?

As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law. Now geneticists have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by this measure, life is older than the Earth itself.

Alexei Sharov at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore and Richard Gordon at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida argue that it’s possible to measure the complexity of life and the rate at which it has increased from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to more complex creatures such as worms, fish and finally mammals. That produces a clear exponential increase identical to that behind Moore’s Law although in this case the doubling time is 376 million years rather than two years.

That raises an interesting question.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

First ‘Alien Earth’ Likely To Be Spotted In 2013, Scientists Say

Finally, we’ll have a spot for humanity to open a second franchise? Live Science writes:

The first truly Earth-like alien planet is likely to be spotted next year, an epic discovery that would cause humanity to reassess its place in the universe. “I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year,” said Abel Mendez, who runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

Astronomers discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star in 1995. Since they, they’ve spotted more than 800 worlds beyond our own solar system, and many more candidates await confirmation by follow-up observations. A number of exoplanets found over the last few years share one or two key traits with our own world — such as size or inferred surface temperature — but they have yet to bag a bona fide “alien Earth.”

NASA’s prolific Kepler Space Telescope, for example, has flagged more than 2,300 potential planets since its March 2009 launch.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

A Real Journey To The Center Of The Earth

Chikyu (ship, 2002) 20120929This may sound reminiscent of a certain famous novel by Jules Verne, or Hollywood movie if you prefer, but it’s really in progress reports Tom Levitt for CNN:

Humans have reached the moon and are planning to return samples from Mars, but when it comes to exploring the land deep beneath our feet, we have only scratched the surface of our planet.

This may be about to change with a $1 billion mission to drill 6 km (3.7 miles) beneath the seafloor to reach the Earth’s mantle — a 3000 km-thick layer of slowly deforming rock between the crust and the core which makes up the majority of our planet — and bring back the first ever fresh samples.

It could help answer some of our biggest questions about the origins and evolution of Earth itself, with almost all of the sea floor and continents that make up the Earth´s surface originating from the mantle.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

U.S. Fails on Happy Planet Index

Reports Peter Aldhous on New Scientist:
It's easy not to trash the planet — if you're dirt poor and die young. But is it possible for all of us to live long and satisfying lives without costing the Earth? That's the question behind a measure of national well-being called the Happy Planet Index (HPI). Its latest update, released this week ahead of the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, names Costa Rica as the world's most "developed" nation and puts the US on the sick list. To show how different the world looks when viewed according to the HPI, rather than conventional wealth, New Scientist applied distorting lenses. In the top map, countries are sized according to their GDP, and shaded by GDP per capita. As sub-Saharan Africa almost shrinks from view, western Europe, the US and Japan swell and flush a deep red. But this wealth has fuelled massively unsustainable use of natural resources. Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation in London developed HPI as an alternative measure, "to capture the tension between good lives now and good lives in the future"...
Continue Reading

Possible New Evidence That Earth Is A Giant Living Organism

5052744538_bede3ddbdb_nIf planet Earth, on a macro level, really is a being called Gaia that is functionally alive, then I hope I’m not standing on an uncomfortable spot. Via Junk Science:

Is Earth really a sort of giant living organism as the Gaia hypothesis predicts? A new discovery may provide a key to answering this question. This key of sulfur could allow scientists to unlock heretofore hidden interactions between ocean organisms, atmosphere, and land — interactions that might provide evidence supporting this famous theory.

The Gaia hypothesis — first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s — holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably connected to form a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.

Newly published work done at the University of Maryland provides a tool for tracing and measuring the movement of sulfur through ocean organisms, the atmosphere and the land in ways that may help prove or disprove the controversial Gaia theory.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Welcome To The Anthropocene

Planet Under Pressure commissioned a 3-minute animated film showing the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes. Whether you agree with the filmmakers' conclusions or not (comment below), I suspect you'll admit that it's a pretty cool piece of animation: Welcome to the Anthropocene
Continue Reading

The Earth Is Alive

260px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17From AstroBiology Magazine:

The Earth is alive, asserts a new scientific theory of life emerging from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The trans-disciplinary theory demonstrates that purportedly inanimate, non-living objects — for example, planets, water, proteins, and DNA — are animate, that is, alive.

Erik Andrulis, PhD, assistant professor of molecular biology and microbiology, advanced his controversial framework in his manuscript “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life,” published in the peer-reviewed journal, Life. His theory explains not only the evolutionary emergence of life on Earth and in the Universe but also the structure and function of existing cells and biospheres.

In addition to resolving long-standing paradoxes and puzzles in chemistry and biology, Andrulis’ theory unifies quantum and celestial mechanics. His unorthodox solution to this quintessential problem in physics differs from mainstream approaches, like string theory, as it is simple, non-mathematical, and experimentally and experientially verifiable.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Presenting Earth 2.0

kepler22b-0Is this where humankind will be living in a couple millenia? In a solar system 600 light years away spins the newly-spotted Kebler 22-b, a rocky planet with oceans covering two-thirds of its surface, and balmy temperatures approximating 70 degrees. The Herald Sun reports on the greatest hope for a replacement Earth:

A newly discovered planet about 600 light years from our little rock has scientists around the world in a spin, with many heralding it as the best chance yet of containing alien life.

The find, announced early last week by NASA, was uncovered by the US space agency’s Kepler spacecraft, launched on a planet-hunting mission in 2009.

The planet, Kepler-22b, is 2.4 times bigger than Earth, orbits a star slightly smaller than our sun and has an average temperature of 22C. It is also closer to its sun-like star, giving it a “year” of 290 days.

What makes this discovery so exciting is that it is the smallest planet right in the middle of what has been dubbed the Goldilocks zone, where it’s not too hot and not too cold to either boil or freeze water, vital for life as we know it.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

We Have to Clean Up Outer Space Now in Order to Safely Launch New Spacecraft

Space JunkVia the BBC:
Scientists in the US have warned NASA that the amount of so-called space junk orbiting Earth is at tipping point. A report by the National Research Council says the debris could cause fatal leaks in spaceships or destroy valuable satellites. It calls for international regulations to limit the junk and more research into the possible use of launching large magnetic nets or giant umbrellas. The debris includes clouds of minuscule fragments, old boosters and satellites. Some computer models show the amount of orbital rubbish "has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures," the research council said in a statement on Thursday.
Continue Reading

Number Of Species On Earth Estimated At 8.7 Million

SpeciesEver wonder how many species are sharing this Earth? Apparently it’s 8.7 million, give or take a few. This takes into account the few thousand plant or marine species we haven’t discovered yet or documented. Via Physorg:

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth — the most precise calculation ever offered — with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.

Announced today by Census of Marine Life scientists, the figure is based on an innovative, validated analytical technique that dramatically narrows the range of previous estimates. Until now, the number of species on Earth was said to fall somewhere between 3 million and 100 million.

Furthermore, the study, published today by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

Read the rest
Continue Reading