Tag Archives | Life

A Genetic ‘Mistake’ 500 Million Years Ago Led To Advanced Life

Live Science on the fluke that eventually led to our current situation:

Over 500 million years ago a spineless creature on the ocean floor experienced two successive doublings in the amount of its DNA, a “mistake” that eventually triggered the evolution of humans and many other animals, says a new study.

The good news is that these ancient DNA doublings boosted cellular communication systems, so that our body cells are now better at integrating information than even the smartest smartphones. The bad part is that communication breakdowns, traced back to the very same genome duplications of the Cambrian Period, can cause diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders.

“Organisms that reproduce sexually usually have two copies of their entire genome, one inherited from each of the two parents,” co-author Carol MacKintosh explained. “What happened over 500 million years ago is that this process ‘went wrong’ in an invertebrate animal, which somehow inherited twice the usual number of genes.

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Alien Life May Resemble Giant Jellyfish

A compelling if fantastical vision of soft pod creatures floating on gas currents through the soupy atmospheres of exoplanets. Via India Today:

Aliens may not actually resemble the little green creatures Hollywood loves to portray them as. Rather, they are more likely to look like ‘giant jellyfish’, if a leading British space scientist is to be believed.

“My vision of aliens is an inhuman, silicon-based life form that looks much more like a jellyfish… It is likely that there is extra-terrestrial life – it is just more alien than you’d imagine,” Maggie Aderin-Pocock, satellite expert and government adviser in UK, said.

“But while they might resemble jellyfish, they will live not in the sea but in the atmosphere of a Jupiter-like planet, where they float around,” Aderin-Pocock said. Rather than surviving on carbon, which is the basis of all life, the “silicon generated” creatures are able to live off light absorbed through their ‘skin’ and chemicals sucked in through their giant mouths.

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Russian Project Offers Immortality To Billionaires

Interested in a second life as a robot? The goal is to achieve the ability to upload an individual’s mind into an artificial surrogate, and offer it as a service to the planet’s richest individuals in a decade or so. Via the Daily Mail:

A Russian entrepreneur who heads a hi-tech research project called ‘Avatar’ has contacted billionaires to offer them immortality. Dmitry Itskov claims he will personally oversee their immortality process, in exchange for an undisclosed fee. Itskov, a media entrepreneur, claims to have hired 30 scientists to reach this goal – and aims to transplant a human brain into a robot body within 10 years.

“You have the ability to finance the extension of your own life up to immortality. Our civilization has come very close to the creation of such technologies: it’s not a science fiction fantasy. It is in your power to make sure that this goal will be achieved in your lifetime,” says Itskov in a letter delivered to billionaires listed in Forbes magazine.

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Lichen Can Survive In Hostile Space Conditions

Humans are ill-equipped for traveling into outer space, but the same isn’t true for other earthly life forms. Should we send funguses to colonize our galaxy, before we go? Via Phenomenica:

In 2008 the European Space Agency sent a suitcase-sized experiment package to the International Space Station filled with organic compounds and living organisms to test their reaction to outer space.

When astronauts venture on a spacewalk, hours are spent preparing protective suits to survive the hostile conditions. However, no effort was made to protect the bacteria, seeds, lichen and algae attached to the outside of the space station.

The samples returned to Earth in 2009. Lichen have proven to be tough cookies – back on Earth, some species continue to grow normally. You can freeze it, thaw it, vacuum dry it and expose it to radiation, but lichen still survive.

Living organisms surviving in open space supports the idea of ‘panspermia’ — life spreading from one planet to another, or even between solar systems.

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Invention Makes It Possible To Live Without Breathing

We’ve breathed the same old way for far too long — it was high time for an update. Initially, it will be an emergency medical solution, but perhaps someday a workaround for living in a hopelessly polluted world. Via Unexplained Mysteries:

Scientists have invented particles able to keep a person alive even if they are unable to breathe. The breakthrough treatment works by oxygenating the blood through an injection that can keep someone alive for up to 30 minutes even if they are unable to breath at all and could save thousands of lives. The injected particles contain oxygen within a layer of natural molecules known as lipids.

Previous attempts at developing a treatment of this nature had failed because the injections caused a gas embolism rather than oxygenation of the cells. “We have engineered around this problem by packaging the gas into small, deformable particles,” said scientist John Kheir.

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No Intelligent Aliens Detected on the SETI-Targeted “Earth Condition” Gliese 581 System

Yet that is. As Ian O'Neill desribes on Discovery News:
SETI astronomers have eavesdropped on an alien star system thought to contain two "habitable" worlds in the hope of hearing a radio transmission from an extraterrestrial intelligence. Sadly, there appears to be no chatty aliens living around the red dwarf star Gliese 581. In results announced last week by Australian SETI astronomers, of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University in Perth, Gliese 581 was precisely targeted by Australian Long Baseline Array using three radio telescope facilities across Australia. This is the first time the technique of very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) has been used to target a specific star in the hunt for extraterrestrials, so although it didn't turn up any aliens, it is a proof of concept that may prove invaluable for future SETI projects...
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There’s More Water On Europa (Jupiter’s moon) Than On Earth

EuropaALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE.

Well after reading this story, enthusiasts will probably want to ignore the Monlith creators' advice. As Robert T. Gonzalez writes on io9.com:
Remember that image from a few weeks back that showed Earth with all its water gathered up in a sphere beside it? Well here's that image again, only this time, it also features Jupiter's moon Europa, along with all of its water. Notice anything interesting? Based on data acquired by NASA's Galileo satellite, astronomers think the global oceans sloshing around beneath Europa's icy exterior are likely 2 to 3 times more voluminous than the oceans here on Earth. Not 2 to 3 times more proportionally, 2 to 3 times more in total volume. Yeah. That "little" moon is packing quite the supply of H2O—and with it, scientists think, a significant chance of harboring life...
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The Game of Metaphysical Chess

Chess

Illustration: Ninaeva (CC)

Are we all mindless beings, mere products of chance born to consume, grind out a living chasing fulfillment in “things and then die?” 1

Monotheism teaches that Man’s purpose is to worship a Jealous God, die a natural death and then off to Heaven or Hell. Man can do whatever he likes while he is here on earth and still go to heaven as long as he accepts the free gift of Salvation when God’s son was crucified on the cross.

Naturalism and Pantheism teaches Man’s purpose is to worship Mother Earth [an indifferent infinite impersonal God that encompasses all of reality], die a natural death. Man can do whatever he likes while he is here on earth because All is one, all is God, therefore in the end we All go back to the earth: heaven is not an issue.

Buddhism teaches Man’s purpose is to suffer: There is no God to worship.… Read the rest

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Egg-Shaped Globule Inside Meteorite Is ‘Final Proof Of Life On Mars’

globuleJust your daily dose of news on mysterious soft eggs allegedly found inside Mars meteors that crashed into Africa. I’d be afraid to hold it. The Sun writes:

Scientists claim this egg-shaped object is the final proof of life on Mars after finding it inside a meteorite from the Red Planet.

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe [of Cardiff University] said the globule from the rock named Tissint is rich in carbon and oxygen and insisted they could only have been produced by living organisms. He added that they could not have been caused by contamination when they fell to Earth. PhD student Jamie Wallis, who was working with Dr Wickramasinghe, said: “All the indications are that structures such as we have found are evidence of life on Mars. “The spheres are probably remnants of polysaccharide shells surrounding algal type cells.”

The meteorite was named after the village where it came down in the Sahara desert in Morocco last July.

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