Alien life may not exist due to a lack of this chemical element

April 5, 2018 by  
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Holding out hope for alien life somewhere out there? According to a recent study from Cardiff University , you may have to wait a long, long time – if phosphorus isn’t present, it could be difficult for that life to exist. Phosphorus is one of the six elements Earth’s organisms depend on, and researchers Jane Greaves and Phil Cigan found it in short supply near the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, around 6,500 light years away. In light of these new findings, we may be alone in the universe after all. Greaves said phosphorus “is crucial to the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which cells use to store and transfer energy.” Astronomers have begun paying attention to phosphorus’ cosmic origins, and have discovered it’s created in supernovae. Related: Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing Cigan and Greaves observed infrared light from phosphorus in the Crab Nebula using the William Herschel Telescope. They compared two “stellar explosions based on how they each ejected phosphorus into the atmosphere,” thanks to other scientists’ research on phosphorus in Cassiopeia A. Preliminary results hint “material blown out into space could vary dramatically in chemical composition.” Greaves said, “The route to carrying phosphorus into new-born planets looks rather precarious…If phosphorus is sourced from supernovae, and then travels across space in meteoritic rocks, it’s possible that a young planet could find itself lacking in reactive phosphorus because of where it was born. That is, it started off near the wrong kind of supernova. In that case, life might really struggle to get started out of phosphorous-poor chemistry , on another world otherwise similar to our own.” At the European Week of Astronomy and Space, Cigan and Greaves presented the preliminary results. They hope to continue to work and discover whether other supernova remnants lack phosphorus too, to discover if the element is rarer than scientists once thought. + Cardiff University Via The Telegraph Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Alien life may not exist due to a lack of this chemical element

Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing

March 23, 2018 by  
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Genetic testing has revealed the true identity of an exceptional mummy found in Chile’s Atacama Desert , a skeleton so strange that some have claimed it as evidence of alien life . In truth, the remains are that of a human individual known as Ata, a girl with unique mutations, who is believed to have been stillborn or died shortly after birth. Despite skeletal features similar to those of a child between six and eight years old, Ata was only six inches tall. She also had two fewer ribs than an average human while her skull is long and conical, evoking pop culture images of a grey alien . In 2013, Stanford University professor of microbiology and immunology Garry Nolan conducted a genetic test that confirmed Ata’s humanity. However, the reasons behind Ata’s appearance remained a mystery. In a study published in  Genome Research , Nolan and researchers at the University of California in San Francisco have presented their full genetic analysis of Ata, which offers more information on who she was and how she came to possess such extraordinary features. While the exact time of Ata’s life and death is unclear, her mixed indigenous and European ancestry indicates that she must have been born sometime after the Spanish colonization of Chile in the 1500s. Related: Scientists build an alien ocean to test NASA submarine Ata’s DNA test indicates that she had mutations on at least seven different genes known for affecting skeletal development. Ata may also have suffered from congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a potentially life-threatening disorder defined by an undeveloped diaphragm. Despite Ata’s unique physiology, research done on her remains may prove applicable in modern medicine . “Understanding the process might allow us to develop therapies or drugs that drive bone development for people in, say, catastrophic car crashes,” Nolan told the Guardian . As for the alien angle, Nolan strongly rejects it. “While this started as a story about aliens, and went international, it’s really a story of a human tragedy,” said Nolan. “A woman had a malformed baby, it was preserved in a manner and then ‘hocked’ or sold as a strange artifact. It turns out to be human, with a fascinating genetic story from which we might learn something important to help others. May she rest in peace.” Via The Guardian Images via Dr. Emery Smith

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Chevron admits "there’s no debate about climate science" in court hearing

March 23, 2018 by  
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“From Chevron’s perspective there’s no debate about climate science ,” attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. said in a courtroom this week. In a case pitting Big Oil companies against the cities of San Francisco and Oakland , which allege the fossil fuel corporations should pay for actions like sea walls to deal with the impacts of climate change , Chevron’s attorney acknowledged that manmade climate change is real. Don’t get too excited, though. According to Boutrous, it may be real, but it isn’t Chevron’s fault – it’s yours. United States District Judge William Alsup called for a two-part climate change tutorial  earlier this month to help educate all the parties involved in the lawsuit on climate change. During this tutorial,  Science Magazine and The Verge reported that Chevron agreed with the existing scientific consensus. The tutorial wasn’t an echo of the famous Scopes trial, according to Alsup. Science Magazine said he told the audience, “This will not be withering cross-examinations and so forth. This will be numbers and diagrams, and if you get bored you can just leave.” Prominent scientists spoke for San Francisco and Oakland, but Boutrous was the sole speaker for the oil industry — and he said, “Chevron accepts what the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] has reached consensus on concerning science and climate change.” Related: Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change Boutrous did emphasize parts of the IPCC’s fifth climate science assessment report regarding uncertainties, according to Science Magazine, such as challenges over predictions of sea level rise in particular parts of the planet or modeling Antarctic ice’s response to increasing temperatures. Even if Chevron does agree on the science, they don’t seem to agree a lawsuit is the correct way to tackle climate change — Boutrous described it as a global issue necessitating global action. Chevron spokesperson Sean Comey told The Verge the company “welcomes meaningful efforts to address the issue of climate change, but litigation is not an appropriate tool for accomplishing that objective.” He also claims that Chevron is no more to blame for climate change than anyone else. “Anyone in the world could be brought in in the case, including the plaintiffs themselves,” he said. Which gets to the crux of the argument: Chevron claims that burning fossil fuels is to blame, so it rests on the shoulders of those driving cars or heating their homes with coal to stop climate change. But the plaintiffs argue that, like the cigarette companies in the past, companies like Chevron knew about the impact of their product on the environment and chose to continue pushing it. Science Magazine said Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips, the other oil companies involved, stayed away from the tutorial as they have questioned Alsup’s jurisdiction to hear the case. Alsup afforded them two weeks to disagree with what Boutrous had to say, or he’ll assume they’re in agreement. Via The Verge and Science Magazine Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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World’s largest radio telescope switches on to scan the heavens and "look for E.T."

September 26, 2016 by  
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For over five years, China has been building the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), a massive single-dish telescope that is the largest of its kind in the world. This summer they completed construction , and this past weekend, the telescope was finally switched on, manifesting China’s hopes to reemerge as a scientific world leader. FAST is larger than the Arecibo Observatory, the radio telescope in Puerto Rico that used to hold the title of world’s largest. FAST’s diameter is 1,640 feet, and the dish is comprised of 4,450 triangular panels. It possess a ” collecting area of 2.1 million square feet ” – about as much as if nearly 450 basketball courts were collecting signals from space . It reportedly cost $184 million to build, although The New York Times said that appears to be a modest figure. Around 9,000 locals had to leave their homes to make way for its construction, and some say the new homes were poorly constructed. Related: China completes world’s largest radio telescope to search for alien life China’s president Xi Jinping spoke for the occasion, referring to FAST as the country’s “eye in the sky.” He said the radio telescope will assist China as they make “major advances and breakthroughs at the frontier of science .” Although it’s fun to discuss FAST’s potential ability to probe for extraterrestrial life , listening in on alien conversations isn’t China’s primary goal for the radio telescope. Scientists could utilize FAST to map the night sky and explore further than possible with smaller telescopes. FAST could help astronomers investigate gravitational waves or determine how rapidly our universe is expanding. Still, alien hunters will be able to search for signals of extraterrestrial life. Dan Werthimer, chief scientist at the University of California, Berkeley’s SETI Research Center, told The New York Times, “We can use the telescope at the same time that they’re doing more traditional astronomy to look for E.T.” Thrilling discoveries are likely a few years out; for the first year or longer scientists will probably have to fine tune the equipment. But researchers seem hopeful. Astrophysicist Zhang Chengmin of the National Astronomical Observatories said, “Now we’re racing to catch up and want to recreate the glories of our ancestors by reviving our astronomy. China isn’t just an economic power; it is also becoming a scientific power.” Via The New York Times Images via FAST/National Astronomical Observation, Chinese Academy of Sciences

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World’s largest radio telescope switches on to scan the heavens and "look for E.T."

Mysterious new radio signal sparks speculation about alien megastructures

August 30, 2016 by  
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A strong radio signal detected from a star 94 lightyears away has caught the attention of several international astronomers. The signal and its star, HD 164595, are raising familiar questions of a complex extraterrestrial civilization – including the proposal of another alien megastructure harnessing billions of watts of energy from the star. A Russian telescope picked up on the curious signal, which is now being considered “a strong candidate for SETI ” by hopeful scientists. The strength of the signal, if truly artificial, leads Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone to believe it could be sent by a Type II civilization on the Kardashev scale. He told CNN , “The Kardashev scale is based basically on the energy that that civilization might be able to funnel for its own use.” Considering we are Type I on the scale – harnessing energy from resources found on our own planet – this scenario would mean the far-away civilization is collecting energy from its nearby sun. This would be possible using a Dyson swarm, or a superstructure of advanced solar panels which envelopes a star and captures its radiation. Related: Scientists may have discovered an alien megastructure in space If all this sounds familiar, it should: last year’s alien megastructure hoopla left those on a search for extraterrestrial life disappointed. This was largely due to the signal not repeating itself, which would have hinted at an intelligent pattern. The SETI Institute is studying HD 164595 with its Allen Telescope Array in hopes of being able to replicate what the Russians observed. Senior astronomer with SETI, Seth Shostak, said, “we have not yet covered the full range of frequencies in which the signal could be located,” so time may tell if further observation is warranted. The idea of witnessing the activity of an alien race is beyond intriguing. Astronomers are hopeful that, over time, a specific origin of the signal will be proved – whether it is aliens or not – because there is nothing more frustrating than an unsolved mystery. The questions surrounding the signal continue to mount, including from Shostak, who said, “This star system is so far away they won’t have yet picked up on any TV or radar that would tell them that we’re here.” So, why are we receiving a signal? We will just have to keep our eyes on the skies and wait. Via CNN Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 )

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Stephen Hawking announces plan to explore Alpha Centauri for alien life

April 12, 2016 by  
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Stephen Hawking is making big news today. Teaming up with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, the famous astrophysicist announced the official launch of Starshot today, a space exploration initiative centered around a postage-stamp sized satellite called StarChip designed to ‘listen’ for alien life. The effort seeks to send these tiny satellites all the way to Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to the Solar System – a mere 4.3 light years away from Earth. Read the rest of Stephen Hawking announces plan to explore Alpha Centauri for alien life

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China is displacing 9,000 residents so a huge telescope can look for aliens

February 18, 2016 by  
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The Chinese government is forcing some 9,000 villagers in the Guizhou province to leave their homes to make room for an enormous radio telescope that will be used to look for signs of alien life. The building project, which will cost an estimated $184 million, is now under construction and could be complete as early as this September. To soften the blow of being relocated, Chinese officials are offering $1,800 to each person who gives up their home within three miles of the telescope site. Read the rest of China is displacing 9,000 residents so a huge telescope can look for aliens

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