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Moogs
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2010-08-25, 09:54

There's always that.
  quote
Dorian Gray
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2010-08-28, 05:59

(Wrong thread, but Moogs started it!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
Freakin miracle they're all alive, but you have to wonder how all those people will hold out if it takes 3 or 4 months to get to them. I mean with each other. Even if they miraculously stay healthy with the food and hydration gels, there's the psychological aspects.
Seems like it isn't all rosy down there at the moment, which as you note isn't surprising.

The diagram of the San Jose mine at the bottom makes it look diabolical. You couldn't pay me to work in a mine!
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Moogs
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2010-08-28, 11:53

Yah, you'd think there would be other options (ranch hand, farming, construction, whatever). Maybe the pay is a lot better because of the risks. I think I'd rather be a miner than a skyscraper window-washer but that ain't saying much.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2010-08-31, 17:20

Hurricane Earl as seen from ISS

  quote
Moogs
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2010-09-05, 12:23

Never ceases to amaze me how large those storms are.

Meantime, get you some new and improved SN1987A.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11184194
  quote
Moogs
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2010-09-13, 11:50

It's true what John Bender said... the world is an imperfect place, (nuts) fall out all the time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11284131
  quote
curiousuburb
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2010-09-17, 06:40

Moon craters mapped in new detail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian.co.uk



The violent history of our nearest celestial neighbour has been laid bare by the most detailed map of moon craters ever produced.

Scientists used instruments aboard Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to scan the surface of the moon for impact craters measuring at least 20km wide.

Pictures sent back by the spacecraft revealed 5,185 large craters caused by lumps of space rock thumping into the lunar surface over the past few billion years.

Some regions of the moon are so pocked with craters they have reached what planetary scientists call "saturation equilibrium", where each additional crater wipes out an older one, so the number of craters remains the same.

The moon is thought to have formed 4.5 billion years ago, when a heavenly body the size of Mars struck Earth and dislodged an enormous cloud of debris that ultimately condensed into our planet's natural satellite.

A team led by James Head at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, used an instrument called a laser altimeter on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to map craters on the moon. The instrument bounces laser pulses off the lunar surface every 25 metres as it hurtles overhead.

By measuring how long each laser pulse takes to bounce back to the spacecraft, scientists can map the surface contours of the moon to a vertical accuracy of 10cm. To produce the crater map took 2.4 billion laser pulses.

By analysing the craters and their positions, the researchers determined that the oldest regions of the lunar surface were the southern areas that face Earth and the northern region of the far side of the moon.

The study is published in the journal Science.

Some parts of the moon are younger than others because ancient volcanic eruptions spewed out material that covered vast areas of land and erased the craters that were there before.

The map confirms previous lunar surveys that found older parts of the moon's surface have a greater number of craters than younger areas. This suggests the moon was pummelled with larger space rocks in its early life than it was later on.

One possible explanation is that fewer huge chunks of rock were flung out of the asteroid belt and onto a collision course with the moon once Jupiter and Saturn – the planets with the most mass and so the greatest gravitational pulls – had settled into their orbits.

"We know the asteroid belt has been spinning off projectiles at a relatively constant rate for three and a half billion years, but now we go back earlier in the solar system's history and suddenly things are completely different," said Caleb Fassett, a planetary scientist and co-author on the study. "This map is going to motivate a greater search to understand that."
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Moogs
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2010-09-17, 08:21

That is seriously cool.
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curiousuburb
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2010-09-29, 15:25

"Desktop Black Hole" research may confirm Hawking radiation, result in Nobel (via WIRED)

Quote:
A desktop black hole created in a lab in Italy has been shown to emit light, a discovery that could seal one of the biggest holes in theoretical physics and pave the way for physicist Stephen Hawking to win a Nobel prize.



The eerie glow is called Hawking radiation, and physicists have been hunting it for decades. In 1974, Stephen Hawking calculated that, rather than gobbling up everything in their path and giving nothing back, black holes can radiate like the heating element in a toaster.

But astrophysical black holes, the ultradense gobs of mass that lurk at the centers of galaxies and are left behind when stars collapse, radiate too dimly to be seen. So instead of looking at real black holes, a group of physicists led by Francesco Belgiorno of the University of Milan, Italy, created a miniature analog by shooting short pulses of intense laser light into a chip of glass. The results will appear in Physical Review Letters.

“This is an extremely important paper,” said physicist Ulf Leonhardt of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, who built an artificial black hole in a phone line in 2008. “The experiment confirms that Hawking radiation can exist in principle.”


The basic idea behind Hawking radiation is that the quantum vacuum is not actually empty. Instead, it is a roiling mess of virtual particles and anti-particles that constantly pop into existence and eliminate each other when they meet. If one member of the particle/anti-particle pair is created on the wrong side of an event horizon — the edge of a black hole beyond which not even light can escape — the particles can never meet to destroy each other. An observer outside the black hole would see a perpetual stream of real particles.

But until now, no one had seen any evidence of these particles. Radiation from a black hole the mass of our sun would be 10 million times colder than the cosmic microwave background radiation, the ambient temperature of the universe left over from the Big Bang, which itself is only a few degrees warmer than absolute zero. Larger black holes would be colder still.

Luckily, conceptual counterparts to black holes and their event horizons are not hard to come by. In the 1980s, two physicists independently suggested this thought experiment: Picture a black hole as a river that flows faster and faster as it approaches a waterfall. Fleet-finned fish headed upstream can escape the falls, but at a certain point the water flows faster than the fish can swim. Any hapless fish caught behind that point are doomed to flop backwards over the falls. Replacing fish with light and the river with gravity yields a good simulation of a black hole.

Replace the fish with any other wave and the river with any fluid moving faster than that wave, and the likeness goes deeper. Physicists have found that the math describing light moving in the warped space-time geometry around a black hole is exactly the same as the math describing waves flowing through moving fluids. The analogy works for white holes, theoretical objects where nothing can get in rather than out, as well. And mathematically, Hawking radiation doesn’t need gravity or curved space-time at all. It just needs an event horizon.

In the new study, Belgiorno and colleagues created an event horizon with two quick pulses of laser light inside a piece of glass.

“Your piece of glass, which is equivalent to the river, you can’t think of making this travel at velocities that are faster than the speed of light,” said laser physicist Daniele Faccio of Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, a member of Belgiorno’s team. “But you can create a perturbation inside it.”

Light always moves through a vacuum at the same speed, but it gets slowed down by a factor called the refractive index in a medium like water or glass. A pulse of laser light traveling through the glass can change the refractive index, slowing light down even further.

The physicists sent two pulses of infrared laser light into a small rod of silica glass. The first pulse warped the glass, and the second pulse bumped up against this warp, eventually slowing to a standstill. This is exactly what happens to light trying to enter a white hole, Leonhardt says.

A light detector perpendicular to the laser beam picked up one extra photon for every 100 laser pulses on average, Faccio said. The light was extremely dim, invisible to human eyes, but it was there.



“It was pretty amazing,” Faccio said. “My first reaction was, it has to be something else, it can’t be so easy.”

To make sure the photons weren’t coming from somewhere else — particularly the fluorescent glow of the glass itself — Faccio and colleagues changed the velocity at which the warp moved through the glass. Theory predicted that changing the warp velocity should alter the wavelength, and therefore the color, of the extra photons.

“We changed the velocity and saw that the color was changing, and then we changed it again and saw it was still changing, and the original colors disappeared and it had shifted to this new wavelength,” Faccio said. “There’s no other physical mechanism out there that can give the same effect. Hawking radiation is the only physical model known which can give rise to something like this.”

Understanding Hawking radiation could help physicists toward a unified theory of physics that works on the scales of stars and galaxies, which are described by Einstein’s general relativity, and on the scales of electrons and quarks, described by quantum mechanics.

“These laboratory analogues are important, because they literally shed light on a mysterious phenomenon that seems to connect three areas of physics: gravity, quantum physics and thermodynamics,” Leonhardt said. “They show first of all that Hawking radiation is not a mere theoretical dream, but something real.”

“While this measurement can’t actually tell you anything about quantum gravity,” Faccio said, “it does tell you that some of the simple approaches in this direction do work, and they do give you correct predictions. This means that if you develop a quantum theory of gravity, you have something to test this theory on.”

There are a few problems with this particular model black hole, Faccio points out. The biggest is that physicists can see only one photon of the pair supposedly created at the event horizon. That means there’s no way to tell whether the two photons are quantum entangled, a key feature of Hawking radiation. Leonhardt and his colleagues are working on making a radiating black hole in an optical fiber that would show whether or not the photons are entangled.

Physicist Dentcho Genov of Louisiana Tech University, who also makes lab-bench-scale black holes using a class of materials called metamaterials, points out that this is only an indirect proof of Hawking radiation. A direct proof would have to come from observing a tiny black hole radiating away in space.

“To have a direct proof is very difficult. I don’t know if in my lifetime or in my kids or grandkids lifetime that’s going to happen,” Genov said. “The actual full-scale experimental validation of Hawking radiation is still far away in the future. But this one I think is sufficient.”

Image: 1) An artist’s conception of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Gallery of Space Time Travel. . 2) The laser setup at Belgiorno’s lab. Reproduced courtesy of Daniele Faccio.
Desktop Black Hole sounds pretty awesome. WANT.

And Genov of LTU sounds like a buzzkiller.
  quote
Luca
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Location: Minnesota
 
2010-09-29, 15:58

Quote:
“This is an extremely important paper,” said physicist Ulf Leonhardt of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, who built an artificial black hole in a phone line in 2008.
Does he work for AT&T by any chance?
  quote
Moogs
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2010-09-29, 21:25

Pfff. Created a black hole in a lab and plugged a hole in astrophysical theories... is that all? Shit why don't these losers do something constructive with their lives?

...into the light of a dark black night.
  quote
curiousuburb
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2010-10-23, 09:07

Pimp my Rover: Curiosity edition



Curiosity Cam: Activity resumes Monday 8am PDT/1500 UTC.

Webcam videos of the wheels going on today. Other MSL Assembly clips when not live.

NASA has another Send Your Name to Mars program. Click to add yours to the microchip for launch in 2011.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2010-10-23 at 10:52. Reason: Links fix
  quote
Moogs
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2010-10-23, 17:47

That is one funky lookin' rover mobile. What a cool project to be working on.
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curiousuburb
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2010-10-28, 15:33

Odds of Earthlike Exoplanet almost 1-in-4



Quote:
...

In general, small planets turned out to be much more common than large ones. The researchers extended that trend down to planets about half Earth’s mass.

They found that about 23 percent (give or take about 10 percent) of sun-like stars should have a planet between half and twice the Earth’s mass orbiting very close in, about a quarter of the distance from the Earth to the sun. That distance would make the planets far too warm for liquid water. But because planets tend to be more abundant farther from their stars, Howard thinks there should be even more Earth-mass planets in cooler orbits where liquid water is stable.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the true number [of stars hosting Earth-mass planets] is one in two, or one in eight — but I’m almost sure it’s not one in 100,” he said. “That’s a really big improvement on our knowledge.”

Surprisingly, the observations also showed a lot of planets between 5 and 30 times Earth’s mass, a range that theoretical models of planet formation predicted should be so empty it earned the name, “the planet desert.”

“We showed that the desert is in fact closer to a tropical rain forest,” Howard said.

The new numbers are a windfall to researches like Winn, who are involved in designing the next generation of planet-hunting telescopes.

“It sets our expectations much more clearly than they were last week,” he said. “We were just guessing, to see how to design the instrument. Now we have some much more solid numbers to put in.”

... continues ...
Drake equation refinements keep getting more interesting.
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2010-11-05, 07:32

Hello Comet Hartley 2.

Nice Jets, dude.



Add it to our library... now we've got closeups of 5... including a twofer from this one mission.

EPOXI home page has original images and more

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC

Nasa's Deep Impact probe has flown by Comet Hartley 2.

The first pictures revealed a roughly 1.5km-long, peanut-shaped object with jets of gas streaming from its surface.

The pass, which occurred about 23 million km from Earth, was only the fifth time a spacecraft had made a close approach to a comet.

Nasa said it would take many hours to retrieve all of the data recorded by Deep Impact's two visible-light imagers and one infrared sensor.

But the initial pictures to get to ground gave a fascinating view of the comet's icy body, or nucleus.

"The dominant signature is [the] two rough ends and a smooth middle," said Dr Jessica Sunshine, the mission's deputy principal investigator from the University of Maryland, College Park.

"What we see is that where the activity is, where the jets are, is the rough areas. And the middle - in our best current interpretation - we think is fine grained material that has been re-distributed across the comet and collected in a topographic low."

The information from the flyby should give scientists further insight into the diverse properties and behaviours of what are some of the Solar System's most remarkable objects.

"Every time we go to comets, they're full of surprises," said principal investigator Dr Mike A'Hearn, also from the University of Maryland.

The closest approach to Hartley 2 - a highly elongated object - occurred just before 1400 GMT. The probe whizzed by at a relative speed of 12.5km/s.
There'll be enough data downloaded to keep researchers busy for the next five, 10, 15 years probably”
Dr Malcolm Hartley
Comet discoverer
Deep Impact is on an extended mission, having been re-tasked to visit Hartley following its successful flyby of Comet Tempel 1 in 2005.

On that primary mission, the spacecraft released an impactor that crashed into Tempel's nucleus kicking up thousands of tonnes of icy debris.

The new venture is known by the name Epoxi. It required a series of deep-space manoeuvres, including three gravitational slingshots around Earth, to put the spacecraft in the right part of the sky to meet up with Hartley.

Comet Hartley is named after the Australian astronomer Malcolm Hartley who first identified the body in a photographic plate from a sky survey undertaken in 1986.

He was at Nasa's mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California to see the images of his comet come back from Deep Impact.


"It's awesome," he said. "I've been overwhelmed by everything that's happened in the last two weeks.

"There'll be enough data downloaded to keep researchers busy for the next five, 10, 15 years probably. It's proving to be very interesting."

Tim Larson, the Epoxi project manager at JPL, said: "The mission team and scientists have worked hard for this day. It's good to see Hartley 2 up close."
THE FOUR PREVIOUS COMETS PASSED BY PROBES


Halley's nucleus was by far the biggest seen - 15km in length
Comet Borrelly was about 8km in its longest dimension
Wild 2's dusty shroud (coma) was sampled by the Stardust probe
Tempel 1 was Deep Impact's primary mission "target"
Comets are thought to contain materials that have remained largely unchanged since the formation of the Solar System. They incorporate compounds that are rich in carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

Intriguingly these are the elements that make up nucleic and amino acids, the essential ingredients for life as we know it; and there are some who believe comet impacts in the early years of the Solar System could have seeded the Earth with the right chemical precursors for biology.

As well as Tempel 1, spacecraft have previously visited comets Borrelly, Wild 2, and Halley. All are considerably bigger than Hartley. But Hartley - it was discovered in 1986 by the Australian astronomer Malcolm Hartley - has already proved itself to be a fascinating target.

Even from a distance, scientists saw a lot of short-term changes on the object - huge outbursts of dry ice, or carbon dioxide, pulling copious quantities of dust from the comet. Those outbursts would appear to come from the active areas seen in the new images, the researchers told a press conference following the flyby.

"The reason we wanted to go to Hartley 2 specifically was that it was a very small, very active comet, and was therefore different from the other comets we had studied in detail," said Dr A'Hearn.

"What we hoped to do was to use the difference between a small active comet and a large, relatively inactive comet like Tempel 1 or Borrelly to address the question of what parts of comets are due to recent processing and what parts tell us about the formation of the Solar System 4.5 billion years ago."

Deep Impact will keep imaging Hartley for a further 20 days. Nasa says it is examining requests to use the spacecraft and its instruments for further science observations. The limited fuel reserves now on Deep Impact mean it cannot be manoeuvred to flyby a third comet, however.
Yay for recycled/retasked spacecraft!

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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curiousuburb
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2010-11-23, 13:42

The Sun.... seen through 13,000 km of Earth...by examining neutrinos.



Quote:
This picture of the Sun is hardly high-definition. But, in its own way, it is extraordinary. Why? Because it was taken at night. It was taken looking down through the Earth. And it was taken not with light but with neutrinos.

Neutrinos are ghostly subatomic particles which are created in abundance by the sunlight-generating nuclear reactions in the core of the Sun. To them solid matter is as transparent as a pane of glass.

Hold up your hand. You would never know it but about a 100 million million neutrinos are passing through every square centimetre of your flesh every second. That’s why it is possible to image the Sun on the other side of the Earth by looking down through almost 13,000 kilometres of rock.

This picture was obtained by the Japanese Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector, situated in the Kamioka metal mine in the Japanese Alps. While sunlight takes about 30,000 years to work its way out from the centre to the surface of the Sun, neutrinos take just two seconds.

Once at the surface, it is only another eight-odd minutes of free-flight before they get to the Earth. Consequently, neutrinos reveal what the core of the Sun is like “now”.

Since the Sun’s light was made at the height of the last Ice Age, for all we know its nuclear fires could have gone out 29,000 years ago. However, solar neutrinos, on account of being in the heart of the Sun just over eight minutes ago, tell us all is well with the Sun and there is no need to worry. For now.

Via New Scientist
The official website has tons of funky high-res pics (and videos) of construction.

But even without fully understanding the physics, that pic is waaaaay cool.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
  quote
Dave
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Join Date: May 2004
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2010-11-23, 14:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curiousuburb View Post
The Sun.... seen through 13,000 km of Earth...by examining neutrinos.
That might be the coolest thing I've seen all year.
  quote
Brad
Selfish Heathen
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2010-11-23, 18:18

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curiousuburb View Post
The Sun.... seen through 13,000 km of Earth...by examining neutrinos.
I love science.
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
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2010-12-01, 20:02

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazychester View Post
I really just came by to see if the 'burb had anything to say about NASA's upcoming announcement re: extraterrestrial life. But hey, fuck the aliens.
Now, now, crazychester... before we fuck the aliens, we'd like to know more about them... and maybe buy them dinner first... if Arsenic-based life has dinner.

But I'll try to oblige with a heads-up on tomorrow's announcement.

It's life, Jim... but not as we know it.

*waves hand*

NASA to announce new astrobiology odds based on discovery of new 'alien' life forms in arsenic pools on Earth

NASA TV has a press conference to discuss the possible 'second genesis' scheduled for 1900 GMT Dec 2nd

Quote:
Originally Posted by NASA

NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery; Science Journal Has Embargoed Details Until 2 p.m. EST On Dec. 2

WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

The news conference will be held at the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website at http://www.nasa.gov.

Participants are:
- Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
- Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA astrobiology research fellow, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.
- Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
- Steven Benner, distinguished fellow, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Gainesville, Fla.
- James Elser, professor, Arizona State University, Tempe

For NASA TV streaming video and downlink information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

---

For more information about NASA astrobiology activities, visit:

http://astrobiology.nasa.gov
And although embargoed, some Murdoch media outlets have leaked details about the discoveries at Mono lake...

Sun version

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSun.co.uk

HOPE of finding ET-style life on other worlds has got a massive boost after scientists discovered microbes in a deadly poisonous ARSENIC lake.

NASA researchers - amazed that anything could thrive in the toxic liquid - will unveil their dramatic conclusions tomorrow.

They say the microbes prove a second form of life started on Earth in environments previously thought too hostile.

It opens up the possibility that Extra Terrestial aliens like the one from the 1982 movie CAN exist in the solar system.

Geobiologist Dr Felisa Wolfe-Simon made the breakthrough discovery during two years probing Mono Lake in California's Yosemite National Park - which has one of the highest natural concentrations of arsenic on Earth.

She will be among NASA-backed experts explaining the findings. Others include ecologist James Elser, who researches the possibility of ET creatures on other planets.

Scientists looking for life on Mars and Saturn's largest moon Titan will also speak.

Basic forms of life found before all rely on phosphorous to exist.

Astrobiologist Dr Lewis Dartnell, of the Centre for Planetary Sciences in London, said yesterday: "This is exciting. If these organisms use arsenic in their metabolism, it demonstrates that there are other forms of life to those we knew of."
And for the Times version with bigger words...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesonline.co.uk

Could the Mono Lake arsenic prove there is a shadow biosphere?

Do alien life forms exist in a Californian lake? Could there be a shadow biosphere? One scientist is trying to find out
Mike Harvey

Mono Lake has a bizarre, extraterrestrial beauty. Just east of Yosemite National Park in California, the ancient lake covers about 65 square miles. Above its surface rise the twisted shapes of tufa, formed when freshwater springs bubble up through the alkaline waters.

Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a geobiologist, is interested in the lake not for its scenery but because it may be harbouring alien life forms, or “weird life”. Mono Lake, a basin with no outlet, has built up over many millennia one of the highest natural concentrations of arsenic on Earth. Dr Wolfe-Simon is investigating whether, in the mud around the lake or in the water, there exist microbes whose biological make-up is so fundamentally different from that of any known life on Earth that it may provide proof of a shadow biosphere, a second genesis for life on this planet.

Arsenic is chemically close to phosphorus. While phosphorus is a primary building block of life on Earth — an essential component of DNA and ATP, the energy molecule — arsenic is a deadly poison. In Mono Lake there are micro-organisms that live with arsenic. But they don’t incorporate it into their biology.

Dr Wolfe-Simon has theorised that there may be life that chose an “evolutionary pathway” to utilise arsenic. If such microbes existed, it could suggest that life started on our planet not once but at least twice. In turn this would help to support the idea that life is much more likely to have started elsewhere in the galaxy.

“There is life ‘as we know it’ and there is life ‘as we don’t know it’. What would that look like? I am trying to give us a framework to work with to help us look for what ‘we don’t know’, the particular framework of arsenic,” she says.

Dr Wolfe-Simon has taken samples from the mud and the waters of the lake and is performing a series of multiple dilutions — hugely increasing the levels of arsenic and reducing residual phosphorous to zero. She adds sugar, vitamins and other nutrients to encourage organisms to grow and tests the results.

Her experiments are not yet over but she is quietly pleased with the progress she is making. “We have some very exciting data,” she says. The results should be published by the end of this year.

She points out that Mono Lake arsenic life, if found, may only go as far as proving the extreme adaptability of life on Earth billions of years ago. It is generally agreed that on early Earth the chemical soup was very different because of the material being thrown out of the planet’s depths by volcanoes and hydrothermal vents and the lack of biologically derived oxygen. If arsenic was around in far greater concentrations then, perhaps “arsenolife”, as she calls it, in Mono Lake is evidence of that ancestral life, a finding that would deepen our understanding of how life on Earth got started.

But she hopes that her research may help scientists to reconsider what alien or “weird” life might look like: “It may prove that there are other possibilities that are beyond our imagination. It opens the door for us to think about biology in ways we have never thought. We are going to look for life on other planets and we only know to look for that which we know. This may help us to develop tools to look for something we have never seen.”

Her work is funded by the Nasa Astrobiology Institute and she is based at the laboratories of Professor Ron Oremland, of the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. Does she believe that there are alien life forms out there? “I don’t know how there could not be extraterrestrial life,” she replies.
I'll be watching NASA TV online to see and hear more.
And I'll be humming The Firm tune all day.

Exciting stuff.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: that interweb thing
 
2010-12-02, 07:21

While you're waiting for the NASA TV webcast of the press conference on Arsenic-based lifeforms and astrobiological odds of finding ET, consider this...

Trillions of Earths may orbit Red Dwarfs in older galaxies

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC.co.uk

Red sky at night: The view from a planet in our galaxy (left) but planets in older galaxies (right) are bathed in a rosy glow from the many red stars in the night sky (artist's impression)
Astronomers say the Universe may contain three times the number of stars as is currently thought.

Their assessment is based on new observations showing other galaxies may have very different structures to our Milky Way galaxy.

The researchers tell the journal Nature that more stars probably means many more planets as well - perhaps "trillions" of Earth-like worlds.

The Yale University-led study used the Keck telescope in Hawaii.
There are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars”
Professor Pieter Van Dokkum
Yale University
It found that galaxies older than ours contain 20 times more red dwarf stars than more recent ones.

Red dwarfs are smaller and dimmer than our own Sun; it is only recently that telescopes have been powerful enough to detect them.

According to Yale's Professor Pieter van Dokkum, who led the research, the discovery also increases the estimate for the number of planets in the Universe and therefore greatly increases the likelihood of life existing elsewhere in the cosmos.

"There are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars," he said. "Red dwarfs are typically more than 10 billion years old and so have been around long enough for complex life to evolve on planets around them. It's one reason why people are interested in this type of star."

Two-thirds of the observable Universe consists of spiral galaxies (L) like our own Milky Way. The remainder is made up of older elliptical galaxies (R)
The findings also help to account for what astronomers describe as the "missing mass" in the Universe.

The movement of galaxies suggests there is more material in the cosmos than can be observed, so scientists have suggested that some is invisible, referring to it as "dark matter".

Dr Marek Kukula of the Royal Observatory Greenwich (ROG), UK, said: "the discovery of more stars in the Universe means that we might not need quite as much dark matter as we thought to explain how the Universe looks and behaves.

"It also tells us something about how the very first galaxies must have formed from the gas left over from the Big Bang."

And the ROG's Dr Robert Massey added: "Finding red dwarfs in other galaxies is quite something and shows how far we've come with the latest generation of large telescopes.

"If these stars are more common in elliptical galaxies than in our own, it's also consistent with the idea that they have a larger number of older stars than us. The lifespan of red dwarfs is many times longer than that of stars like our Sun."
That's a lot of Listers and Cats.

Six hours and change until the webcast about Aliens among us.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Moogs
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2010-12-02, 09:50

If only it didn't take 25,000 years -traveling at the speed of light, which we can't do anything close to- to get half way across our own galaxy, some of this news would seem more uplifting. But it is cool nonetheless. I think our knowledge of the cosmos and how it is structured is still in its infant stages, sort of like science at the point where the molecule was discovered but we didn't know what those were made of, etc etc.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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billybobsky
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2010-12-02, 11:05

I've met Felisa Wolfe-Simon, otherwise known as Iron Lisa, and she is a horrible horrible horrible person. Not evil, mind you, as far as I know, but certainly prone to self-promote to a level that makes her onerous to be around or near, or listening to, or having the concept that she exists.

I am glad her advisor's research panned out, but I really wish she didn't have anything to do with it...




Edit: Seems the announcement is out -- it isn't really all that surprising and the evidence isn't that strong supporting the idea that this organism is completely new -- but basically some atoms of phosphorous in the bacteria's DNA have seemingly been replaced by arsenic, which has very similar properties to phosphorus... And that's all she wrote...

Last edited by billybobsky : 2010-12-02 at 13:36.
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drewprops
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2010-12-02, 14:16

BB, does this "arsenic-infused" DNA surprise you?



...
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billybobsky
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2010-12-02, 14:22

Quote:
Originally Posted by drewprops View Post
BB, does this "arsenic-infused" DNA surprise you?



...
I would have been more surprised if they had found a bacteria that couldn't live on phosphate but instead depended upon arsenic -- that would live up to the hype I have seen...


I am only slightly surprised that the organism is robust enough to handle high concentrations of arsenic, a notable poison, but this has less to do with the theory of how this would work (it is interesting to note that there are also bacteria for which sulfur can be replaced almost entirely with the toxic selenium to no great effect) than with how adaptable even the smallest organisms can be...

Unfortunately, the announcement may be a little premature -- there is no evidence that the arsenic is in the DNA, and while I suspect it is, I would have liked if the researchers had proven it before making the announcement...
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curiousuburb
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2010-12-02, 19:13

Felisa does seem really irritating.
Not a good presenter... poorly structured presentation.
Even if it is interesting science, she detracts from it with a annoying and borderline frivolous style.

As for the result... proof of the wider possibilities of life as we know it... and don't know it.

Expands the range of habitats where life might be possible, and the biochemistry that might support life.

Although I did appreciate Mary's Voytek's reference to Dark Evil and the Horta to illustrate "how big a deal this is" during the Q&A.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2010-12-02 at 19:55.
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billybobsky
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2010-12-02, 23:04

Just to throw in an additional two cents:

It is actually sounding increasingly likely that the DNA itself does not contain much (if any) arsenic. Other small molecules may. The problem comes from the fact that while arsenates can replace phosphates, their stability is much reduced, so for most DNA substitutions, you would expect an increased strand breakage rate, which can be deadly...
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Moogs
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2010-12-03, 09:45

Not for exploration per se but an important aerospace technology demonstrator to be sure.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11911335
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billybobsky
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2010-12-03, 09:59

I do think the most significant thing there is the fact that the craft was able to do reentry/land without human assistance.
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kieran
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: New York City
 
2010-12-03, 11:30

NASA also recently pulled some "space planes" out of storage to determine whether they'd be suitable for flight again.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010...d-space-plane/

Stuff like this needs to happen. It really seems as if the manned space industry is going to be heavily privatized in the future.
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Moogs
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2010-12-03, 12:36

Quote:
Originally Posted by billybobsky View Post
I do think the most significant thing there is the fact that the craft was able to do reentry/land without human assistance.
..after being in orbit for 7 months. That part kind of shocked me for whatever reason even though I know it's not hard to keep something in orbit. I guess its the psychological aspect that it's a plane, steered by humans, etc coming back like the shuttle. Pretty bad ass.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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