Many of life's building blocks, such as amino acids, sugars and other molecules, are chiral -- meaning they come in two identical forms, mirror images of each other. Most life on Earth tends to prefer one side over the other, such as right-handed glucose molecules. But some forms of bacteria are less choosy.
Most life is left-handed, but its lower forms are ambidextrous, according to a new study reported in New Scientist. This might complicate the search for life on other planets, but it could also explain the Viking Mars landers' odd findings four decades ago.
A team of NASA researchers has successfully completed the first demonstration of a prototype tsunami prediction system. Using global and regional real-time data from hundreds of GPS sites, the new system can quickly assess large earthquakes and accurately predict the size of resulting tsunamis.
The new system, developed by Y. Tony Song and his colleagues at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, uses GPS data from NASA's Global Differential GPS (GDGPS) and information about continental slope (where the ocean floor descends from the edge of the continent to the ocean bottom) to estimate the energy transferred to the ocean by an undersea earthquake.
By Bjorn CareyPosted 06.18.2010 at 10:38 am 2 Comments
Physicians and veterinarians agree: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and is sick like a duck, it's best for it to be treated by someone trained to treat a duck.
Faced with such a scenario, physicians would be armed only with what they know about human biology. And that doesn't go very far, says Rika Maeshiro, the director of Public Health and Prevention Projects for the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Since untold quantities of oil started flowing into the Gulf, there's been a lot of talk about bacteria that eat oil. While those microbes might help remediate those millions of barrels of crude, one geoscientist thinks we might be able to use them to keep oil in the ground in the first place.
For a species so steeped in visual information, humans actually aren’t very good at picking up on change (your childhood success with Highlights magazine puzzles notwithstanding). But a new computer-based model is shedding light on what we see and what we don’t even when the obvious is right in front of us.
As BP sits down for a not-so-friendly back and forth with Congress this morning it seems the oil giant is resigned to let the Gulf oil leak flow until the relief wells are completed in August. But a nuclear physicist from California thinks he’s devised a method that could stop the gushing well by pumping steel balls into the riser. It’s likely to work, he says, and even if it fails it won’t make matters any worse. Naturally, not everyone involved is so optimistic.
DNA is already used to protect crime victims by helping authorities hunt down and prosecute criminals. Now it will be used to protect another kind of victim -- dogs used for fighting. A new dog DNA database will help law enforcement and animal-rights groups investigate dogfighting cases, using DNA evidence to establish links among owners, breeders and dog fighting sites.
"We can tie blood spatter on pit walls and clothing, or blood trails found outside of the pit, to a specific dog and tell his story for him," says Beth Wictum, director of the forensics unit of the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory in at the University of California-Davis veterinary school, in a press release.
In the global race to reduce carbon emissions, these eco-minded communities, from Kansas to the Maldives, lead the pack. Here’s how they’re making their carbon footprints disappear
By Patrick Di JustoPosted 06.17.2010 at 10:18 am 45 Comments
"Carbon neutral" sounds pretty straightforward—simply remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as you put in. The trouble is, civilization began emitting CO2 when humans burned the first lump of coal about 4,000 years ago.
Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope think they’ve found Jupiter’s missing cloud belt, hiding out behind a layer of ammonia clouds.
They also think they can explain the bright flash seen from Earth earlier this month: it was a meteor, though a small one that didn’t get very far.
Researchers have confirmed six new planets beyond our solar system, the prelude to an avalanche of exoplanet discoveries soon to cascade from NASA's Kepler mission.
There's more to come -- on Tuesday, NASA's Kepler space telescope team released data from 156,000 stars, including a list of more than 700 stars that likely harbor planets, meaning hundreds of new exoplanet discoveries are imminent.
Astronomers will use ground-based telescopes to do follow-up observations on those stars. The 28-member Kepler team is keeping some of the juiciest stars for itself, however -- actually common practice in space telescope circles, but a decision that has sparked some controversy.