Life

Device may find Martians in us all

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 23, 2011   View Article

Life as we know it has a common ancestor— somewhere. Is it a Martian? A new device under development to fly on a future mission to Mars to find and sequence bits of genetic material could provide an answer, according to MIT and Harvard scientists.

“Given what we know about meteorite impacts and transfer of material between Earth and Mars, we are hoping that life may in fact exist on Mars and that it may in fact be related to us,” Christopher Carr, a MIT research scientist who is leading the project, told me today.

‘Weird life’ reveals science at work

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 29, 2010   View Article

The continuing controversy surrounding the announcement of strange bacteria deep in a California lake that can apparently survive on arsenic and even incorporate the element into its DNA is being held up as a shining example for how the scientific process works.

The latest to point this out are the folks at Real Climate, a blog on climate science — a discipline that is no stranger to controversy.

3-billion-year-old genetic fossil traced

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 20, 2010   View Article

The collective genome of all life on Earth today went through a rapid growth spurt between 3.3 billion and 2.8 billion years ago, according to scientists who used computer algorithms to reconstruct the evolutionary history of thousands of genes.

The growth spurt coincides with the advent of a biochemical pathway known as electron transport that is “integral for photosynthesis as well as for respiration,” Lawrence David, a computational biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told me.

First Truly Habitable Planet Discovered, Experts Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 29, 2010   View Article

Astronomers studying a nearby star say they’ve found the first potentially habitable planet—likely a rocky place with an atmosphere, temperate regions, and crucially, liquid water, considered vital for life as we know it.

Other extrasolar planets have been called Earthlike, but, astronomer Paul Butler assured, “this is really the first Goldilocks planet”—not too hot, not too cold.

Entire Synthetic Genome Created

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 25, 2008   View Article

Scientists yesterday announced that they have successfully created an entire synthetic genome in the lab by stitching together the DNA of the smallest known free-living bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium.

Experts are hailing the research as an important breakthrough in genetic manipulation that will one day lead to the “routine” creation of synthetic genomes—possibly including those of mammals.

“Encyclopedia of Life” to Catalog All Species of Life on Earth

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 9, 2007   View Article

Scientists announced plans today to put descriptions, pictures, video, and sounds of the world’s estimated 1.8 million named species on the Internet for free.

The effort, called the Encyclopedia of Life, will standardize the presentation of “information about the plants and animals and microorganisms that share this planet with us,” said James Edwards, the project’s executive director.

London, Tokyo Submerged by Rising Seas – In “Second Life”

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 4, 2007   View Article

Tokyo, Amsterdam, and the entire Mediterranean island of Ibiza were inundated with floodwaters today due to rising sea levels brought on by global warming.

Or at least, that would have been the headline if events in the virtual world Second Life mirrored reality.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach