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May 25, 2019

NASA Discovered New Life Form

NASA has discovered a new life form, a bacteria called GFAJ-1 that is unlike anything currently living in planet Earth. It’s capable of using arsenic to build its DNA, RNA, proteins, and cell membranes. This changes everything. Updated.

NASA is saying that this is “life as we do not know it”. The reason is that all life on Earth is made of six components: Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

That was true until today. In a surprising revelation, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her team have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today, working differently than the rest of the organisms in the planet. Instead of using phosphorus, the newly discovered microorganism—called GFAJ-1 and found in Mono Lake, California—uses the poisonous arsenic for its building blocks. Arsenic is an element poisonous to every other living creature in the planet except for a few specialized microscopic creatures.

The new life forms up close, at five micrometers.

According to Wolfe-Simon, they knew that “some microbes can breathe arsenic, but what we’ve found is a microbe doing something new—building parts of itself out of arsenic.” The implications of this discovery are enormous to our understanding of life itself and the possibility of finding organisms in other planets that don’t have to be like planet Earth. Like NASA’s Ed Weiler says: “The definition of life has just expanded.”

Talking at the NASA conference, Wolfe-Simon said that the important thing in their study is that this breaks our ideas on how life can be created and grow, pointing out that scientists will now be looking for new types of organisms and metabolism that not only uses arsenic, but other elements as well. She says that she’s working on a few possibilities herself.

NASA’s geobiologist Pamela Conrad thinks that the discovery is huge and “phenomenal,” comparing it to the Star Trek episode in which the Enterprise crew finds Horta, a silicon-based alien life form that can’t be detected with tricorders because it wasn’t carbon-based. It’s like saying that we may be looking for new life in the wrong places with the wrong methods. Indeed, NASA tweeted that this discovery “will change how we search for life elsewhere in the Universe.”

Mono Lake, California. Image by Sathish J — Creative Commons

I don’t know about you but I’ve not been so excited about bacteria since my STD tests came back clean. And that’s without counting yesterday’s announcement on the discovery of a massive number of red dwarf stars, which may harbor a trillion Earths, dramatically increasing our chances of finding extraterrestrial life.

Source – Gizimodo

How the universe evolved from a liquid

The universe was a super-hot liquid in the moments immediately after its birth, according to the first results from an experiment to recreate the conditions of Big Bang.

Scientists working at the world’s largest particle smasher – the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, in Switzerland – have found that an exotic soup more than 10 trillion degrees Celsius in temperature was created immediately after the birth of the universe.

This sticky, gloopy substance, known as a quark-gluon plasma, behaved like a hot liquid, according to their results.

This provided the perfect environment for the first particles and atoms to form, which later led to the stars and galaxies that surround us today.

The findings have surprised physicists as they contradict the accepted view of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the creation of the universe – that the Big Bang threw out a superheated gas that clumped together to form matter.

“In the very first instances of the universe, it was actually behaving like a very dense liquid,” explained Dr David Evans, a particle physicist at the University of Birmingham who is the UK’s lead investigator in the experiment.

“These results are telling us about the evolution of the early universe, which inevitably will have had implications for how the universe looks today.

“We have got to do a lot more analysis and put a lot more thought in to understanding this, but it is a really fascinating result.”

The results are the first to be released by a multinational group of more than 1,000 researchers who have been working on an experiment with the Large Hadron Collider that began two weeks ago.

They have been using the particle accelerator to smash atoms of lead together inside a detector known as ALICE in a bid to create “mini big bangs” that are thought to mimic the conditions seen in the fractions of seconds after the universe was created.

The tiny fireballs created inside the 17 mile long particle accelerator, which is buried 300ft beneath the Alpine foothills along the Swiss-French border, reached more than 10 trillion degrees centigrade for a fraction of a second.

At these temperatures the atoms and the particles that make them up cease to exist, melting instead into their constituent parts, known as quarks and gluons.

Physicists widely believed that at the high temperatures created in the aftermath of the Big Bang, the forces that normally bind quarks and gluons together would have weakened considerably, resulting in a substance that behaved similar to a gas.

Previous research five years ago at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Upton, New York, managed to create temperatures of four trillion degrees and showed at these temperatures the quark-gluon plasma was similar to a liquid, but many expected as the temperature increased it would become more gas like.

The latest findings from CERN, however, suggest this is not the case and the results are expected to turn conventional thinking in physics on its head as scientists attempt to figure out why the quark-gluon plasma does not behave as predicted.

Dr Evans said: “The theories suggested that the forces that hold quarks together start to weaken at the kind of temperatures we would see immediately after the Big Bang and the quarks would move around freely like a gas.

“We found the strong force that binds them together still maintains a lot of its power, even at these high temperatures. The quarks are still interacting with each other far more than we would have expected.

“These results should help us understand more about that mysterious period before protons and neutrons formed in the early universe.”

Professor Brian Cox, a particle physicist at the University of Manchester and presenter of the forthcoming BBC series Wonders of the Universe, said the findings had opened up a lot of questions about what the early universe looked like.

He said: “They are using a metaphor of sorts to explain how it looked as it will have been unlike any liquid we are used to.”

“They are talking about the strength of the interaction between the quarks and how these particles behave together. They must interact far more strongly than was expected and so behave like a liquid.

“These experiments are providing us with a new energy regime so to see unexpected behaviour is very exciting. These findings are very interesting.”

Giant Isopod Found Deep Underwater

This just goes to show how little most of us know about the oceans. I’m sure some marine biologist reading this will go “Duh, it’s a Bathynomus giganteus, better known as giant isopod! An important scavenger in the deep-sea benthic environment…”, but the rest of us will just stare with our mouths open. Didn’t one of those make a cameo in District 9?

A giant isopod may be one of approximately nine species of large isopods (crustaceans related to the shrimp and crabs) in the genus Bathynomus. They are thought to be abundant in cold, deep waters of the Atlantic. Bathynomus giganteus, the species upon which the generitype is based, is the largest known isopod and is the one most often referred to by the common name “giant isopod”.

French zoologist Alphonse Milne-Edwards was the first to describe the genus in 1879 after fishing a juvenile male B. giganteus from the Gulf of Mexico; this was an exciting discovery for both scientists and the public, as at the time the idea of a lifeless or “azoic” deep ocean had only recently been refuted by the work of Sir Charles Wyville Thomson and others. Females were not recovered until 1891.

Via: treehugger.com

The real 28 days later! Deadly Virus is Alive

A new deadly virus strain has ‘jumped’ from an infected monkey colony at a U.S laboratory to a human, according to researchers.Scientists said it was very unusual for this type of virus to move between species and warranted further study.

It echoes the first scenes of the British horror film ’28 days later’ when a deadly pandemic is triggered when activists break into a lab and are infected by a chimp with a ‘Rage’ virus.However, experts at the University of California San Francisco said their was no cause for alarm at present as there is no evidence the virus has spread any further

.And although the virus killed more than one-third of the monkey colony, the scientist has since recovered from her illness.Lead investigator Dr Charles Chiu from UCSF said: ‘there is very strong evidence to suggest a cross-species transmission event happened.’I don’t think people should be worried about this right now. It’s more of a worry to public health officials monitoring these new viruses that have the potential for causing outbreaks.’But he added: ‘There is possibly some evidence it’s transmissible, but we just don’t know yet.’If this virus has the potential for human-to-human transmission, it would have the potential of developing into an outbreak.’

The study was presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.The scientist appears to have caught the virus while investigating an outbreak of illness among a colony of Titi monkeys at the California National Primate Research Center in Davis, Dr Chiu said.Among the monkeys, the virus was highly contagious and deadly: Of 55 monkeys housed at the center, 23 became seriously ill with upper respiratory symptoms that progressed to pneumonia and an inflammation of the liver.Nineteen monkeys, or about 83 per cent of those infected, died.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics did not help the monkeys, suggesting that the pneumonia was caused by the virus and not a secondary bacterial infection, Dr Chiu said.Researchers later determined the cause of the illness was a new strain of adenovirus, that can cause everything fromthe common cold to pneumonia and gastroenteritis.Dr Chiu said: ‘By looking at the ‘sequence divergence’, or how different the genetic sequence of this adenovirus is relatively to other adenoviruses, we believe it is a new species.’The scientist who fell ill had been in close contact with the monkeys. She became seriously ill with pneumonia but was not hospitalised and recovered after four weeks.Her blood tested positive for antibodies to the virus three months after the epidemic, which meant the new adenovirus was likely to be the cause of her illness.

While other viruses can infect more than one species, adenoviruses tend to be species-specific, which makes this somewhat unusual.Dr Chiu said: ‘When viruses jump they can cause much more severe disease or less severe disease.These findings might be an argument to do more broad surveillance of animals. If we can better understand what kind of viruses circulate in animals, it might help predict what viruses might jump over and when.’

Via: dailymail.co.uk

New species discovered in the Amazon

More than 1,200 new species of plants and vertebrates have been discovered in the Amazon over the past decade – a new species every three days – according to a new WWF report, Amazon Alive! that summarises discoveries between 1999 and 2009. The new species include 637 plants, 257 fish, 216 amphibians, 55 reptiles, 16 birds and 39 mammals, confirming that the Amazon is one of the most diverse places on Earth. This is the Rio Acari Marmoset discovered in 2000

Among the findings are the first new species of anaconda identified since 1936. Described in 2002 from Bolivia’s north-eastern Amazon province, and then found also in the floodplains of Bolivia’s Pando province, the 4 meter long Eunectes beniensis was initially believed to be the result of hybridization between green and yellow anacondas, but was later determined to be a distinct species

Ranitomeya amazonica – a frog with an incredible burst of flames on its head, and contrasting water-patterned legs. The frog’s main habitat is near the Iquitos area in the region of Loreto, Peru, and is primary lowland moist forest. The frog has also been encountered in the Alpahuayo Mishana National Reserve in Peru

Pyrilia aurantiocephala – a member of the true parrot family has an extraordinary bald head, and displays an astonishing spectrum of colours. Known only from a few localities in the Lower Madeira and Upper Tapajos rivers in Brazil, the species has been listed as ‘near threatened’, due to its moderately small population, which is declining owing to habitat loss

A ‘tiger-striped’ tarantula – the Cyriocosmus nogueiranetoi, was found in Rio Branco, the capital of Acre state, Brazil. This reddish-brown species, officially described in 2005, has the unusual pattern of five clear ‘tiger-stripes’ on its back

The Amazon River dolphin or pink river dolphin was recorded by science in the 1830s, and given the scientific name of Inia geoffrensis. In 2006, scientific evidence showed that there is a separate species – Inia boliviensis – of the dolphin in Bolivia, although some scientists consider it a subspecies of Inia geoffrensis. In contrast to the Amazon River dolphins, their Bolivian relatives have more teeth, smaller heads, and smaller but wider and rounder bodies

The Blue Fang Skeleton Tarantula (Ephebopus cyanognathus)

A blind and tiny, bright red new species of catfish that lives mainly in subterranean waters. Found in the state of Rondonia, Brazil, the fish Phreatobius dracunculus began to appear after a well was dug in the village of Rio Pardo, when they were accidentally trapped in buckets used to extract water. The species has since been found in another 12 of 20 wells in the region

Whilst many parts of the Amazon remain relatively undisturbed, threats to the region are rapidly increasing. During the last 50 years humankind has caused the destruction of at least 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest – an area twice the size of Spain. This is lizard is Anolis cuscoensis

Rapid expansion in regional and global markets for meat, soy and biofuels, unsustainable development models and increasing energy demands all put pressure on the Amazon’s resources. Dart frog (Ameerega pepperi)

Ghost knifefish (Compsaraia samueli)

Apistogramma baenschi

Gonatodes alexandermendesi

Hypsiboas liliae

The Cryptic Forest-falcon (Micrastur mintoni)

A species of ant (Martialis heureka)

The Rufous Twistwing (Cnipodectes superrufus)

Oil Spill Disaster for Nature and Animals

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The recent drilling rig explosion, which left eleven oil workers missing and presumably dead, has created quite a stir around the world. The oil spill continues to pour about thousand barrels of oil every day into the Gulf of Mexico. British Petroleum has taken responsibility to clean up the mess and to compensate for any losses that may be incurred because of the spill. The oil spill has been a serious treat to the sensitive ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico area.

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Thousands of fishes, sharks and turtles are dying because of the oil in the sea. In addition to this, the people living on the Gulf Coast will also be affected and are looking to see if British Petroleum will in fact be able to control the issue before the oil spreads to others parts of water like the Mississippi river. BP officials say that the rate at which the spill has occurred, it might take at least four weeks to get the whole situation under control.

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Top 5 Scientific Experiments Gone Wrong

Do you know that we are surrounded with scientific experiments that have gone right? Yes, most of the technologies and innovations that we see and use today were once an idea that evolved as a need but gradually scientists and researchers started working on it until the experiments went right and the final product was safe and successful. However, converting one idea into reality is not a joke and it might take years for scientist to achieve something that is unimaginable. Many scientists and researchers continuously work hard in labs to get the desired results out of the experiment and the sad part is that sometimes scientific experiments go wrong and have disastrous effects on environment and human beings as well.

Vanguard Rocket Explosion

Vanguard Rocket Explosion
Vanguard Rocket Explosion

Rocket explosions are nothing new to top scientific companies because there are thousands of such cases when rockets have been blown into pieces soon after they are launched. However, Vanguard rocket expedition in 1957 was  a huge project that was supported by the United States of America and rocket exploded the very next second it was launched which means the rocket did not launched itself in air but simple burst into pieces shattering the dreams and expectations of various top scientists in USA. (image source)

Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2
Biosphere 2

Settling on moon is on top list for most NASA scientist because they want to find out if people can live on moon or any other planet where people really don’t have the luxury of air, water and food. So, an experiment was performed on few volunteers where they need to live under a huge dome and sustain themselves with air and water produced by certain plants. Many volunteers died due to hunger and the experiment was called off immediately. After the event, no scientist ever thought of attempting such an experiment that would risk the life of volunteers. (Image Source)

Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear fusion experiments are common to people who are in scientific world but these failed experiments can be very deadly if they go wrong beyond our imagination. One such failed fusion experiment happened in 2002 when strong sound waves were forced to pass through acetone. Immediately, the acetone reacted and bubbles were created that expanded and blew up at very high temperature. Hopefully, no one was hurt but they found out that they were almost right with their experiment but failed to achieve the desired temperature. (Image Source)

AIDS Vaccine

AIDS Vaccine

AIDS is quickly covering most part of the planet as more and more people are getting affected with the disease. Top pharmaceutical and medicine companies are constantly working with their research teams to come out with vaccines that would attack the AIDS virus and resolve the situation. University of Oxford and University of Nairobi together came up with a new AIDS vaccine that they tried on various random patients. As per the vaccine it would boost the immune system of an individual so that they can fight the AIDS virus but the response was very dull and it was found that the vaccine dies off immediately after given which disappointed researchers of both teams. (Image Source)

The Aether Wind

The Aether Wind
The Aether Wind

The nature of light has always attracted top scientists from all over the world and somewhere towards the end of 19th century people studied that light was behaving like a wave rather than going in a straight direction. They tried to studied the fact and found that such nature of light could be because of the motion of the Earth in space. Polish American scientist Albert Michelson designed an interferometer that could measure the speed of light and detect the wind effect as well but light again reacted in the normal way and they didn’t find any wave motion after that. (Image Source)

The Sun as you never seen it

According to NASA report, there was a big explosion hundred miles away from the sun surface which raised the temperature of plasma to millions degree of Celsius. Actually a solar flare burst with a huge amount of energy. This energy is estimated to be equal as that of the energy obtained by 100 megaton hydrogen bombs which is obviously an extreme amount. Due to the sudden raise in temperature, the plasma launched its particles into the air almost with the speed of light.

Solar Dynamics Sun Photo

This incident throws light on the working of sun. May be this incident is surprising for us but it is a reality that thousand of such incidents are taking place around the sun. This sort of information obtained by NASA is explaining the facts more correctly than before and we are now able to know the activities of the sun more closely.

Sun Ultraviolet photo

Sun Blast eruption

Sun Blast

disruptive solar storms

Sun Climate Change


Electricity And Mud Volcanoes

Mud volcanoes erupt from time to time and this has been considered to be one of the sources for obtaining geothermal energy. In the pictures, you will also see a geothermal plant where heat of up to 300 degrees is used from the earth. The pictures of the mud volcanoes in action are quite interesting and show how the gases escape from within the mud packed earth. A lot of different gases are released from these mud volcanoes.

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A lot of carbon di oxide gets liberated from these mud volcanoes. Some experts say that the West Coast is under a threat of being destroyed by a 6.7 earthquake in the next thirty years. One of the pictures also shows the alternate energy options like windmills. All these need to be thought of and implemented to save the planet from energy crisis in the future.

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Strange Friendship Between A Man And A Sperm Whale

We have heard of unlikely friendships between cats and mice and the like but this is too wonderful to be true. In the first picture, you will see how enormous the sperm whale is and you can’t help but wonder at the guts of the man who wanted to befriend it. Well he seems to have been quite successful doing this. The sperm whale allows him to stroke it, swim along side it and even wash it.

The whale in the picture is a 10 year old sperm whale nick names Scar. The sperm whales are the largest creatures in the world and to be accepted into its community is a big deal indeed. Andrew Armor is the local guide who is the lucky man. In the pictures you will see a lot of whale activity including group shallow dives.

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