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Health

Scientists create gene map for synthetic life

Washington - Researchers have assembled the entire genome of a living organism -- a bacterium -- in what they hope is an important step to creating artificial life.

The bug, Mycoplasma genitalium, has the smallest known genome of any truly living organism, with 485 working genes. Viruses are smaller, but they are not considered completely alive as they cannot replicate by themselves.

Bacteria can and do, and the team at the non-profit J. Craig Venter Institute in Maryland has been working for years to try to build M. genitalium from scratch.
Telescope

Claim of alien cells in rain may fit historical accounts: study

A con­tro­ver­sial the­o­ry, that strange red rains in In­dia six years ago might have con­tained mi­crobes from out­er space, has­n't died.

In fact, things might be get­ting even weirder.

A new study sug­gests the claimed con­nec­tion be­tween scar­let rain and ti­ny ce­les­tial vis­i­tors may be con­sist­ent with his­tor­i­cal ac­counts link­ing col­ored rain to me­te­or pass­ings. These would seem to ech­o the In­dia case, in which or­gan­isms are pro­posed to have fall­en out of a break­ing me­te­or.
Star

The mystery of Jupiter's jets uncovered

At the end of March 2007, scientists all over the world observed with surprise and awe a rare change in the atmosphere of Jupiter. A giant perturbation occurred amongst its clouds and two extremely bright storms erupted in the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere, where its most intense jet stream - reaching speeds of 600 kilometers per hour - resides. Research into these unusual storms (previous ones had been seen in 1975 and 1990) and the reaction of the jet to them, undertaken by an international team coordinated by Agustín Sánchez-Lavega, from the Higher Technical School of Engineering of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), gives a more precise idea about the origin of these current flows and likewise can help to gain a better understanding of terrestrial meteorology. The work, entitled "Depth of a strong Jovian jet from a planetary-scale disturbance driven by storms', is the cover of the 24 of January issue of the journal Nature.
Clock

Excavation and Survey Project Finds Early Activity Atop Arcadia's Famous Mountain

The Greek traveler, Pausanias, living in the second century, CE, would probably recognize the spectacular site of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion, and particularly the altar of Zeus. At 4,500 feet above sea level, atop the altar provides a breathtaking, panoramic vista of Arcadia.

"On the highest point of the mountain is a mound of earth, forming an altar of Zeus Lykaios, and from it most of the Peloponnesos can be seen," wrote Pausanias, in his famous, well-respected multi-volume Description of Greece. "Before the altar on the east stand two pillars, on which there were of old gilded eagles. On this altar they sacrifice in secret to Lykaion Zeus. I was reluctant to pry into the details of the sacrifice; let them be as they are and were from the beginning."

©Unknown
Bulb

New MIT tool probes brain circuits

Researchers at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT report in the Jan. 24 online edition of Science that they have created a way to see, for the first time, the effect of blocking and unblocking a single neural circuit in a living animal.

This revolutionary method allowed Susumu Tonegawa, Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, and colleagues to see how bypassing a major memory-forming circuit in the brain affected learning and memory in mice.

"Our data strongly suggest that the hippocampal neural pathway called the tri-synaptic pathway, or TSP, plays a crucial role in quickly forming memories when encountering new events and episodes in day-to-day life," Tonegawa said. "Our results indicate that the decline of these abilities, such as that which accompanies neurodegenerative diseases and normal aging in humans, is likely to be due, at least in part, to the malfunctioning of this circuit."
Bizarro Earth

Some assert planet in new geological era thanks to humans

These "chemical signals" at a specific depth in the Earth's upper crust are unique to the modern era, he said.

Altering official categories of Earth history is no small matter. Debates are still raging in geological circles over when, precisely, the Holocene began and the Pleistocene (popularly known as the Stone Age) ended. Another battle is being waged over when, exactly, the Tertiary gave way to the Quaternary about 1.9 million years ago.

Comment:

Meteors
©SOTT



Bulb

'Telepathic' genes recognise similarities in each other

Genes have the ability to recognise similarities in each other from a distance, without any proteins or other biological molecules aiding the process, according to new research published this week in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B. This discovery could explain how similar genes find each other and group together in order to perform key processes involved in the evolution of species.

©Unknown
Wine

NASA survey refutes report about drunk astronauts

Astronauts and NASA flight surgeons overwhelmingly dismissed reports of a crewmember flying drunk, although they did confirm a single incident of an astronaut seemingly inebriated a few days before liftoff, an employee survey released on Wednesday showed.
Binoculars

Virgin Unveils Private Spaceship Design

Virgin Galactic has unveiled a new private spaceship design for human flight this week.

The White Knight Two (WK2) aircraft carrier, in Mojave, Calif., is about 60% complete and is on track for flight tests this summer, the company said.
Phoenix

Worship Site Predates Zeus

Ancient pottery found at an altar used by ancient Greeks to worship Zeus was actually in use at least a millennium earlier, new archeological data suggest.

The pottery shards were discovered during an excavation last summer near the top of Mt. Lykaion in southern Greece.

©University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Altar of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion. Left to right: Dan Diffendale, University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Arthur Rhon, Wichita State University, and Arvey Basa, University of Arizona.
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