Life

Viking LanderReports Irene Klotz on Discovery News:

New analysis of 36-year-old data, resuscitated from printouts, shows NASA found life on Mars, an international team of mathematicians and scientists conclude in a paper published this week.

Further, NASA doesn’t need a human expedition to Mars to nail down the claim, neuropharmacologist and biologist Joseph Miller, with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, told Discovery News.

“The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope — watch the bacteria move,” Miller said. “On the basis of what we’ve done so far, I’d say I’m 99 percent sure there’s life there,” he added. Miller’s confidence stems in part from a new study that re-analyzed results from a life-detection experiment conducted by NASA’s Viking Mars robots in 1976.


Lawrence M. Krauss writes in the LA Times: The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis. Everywhere…








Susie Steinert in the Guardian on the divide between the lives people should be living, and the lives they are living. A common theme: don’t become closed off emotionally in the name…



Maybe Jack Nicholson was right after all. Via Yahoo News: Leonid Ksanfomaliti, an astronomer based at the Space Research Institute of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, analyzed photographs taken by a Russian landing…




SRSRob Pavey reports in the Augusta Chronicle:

Savannah River Site scientists are working to identify a strange growth found on racks of spent nuclear fuel collected from foreign governments.

The “white, string-like” material was found among thousands of spent fuel assemblies submerged in deep pools within the site’s L Area, according to a report filed by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, a federal oversight panel.

“The growth, which resembles a spider web, has yet to be characterized, but may be biological in nature,” the report said. Savannah River National Laboratory collected a small sample in hopes of identifying the mystery lint — and determining whether it is alive …




Emily Wagster Pettus reports in the AP via Boston Globe:

JACKSON, Miss.— Mississippi voters Tuesday defeated a ballot initiative that would have declared life begins at fertilization, a proposal that supporters sought in the Bible Belt state as a way to prompt a legal challenge to abortion rights nationwide.

The so-called “personhood” initiative was rejected by more than 55 percent of voters, falling far short of the threshold needed for it to be enacted. If it had passed, it was virtually assured of drawing legal challenges because it conflicts with the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a legal right to abortion. Supporters of the initiative wanted to provoke a lawsuit to challenge the landmark ruling.

The measure divided the medical and religious communities and caused some of the most ardent abortion opponents, including Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, to waver with their support.


Via NPR:

It was just over two centuries ago that the global population was 1 billion — in 1804. But better medicine and improved agriculture resulted in higher life expectancy for children, dramatically increasing the world population, especially in the West. U.N. forecasts suggest the world population could hit a peak of 10.1 billion by 2100 before beginning to decline. But exact numbers are hard to come by — just small variations in fertility rates could mean a population of 15 billion by the end of the century.


ShivI’ve also heard them called shanks, the word itself, “shiv” or “shank,” intuitively sounds like their intended use, further relayed with these photos from this article by William Drenttel in Design Observer:

A shiv is a weapon crafted from the limited resources of a prisoner’s closed world. Crudely constructed from such things as spoons, shoelaces and upholstery tacks, shivs lie somewhere between the graceful and the grotesque. They’re primitive, too — like outsider art, but produced deep on the inside.

The individual parts that make up a shiv tend to be everyday objects, innocent things furtively reconstituted as lethal weapons. Each design choice is essential, but what’s particularly notable is that shivs, at their core, are not so much evocations of minimalism as they are symbols of survivalism. A shiv is all about masked utility: it’s an innocuous object with improbably toxic intent (whether used to attack others or to protect oneself…)



Scientists in Scotland are attempting to dramatically expand our concept of what we consider “alive” by creating entities that reproduce and evolve, but are made out of non-carbon-based materials. Can plastic truly…



So the question has been raised to atheists: if life is the product of random chance and there is no divine authority and life is ultimately what you make it, then why…