Tag Archives | Life

Supercontinents of Planet Earth: 650 Million Years in Under 2 Minutes (Video)

SupercontinentAlasdair 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.

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NASA Finds New Life Form, Made of Arsenic, in the Poisonous Mono Lake

BacteriaNew 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.

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Is NASA About to Announce the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life?

Space BabyPlease let this have something to do with the discovery of a monolith. Fingers crossed on Thursday. Alasdair Wilkins asks on io9.com:

NASA is bringing together a geologist, an oceanographer, a biologist, and an ecologist for a press conference on Thursday to talk about an astrobiology discovery that “will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” Yeah, this could be major.

Blogger Jason Kottke did some inspired sleuthing regarding what Thursday’s press conference might be about. He discovered the expertises of the various people involved include the interaction of geology and life on alien planets (specifically Mars), photosynthesis using arsenic, Saturn’s moon Titan as an early Earth environment, and the chemistry of life, including in places without carbon, water, or oxygen.

Taking that all together and combined with the current blitz of news from NASA’s Cassini probe around Saturn, Kottke guesses the announcement might have something to do with the discovery of arsenic on Titan and, quite possibly, some primitive bacterial form of life using it for photosynthesis.

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Scientists Create Artificial Ovary

100914102108Another portion of “the miracle of life” mastered by scientists? Science Daily reports:

Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital have invented the first artificial human ovary, an advance that provides a potentially powerful new means for conducting fertility research and could also yield infertility treatments for cancer patients. The team has already used the lab-grown organ to mature human eggs.

“An ovary is composed of three main cell types, and this is the first time that anyone has created a 3-D tissue structure with triple cell line,” said Sandra Carson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Women & Infants Hospital.

Carson said that the ovary not only provides a living laboratory for investigating fundamental questions about how healthy ovaries work, but also can act as a testbed for seeing how problems, such as exposure to toxins or other chemicals, can disrupt egg maturation and health.

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Earth-Sized Planet Discovered in Perfect Position to Support Earth-Like Life

Seth Borenstein writes on the AP via Yahoo News:
Earth& Sun

Astronomers say they have for the first time spotted a planet beyond our own in what is sometimes called the Goldilocks zone for life: Not too hot, not too cold. Juuuust right.

Not too far from its star, not too close. So it could contain liquid water. The planet itself is neither too big nor too small for the proper surface, gravity and atmosphere.

It’s just right. Just like Earth. “This really is the first Goldilocks planet,” said co-discoverer R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

The new planet sits smack in the middle of what astronomers refer to as the habitable zone, unlike any of the nearly 500 other planets astronomers have found outside our solar system. And it is in our galactic neighborhood, suggesting that plenty of Earth-like planets circle other stars.

Scientists have jumped the gun before on proclaiming that planets outside our solar system were habitable only to have them turn out to be not quite so conducive to life.

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What Happens When You Die? Evidence Suggests Time Simply Reboots

Robert Lanza, M.D., theorizes at Huffington Post:

What happens when we die? Do we rot into the ground, or do we go to heaven (or hell, if we’ve been bad)? Experiments suggest the answer is simpler than anyone thought. Without the glue of consciousness, time essentially reboots.

The mystery of life and death can’t be examined by visiting the Galapagos or looking through a microscope. It lies deeper. It involves our very selves. We wake and find ourselves in the present. There are stairs below us, which we seem to have climbed; there are stairs above us, which go upward into the unknown future. But the mind stands at the door by which we entered and gives us the memories by which we go about our day. Everything is ordered and predictable. We’re like cuckoo birds who appear through a door each morning. We fancy there’s a clockwork set in motion at the beginning of time.

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Americans, You Have the Worst Quality of Life in the Developed World — By a Wide Margin

American Flag

Photo: BrokenSphere (CC)

Lance Freeman writes on Escape From America Magazine:

Americans, I have some bad news for you:

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world — by a wide margin.

If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home. I have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones, and there is only one country I would never consider living in again: The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with dread.

Consider this, you are the only people in the developed world without a single-payer health system.

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NASA Scientists Discover Evidence ‘That Alien Life Exists’ on Saturn’s Moon Titan

Artist's impression of a mirror-smooth lake on Titan's surface. Credit: NASA

Artist's impression of a mirror-smooth lake on Titan's surface. Credit: NASA

Andrew Hough writes in the Telegraph:

Researchers at the space agency believe they have discovered vital clues that appeared to indicate that primitive aliens could be living on the planet.

Data from Nasa’s Cassini probe has analysed the complex chemistry on the surface of Titan, which experts say is the only moon around the planet to have a dense atmosphere.

They have discovered that life forms have been breathing in the planet’s atmosphere and also feeding on its surface’s fuel. Astronomers claim the moon is generally too cold to support even liquid water on its surface.

The research has been detailed in two separate studies.

The first paper, in the journal Icarus, shows that hydrogen gas flowing throughout the planet’s atmosphere disappeared at the surface. This suggested that alien forms could in fact breathe. The second paper, in the Journal of Geophysical Research, concluded that there was lack of the chemical on the surface.

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Study Sheds Light on What Makes People Shy

Clark KentI’m not suggesting that “shyness” means you secretly are an alien from the planet Krypton, who has to disguise one’s true nature from everyone around you … but it can feel like that at times. Reports LiveScience:

The brains of shy or introverted individuals might actually process the world differently than their more extroverted counterparts, a new study suggests.

About 20 percent of people are born with a personality trait called sensory perception sensitivity (SPS) that can manifest itself as the tendency to be inhibited, or even neuroticism. The trait can be seen in some children who are “slow to warm up” in a situation but eventually join in, need little punishment, cry easily, ask unusual questions or have especially deep thoughts, the study researchers say.

The new results show that these highly sensitive individuals also pay more attention to detail, and have more activity in certain regions of their brains when trying to process visual information than those who are not classified as highly sensitive.

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Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Evolution is Wrong

SleestakWhat if Darwin’s theory of natural selection is inaccurate? What if the way you live now affects the life expectancy of your descendants? Evolutionary thinking is having a revolution. Oliver Burkeman writes in the Guardian:

The story, still sometimes repeated in creationist circles, goes like this: it is the 1960s, at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, and a team of astronomers is using cutting-edge computers to recreate the orbits of the planets, thousands of years in the past. Suddenly, an error message flashes up. There’s a problem: way back in history, one whole day appears to be missing.

The scientists are baffled, until a Christian member of the team dimly recalls something and rushes to fetch a Bible. He thumbs through it until he reaches the Book of Joshua, chapter 10, in which Joshua asks God to stop the world for … “about a full day!” Uproar in the computer lab.

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