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Life Adapts.
#67
yes, and the point of the viola is ??


Palin was quoted on Countdown with Keith <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/rofl.gif" alt="Rofl" title="rofl" />
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#68
blow smoke up somebody else ass.
<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/whip.gif" alt="Whip" title="whip" />
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
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#69
Well, while somebody's blowing some kinda smoke up whomever's anal aperture, for all you Dune fans the NY Times gives us ....

SANDFISH!

No shit.
*********
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/scien ... ss&emc=rss

Saharan Lizard Swims Through Sand

By HENRY FOUNTAIN
Published: July 16, 2009

To survive in its hot Saharan habitat, the sandfish, like other desert-dwelling creatures, spends a lot of time underground. But this lizard doesn’t just lie around in a burrow — it travels quite quickly through the sand. The question has been, how?

Daniel I. Goldman, a physicist at Georgia Institute of Technology, and colleagues have come up with an answer, using a high-speed X-ray imaging system that can record the animal’s underground movement. The sandfish, they report in Science, doesn’t paddle through the sand but rather swims, putting its limbs by its side and undulating its body.

“It’s pretty simple,” Dr. Goldman said. “It puts a traveling wave down the body, from head to tail.” In other experiments in which they dragged a steel cylinder through sand, the researchers were able to model the drag and thrust forces that this kind of movement would generate.

Dr. Goldman initially studied the physics of granular materials, which display complicated behavior — changing from a solid to a fluid, for example. Then, as a post-doctoral student, he began to study biomechanics. Along the way he learned about the sandfish, “a cool animal that interacted constantly with granular media,” he said.

The X-ray camera showed that within a half-second as it burrows into the sand, the lizard shifts from a conventional four-footed surface gait, moving its limbs to its sides. “It doesn’t look like a lizard anymore,” Dr. Goldman said. “It starts to look like an undulatory snake or eel.”

The researchers found that the swimming speed varied depending on the frequency of the undulations, about 2 to 4 per second. But interestingly, speed was unaffected by how compacted the sand was, even though compact sand requires much more force to travel through. The researchers determined that this was because both drag and thrust forces increase in compact sand, and thus the ratio of these forces is no different than it is in more loosely packed sand.

Dr. Goldman said the findings should aid in understanding how other animals move through the ground (and how they affect the structure of the sand or soil they pass through). Modeling the behavior may also help in the design of robots meant to travel underground or through rubble, he said.
*********
Life is everywhere. Crystalline structures replicating in space, precursors to amino acids in space, maybe even simpler amino acids in space, two miles deep in rocks, boiling in acid, Mars ...

Life! What can't it do? Whistle )
I am what I am and that's all what I am - Popeye the Sailor Man<br />From simplicity make not complexity without necessity - John of Ockham<br />The realities of water and life on Mars are SERIOUS BUSINESS
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#70
Quote:blow smoke up somebody else ass.
<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/whip.gif" alt="Whip" title="whip" />


come on Wook, I was simply referencing the R2D2 spot Keith Olbermann had on a while back. Remember, the R2D2 mail boxes and the Wookie spin.......goodness gracious............what has you so ruffled?
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#71
Palin had nothing to do with thread or blob
thus your comment was
and still is
pure bs.
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Reply
#72
gameover, huh?
<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/rofl.gif" alt="Rofl" title="rofl" />
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#73
bs over.
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
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#74
Quote:bs over.

Fine: OK, fine. In other news, it's ALGAE.

PS: ..."The water's actually very cold this year compared to other years,"...
*********
http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/867160.html

Black goop floating off Arctic coast identified as algae

ALGAE: Still, experts don't know why there's so much of it.

By KYLE HOPKINS
<a href="mailto:khopkins@adn.com">khopkins@adn.com</a>

Published: July 16th, 2009 07:57 PM
Last Modified: July 17th, 2009 07:25 AM

A sample of the giant black mystery blob that Wainwright hunters discovered this month floating in the Chukchi Sea has been identified.

It looks to be a stringy batch of algae. Not bunker oil seeping from an aging, sunken ship. Not a sea monster.

"We got the results back from the lab today," said Ed Meggert of the Department of Environmental Conservation in Fairbanks. "It was marine algae."

Miles of the thick, dark gunk had been spotted floating between Barrow and Wainwright, prompting North Slope Borough officials and the Coast Guard to investigate last week. A sample was sent to a DEC lab in Palmer, where workers looked at it under a microscope and declared it some kind of simple plant -- an algae, Meggert said.

The goo fast became an Alaska mystery. And the new findings still leave questions unanswered: Why is there so much of it in a region where people say they've never seen anything quite like it?

Local hunters and whalers didn't know what to make of it. The Coast Guard labeled the substance biological, but knew little else. The stuff had hairy strands in it and was tangled with jellyfish, said a borough official.

Terry Whitledge is director of the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He hasn't had a chance to look at the DEC's sample yet, but a friend with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration e-mailed him a picture of the gunk.

"Filamentous algae," he concluded.

Filamentous?

"It means it's just stringy."

Whitledge said he doesn't know why an unprecedented bloom of algae appeared off the Arctic coast.

"You'll find these kind of algae grow in areas that are shallow enough that light can get to the bottom ... If you had a rocky area along the coast, you could have this type of algae."

It could have been discharged from a river, he said, flushed out by runoff from spring breakup and melting ice. But that's just speculation, he warned.

The North Slope Borough took samples of the stuff too, for a separate round of testing, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Hasenauer.

The results of the state's analysis came in at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. It was the last day on the job for Meggert, the retiring on-scene coordinator.

"Had it been petroleum, then we really would have had our work cut out for us," he said.

That was the initial fear -- that an oil spill had appeared in the Chukchi Sea, or maybe the blob was oil bubbling up from a sunken vessel or underwater seam.

The goo didn't fit any pattern that made it easy to identify from afar, Meggert said. "First of all, it was at the end of the Earth. Pretty hard to get to.

"While we've seen some algae bloom from time to time, we really haven't seen something quite like this."

The color, in particular, didn't make sense, he said. You might expect to see green or reddish algae but not this black, viscous gunk. Whitledge, with the university, said one possible explanation is that the algae has partially decomposed into a darker hue.

He looks forward to the university examining the sample too, to identify exactly what kind of algae it is.

It's worth noting that Alaska Natives in the region reportedly hadn't seen anything like it before, he said.

But asked if the blob's surprise appearance could be connected to global warming, Whitledge hesitated to draw a link.

"The water's actually very cold this year compared to other years," he said.
I am what I am and that's all what I am - Popeye the Sailor Man<br />From simplicity make not complexity without necessity - John of Ockham<br />The realities of water and life on Mars are SERIOUS BUSINESS
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#75
No Guts, No Glory

Quote:Press Release: September 18, 2006

No Guts, No Worries: Worm Enlists Full-Service Microbes for Transportation, Energy, & Waste Management
WALNUT CREEK, CA--Researchers have now characterized the unique lifestyle of a gutless worm that commutes through marine sediments powered by a community of symbiotic microbial specialists harbored just under its skin, obviating the need for digestive and excretory systems.

From a species of marine oligochaete worm isolated off of the coast of Elba, the Mediterranean island of Napoleon's exile, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) have described this complex worm/microbe quid pro quo revealed by DNA sequencing and other diagnostic techniques. Their results are published in the September 17 online edition of the journal Nature.

The worm, Olavius algarvensis, has no mouth to take in food, but does not go hungry, thanks to the goodwill of its hardworking bacterial tenants. In the transaction, the worm shuttles the bacteria to optimal energy sources it encounters wending its way between the upper oxygen-rich and the lower oxygen-depleted coastal sediments. In exchange, fixed carbon, all required amino acids and vitamins are synthesized by the subcuticular communities of microbial symbionts, providing their host with ample nutrition.

On the other end of the digestive equation, such waste products as ammonium and urea, generated by the worm's metabolism, are taken up by these symbionts—not only aiding the host in the removal of these toxic waste products, but also conserving valuable nitrogen, further maintaining the microbial community.

"It's an excellent example of outsourcing energy and waste management, where this worm and the microbes living under its skin are enjoying a mutually beneficial relationship," said Eddy Rubin, DOE JGI Director. The work was conducted by postdoctoral fellow Tanja Woyke and colleagues from the Rubin lab at DOE JGI and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and collaborators led by Nicole Dubilier, Head of the Symbiosis Research Group in the Department of Molecular Ecology at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany.

"The microbes, floating around in the sea, strike up a bargain with the worm—in exchange for housing, the microbes take care of energy production and handling the waste," Rubin said. The team had a hunch that this pact was taking place, because without a mouth or an anus, the worm's survival begged the question. O. algarvensis has no semblance of a renal or kidney system—revealing itself as one of nature's oddities.

The team uncovered the unique method of waste management employed by Olavius algarvensis by metagenomics, a strategy pioneered by DOE JGI and its collaborators. This technique entails isolating, sequencing, and characterizing DNA extracted directly from environmental samples—to obtain a profile of the microbial community residing in a particular environment. This is the first instance of such a symbiotic relationship being analyzed by using a metagenomic shotgun sequencing approach, heralding a renaissance in symbiosis research.

In this experiment, Woyke donned scuba equipment and dove into the Mediterranean to sift through tons of sediment to uncover enough of the worms and their microbial contents, which, like the vast preponderance of microbial life, cannot be grown in the laboratory.

http://www.jgi.doe.gov/News/news_9_18_06.html
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#76
Rudi Diesel expounds on the "snail-shell crab" at Windsor in June, 2000. He has been studying these crabs in Jamaica since 1986 and is presently preparing a video presentation on Cockpit Country research. The "snail-shell crab" (Sesarmae jarvisi) is an example of special adaptation to the "waterless" karst terrain and a remarkable example of "brood care" in the Cockpit Country. The females raise their families in the shells of dead snails. They actually turn the shell over to put the aperture downwards so that rain and dew does not flood their "house". They then carry dew water to fill the shell up to its overflow so that the larvae (which still have gills) can survive. Of course, as Rudi says (see Bibliography), the first remarkable adaptation of these crabs was to learn to live in fresh water instead of their original salt water. no doubt this occurred during the millions of years when Jamaica slowly submerged and then reemerged from the sea (see Formation of Jamaica). Another example of brood care Rudi discovered is the bromeliad crab (Metopaulias depressus), which raises its young in the water-filled bromeliads. The mother manipulates water quality by removing detritus , circulating water to oxygenate it and carrying empty snail shells into the bromeliad as both a calcium source and a pH buffer.
Molecular evidence shows that Jamaican land crabs evolved from a single adaptive radiation from a marine ancestor that invaded terrestrial habitats only 4 million years ago (Schubert et al, Nature vol 393, 28May,98 see Bibliography), so that it is possible that M. depressus should be placed in the same genus as the other Jamaican endemic crabs, of the genus Sesarma.

Rudi is based at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and you can check out his excellent site at http://www.Science-Media.de

http://www.cockpitcountry.com/Crabs.html
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#77
image
http://photography.nationalgeographic.c ... image.html

Quote:Armoured crickets have a bizarre and striking way to avoid being eaten.
To become unpalatable, the insects squirt toxic blood out of gaps in their body and make themselves sick by throwing up food they've just eaten.
A few insect species including beetles and katydids actively bleed when attacked, but the benefits of taking such extreme measures were not clear.
Now scientists have shown the tactic really does work to deter predators such as lizards.
Armoured ground crickets (Acanthoplus discoidalis) are fat, flightless insects that live in the African bush across Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.
They are relatively large, growing up to 5cm long, have sharp spines across their thorax and legs and a pair of strong biting jaws. Males are also able to make a harsh loud noise by rubbing body parts together in a behaviour called stridulation.

The blood is pale green and rather acrid smelling
Entomologist Bill Bateman
Each feature adds to an arsenal of defence mechanisms that the insects use to avoid being eaten by predators.
However, the crickets also use two highly unusual and quite bizarre tricks to stymie any attack.
Firstly, the crickets regurgitate through their mouths food they have just eaten.
They also squirt blood, which in insects is called haemolymph, from gaps in their exoskeleton on their backs and under their legs.
Blood squirting
A number of insects, including blister beetles, stonefly larvae and bushhoppers behave in similar way when attacked. One katydid is so renowned for this tactic that in German it is called a 'blutspritzer', or 'blood squirter'.
But while this bizarre behaviour is well known, its effectiveness has never before been tested.
"When I was moving them to larger quarters I was thinking about how they would grip a branch and when I pulled I would inevitably feel the squirt of the blood jetting out from under their legs," entomologist Bill Bateman of the University of Pretoria in South Africa told the BBC.
"This is a recognised defence mechanism and has been mentioned in other invertebrates, but no one had published on what exactly makes them do it or whether it actually is effective against predators."
So Bateman and colleague Trish Fleming of Murdoch University in Western Australia tested the defensive abilities of the armoured ground crickets.
First he mimicked attacks by predators by grabbing the insects from the side or above with tweezers. The crickets responded differently depending on the mode of attack.
When attacked from the side, the crickets stridulated and tried to bite their attacker. About two-thirds of the time, they also squirted out acrid-smelling haemolymph from seams in the connective tissue of their legs and from just behind the head.
Attacked from above, a direction in which they could not bite, the crickets oozed toxic blood almost nine times out of ten, Bateman reports in the Journal of Zoology, the journal of the Zoological Society of London.
Sometimes the crickets squirted their own blood up to 6cm.
Green and acrid
"The blood is pale green and rather acrid smelling. I couldn't bring myself to actually taste it fresh but it leaves an acidy, tobacco-like taste on your fingers if you do not wash it off," he says.
He then further tested how the crickets responded to both bearded dragon lizards (Pogona vitticeps) and striped skinks (Trachylepis punctatissima).
When he placed a male cricket in a cage with four bearded dragons, one lizard immediately tried to eat the insect.
Instantly it autohaemorrhaged, forcing the lizard to drop it and retire to wipe clean its jaws. A second lizard seized it for the same to happen. A third lizard approached the insect but refused to attack it.
Bateman also tested the power of the haemolymph and regurgitated food, by painting another smaller species of cricket in either substance, and then seeing if striped skinks would eat them.
While the lizards ate all of 24 clean crickets, they often refused to eat those covered in haemolymph, and occasionally those covered in regurgitate.
"What impressed me is that they control the release depending on how they are grabbed," says Bateman, describing the actions of the armoured ground cricket.
"If it's from above the blood wells out and coats your hand. If grabbed by forceps from the side, by a leg, they lean towards it and crouch down, then there is a slight cracking sound and the blood jets right along the line of attack."
"Any predator would get a faceful, and our experiments indicated that lizards do not like it all."
Bateman say he was surprised by how sophisticated the crickets' defence responses are.
For example, they target their blood squirting according to the angle of attack, while females, which do not stridulate, rely on squirting and biting and vomiting up food they've eaten more than males.
Cannibal crickets
This blood and guts defence has one downside however.
Ground crickets often swarm in search of new sources of food including protein and salt.
But one of the best sources of both is other crickets, and if given the chance ground crickets become cannibals, feasting on each other.
"When the swarms in the African bush meet a road, lots get squashed and the others gather for a feast, so more get squashed until there can be a thick, acrid pancake of dead and moribund crickets on the roadside, bleeding and attracting more cannibals," says Bateman.
That means that any crickets with haemolymph on their bodies attract the attention of other cannibalistic crickets that assume it is injured.
"Crickets that I induced to squirt blood would assiduously clean any droplets off their limbs when put back in the colony, presumably to avoid cannibalism," Bateman explains.
"I saw other crickets approach a bloody one and begin nipping at it. If intact, the bloody one usually runs off."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_ne ... 172168.stm
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#78
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... diver.html

[Image: whale460_1452425c.jpg]A drowning diver has told how she was saved by a whale that pushed her back to the surface when she suffered crippling cramps Photo: EUROPICS
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Reply
#79
Killer whales visit 'social clubs'
Jody Bourton
Earth reporter
Killer whales create and visit social clubs just like people do, scientists have discovered.

Up to 100 fish-eating killer whales come together in the Avacha Gulf, off the coast of Russia.

But no-one knew why the whales form these huge superpods, when they normally live in smaller groups.

Now scientists report in the Journal of Ethology that these groups act as clubs in which the killer whales form and maintain social ties.

Fish-eating killer whales ( Orcinus orca ) in the Avacha Gulf live in stable groups called pods that contain an average of ten individuals and up to 20 in the largest pods.

But researchers have seen up to eight of these pods coming together to form large groups of up to 100 animals.

As far as the eye can see, in every direction you see killer whales surfacing
Erich Hoyt, WDCS
These large aggregations of pods are seen in numerous places around the world where large numbers of killer whales occur such as British Columbia, Alaska, Iceland and Antarctica.

It is unlikely that the whales gather for protection as they have no natural predators.

In the past researchers have suggested that the whales meet to increase their foraging success or to breed.

But the behaviour has not been quantified before.

To investigate, Olga Filatova of the Moscow State University and colleagues from the Far East Russia Orca project observed and photographed whales in the Avacha Gulf from a 4m long boat.

"At first we might see just a few spouts on the horizon. Then quickly we move among them, keeping a distance of a hundred metres so as not to bother them," explained project co-director Erich Hoyt of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), which provided the majority of funding for the project.

"As far as the eye can see, in every direction you see groupings of two to six killer whales surfacing, spouting then dipping below the surface."

"Each grouping has a focal mother figure surrounded by her offspring, some of whom may be full grown males with up to 2m dorsal fins that tower over the females," he says.

They also used a special underwater directional microphone called a hydrophone to record the sound of the whale vocalisations.

Each pod of fish-eating killer whales in the Avacha Gulf has a specific vocal dialect which could be pinpointed by the hydrophone, while individual whales can also be identified by the shape of their dorsal fins and markings.

That allowed the scientists to analyse the whales' behaviour.

The whales rarely forage and feed when they gather into a much larger superpod, the scientists found.

That suggests they do not gather to herd fish or increase their foraging success. In fact, say the scientists, depending on the type of prey, a superpod might have the effect of decreasing the feeding success of each whale making it unproductive to feed in large groups.

However, the whales did interact much more during these large gatherings that lasted from a few hours to almost half a day.

When meeting whales from other family pods, they made contact with each other, swam in synchrony and rubbed flippers much more often, the researchers found.

Sexual activity also increased, suggesting that these big aggregations provide a chance to assess potential breeding partners.

However, these behaviours likely have a greater function beyond reproduction, the scientists believe.

Club life

They enable the whales to establish and maintain social bonds and it is for that reason that the whales gather in core meeting areas and form large aggregations.

"The superpods are like big social clubs," says Hoyt. "These clubs could help them stay acquainted, could be part of the courting process but could have other functions that we need to learn about."

Maintaining social bonds is crucial for many social mammals which live and hunt together.

But maintaining connections with the wider community may be especially important for killer whales, which tend to live long lives in relatively small communities with low birth rates.

Killer whales also face challenges with high calf mortality rates which may be as high as 50% in the first six months.

"Understanding more about their social lives, including their reproduction, will be crucial to our future understanding of them and our ability to keep their population healthy," Hoyt says.

The team has also recently extended the study outside of the Avacha Gulf further north and south along the Kamchatka coast and to the offshore Commander Islands to learn more about other killer whale groups, including the mammal-eating type of killer whale that feeds on porpoises, seals and sea otters.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/earth/ ... 188071.stm

Published: 2009/08/12 12:01:59 GMT

© BBC MMIX
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
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#80
Whales are smart enough creatures to value friendships like humans!
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#81
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#82
Well, that whale won't have to worry anymore from us...but the Japanese still
do some whaling for food and 'science'
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#83
Another "Building Block" found in space.

Is there any particular reason that SOME form of life could not exist in a vacuum such as interplanetary space? Life seems to exist nearly everywhere else, bacteria and tardigrades have survived vacuum, and space has not only energy but also basic amino acids. Makes me wonder if these "critters" seen in the upper atmosphere might well be real entities rather than delusions. A lot of things make me wonder .... about a lot of things. :uni:
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http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news115.html

NASA Researchers Make First Discovery of Life's Building Block in Comet
Bill Steigerwald
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
August 17, 2009

NASA scientists have discovered glycine, a fundamental building block of life, in samples of comet Wild 2 returned by NASA's Stardust spacecraft.

"Glycine is an amino acid used by living organisms to make proteins, and this is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet," said Dr. Jamie Elsila of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts."

Elsila is the lead author of a paper on this research accepted for publication in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science. The research will be presented during the meeting of the American Chemical Society at the Marriott Metro Center in Washington, DC, August 16.

"The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare," said Dr. Carl Pilcher, Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute which co-funded the research.

Proteins are the workhorse molecules of life, used in everything from structures like hair to enzymes, the catalysts that speed up or regulate chemical reactions. Just as the 26 letters of the alphabet are arranged in limitless combinations to make words, life uses 20 different amino acids in a huge variety of arrangements to build millions of different proteins.

Stardust passed through dense gas and dust surrounding the icy nucleus of Wild 2 (pronounced "Vilt-2") on January 2, 2004. As the spacecraft flew through this material, a special collection grid filled with aerogel b a novel sponge-like material that's more than 99 percent empty space b gently captured samples of the comet's gas and dust. The grid was stowed in a capsule which detached from the spacecraft and parachuted to Earth on January 15, 2006. Since then, scientists around the world have been busy analyzing the samples to learn the secrets of comet formation and our solar system's history.

"We actually analyzed aluminum foil from the sides of tiny chambers that hold the aerogel in the collection grid," said Elsila. "As gas molecules passed through the aerogel, some stuck to the foil. We spent two years testing and developing our equipment to make it accurate and sensitive enough to analyze such incredibly tiny samples."

Earlier, preliminary analysis in the Goddard labs detected glycine in both the foil and a sample of the aerogel. However, since glycine is used by terrestrial life, at first the team was unable to rule out contamination from sources on Earth. "It was possible that the glycine we found originated from handling or manufacture of the Stardust spacecraft itself," said Elsila. The new research used isotopic analysis of the foil to rule out that possibility.

Isotopes are versions of an element with different weights or masses; for example, the most common carbon atom, Carbon 12, has six protons and six neutrons in its center (nucleus). However, the Carbon 13 isotope is heavier because it has an extra neutron in its nucleus. A glycine molecule from space will tend to have more of the heavier Carbon 13 atoms in it than glycine that's from Earth. That is what the team found. "We discovered that the Stardust-returned glycine has an extraterrestrial carbon isotope signature, indicating that it originated on the comet," said Elsila.

The team includes Dr. Daniel Glavin and Dr. Jason Dworkin of NASA Goddard. "Based on the foil and aerogel results it is highly probable that the entire comet-exposed side of the Stardust sample collection grid is coated with glycine that formed in space," adds Glavin.

"The discovery of amino acids in the returned comet sample is very exciting and profound," said Stardust Principal Investigator Professor Donald E. Brownlee of the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. "It is also a remarkable triumph that highlights the advancing capabilities of laboratory studies of primitive extraterrestrial materials."

The research was funded by the NASA Stardust Sample Analysis program and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Stardust mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operated the spacecraft.

To learn more about the mission, visit http://stardustnext.jpl.nasa.gov/ .

For more about the NASA Goddard astrobiology team, visit http://astrobiology.gsfc.nasa.gov/analytical .
I am what I am and that's all what I am - Popeye the Sailor Man<br />From simplicity make not complexity without necessity - John of Ockham<br />The realities of water and life on Mars are SERIOUS BUSINESS
Reply
#84
excellent !

Quote:"Glycine is an amino acid used by living organisms to make proteins,
and this is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet,"
said Dr. Jamie Elsila of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients
formed in space
and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts."


and to Mars
and
to the moon


Quote:"The discovery of amino acids in the returned comet sample
is very exciting and profound,"
said Stardust Principal Investigator
Professor Donald E. Brownlee of the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.

"It is also a remarkable triumph
that highlights the advancing capabilities of laboratory studies
of primitive extraterrestrial materials."


<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/applause.gif" alt="Applause" title="applause" />

they need these scientists on the Husky football team
and we might win some games.

i.e.
a winning team is working the Stardust data,
and this is great stuff!
I can eat mo' chicken than any other man.<br />And you know<br />what kind of chicken I'm talkin' about !
Reply
#85
How will we evolve now that we are poised on the precipice?
Or are we just a parasitic blight on the cosmic event horizon?

“I do not think we have adequately determined
the number and nature of the appetites,
and until this is accomplished
the inquiry will always be confused.”

Socrates
(Quoted in Plato, The Republic)

For our remote ancestors of the late Pleistocene, the basic problem that they confronted --
along with all other living things -- was the “struggle for existence” (in Darwin's pellucid
phrase). Nothing fundamental has changed since then. Whatever may be our perceptions,
aspirations, or illusions, biological survival and reproduction remains the “paradigmatic
problem” of the human species. Furthermore, the survival problem is ongoing, relentless and
inescapable; it will never be permanently “solved”.

This tap-root assumption about the human condition is not exactly news, although we
very often deny it, or downgrade it, or simply lose touch with it. The survival imperative was
recognized by Aristotle in various writings (Nussbaum 1988, 1993). It was also the underlying
assumption in Darwin's treatise on The Descent of Man. Herbert Spencer and a slew of
nineteenth century social theorists also took the survival problem as a given. Today it figures
prominently in some of our public policy debates, most notably those concerning poverty and
various environmental problems. It is also the ground-zero premise (so to speak) of the
biological sciences; life is at bottom a “survival enterprise.”

In a very real sense, the ground-zero premise of the social sciences during the course of
this century could be considered a “null-hypothesis.” Several generations of our forebears in the
social sciences have accepted without question (and many still do) the assertion that “mere”
survival and the provision of “basic needs” is no longer a real problem for humankind, at least
not in the so-called “developed” countries. This despite the fact that in this century hundreds of
millions of people have been left hungry, or in physical deprivation, or dead, as a result of two
world wars, the Russian and Chinese Revolutions and the Great Depression, not to mention
various lesser tragedies in more recent decades. Indeed, the influenza pandemic of 1918-19
alone killed more than 21 million people world-wide. And, as the millenium draws to a close,
the AIDS epidemic remains a major threat.

Furthermore, it is estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations that some 20 percent of the population in the developing and less developed countries --
about 800 million people -- are chronically undernourished (BWI 1995; Pimentel and Pimentel
1996; Ehrlich 1998). All-told, about one-third of humankind suffers from the effects of
undernutrition and/or malnutrition (WHO 1995; Combs et al., 1996), even though the world's
total population is continuing to grow, if somewhat less rapidly than before (Bongaarts 1994;
Smail 1997; Ehrlich 1998). More disturbing is the estimate by the well-known ecologists David
and Marcia Pimentel that in the past 40 years almost one-third of the world-wide stock of arable
land has been eroded (some of it irretrievably) (see also Lal and Stewart 1990; Pimental et al.,
1995) and that the per capita availability of fresh water (especially for irrigation) has begun to
decline as well (Postel 1992; Gleick 1993; Pimentel et al, 1997). Perhaps most ominous is the
fact that increases in world-wide food production, following the boom years of the so-called
“Green Revolution,” are no longer keeping pace with population increases. In 1997, the world
food “carryover” (or reserve stocks) was the lowest since 1960. World population is now
projected to reach 6 billion in 1999 and 9.5 billion in 2050. Although the large quantity of food
wastage (mostly during storage and transport) offers hope for some significant short-term
improvements in the developing and less-developed countries, there are currently no major
opportunities available for dramatically increasing the world food supply over the long term
(Pimentel and Pimentel 1996; Ehrlich 1998).

Finally, there is the looming problem of global warming, an “externality” that threatens
to disrupt the very basis of the human survival enterprise.

Nevertheless, in the social sciences “value-relativism,” “cultural-relativism,” and
“cultural-determinism” -- along with their co-conspirator, the Behaviorist “reinforcement”
learning paradigm in psychology -- have long prevailed. Some social theorists (most notably the
latter-day Marxists) blame human suffering largely on cultural factors, particularly capitalist
economic and political institutions, and tend to discount the importance of basic needs per se.
Then there are the phenomenologists, who deny that the concept of basic needs can have any
external, objective meaning at all apart from the individual's subjective experience. Meanwhile,
many other mainstream social scientists have proceeded from the assumption that basic
biological needs are only marginally relevant to social theory and that individual motivation can
be treated as a “black box” into which various cultural influences are poured. Our social,
economic and political behaviors are therefore largely shaped by our “wants”, “tastes”, “revealed
preferences,” “subjective utility functions,” and “social norms,” which are said to be “infinitely
variable” and culturally determined. (For more detailed discussions and critical analyses of this
paradigm, see Corning 1983, 1996a, Doyal and Gough 1991, Edgerton 1992, Hodgson 1993,
inter alia.)

Moreover, the so-called “is-ought dichotomy” in social theory, dating back to the
philosopher David Hume, proscribes us from passing moral judgment on any given social
practice or personal choice; we cannot deduce an ethical imperative from any empirical
circumstance. Economist John C. Harsanyi's (1982) principle of “Preference Autonomy” (a.k.a.
preference utilitarianism) epitomizes this posture: “In deciding what is good and what is bad for
a given individual, the ultimate criterion can only be his own wants and his own preferences”
(p.55).2 Similar assertions can also be found in the literature of anthropology, sociology and
psychology, not to mention social philosophy.

This tacit null hypothesis, and its philosophical underpinnings, is becoming increasingly
untenable. Various developments in the life sciences and the social sciences alike over the past
two decades -- ranging from behavior genetics and the neurosciences to ecological anthropology
and welfare economics -- have, in effect, challenged the environmentalist/relativist paradigm.
(Some of these developments will be discussed briefly below.) Nevertheless, a broad theoretical
framework based explicitly on the ground-zero premise of the biological/survival imperatives --
what could be called a “bio-logic” -- has lagged behind (but see Galtung 1980; Corning 1983;
and Doyal and Gough 1991).

Here a limited effort will be made to operationalize the survival problem as an explicit
analytical paradigm. In essence, this effort involves a synthesis of three very different concepts
and research traditions from three separate disciplines. From biology comes the concept of
biological “adaptation”, which provides the theoretical foundation. From the social sciences,
including welfare economics, comes the concept of “basic needs,” which provides an analytical
framework. And from the public policy field comes the methodology and research tools that are
associated with the “social indicators” movement. Together, these three elements are
synergistic; they provide a new way of viewing and analyzing economic and social phenomena.

Interesting read in context with the times (and authors)
http://www.complexsystems.org/publicati ... _needs.pdf
&quot;The impure can become pure through the process of elimination, <br />but error can never be transformed into truth.&quot; <br /> Schwaller De Lubicz
Reply
#86
Hi

<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/cheers.gif" alt="Cheers" title="cheers" />
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Reply
#87
..."the survival problem is ongoing, relentless and
inescapable; it will never be permanently “solved”...

I have read that the reasons we are mucking about in this self-inflicted mess is that

..."evolution gave us a raw deal.

We're sexually prolific.

We're tribal.

We're self centered."...

That is, we breed as if there were infinite space, and compete bloodily for the privilege; we gang up on other gangs for ... what ever; and, "What's in it for me?"

If that person - whom ever he/she may be - is correct, and at first glance it looks good to me, then everybody's talking about symptoms and not causes. Ergo, an alien breeding program is logical. After all, there seem to me good bases, both phenomenonologically (spellillng?) and logically, to at least accept such as a possibility. Thus, on a different level, life adapts.

I mean, I wouldn't want to see a bunch of guys with my temper running around the galaxy with nukes. Would you? Would they?

However, if ET is in fact engaged in such a program, or any other of any form of control for that matter, they do seem inefficient. And that's being charitable.

Just a thought. It's not as if I actually KNOW anything....

<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/reefer.gif" alt=":uni:" title="reefer" />
I am what I am and that's all what I am - Popeye the Sailor Man<br />From simplicity make not complexity without necessity - John of Ockham<br />The realities of water and life on Mars are SERIOUS BUSINESS
Reply
#88
Quote:Glowing 'bomber worms' discovered
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News
A group of glowing worms has been found dwelling in the deep ocean, some of which release body parts as tiny "bombs" to ward off predators.

Researchers describe the bizarre "Swima worms" in Science journal.

The creatures, which the scientists say could be widespread in the deep sea, indicate the extent of biodiversity yet to be discovered in the oceans.

The team found them whilst exploring the waters just above the sea-bed off the west coast of the US.

Lead author Karen Osborn, from the University of California San Diego, told BBC News that she and her colleagues found the worms accidentally, whilst exploring the deep oceans with remotely operated submersible vehicles.


"We came across them and thought they were very interesting, firstly because of their bioluminescence," she said.

"When we brought them up and realised they were different from anything that had been described before, we became even more interested."

Dr Osborn and her colleagues were exploring depths of up to 3,700m when they spotted the creatures.

As they continued to bring more of the worms back to their lab, they realised they had found a group of previously unknown animals.

Each of the seven species found so far is transparent apart its gut, and all of the worms produce colourful bioluminescence.

The researchers are now investigating what chemicals the animals produce to give rise to their striking glow.

The animals are also excellent swimmers - using fans of long bristles that form swimming paddles.


Five of the species release the glowing bombs, which probably serve to distract predators while the worm escapes. The team has named the first of these species Swima bombiviridis .

"They usually have about eight of the bombs, and they drop one or two at a time," explained Dr Osborn.

Because of the tiny size of the bombs - approximately 1-2mm in diameter - and the bright lights used by the submersible vehicles, the team was unable to capture this bombing on film in the deep ocean.

"So we bring the animals up to study them," Dr Osborn said. "If you transfer the animal into a small tank, and harass it a little bit with forceps - kind of bump it anywhere on the body - it will release one of these bombs.

"As soon as [the bomb] is released it starts glowing green and the animal swims away."

Greg Rouse, another member of the research team, explained that a common ancestor of the species had gills that appeared to be "in exactly the same places as the bombs", from which the bombs could have evolved.

"The gills (of their relatives) can fall off very easily so there's a similarity of being detachable, but for some reason the gills have transformed to become these glowing little detachable spheres."

Dr Osborn concluded: "This group of really fantastic animals emphasises just how much we have to learn about deep sea organisms and deep sea biodiversity."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/s ... 210645.stm

Published: 2009/08/21 10:07:00 GMT

© BBC MMIX
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Reply
#89
[Image: _46278048_pentacene_anatomy.jpg]
Even the bonds to the hydrogen atoms at the pentacene's periphery can be seen


Single molecule's stunning image
By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News
The detailed chemical structure of a single molecule has been imaged for the first time, say researchers.

The physical shape of single carbon nanotubes has been outlined before, using similar techniques - but the new method even shows up chemical bonds.

Understanding structure on this scale could help in the design of many things on the molecular scale, particularly electronics or even drugs.

The IBM researchers report their findings in the journal Science.

It is the same group that in July reported the feat of measuring the charge on a single atom.

Fine tuning

In both cases, a team from IBM Research Zurich used what is known as an atomic force microscope or AFM.

Their version of the device acts like a tiny tuning fork, with one of the prongs of the fork passing incredibly close to the sample and the other farther away.

When the fork is set vibrating, the prong nearest the sample will experience a minuscule shift in the frequency of its vibration, simply because it is getting close to the molecule.

Comparing the frequencies of the two prongs gives a measure of just how close the nearer prong is, effectively mapping out the molecule's structure.

The measurement requires extremes of precision. In order to avoid the effects of stray gas molecules bounding around, or the general atomic-scale jiggling that room-temperature objects experience, the whole setup has to be kept under high vacuum and at blisteringly cold temperatures.

However, the tip of the AFM's prong is not well-defined and isn't necessarily sharp on the scale of single atoms. The effect of this bluntness is to blur the instrument's images.

The researchers have now hit on the idea of deliberately picking up just one small molecule - made of one atom of carbon and one of oxygen - with the AFM tip, forming the sharpest, most well-defined tip possible.

Their measurement of a pentacene molecule using this carbon monoxide tip shows the bonds between the carbon atoms in five linked rings, and even suggests the bonds to the hydrogen atoms at the molecule's periphery.

Tip of the iceberg

Lead author of the research Leo Gross told BBC News that the group is aiming to combine their ability to measure individual charges with the new technique, characterising molecules at a truly unprecedented level of detail.

That will help in particular in the field of "molecular electronics", a potential future for electronics in which individual molecules serve as switches and transistors.

Although the approach can trace out the ethereal bonds that connect atoms, it cannot distinguish between atoms of different types.

The team aims to use the new technique in tandem with a similar one known as scanning tunnelling microscopy - in which a tiny voltage is applied accross the sample - to determine if the two methods in combination can deduce the nature of each atom in the AFM images.

That would help the entire field of chemistry, in particular the synthetic chemistry used for drug design.

The results are of wide interest to others who study the nano-world with similar instruments. For them, implementing the same approach is as simple as picking up one of these carbon monoxide molecules with their AFM before taking a measurement.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/s ... 225491.stm

Published: 2009/08/28 02:15:57 GMT

© BBC MMIX
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Reply
#90
That was cool! Thanks for the image of the molecule, Wook! <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/cheers.gif" alt="Cheers" title="cheers" />
Reply
#91
<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/dunno.gif" alt="Dunno" title="dunno" />

http://news.stv.tv/scotland/north/11845 ... o-crystal/


Quote:A young north-east girl is battling an incurable condition which could slowly turn her organs into crystal.

Lena Forsyth from Mintlaw suffers from Cystinosis, a rare and deadly disease which is destroying and killing the healthy cells in her body.

Now her family are hoping to raise funds to improve research into the condition.

The youngster is one of just 2,000 people in the world who suffer from the rare condition. She was diagnosed with Cystinosis when she was seven months old.

The condition, which can strike any organ, causes a build up of crystals in the eyes – resulting in an increased sensitivity to light. Without treatment, kidney failure is common by the age of ten.

Lena's Mum Vicky Forsyth said: “Obviously with it being so rare, it was very upsetting when we found out what it was.

“But at least we knew afterwards that we could treat the condition and make her feel a bit better in herself.”

Lena's family say the main drug used to limit the damage to her organs, Cystagon, has an unpleasant taste and smell and regularly makes her feel ill.

Although there is no known cure, they are hoping to fund research to improve the medication for her and other sufferers, so they can take lower doses less often.

Vicky added: “We’re trying to fundraise so the Cystinosis Foundation can support two research projects – one to improve the taste and the smell so sufferers are more willing to take the medication.

“The other one is so that they won’t have to take as many doses during the day.”

When outside Lena must wear a baseball cap to protect her eyes and is forced to stay indoors in warm weather to stop her body overheating. In addition to this she must take drugs through a tube five times a day.

Her family say she never complains and are hoping that, despite her condition, early diagnosis means she will continue to lead a full and happy life.

For more information on Cystinosis and to learn more of Lena's family's fundraising efforts click here.


Last updated: 25 August 2009, 19:44
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Reply
#92
Quote:[Image: _46278048_pentacene_anatomy.jpg]
Even the bonds to the hydrogen atoms at the pentacene's periphery can be seen


Single molecule's stunning image
By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News
The detailed chemical structure of a single molecule has been imaged for the first time, say researchers.

The physical shape of single carbon nanotubes has been outlined before, using similar techniques - but the new method even shows up chemical bonds.

Understanding structure on this scale could help in the design of many things on the molecular scale, particularly electronics or even drugs.

In both cases, a team from IBM Research Zurich used what is known as an atomic force microscope or AFM.

Their version of the device acts like a tiny tuning fork, with one of the prongs of the fork passing incredibly close to the sample and the other farther away.

When the fork is set vibrating, the prong nearest the sample will experience a minuscule shift in the frequency of its vibration, simply because it is getting close to the molecule.

Comparing the frequencies of the two prongs gives a measure of just how close the nearer prong is, effectively mapping out the molecule's structure.

The measurement requires extremes of precision. In order to avoid the effects of stray gas molecules bounding around, or the general atomic-scale jiggling that room-temperature objects experience, the whole setup has to be kept under high vacuum and at blisteringly cold temperatures.

However, the tip of the AFM's prong is not well-defined and isn't necessarily sharp on the scale of single atoms. The effect of this bluntness is to blur the instrument's images.

The researchers have now hit on the idea of deliberately picking up just one small molecule - made of one atom of carbon and one of oxygen - with the AFM tip, forming the sharpest, most well-defined tip possible.

Their measurement of a pentacene molecule using this carbon monoxide tip shows the bonds between the carbon atoms in five linked rings, and even suggests the bonds to the hydrogen atoms at the molecule's periphery.


That will help in particular in the field of "molecular electronics", a potential future for electronics in which individual molecules serve as switches and transistors.

Although the approach can trace out the ethereal bonds that connect atoms, it cannot distinguish between atoms of different types.

The team aims to use the new technique in tandem with a similar one known as scanning tunnelling microscopy - in which a tiny voltage is applied accross the sample - to determine if the two methods in combination can deduce the nature of each atom in the AFM images.





The experiment was also performed inside a high vacuum at the extremely cold temperature of -268C to avoid stray gas molecules or atomic vibrations from affecting the measurements.

'Eventually we want to investigate using molecules for molecular electronics,' Mr Gross said.

'We want to use molecules as wires or logic switches or elements.'


I should post this here as well as the other thread.

Wook that post on pentacene is great.
Fascinating science.
[Image: article-1209726-063617C4000005DC-159_233x326.jpg]
A 3D view showing how a single carbon monoxide molecule
was used to create the image
using a 'tuning fork' effect

<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/hmm2.gif" alt="Hmm2" title="hmm2" />

I wonder if some kind of ultra sound physics could be easily used on a Rover
at various sites on the surface to try and edtect subsurface ices and specifically water.
I think it was called acoustic attenuation.
I know that water leaks can be acoustically detected.

there are patents for acoustic style water and ice detection
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7026943.html

http://cedb.asce.org/cgi/WWWdisplay.cgi?5014989
Included is a review of detection methods based on flow measurement,
tracers, temperature, infrared, microwave, geophysical,
and acoustic emission sending schemes.


http://www.citeulike.org/user/nilsma/article/4860995
Acoustic and electromagnetic properties of soils saturated with salt water and NAPL
Reply
#93
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthn ... tions.html

Dinosaurs could survive cold conditions
Dinosaurs were able to survive colder temperatures than was previously thought, according to new research that casts doubt on theories that they were killed off by plummeting temperatures caused by climate change.

Palaeontologists have unearthed a rich variety of dinosaur fossils in an area that would have been one of the most northerly regions of the world in the period just before the giant reptiles died out, between 65 and 68 million years ago.

At the time, the world was far warmer and the continents were still to move to their current positions. Northeastern Russia, where the remains have been found, would have been just 1,000 miles from the North Pole, inside what is now called the Arctic Circle. Average temperatures would have been around 50F (10C).


Fossil hunters found remains of duck billed dinosaurs, fossilised teeth belonging to relatives of the heavily armoured Triceratops and even teeth belonging to relatives of the giant meat eater Tyrannosaurus rex.

The palaeontologists, based at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, also found fragments of dinosaur egg shells alongside the Arctic dinosaur remains, providing the first proof the animals were able to reproduce in these relatively cold, northern climates.

Dinosaurs have typically been thought of as being tropical creatures, but the discovery suggests they were able to survive in far colder conditions than had been appreciated.

One of the most common theories for the extinction of the dinosaurs was that the global climate cooled to the point that the animals could not survive. But the new discovery suggests dinosaurs were capable of adapting to cold conditions.

Professor Pascal Godefroit, who led the research on the polar dinosaurs, believes they faced a far more speedy decline, most likely caused by a massive meteor impact around 66 million years ago.

"For the first time we have firm evidence that these polar dinosaurs were able to reproduce and live in those relatively cold regions," he said.

"There is no way of knowing for sure, but dinosaurs were probably warm blooded just like modern birds, which are the direct descendants of dinosaurs.

"We have no remains of cold-blooded reptiles such as turtles, crocodilians and lizards in that area which suggests it was too cold for them.

"The dinosaurs were incredibly diverse in polar regions – as diverse as they were in tropical regions. It was a big surprise for us."

Among the dinosaur remains to have been found at Kakanaut, in northeastern Russia, include fossils of bipedal herbivores known as Ornithopods along with larger, lumbering plant eaters, similar to Ceratop dinosaurs, known as Edmontonia.

Teeth belonging to small meat eaters, including the 6ft long Troodon, which carried retractable claws, and relatives of the Velociraptors made famous by Jurassic Park, known as Dromaeosaurids were unearthed.

Remains of large tyrannosaurid dinosaurs, relatives of the formidable Tyranosaurus Rex, were also discovered.

Previously the most northerly dinosaur remains to be found have been in Alaska, but scientists have always assumed the creatures migrated south during the winter months to avoid the cold and long periods of darkness.

Professor Godefroit and his team, however, now claim they have evidence to suggest dinosaurs were year round residents of high latitudes and fed on evergreen plants during the winter. They have reported their findings in the German journal Naturwissenschaften.

He believes that the findings that so many dinosaurs were living in relatively cold regions right up until the time they became extinct, provides strong evidence against theories that climate change gradually killed them off.

Instead he believes debris thrown up by the meteor impact that created the Chicxulub Crater, on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, blanketed the atmosphere and reduced the amount of sunlight reaching the planet's surface.

This would have caused a dramatic reduction in the amount of plant life on the planet, which would have caused a rapid collapse in the food chain as the large plant eating dinosaurs died out, as well as the meat eaters that preyed upon them.

He said: "The meteor impact would have led to the equivalent of a global polar night that could have lasted for several years. Even the polar dinosaurs that were used to finding food in such conditions would have struggled for that length of time."

Robert Spicer, from the Open University, told the scientific journal Nature that the findings show that dinosaurs were far more robust than had been realised.

He said: "It makes me ask very serious questions about what could make animals that were resilient enough to live under these conditions to suddenly go extinct."


<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smoke.gif" alt="Smoke" title="smoke" />
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Reply
#94
Quote:Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

We're one-tenth human
Rest of the body is a swarm of foreign microbes
By: Robert S. Boyd

13/09/2009 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

WASHINGTON -- Scientists are beginning a large-scale effort to identify and analyze the vast majority of cells in or on your body that aren't of human origin.
Only about 10 per cent of the trillions of cells that make up a person are truly human, researchers say. The other 90 per cent are bacteria, viruses and other microbes swarming in your gut and on your skin.


"We really are a superorganism," Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said in an email. "From the moment we are born until we die, we live in a symbiotic relationship with our microbes."

"At birth, babies emerge from a sterile environment into one that is laden with microbes," said Laurie Comstock, a microbiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "The infant's intestines then rapidly become home to one of the densest populations of bacteria on Earth."

Most of these microbes are harmless, researchers say. Many are necessary to life and health. A troublesome minority, however, can cause everything from teenage acne and obesity to autism and cancer.

The National Institutes of Health has launched a $115-million, five-year project to identify, analyze and catalog hundreds of microbial species resident in or on the human body.

Called the Human Microbiome Project, it's modelled after the Human Genome Project, which decoded most of the human genes in the 1990s. The first 35 microbiome research grants took effect this summer.

"The composition of the complex microbial communities inhabiting the human body has a tremendous influence on human health and disease," said Richard Gibbs, a leading human genome researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Gibbs received a grant to sequence the genes of 400 bacterial strains by 2011.

The goal of the microbiome project, which is international in scope, is to identify which microbes are harmful and to figure out ways to prevent or treat diseases they cause.

It's a bewildering task, because scientists estimate there are about 1,000 different species of microbes living in the human gut and about as many more separate species on human skin.

The microbes form tiny colonies of bacteria that settle in different areas of the body. Jeffrey Gordon, a microbiologist at the University of Washington in St. Louis, likened them to "ecosystems," similar to those that plants and animals form on islands on Earth.

The most popular site for human skin microbes, surprisingly, is the forearm, which is home to 44 different microbial species, according to a recent study by Julia Segre, a microbiologist at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md. The most barren region is behind the ear, where only 15 species typically settle, she reported in the journal Science last May.

"Hairy moist underarms lie a short distance from dry forearms, but these two niches are as ecologically dissimilar as rainforests are to deserts," Segre said.

Different tribes of microbes are associated with different maladies. For example, bacteria associated with the skin disease psoriasis favour the outer elbow, Segre reported. Eczema bugs prefer the inner elbow.

Microbes also vary between people. Matthias Tschoep, an obesity expert at the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine, identified 383 microbial genes that differed significantly between pairs of obese and slender twins. Microbes in obese people harvest sugars and fats in the diet more efficiently than do others on slender people, he reported in Nature.

"It is possible that drug targets or drug candidates for the treatment of obesity could be identified from the obesity-associated microbiome," Tschoep said.

At the Conference on the Beneficial Effects of Microbes held in San Diego last fall, scientists described many ways in which microbes can be helpful -- even essential -- to humans.

Bacteria in the gut make it possible to digest food, synthesize vitamins, remove toxins and develop the immune system after birth.

One of the new human microbiome grants went to Robert Modlin, a dermatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, to study microbes lurking under the skin that cause 17 million Americans -- including 80 per cent of those age 12 to 24 -- to suffer from acne.

"Success may lead to the development of new, effective therapeutic strategies for treatment of acne," Modlin's grant announcement declared.


-- McClatchy-Tribune Information Services








Find this article at:
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/ ... 01992.html
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#95
http://www.astrobio.net/exclusive/233/a ... conditions

Antarctic Microbes Colonize under Mars-like Conditions

Extreme Life
Posted: 07/08/02
Author: Astrobiology Magazine staffwriter

Summary: More than 20 years ago, scientists first discovered that algae, fungi and bacteria could grow inside porous sandstone and surface pavement in the Antarctic Dry Valleys.

The dry, salty valleys of western Antarctica are hostile. Mean annual temperatures rarely reach above minus 30-35 degrees Celsius (~ minus 90 Fahrenheit). Less annual rainfall than 10 mm (0.4 in) makes these glacial conditions nearer to desertified and rocky soil. Much like similar weather on Mars, dessication or deep-freezing of virtually any exposed microbes seems inevitable.

But returning from a microbe-gathering trip to what in Western Antarctica is called the Quartermain Mountains, a research consortium from 3 countries (Canada, US, and New Zealand) sampled a fascinating colony of fungi. Their new results raise the question: without tapping an obvious liquid water supply, how do such fungi make a living there? Perhaps relying on the high-salt soils to access water below its normal freezing point, these fungi give astrobiologists some new candidates for survival studies in such harsh settings.

The research team included colleagues from the Royal Military College, Toronto and York universities in Canada, science teams from Arizona and New Mexico, along with New Zealanders from the private sector (Geochemical Solutions) and the government Land and Soil Consultancy Service. They published their analysis of the Antarctic old soils (paleosols) and fungi discovery in the journal Icarus. As a potential guidepost to study dry, cold soils on Mars, the team entitled their new study, "Morphogenesis of Antarctic Paleosols: Martian Analogue."

More than 20 years ago, scientists first discovered that algae, fungi and bacteria could grow inside porous sandstone and surface pavement in the Antarctic Dry Valleys. Since the 1980's researchers have found other active niches for diverse Antarctic biology: long-lived algal mats submerged under 10-foot-thick lake ice crust and bacteria living in hot volcanic fumaroles of Mount Erebus. But by digging 1 to 3 inches below the soil top-layer, the American and New Zealand teams seemed to have uncovered what may prove to offer some surprising survival pathways for the sub-surface fungi.

"We went to the iron-rich horizons, where we thought we'd find lots of microbes, because microbes need iron for physiological processes," William Mahaney of York University said. "And we sampled the lower-down, high-salt horizons, where we thought we would find few microorganisms. We found just the opposite."

Their new collection included long-lived colonies of insecticidal (insect-killing) fungi and a common species of Penicillium bacteria. "The strange thing is, we found several colonies of Beauveria bassiana -- fungi that thrive on insects," said Mahaney. "The colonies may have been there longer than centuries, maybe millennia, maybe since the last Ice Age -- I have no idea how long. So the question is, what do these well-developed colonies live on?"

Finding out how the microbes live in the harsh Dry Valley region is one job for David Malloch of the University of Toronto (who analyzed the microbes), and some guesses have already been put forward. "Many fungi are able to tolerate low temperatures, dryness, dormancy, low nutrient levels, etc.", says Malloch. "You would fully expect to find fungi and other microorganisms in the Antarctic provided some liquid water is occasionally available and some organic carbon is present for their nutrition."

But liquid water is very rare in the Dry Valley. One plausible way to adapt to the Antarctic deep-freeze is to colonize high-salt soil, because salt lowers the apparent freezing point of liquid water. "We found microbes in soil with 3,000 ppm salt concentrations," Mahaney said. "That's so much salt, temperatures can drop to minus 56 degrees Celsius before there's frost bite." In Antarctica particularly, such salty soil may build up from wind-blown ocean salt and the churning of soil by slow, but persistent glacial migrations.

One important question to answer is "when did these ancient microbes get their start in Antarctica, particularly if categorized as primarily insect-fungi?" To answer that, one has to revisit the shifting map of Earth, and an ancient time when Antarctica might have harbored some form of insect life. (In fact Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, South America and India were once part of a supercontinent called Gondwana. About 100 million years ago, it broke apart, and the land masses slowly drifted into their current positions. But before that happened, Antarctica enjoyed a warm tropical climate that supported an array of remarkable animals. In fact, about 560 million years ago, Antarctica was north of the equator. Today, no known large land mammals are found anywhere in Antarctica.)

The soil uncovered by the research team dates the fungal colonies to around 10-15 million years old, when Antarctica was likely less hostile than its present day South Pole extreme. To test the age of the fungi, the scientists used a tracer of biological activity, much like carbon dating, but instead relying on another chemical isotope, beryllium-10.

"The main issue here is the age of the parent material and the soil formation," says Vic Baker of Arizona. "Carbon 14 can only be used back to about 40,000 years, whereas [beryllium] Be-10 can be used back 10 million years. Also the sample requirements of organic carbon for the C-14 method cannot be met in Antarctica."
Survival of the fittest in an unfit place

Many scientists are no longer surprised at the robust tolerances found in microbe adaptation, whether those microbes scavenge a living from dry, salty, hot or very cold landscapes. This revised view of what constitutes a tolerable biological condition on Earth, in fact, makes it somewhat surprising when sterile samples are found anywhere on Earth. Such microbes may indeed have a relative (if not absolute) survival advantage over competing lifeforms: "In soils with such a paucity of life," says Malloch, "there may be more food than eaters. [A fungal] presence there may have more to do with tolerance to the physical environment than to lack of nutrients."

If dormancy, sporulation or high-salt soil makes the fungi viable, their presence in sub-surface deep-freeze has the research team intrigued: "They (fungal colonies) were there," says Malloch. "I am convinced of that. I have no idea whatsoever what state they were in at the time the soil was collected."

For the intrepid tourist, a trip to the hyper-arid, ultra-cold climate of the Antarctic Dry Valleys comes closer to present-day Martian climate than anywhere on Earth.

Further experiments to understand how the fungi cope with such hostile environments are forthcoming. Concludes Malloch: "We don't yet know much about the origin of these materials nor in fact do we really know much about the capabilities of the fungus. However, these questions can be answered by straight-forward experimental work. The results of such studies may further support the idea that conditions on Mars could sustain life but ultimately someone will have to go to work on the real thing."

But looking skyward for what elsewhere in the solar system might match Antarctica still offers a kind of reference point for planning strategies to sample Mars. As the authors' analysis in the journal Icarus concludes: "We believe that our field-based investigation of parts of the Antarctic yields valuable information about soils and microbial life that may bear significantly on future manned and unmanned missions to Mars, especially since the martian surface archives an active and varied geologic history similar in many ways to that of Antarctic terrains."
I am what I am and that's all what I am - Popeye the Sailor Man<br />From simplicity make not complexity without necessity - John of Ockham<br />The realities of water and life on Mars are SERIOUS BUSINESS
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#96
Bit by bit, the mainstreamseemsto be catching up, albeit rather slowly. Still, all items in this thread show progress, IMO, if for no other reason that by demonstrating life's incredible adapability.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28299707/ns ... nce-space/

Discovery indicates Mars was habitable

Research shows at least some areas of planet was less hostile to life.

By Andrea Thompson

updated 11:05 a.m. HT, Thurs., Dec . 18, 2008

Evidence of a key mineral on Mars has been found at several locations on the planet's surface, suggesting that any microbial life that might have been there back when the planet was wetter could have lived comfortably.

The findings offer up intriguing new sites for future missions to probe, researchers said.

Observations NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which just completed its primary mission and started a second two-year shift, found evidence of carbonates, which don't survive in conditions hostile to life, indicating that not all of the planet's ancient watery environments were as harsh as previously thought.

The findings are detailed in a study in the Dec. 19 issue of the journal Science and will be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Escaping the acid bath
Over the past several years, evidence for water on Mars has been stacking up: Scientists have found gullies formed by running water, possible ancient lakes, and minerals formed by interaction with water.

But just how much water there was and how suitable it was for Martian microbes or other primitive life forms have been harder puzzles to solve.

Most evidence has pointed to a period when water on the planet's surface formed clay-rich minerals, followed by a time of drier conditions, when salt-rich, acidic water affected much of the planet. These later conditions would have proven difficult for any Martian life — if it ever existed — to endure or to leave any traces for scientists to find.

Because carbonates dissolve quickly in acid, finding them shows at least some areas of the planet escaped the acid bath and was less hostile to life.

If primitive life sprang up in these pockets, it could have persisted and left clues of its existence.

"Primitive life would have liked it," said study author Bethany Ehlmann, a graduate student at Brown University in Providence, R.I. "It's not too hot or too cold. It's not too acidic. It's a 'just right' place."

The sites are dry now, however, so researchers are not expecting to find biology on the surface in those locations.

Pinning down sites
NASA's now-defunct Phoenix Mars Lander also found carbonate signatures in surface samples it analyzed. Researchers have also found carbonates in Martian meteorites that fell to Earth, as well as in windblown Mars dust observed from orbit. But this dirt and dust could have been mixtures from many areas, so the origins of carbonates have been unclear.

Now, the MRO findings mean some sites have been pinned down, and these are locations where future rovers and landers could visit to search for life.

The areas with carbonates found by MRO's CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) instrument were: Nili Fossae, which is 414 miles( 667 kilometers) long and lied at the edge of the Isidis impact basin; some sides of eroded mesas; sedimentary rocks within Jezero crater; and rocks exposed on the sides of valleys in the crater's watershed. Traces were also found in Terra Tyrrhena and Libya Montes.

"This is opening up a range of environments on Mars," said study co-author Jack Mustard, a professor at Brown.

The researchers have multiple theories for how the carbonates might have formed, including slightly heated groundwater percolating through olivine-rich rocks exposed at the surface and altered by running water or precipitation in small, shallow lakes.

The study was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation.
© 2009 Space.com. All rights reserved
I am what I am and that's all what I am - Popeye the Sailor Man<br />From simplicity make not complexity without necessity - John of Ockham<br />The realities of water and life on Mars are SERIOUS BUSINESS
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#97
http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2009/0 ... -news.html
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
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#98
Some of Algae's "spiders/dendritic forms look like tree roots minus the trees. It's possible
that some of them are indeed giant life forms. Mars is the most earthlike planet, but it is
also very different. The life forms might be similar superficially, but they will be different
from our own. There may be, for instance, 'chlorofungi' or giant lichenoids there. Tree-
like organisms have been found at both the north and south polar areas where the water
is.
Reply
#99
Quote:Protein reveals how insects smell
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News
X-rays have revealed the structure of a protein that shows how insects smell.

The protein, found in the antennae of silkworm moths, is involved in their detection of pheromones - chemical signals that affect insects' behaviour.

Discovering exactly how insects "smell" these chemicals could help to develop new methods of pest control, and insect repellents for humans.

Scientists at the UK's Rothamsted Research and the University of London carried out the study.

The structure was the 100th to be solved using the UK's Diamond Light Source synchrotron.

The synchrotron generates intense beams of electrons that can be used to probe structures down to the molecular level.

Studying this odour-binding protein has revealed where exactly on its structure the pheromone molecule binds.

“ A male moth is able to locate a female from miles away and a mosquito can find a human in a field full of cows ”
Professor Linda Field, Rothamsted Research
"We know that [the moth's] odorant binding proteins pick up pheromones at pores on the outside of their antennae and carry them through a watery layer to nerve endings," said Dr Jing-Jiang Zhou, the senior researcher at Rothamsted who led this study.

But how exactly the proteins bind these pheromone molecules is still "a bit of a mystery", according to Professor Linda Field, head of the insect molecular biology group at Rothamsted.

"We know they have to bind [together] before they trigger a reaction at the receptor, but looking at how they interact is difficult."

The team wanted to know if the pheromone molecules were simply transported to a receptor by the protein, or if they formed a protein-pheromone complex.

See the light


The x-ray images revealed that the structure of the protein changed when it was bound to a molecule of the moth pheromone, bombykol.

From this, the researchers surmised that this protein-pheromone complex triggered the olfactory (or smell) receptor and, in turn, the mechanism that allows the moth to process the odour.

Plants release these chemical odours to attract insects.

By studying this mechanism the scientists hope to develop more effective methods of pest control that are less toxic to other organisms - by directly targeting the pests' sense of smell.

"In the long term we want to find how this [binding] works and to block it," Professor Field told BBC News. "My research team is working on mosquitoes and aphids to develop systems to protect both crops and humans."

Professor Field explained that insects were "incredibly sensitive" to pheromones and host odours.

"A male moth is able to locate a female from miles away and a mosquito can find a human in a field full of cows," she said.

Rob Lind, senior technical specialist from crop protection company Syngenta, explained that targeting these pheromones was a safe and useful method of controlling specific pests.

"It is already used to control codling moth in apples," he said. "We use pheromone disruption - odours that confuse the males so they can't find the females. The females then lay infertile eggs so the crop is protected.

"It's like pest contraception."

Dr Lind explained that pheromones and odour-binding molecules are could be thought of as locks and keys.

"These are very specific keys and each species has its own particular one.

"In the future, if scientists can find out how they keys work, they could design new ones that fit better."

Dr Zhou concluded: "It's not just the farming community which stands to benefit from this work.

"These new insights will be fed into the development and refinement of biosensors where detection sensitivity is paramount - in areas like blood tests."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/s ... 282395.stm

Published: 2009/10/01 10:37:34 GMT

© BBC MMIX
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
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