Located in Hamelin’s Pool, a shallow area of Shark Bay in Western Australia, these odd formations aren’t rocks—they’re stromatolites, and they were built over millennia by single-celled cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae). 4,000 to 6,000 years ago, a huge bank of seagrass began to block the tidal flow into Hamelin’s Pool, which meant that the water became twice as salty as the open ocean. Animals like snails and chitons that would usually feed on the algae couldn’t survive, so the blue-green algae began to flourish. Gathered in colonies, they trapped sediment with their sticky surface coatings. This sediment reacted with calcium carbonate in the water and formed limestone, essentially creating a living fossil—this limestone is alive, its top surface layer teeming with active cyanobacteria. The limestone builds up slowly at a rate of about 1mm per year. The stromatolites in Shark Bay are estimated to be between 3,000 and 2,000 years old, but they’re similar to life forms in Precambrian times, 3.5 billion years ago, at the dawn of complex organisms. There are over 50 kinds of cyanobacteria in Shark Bay, and one is thought to have descended from an organism that lived nearly 2 million years ago, making it a part of one of the longest biological lineages.
Lansdorp announced plans for the Mars One mission in May 2012. The nonprofit Mars One Foundation, based in The Netherlands, plans to land humans on Mars in 2023. Teams of four people will be launched to the Red Planet every two years, and anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to apply.
The applicants’ Facebook group, the Aspiring Martians Group, is organizing Saturday’s meeting. After an opening address, Zubrin will address the group via Skype, followed by a guest speaker. Then there will be a screening of the film “One Way Astronaut," an independent documentary about Mars One applicants. Later, five applicants will make presentations, and Lansdorp will give a talk to conclude the event.
Mars One plans to launch and land an unmanned supply mission to the Red Planet in 2016, carrying 5,00 pounds of food and other equipment. An exploration rover is slated to follow in 2018 to scout out the best spot for a human colony. In 2021, the organization plans to install a Mars base consisting of two living units, two life-support units, a second supply unit and two rovers. The first crew of four is slated to launch in September 2022, and scheduled to set foot on Mars in 2023.
Mars One estimates the cost of landing the first four settlers will be about $6 billion. It plans to fund most of this by selling advertising for a reality TV program that would document the mission’s progress, from astronaut selection through the settlers’ first few years on Mars.
Habitat Images: Depicts the interior of a Mars One habitat as envisioned by its designers. Credit: Mars One / Bryan Versteeg
I can’t think of a more suitable time (there will be many more) to refresh our minds with what has been possible for a very long time, and why it’s imperative that we open the space frontier beyond NASA’s limitations capabilities. Want a thorough refresher course for the significance of Mars, colonization and space exploration? Watch The Mars Underground.You can view the trailerHERE.
“Since, in the long run, every planetary civilization will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring—not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive… If our long-term survival is at stake, we have a basic responsibility to our species to venture to other worlds.” ― Carl Sagan
A 12-year-old Arkansas girl has been in a hospital for over a week after being infected with a typically fatal parasite that enters through the nose and consumes brain tissue.
A news release Friday from the Arkansas Department of Health says the source of the parasite is most likely a sandy-bottom lake at Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock. A similar case was linked to the park in 2010.
This rare form of parasitic meningitis—primary amebic meningoencephalitis(PAM)—is caused by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. That microscopic amoeba—part of the class of life called protozoans—is a naturally occurring organism that normally feeds on bacteria and tends to live in the sedimentary layer of warm lakes and ponds.
How does this amoeba called Naegleria fowleri infect a human?
Under certain conditions, Naegleria fowleri can develop flagella—threadlike structures that enable it to rapidly move around and look for more favorable conditions. When people swim in warm freshwater during the summer, water contaminated with the moving amoeba can be forced up the nose and into the brain.
This causes headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, which progresses to more serious symptoms. Between exposure and onset, infection generally results in a coma and death after around five days.
Where is it found?
We see it in warm freshwater or in places with minimal chlorination. It is not uncommon to detect the amoeba if you sample freshwater in warm weather states.
Can it live in swimming pools?
There have been no evident cases of contamination in the United States in well-maintained, properly treated swimming pools. Filtration and chlorination or other types of disinfectant should reduce or eliminate the risk.
But it does get a bit trickier—there was a case in Arizona about ten years ago where a kid swam in a pool filled with water from a geothermal hot water source before it was treated. Unfortunately, the kid became ill and died.
Are cases of infection becoming more common?
We don’t have data that says infection from Naegleria fowleri is becoming more common. In the last few years there have been four to five cases per year.
What has changed recently is that cases have appeared in places we had never seen before—like Minnesota, Indiana, and Kansas. This is evidence that the amoeba is moving farther north. In the past it was always found in warmer weather states.
Since her death in 1979, the woman who discovered what the universe is made of has not so much as received a memorial plaque. Her newspaper obituaries do not mention her greatest discovery. […] Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, a truly extraordinary woman.
About 15,000 years ago, an old female wooly mammoth plunged through the ice as she was being chased by predators. Her remains have now been uncovered by scientists working in Siberia. And remarkably, as they were digging it out, blood began to stream out - wich is weird given that it was 10° below freezing.
It’s not known if the blood or tissue samples contain living cells required for cloning. And even if such cells are recovered, the DNA repair would require a very complex process that could take years. A report is expected later this July.
The beautifully preserved specimen was discovered partially embedded in a chunk of ice at an excavation on the Lyakhovsky Island, the southernmost group of the New Siberian Islands in the Arctic seas of northeastern Russia.
The mammoth’s lower portions, including the stomach, were locked in the ice for the past 10,000 to 15,000 years. Its lower jaw and tongue were also recovered; the trunk was found separately from the carcass. The upper torso and two legs were preserved in soil and show signs of being gnawed upon by both prehistoric and modern predators.
Semyon Grigoriev, head of the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University, is calling it “the best preserved mammoth in the history of paleontology.”
During the excavation, and as the researchers were chipping away at the ice, they noticed splotches of dark blood in the ice cavities below the mammoth’s belly. When they broke through with a poll pick, blood started to flow out.
“It can be assumed that the blood of mammoths had some cryo-protective properties,” noted Grigoriev. Mammoth blood, it would appear, contains a kind of anti-freeze. This is consistent with work done by Canadian geneticists who in 2010 showed that mammoth hemoglobin releases its oxygen much more readily at cold temperatures than that of modern elephants.
In addition to the blood, the paleontologists also recovered well-preserved muscle tissue. The scientists say it has a natural red color of fresh meat. The blood is currently undergoing a bacteriological analysis, and the results are expected soon.
Based on the preliminary evidence, the scientists say the female wooly mammoth was anywhere from 50 to 60 years old and weighed about three tons. They theorize that she was trying to escape from predators when she fell through the ice, or that she got bogged down in a swamp.