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...
Tag Archives | Life
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
Just 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:
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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.
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:
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The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis. Everywhere we look, it appears that the world was designed so that we could flourish.
The position of the Earth around the sun, the presence of organic materials and water and a warm climate — all make life on our planet possible. Yet, with perhaps 100 billion solar systems in our galaxy alone, with ubiquitous water, carbon and hydrogen, it isn’t surprising that these conditions would arise somewhere. And as to the diversity of life on Earth — as Darwin described more than 150 years ago and experiments ever since have validated — natural selection in evolving life forms can establish both diversity and order without any governing plan.
As a cosmologist, a scientist who studies the origin and evolution of the universe, I am painfully aware that our illusions nonetheless reflect a deep human need to assume that the existence of the Earth, of life and of the universe and the laws that govern it require something more profound.
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Microorganisms can sometimes lose the ability to perform a function that appears to be necessary for their survival, and yet they still somehow manage to endure and multiply. How can this be? The authors of an opinion piece appearing in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, on March 27 explain their ideas about the matter. They say microbes that shed necessary functions are getting others to do the hard work for them, an adaptation that can encourage microorganisms to live in cooperative communities.
The Black Queen Hypothesis, as they call it, puts forth the idea that some of the needs of microorganisms can be met by other organisms, enabling microbes that rely on one another to live more efficiently by paring down the genes they have to carry around. In these cases, it would make evolutionary sense for a microbe to lose a burdensome gene for a function it doesn’t have to perform for itself.
Via New Humanist, Steve Cave on how an obsession with immortality shapes everything we do, believe, and create:
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A group of American psychologists have discovered a simple way of turning ordinary people into fundamentalists and ideologues. It can be done anywhere and in a matter of minutes. It is just this: the researchers remind these ordinary folks that they will one day die.
The researchers behind this work were testing the hypothesis that most of what we do we do in order to protect us from the terror of death; what they call “Terror Management Theory”. Our sophisticated worldviews, they believe, exist primarily to convince us that we can defeat the Reaper.
Atheists and agnostics should not think that they are free from such comforting illusions of eternity. The psychologists, psychiatrists and anthropologists who developed Terror Management Theory have shown that almost all ideologies, from patriotism to communism to celebrity culture, function similarly in shielding us from death’s approach.
Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?" This is his answer: