Science & Technology


Martian life is more probable than previously thought: Traces of possible Martian biological activity inside a meteorite

Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. An international team that includes scientists from EPFL has published a paper in the scientific journal Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences, showing that martian life is more probable than previously thought.

"So far, there is no other theory that we find more compelling," says Philippe Gillet, director of EPFL's Earth and Planetary Sciences Laboratory. He and his colleagues from China, Japan and Germany performed a detailed analysis of organic carbon traces from a Martian meteorite, and have concluded that they have a very probable biological origin. The scientists argue that carbon could have been deposited into the fissures of the rock when it was still on Mars by the infiltration of fluid that was rich in organic matter.

Ejected from Mars after an asteroid crashed on its surface, the meteorite, named Tissint, fell on the Moroccan desert on July 18, 2011, in view of several eyewitnesses. Upon examination, the alien rock was found to have small fissures that were filled with carbon-containing matter. Several research teams have already shown that this component is organic in nature. But they are still debating where the carbon came from.

Maybe biological, but not from our planet

Chemical, microscopic and isotope analysis of the carbon material led the researchers to several possible explanations of its origin. They established characteristics that unequivocally excluded a terrestrial origin, and showed that the carbon content were deposited in the Tissint's fissures before it left Mars.

Comment: So there could have been "little green men" on Mars after all? How interesting. But what is more interesting is that after decades of adamant denial and ridicule, suddenly mainstream science is allowed to release information about a real possibility of extraterrestrial life on other planets? Even if this life is only some kind of "organic matter"? We don't want to take the conspiratorial route, we just wonder if this could be a preparation for much more "revealing" news? Or, perhaps, the psychopaths in power decided that concealing the real nature of all the recent Earth changes is much more important than life on Mars. In any case, if you are open minded enough, take a look at the following forum section and search for Mars for more clues.


Mice with half-human brains four times smarter than their peers

White lab mice
© Shutterstock
White lab mice
According to a paper published in the latest Journal of Neuroscience, scientists have successfully injected human glial cells - which support the communication between neurons - into mouse brains, creating hybrid mice four times smarter than their peers.

Steve Goldman and his team extracted glial cells from donated fetuses and injected them into mice. Within a year, the mouse glial cells had been significantly displaced by the human.

Glial cells - in this case, astrocytes - strengthen the synapses. The average human astrocyte is 10 to 20 times larger and has 100 times as many tendrils as a mouse astrocyte.

"We could see the human cells taking over the whole space," Goldman told New Scientist. "It seemed like the mouse counterparts were fleeing to the margins." The human cells only stopped when they reached the physical limit of the mouse's cranial capacity.

Comment: Isn't it ironic that they (the PTB) contaminate the drinking water with fluoride that destroys brain cells, feed us with GMO food that modify our DNA, vaccinate us with mercury that destroys our immune system, bombard us with mind-numbing TV programs that corrupt our brain and coerce us to dumb obedience and create mice that are smarter than their peers? Is this progress?

Fireball 4

Two Near Earth Asteroids to whiz pass Earth this week

© The Virtual Telescope Project
The live webcast starts tonite!
It's a dangerous universe out there, for a budding young space-faring species.

Killer comets, planet sterilizing gamma ray bursts, and death rocks from above are all potential hazards that an adolescent civilization has to watch out for.

This week offers two close shaves, as newly discovered Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) 2014 WC201 and 2014 WX202 pass by the Earth-Moon system.

The passage of 2014 WC201 is coming right up tonight, as the 27-metre space rock passes about 570,000 kilometres from the Earth. That's 1.4 times farther than the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
Better Earth

German-made 'miracle' machine turns water into gasoline

Gasoline machine
© Still from Ruptly video
There is as yet no method to mimic Jesus Christ and turn water into wine, but German chemical engineers have proved they can perform miracles of alchemy. They are now finalizing the assembly of a rig that changes water into gasoline.

The German company says it has developed an engineering installation capable of synthesizing petroleum-based fuels from water and carbon dioxide. The 'power-to-liquid' rig converts gases extracted from water into liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

"I would call it a miracle because it completely changes the way we are producing fuels for cars, planes and also the chemical industry," Nils Aldag, Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of Sunfire GmbH told RT's Ruptly video agency.

The Dresden-based company expects the technology to have a big impact on the future fuel market.

The electrically-powered installation uses a process known as Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis, first developed by German chemists Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch in 1925.

The Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) reaction converts colorless, odorless, incombustible carbon dioxide gas (CO2) extracted from water, and hydrogen gas generated from water vapor, by electrolysis into liquid fuels such as diesel, jet kerosene and other chemical products.

The "Potsdam gravity potato" shows variations in Earth's gravity

Earth’s gravity field_2
The Earth’s gravitational model (aka the “Potsdam Potato”) is based on data from the LAGEOS, GRACE, and GOCE satellites and surface data.
People tend to think of gravity here on Earth as a uniform and consistent thing. Stand anywhere on the globe, at any time of year, and you'll feel the same downward pull of a single G. But in fact, Earth's gravitational field is subject to variations that occur over time. This is due to a combination of factors, such as the uneven distributions of mass in the oceans, continents, and deep interior, as well as climate-related variables like the water balance of continents, and the melting or growing of glaciers.

And now, for the first time ever, these variations have been captured in the image known as the "Potsdam Gravity Potato" - a visualization of the Earth's gravity field model produced by the German Research Center for Geophysics' (GFZ) Helmholtz's Center in Potsdam, Germany.

And as you can see from the image above, it bears a striking resemblance to a potato. But what is more striking is the fact that through these models, the Earth's gravitational field is depicted not as a solid body, but as a dynamic surface that varies over time.This new gravity field model (which is designated EIGEN-6C) was made using measurements obtained from the LAGEOS, GRACE, and GOCE satellites, as well as ground-based gravity measurements and data from the satellite altimetry.
Black Cat 2

More functions for 'junk DNA' discovered

junk dna
It's not exactly Ferguson, Mo., but the battle between ENCODE researchers and junk-DNA holdouts goes on. Our ongoing coverage of the hostilities left off with the latter sending over their latest salvo. Now, ENCODE is back. Confident that genomes are not mostly junk, they have set their latest contender in the ring: a mouse.
The mouse genome was sequenced in 2002 as a primary model in which to study gene function and human diseases and to develop drugs. This was followed by maps of transcribed messenger RNA molecules and of long, non-protein-coding RNAs, which facilitated such experiments and analysis. Yet although 17 mouse strains have been sequenced, genome function and regulation cannot be understood by sequence analysis alone. Now, in four papers published in this issue, the Mouse ENCODE Consortium presents data sets that dramatically enhance our understanding of the regulation of the mouse genome, and of the similarities and differences compared with the human genome. (Emphasis added.)
The four papers in Nature announce the findings from the Mouse ENCODE Consortium:

Comment: So where did the genetic information in DNA come from to begin with? And what about the information that itself regulates DNA expression and development, and is not reducible to DNA sequence? As stubborn as neo-Darwinist materialists are to admit it, the more we learn about DNA, the more we know we don't know, suggesting a worldview completely at odds with traditional materialism.


Sun's shifting magnetic field may predict lightning strikes

© arhip4/Shutterstock
The sun may be partly responsible for lightning strikes on Earth, and scientists think fluctuations in the sun's magnetic field could be used to predict lightning storms weeks in advance.

The sun's magnetic field can bend Earth's own magnetic field, and this twisting and turning may be allowing an influx of high-energy particles into the planet's atmosphere. These particles can cause a buildup of electric charge that can trigger lightning strikes.

From 2001 to 2006, during a period when the sun's magnetic field was severely skewing the Earth's magnetic field, the United Kingdom saw 50 percent more lightning strikes than normal, according to the new study.

This severe skewing happens regularly as the sun's magnetic field shifts. Scientists say this suggests the sun's magnetic field could be used to predict the occurrence of lightning.

"We now plan to combine regular weather forecasts, which predict when and where thunderclouds will form, with solar magnetic field predictions," Matt Owens, a professor of space environment physics at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "This means a reliable lightning forecast could now be a genuine possibility."

Earth would be a barren wasteland without a magnetic field. The magnetic field shields the planet from blasts of particles from space, such as high-energy cosmic rays and dangerous solar winds.
Better Earth

Soil, the most diverse place on Earth

© Valerie Behan-Pelletier
Soil fauna from a soil in Alabama, USA.
A new study has pulled together research into the most diverse place on earth to demonstrate how the organisms below-ground could hold the key to understanding how the worlds ecosystems function and how they are responding to climate change.

Published in Nature, the paper by Professor Richard Bardgett from The University of Manchester and Professor Wim van der Putten of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, brings together new knowledge on this previously neglected area.

The paper not only highlights the sheer diversity of life that lives below-ground, but also how rapid responses of soil organisms to climate change could have far reaching impacts on future ecosystems. The paper also explores how the below-ground world can be utilised for sustainable land management.

Professor Bardgett explains: "The soil beneath our feet arguably represents the most diverse place on Earth. Soil communities are extremely complex with literally millions of species and billions of individual organisms within a single grassland or forest, ranging from microscopic bacteria and fungi through to larger organisms such as earthworms, ants and moles.

"Despite this plethora of life the underground world had been largely neglected by research, it certainly used to be a case of out of sight out of mind, although over the last decade we have seen a significant increase in work in this area."

The increase in research on below-ground organisms has helped to explain how they interact with each other and crucially how they influence the above-ground flora and fauna.

Comment: What the authors fails to mention is the effect agriculture has had on the soil. Agriculture is the single most destructive thing on earth. It destroys entire ecosystems and kills millions of plants, animals and microorganisms every year. Agriculture is just another form of genocide (and mass extinction) courtesy of greedy psychopaths.
  • Original 'Fall of Eden'? Agriculture is a "profoundly unnatural activity" and the "worst mistake in human history"
  • Agriculture: The Worst Mistake In The History Of The Human Race


Social networking sites misrepresents the real world, computer scientists warn

Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, are populated by a very narrow section of society, scientists warn

© Alamy
Twitter trends do not represent what the public actually cares about, scientists warn.
Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook should not be used to gauge human behaviour or trends because they are too biased, scientists have warned.

Increasingly, social researchers and media organisations use sites to glean information about public views and interests. But computer scientists at McGill University in Montreal and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh warn that the data omits the opinion of large portions of the population who are either under-represented, or who choose not to engage in social media.

They claim the sites 'misrepresent the real world.'

One of the major problems with sites like Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook is 'population bias' where platforms are populated by a very narrow section of society.

Latest figures on Twitter suggest that just five per cent of over 65s use the platform compared with 35 per cent for those aged 18-29. Similarly far more men use the social networking site than women.

Instagram has a particular appeal to younger adults, urban dwellers, and non-whites.

Making fuel out of thin air

Fuel Cells
© Manchester University
The discovery of how to filter hydrogen ions through graphene could change the future of fuel cells.
In a discovery that experts say could revolutionise fuel cell technology, scientists have found that graphene, the world's thinnest, strongest and most impermeable material, can allow protons to pass through it.

The new discovery reported in the journal Nature raises the possibility that graphene membranes could one day be used to "sieve" hydrogen gas directly from the atmosphere to generate electricity.

"We are very excited about this result because it opens a whole new area of promising applications for graphene in clean energy harvesting and hydrogen-based technologies," says study co-author Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo of Manchester University.

Graphene was first isolated in 2004 by the leader of this study, Professor Andre Geim who, with fellow researchers was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2010 for the work.

At just one atom thick graphene is renowned for being the thinnest material on Earth.

It is 200 times stronger than steel, and impermeable to all gases and liquids, giving it the potential for a range of uses such as corrosion-proof coatings, impermeable packaging and even super-thin condoms.