Our Water’s Older than Our Sun
Water was crucial to the rise of life on Earth and is also important to evaluating the possibility of life on other planets. Identifying the original source of Earth’s water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments come into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. New work from a team, including the Carnegie Institution’s Conel Alexander, has found that much of our Solar System’s water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space. Their work is published in Science.
Water is found throughout our Solar System. Not just on Earth, but on icy comets and moons, and in the shadowed basins of Mercury. Water has been found included in mineral samples from meteorites, the Moon and Mars.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/our-waters-older-our-sun
Fossil Alters Evolutionary Timeline by 60 M Years
A Virginia Tech geobiologist with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago – nearly 60 million years before skeletal animals appeared during a huge growth spurt of new life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion.
The discovery published online in the journal Nature contradicts several longstanding interpretations of multicellular fossils from at least 600 million years ago.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/fossil-alters-evolutionary-timeline-60-m-years
Mars Meteorite Yields Evidence of Possibility for Life
A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists. The finding of a cell-like structure — which investigators now know once held water — came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece. Their findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Astrobiology.
While investigating the Martian meteorite, known as Nakhla, Elias Chatzitheodoridis of the National Technical Univ. of Athens found an unusual feature embedded deep within the rock. In a bid to understand what it might be, he teamed up with long-time friend and collaborator Prof. Ian Lyon at the Univ. of Manchester.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/mars-meteorite-yields-evidence-possibility-life
Energy Equation Suggests Cell Autonomy
In a new study, the mechanical and metabolic energies of cells have been explored through the use of order-of-magnitude estimates, highlighting the energy required for cell shape changes.
A collaboration between California’s Teledyne Scientific and Imaging Company and the Univ. of Western Australia, the study compared the mechanical energy required for cells to execute their motions with the maximum energy available from the cells’ metabolism.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/energy-equation-suggests-cell-autonomy
Ancestor’s ‘Leaky’ Membrane Answers Big Questions
All life on Earth came from one common ancestor – a single-celled organism – but what it looked like, how it lived and how it evolved into today’s modern cells is a four-billion-year-old mystery being solved by researchers at Univ. College London using mathematical modeling.
Findings published in PLOS Biology suggest for the first time that life’s last universal common ancestor (LUCA) had a ‘leaky’ membrane, which helps scientists answer two of biology’s biggest questions:
1. Why all cells use the same bizarre, complex mechanism to harvest energy.
2. Why two types of single-celled organism that form the deepest branch on the tree of life – bacteria and archaea – have completely different cell membranes.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/ancestor%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98leaky%E2%80%99-membrane-answers-big-questions
The subseafloor is home to over one third of the bacteria on the planet, but up until recently it was unclear if this huge microbial biosphere was alive and dividing. Now, the same group that demonstrated this activity has shown that bacteria from the hostile sea-floor environment have adapted by over-activating stress response and DNA-repair mechanisms, to cope with the harsh conditions.
Subseafloor sediment contains the Earth’s largest habitat for microbial life – over one third of all the planets microbial biomass. By drilling deep into the sea floor and taking samples, it can be proven that the subseafloor contains a variety of microbial life forms, but it’s only in the last year that researchers have proven that sea floor microbes are actually active in in their natural sea-bed situation – it is difficult to analyze life forms that live hundreds of meters below the sea surface because of their low activity levels. A group of researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Univ. of Delaware developed techniques to analyze the messenger.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/subseafloor-bacteria-survive-over-activating-dna-repair
Climate Change May Explain Lack of Alien Encounters
Enrico Fermi, when asked about intelligent life on other planets, famously replied, “Where are they?” Any civilization advanced enough to undertake interstellar travel would, he argued, in a brief period of cosmic time, populate its entire galaxy. Yet, we haven’t made any contact with such life. This has become the famous “Fermi Paradox.”
So why don’t we see advanced civilizations swarming across the universe? One problem may be climate change. It is not that advanced civilizations always destroy themselves by over-heating their biospheres (although that is a possibility). Instead, because stars become brighter as they age, most planets with an initially life-friendly climate will become uninhabitably hot long before intelligent life emerges.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/climate-change-may-explain-lack-alien-encounters
Twenty-seven chemical elements are considered to be essential for human life. Now there is a 28th – bromine.
In a paper published today by the journal Cell, Vanderbilt Univ. researchers establish for the first time that bromine, among the 92 naturally-occurring chemical elements in the universe, is the 28th element essential for tissue development in all animals, from primitive sea creatures to humans.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/bromine-essential-life
Sheltered Life Breeds Evolutionary Success in Fish
Research into reef fish species diversity will provide conservationists with new information to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Univ. of Queensland researchers who looked at species diversity patterns through fish family trees for the past 100 million years have found that parents who guarded their young were more likely to yield new species.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/sheltered-life-breeds-evolutionary-success-fish
Volcano on Mars May Have Been Habitable
The slopes of a giant Martian volcano, once covered in glacial ice, may have been home to one of the most recent habitable environments found, so far, on the red planet, according to new research led by Brown Univ. geologists.
Nearly twice as tall as Mount Everest, Arsia Mons is the third tallest volcano on Mars and one of the largest mountains in the solar system. This new analysis of the landforms surrounding Arsia Mons shows that eruptions along the volcano’s northwest flank happened at the same time that a glacier covered the region around 210 million years ago. The heat from those eruptions would have melted massive amounts of ice to form englacial lakes — bodies of water that form within glaciers like liquid bubbles in a half-frozen ice cube.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/volcano-mars-may-have-been-habitable
China Tests Virtual Biosphere
Three Chinese volunteers have ended an experiment that saw them live for 105 days in an enclosed capsule, eating only laboratory-grown plants and insects. This was China’s first manned test of the “Moon Palace 1,” a 500-cubic meter module that is China’s first and the world’s third bioregenerative life support base.
The closed lab set on the campus of Beihang Univ. is a virtual biosphere, where people can provide food for themselves by cultivating grain, vegetable, fruit and insects. The system can also produce water and fertilizers, process waste and clean air.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/china-tests-virtual-biosphere
Sense of Purpose May Add Years to Life
Feeling that you have a sense of purpose in life may help you live longer, no matter what your age, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
The research has clear implications for promoting positive aging and adult development, says lead researcher Patrick Hill of Carleton Univ., “Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose. So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/sense-purpose-may-add-years-life
Astronomers Find Sun’s ‘Long-lost Brother’
A team of researchers led by astronomer Ivan Ramirez of The Univ. of Texas at Austin has identified the first “sibling” of the sun — a star almost certainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star. Ramirez’s methods will help astronomers find other solar siblings, which could lead to an understanding of how and where our sun formed, and how our solar system became hospitable for life. The work appears in the June 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
“We want to know where we were born,” Ramirez says. “If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/astronomers-find-sun%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98long-lost-brother%E2%80%99
Honeybees’ Changing Roles Linked to Brain Chemistry
Scientists have been linking an increasing range of behaviors and inclinations from monogamy to addiction to animals’, including humans’, underlying biology. To that growing list, they’re adding division of labor — at least in killer bees. A report published in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research presents new data that link the amounts of certain neuropeptides in these notorious bees’ brains with their jobs inside and outside the hive.
Mario Palma and colleagues at the Univ. of São Paulo State explain that dividing tasks among individuals in a group is a key development in social behavior among Hymenoptera insects, which include bees, ants, sawflies and wasps. One of the starkest examples of this division of labor is the development of “castes,” which, through nutrition and hormones, results in long-lived queens that lay all the thousands of eggs in a colony and barren workers that forage for food and protect the hive.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/honeybees-changing-roles-linked-brain-chemistry
Hardy Little Space Travelers Could Colonize Mars
In the movies, humans often fear invaders from Mars. These days, scientists are more concerned about invaders to Mars, in the form of micro-organisms from Earth. Three recent scientific papers examined the risks of interplanetary exchange of organisms using research from the International Space Station. All three, Survival of Rock-Colonizing Organisms After 1.5 Years in Outer Space, Resistance of Bacterial Endospores to Outer Space for Planetary Protection Purposes and Survival of Bacillus Pumilus Spores for a Prolonged Period of Time in Real Space Conditions, have appeared in Astrobiology Journal.
Organisms hitching a ride on a spacecraft have the potential to contaminate other celestial bodies, making it difficult for scientists to determine whether a life form existed on another planet or was introduced there by explorers. So it’s important to know what types of micro-organisms from Earth can survive on a spacecraft or landing vehicle.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/hardy-little-space-travelers-could-colonize-mars