Tag Archives | Life

Creepy Naked Babies: The Memorial Art Dolls of Jennifer Stocks-Dearborn

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.

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Are We All Martians?

Martian

Ray Walston as "My Favorite Martian"

Sounds a bit like panspermia but occurring within our inner solar system. Interesting post from David L. Chandler of MIT News Office:

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.

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Alien Life Found on Meteorite, Claims NASA Scientist

Alien Life?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.

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“Mutate or Die”: Bio-Art Project Turns William S. Burroughs’ Turd Into Living Organism

Mutate Or Die!This is truly bizarre, but a seemingly fitting tribute to the Naked Lunch author. Adam Zaretsky and Tony Allard describe the project on h+ magazine:

“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.

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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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