Science & Technology


Study Shows Bacteria Are Common in Snow, Especially in France, Montana and Yukon

Those beautiful snowflakes drifting out of the sky may have a surprise inside bacteria. Most snow and rain forms in chilly conditions high in the sky and atmospheric scientists have long known that, under most conditions, the moisture needs something to cling to in order to condense.

Now, a new study shows a surprisingly large share of those so-called nucleators turn out to be bacteria that can affect plants.
Better Earth

Researcher may have discovered key to life before its origin on Earth

An important discovery has been made with respect to the mystery of "handedness" in biomolecules. Researchers led by Sandra Pizzarello, a research professor at Arizona State University, found that some of the possible abiotic precursors to the origin of life on Earth have been shown to carry "handedness" in a larger number than previously thought.

The work is being published in this week's Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper is titled, "Molecular asymmetry in extraterrestrial chemistry: Insights from a pristine meteorite," and is co-authored by Pizzarello and Yongsong Huang and Marcelo Alexandre, of Brown University.

Robot wars 'will be a reality within 10 years'

Killer robot
US forces recently deployed remote-controlled robots equipped with automatic weapons in Iraq

The world is sleepwalking into an international robot arms race, a leading expert will warn today.

Prof Noel Sharkey fears increased research and spending on unmanned military systems by countries including the US, Russia, China and Israel will lead to the use of autonomous battlefield robots that can decide when to kill within a decade.
Bizarro Earth

Mystery hum puzzles geologists

Geologists have detected a new continuous seismic signal in the Earth, but its cause is anybody's guess

Listen closely, and you'll hear the Earth humming - in not just one note, but two. The source of this second signal is a mystery.

For around a decade we've known about Earth's quiet "vertical" hum, probably caused by the steady thumping of deep waves on the ocean floor. Now a team in Germany has discovered a second "horizontal" note, too, and nobody knows what's causing this new signal.

Magnetic atoms of gold, silver and copper have been obtained

An international team led by Physics and Chemistry teams from the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and directed by Professor Jose Javier Saiz Garitaonandia, has achieved, by means of a controlled chemical process, that atoms of gold, silver and copper - intrinsically non-magnetic (not attracted to a magnet) - become magnetic. The article has been published in the February issue of the prestigious international magazine in nanotechnology, Nanoletters (Vol.8, No. 2, 661-667 (2008)).

Scientists suspect mystery planet in solar system

Scientists at a Japanese university said today they believed another planet up to two-thirds the size of the Earth was orbiting in the far reaches of the solar system.

The researchers at Kobe University in western Japan said that theoretical calculations using computer simulations led them to conclude it was only a matter of time before the mysterious "Planet X" was found.

New Moon Map Is Best Ever

Earthlings have mapped the moon's surface for the past 4,000 years, but NASA's latest view is the best yet.

Scientists have created a new map of the south lunar pole with Earth-based telescopes that is 50 times more detailed than the last version, created with data from the Clementine spacecraft in 1994.

New Moon Map

NASA Takes Aim at Moon with Double Sledgehammer

Scientists are priming two spacecraft to slam into the moon's South Pole to see if the lunar double whammy reveals hidden water ice.

The Earth-on-moon violence may raise eyebrows, but NASA's history shows that such missions can yield extremely useful scientific observations.

"I think that people are apprehensive about it because it seems violent or crude, but it's very economical," said Tony Colaprete, the principal investigator for the mission at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.


Next-best Thing To Being On Mars

Two MIT students are currently living, working and communicating with the outside world as if they were on a mission to Mars. Whenever they go outside their small, round habitat where eight people are spending a two-week "mission," they don spacesuits and pass through an airlock. When they send e-mail, it takes 20 minutes before the recipient can see it--the time it takes for radio waves to travel to and from the red planet.

Mars Society Desert Research Station
©The Mars Society
Crewmembers of an earlier mission at the Mars Society Desert Research Station in Utah set out for an exploratory trip on their all-terrain vehicles, wearing simulated space suits.

Did A Mega-collision Alter Venus?

A mega-collision between two large embryonic planets could have created Venus as we know it, according to a new paper by a Cardiff University scientist.

NASA radar image of Venus.