Tag Archives | Life
Forget about extra terrestrials. Out in the oceans, there likely are unknown life forms on Earth that fall outside of the classification system we’ve developed for identifying and grouping all living things. We may be coming into contact with them someday soon — it’s a fascinating and slightly frightening thought. Via the Economist:
LIFE, like Caesar’s Gaul, is divided into three parts. The Linnaean system of classification, with its prescriptive hierarchy of species, genus, family, order, class, phylum and kingdom, ultimately lumps everything alive into one of three giant groups known as domains.
The most familiar domain, though arguably not the most important to the Earth’s overall biosphere, is the eukaryotes. These are the animals, the plants, the fungi and also a host of single-celled creatures, all of which have complex cell nuclei divided into linear chromosomes. Then there are the bacteria—familiar as agents of disease, but actually ecologically crucial.
Vermont artist Jennifer Stocks-Dearborn sculpts realistic clay babies for parents who have lost infants or unborn children. Much in the tradition of Victorian post-mortem photography, these “memorial art dolls” bear the likeness of the deceased. Leon Thompson of Seven Days writes:
…Stocks-Dearborn’s art began with anything but laughter. As much creativity does, hers originated in darkness — death, to be precise. Her 16-month-old daughter Madison died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) on October 8, 2000. Within the next three years, Stocks-Dearborn married and had two sons. But the healing process from her daughter’s death did not really begin until April 2006, when a friend forwarded an email about Canadian sculptor Camille Allen’s “Marzipan Babies.”
“As I stared at these tiny, hand-sculpted babies made from clay, I thought, I can do that,” Stocks-Dearborn recalls. “And I did. I remember sculpting my very first piece, and how my anxieties and overwhelming tidal waves of emotions subsided.
A thought-provoking video by Luke Rudkowski on happiness, freedom, government, humanity, and life in the words of subway passengers. Via WeAreChange.org:
According to many planetary scientists, it’s conceivable that all life on Earth is descended from organisms that originated on Mars and were carried here aboard meteorites. If that’s the case, an instrument being developed by researchers at MIT and Harvard could provide the clinching evidence.
In order to detect signs of past or present life on Mars — if it is in fact true that we’re related — then a promising strategy would be to search for DNA or RNA, and specifically for particular sequences of these molecules that are nearly universal in all forms of terrestrial life.
That’s the strategy being pursued by MIT research scientist Christopher Carr and postdoctoral associate Clarissa Lui, working with Maria Zuber, head of MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), and Gary Ruvkun, a molecular biologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, who came up with the instrument concept and put together the initial team.
Seems like NASA scientists have lately been making huge announcements (recall the claim a new form of Earth-bound life in December. While the potential of alien bacterial life may seem unglamorous to many, it may put Stephen Hawking’s mind at ease. CBS News:
In what’s sure to rekindle the debate over the question of life beyond Earth, a scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center says he has fossil evidence of bacterial life inside of a rare class of meteorites.
Writing in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology, Richard B. Hoover argues that an examination of a collection of 9 meteorites — called CI1 carbonaceous meteorites mdash; contain “indigenous fossils” of bacterial life.
“The complex filaments found embedded in the CI1 carbonaceous meteorites represent the remains of indigenous microfossils of cyanobacteria, ” according to Hoover. That matter-of-fact sentence also underscores the shout-out-loud implication that the detection of fossils of cyanobacteria in the CI1 meteorites raises the possibility of life on comets.
“When you cut into the present, the future leaks out.” — Brion Gysin/W.S. Burroughs, Third Mind
“Mutate or Die” is a bioart project being conceived of and executed by Tony Allard and Adam Zaretsky. Bioart tends to use cutting edge biotechnology as an art making device and specializes in presenting living organisms as art. In this project, a DNA sample from William S. Burroughs will be isolated, amplified and shot into the nuclei of some cells.
What is the process?
1: Take a glob of William S. Burroughs’ preserved shit
2: Isolate the DNA with a kit
3: Make, many, many copies of the DNA we extract
4: Soak the DNA in gold dust
5: Load the DNA dust into a genegun (a modified air pistol)
6: Fire the DNA dust into a mix of fresh sperm, blood and shit
7: Call the genetically modified mix of blood, shit, and sperm a living bioart, a new media paint, a living cut-up literary device and/or a mutant sculpture.Of course the process is more involved and detailed than this.
The magical thing about the United States is that our nation is a rich tapestry — of gonorrhea cases and bankruptcy, that is. Find out what surprising, ignominious category your home state leads the country in. Who would have guessed that Mormon Utah is porn-crazy? Concocted by Pleated-Jeans:
________… Read the rest
Alasdair Wilkins on io9.com has a great post about the past and future of our planet’s continents. Definitely worth a read:
Earth’s continents are constantly changing, moving and rearranging themselves over millions of years — affecting Earth’s climate and biology. Every few hundred million years, the continents combine to create massive, world-spanning supercontinents.
Here’s the past and future of Earth’s supercontinets.
New life-forms! Right here on Planet Earth! Jesus Diaz writes on WIRED Science:
Hours before their special news conference today, the cat is out of the bag: NASA has discovered a completely new life form that doesn’t share the biological building blocks of anything currently living in planet Earth. This changes everything.
At their conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon will announce that they have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.
But not this one. This one is completely different. Discovered in the poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible.