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

Scientists just found thousands of black holes at the center of our galaxy

April 5, 2018 by  
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For the first time ever, scientists have identified thousands of black holes lurking at the center of our galaxy. Scientists have long suspected that black holes might exist in the middle of the Milky Way, but until now, they haven’t been able to find any evidence. Now, thanks to new research, scientists believe that there are over 10,000 of them swirling together out there. According to a study published in the journal Nature this week, the center of the Milky Way holds 10,000 small black holes that have been previously undetected. Some of these smaller black holes interact with the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A* at the core of the galaxy, and give us a peek into how our galaxy formed. Related: Scientists glimpse most distant supermassive black hole in the known universe Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory space telescope, scientists began hunting around for the signature low-level radiation that mark binaries of stars and black holes locked together in space. “When black holes mate with a low mass star, the marriage emits X-ray bursts that are weaker, but consistent and detectable. If we could find black holes that are coupled with low mass stars and we know what fraction of black holes will mate with low mass stars, we could scientifically infer the population of isolated black holes out there,” lead author Chuck Hailey said. By using this method, they located dozens of binaries near Saggitarius A* and, from there, determined that there were thousands more out there. Not only can this information help us understand how the Milky Way originated, but it could help us understand other galaxies as well. Via Mashable Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Scientists just found thousands of black holes at the center of our galaxy

World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway

April 5, 2018 by  
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Two Norwegian shipping giants, Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg, have joined together to create what they’ve described as the world’s first autonomous shipping company. “As a world-leading maritime nation, Norway has taken a position at the forefront in developing autonomous ships,” Wilhelmsen CEO Thomas Wilhelmsen told the Maritime Journal . “Through the creation of the new company named Massterly, we take the next step on this journey by establishing infrastructure and services to design and operate vessels, as well as advanced logistics solutions associated with maritime autonomous operations.” The corporate collaboration, which brings a combined 360 years of experience to the shipping game, promises affordable prices through automated efficiency. “Massterly will reduce costs at all levels and be applicable to all companies that have a transport need,” said Wilhelmsen. Kongsberg is set to provide its technological expertise while Wilhelmsen will offer its logistics and ship management operations experience.  The autonomous ships will be monitored and modified at control centers, which will be established on land. Related: Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service Norway has led the way in autonomous ship technology, particularly since the launch of the Yara Birkeland. The electric ship  began its first journey in May 2017 and will become fully autonomous by 2020. In the meantime, it will host an on-board crew, then be remotely operated. The ship cost about $25 million to build, and its first shipping mission cost almost three times as much as a traditional ship; however, it is projected to save up to 90% in annual operating costs of labor and fuel. The Yara Birkeland was created through a collaboration between agricultural firm Yara International and Kongsberg. The companies plan to roll out larger, more robust autonomous ships once regulations are in place. Globally, the job impacts of autonomous ships are expected to be far less extensive than those of autonomous trucks . Via Maritime Journal  and Fortune Images via Kongsberg

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World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway

Scientists harvest the first ever Antarctic vegetables

April 5, 2018 by  
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Fresh, local produce might have seemed like an impossibility in Antarctica — until now. The experimental greenhouse EDEN-ISS at Alfred Wegener Institute ‘s Neumayer-Station III recently harvested their first crops: 18 cucumbers, 70 radishes, and nearly eight pounds of lettuce. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) described this achievement as the “first harvested Antarctic salad.” The EDEN-ISS indoor farm serves two purposes: first, to provide fresh produce for the Neumayer-Station III’s wintering crew. Second, to act as a test run for growing food in harsh climates, not just on Earth, but for missions to the Moon and Mars in the future. Scientists planted the seeds in the middle of February, and the first harvest was a success. Related: Arctic town grows fresh produce in shipping container vertical garden There’s no soil necessary in this indoor garden , where scientists grow plants with a closed water cycle and optimized light. DLR engineer Paul Zabel, one of the few people on Earth who can now add ‘Antarctic gardener’ to their resume, said they had to overcome some unexpected issues like minor system failures and the “strongest storm for more than a year,” but he was able to solve the problems and harvested the first crops. EDEN-ISS is around 1,312 feet away from Neumayer-Station III, and DLR said Zabel spends around three to four hours a day in the greenhouse . He’s also able to communicate with a DLR Institute for Space Systems control center, located in Bremen, which can remotely monitor plant growth — and can monitor it entirely on stormy days when Zabel can’t make it to the farm. DRL said this “bridging is possible for up to three days.” Scientists wintering at the station had used up their vegetables from their last delivery near February’s end, so they welcomed fresh produce from EDEN-ISS. Station manager Bernhard Gropp said in DLR’s statement, “It was special to have the first fresh salad of the Antarctic…it tasted as if we had harvested it fresh in the garden.” + EDEN-ISS + German Aerospace Center Images via DLR and DLR German Aerospace Center on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 )

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Tardigrades will be the last surviving creatures on earth after the sun dies

July 14, 2017 by  
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In the event that Earth is struck by an asteroid , the sun goes supernova or the planet is soaked in gamma ray bursts in an extreme energetic explosion, the last surviving creatures won’t be cockroaches – they will be tardigrades. Oxford University researchers recently discovered this after exposing the microscopic water bears to the only astrophysical phenomena likely to eradicate life on Earth . Not only did the team learn that the tardigrade can endure temperature extremes of up to 150°C (302°F), they discovered that the eight-legged animals can resist radiation levels of 5000 to 6200 Gy (around the dose used in some forms of chemotherapy), making them the most indestructible creatures on this rock. Dr. Rafael Alves Batista, a researcher at the department of physics at Oxford University, told the Daily Mail that the goal was to “study what is necessary to kill all life, not just humans. Batista added that the scientists were pleasantly surprised to learn that the water bear is incredibly resilient to most threats. Co-author of the study, Dr. David Sloan, wrote: “To our surprise, we found that although nearby supernovae or large asteroid impacts would be catastrophic for people, tardigrades could be unaffected. Therefore it seems that life, once it gets going, is hard to wipe out entirely.” Related: Water bear brought back to life after being frozen for 30 years Unlike humans, the tardigrade is extremely durable. As previously mentioned, the animals are resistant to high levels of radiation and can endure astronomically high temperatures. Additionally, the water bears were once frozen for thirty years, thawed out and were found to still be alive . Said Batista, “Without our technology protecting us, humans are a very sensitive species. Life on this planet can continue long after humans are gone.” As a result of the findings, the researchers concluded that the water bears could live on Earth for at least ten billion years and would only be wiped out when the sun exploded. “Huge numbers of species, or even entire genera may become extinct, but life as a whole will go on,” said Sloan. Some are unsurprised by the water bear’s hardiness, considering Russia found the species clinging to the International Space Station — alive — even while exposed to the vacuum of space. Regardless, the finding is exciting for scientists who desire to find life on other planets. Said Batista, “Tardigrades are as close to indestructible as it gets on Earth, but it is possible that there are other resilient species examples elsewhere in the universe . If Tardigrades are Earth’s most resilient species, who knows what else is out there. There might exist other creatures similar to tardigrade in other places. We have to keep searching.” Sloan added, “Our work suggests that the search for life in such places is justified even if the planet doesn’t seem hospitable.” The study will be published soon in the journal Nature . Via Daily Mail , Engadget Images via Depositphotos 1 , 2 , YouTube , Wikimedia

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Tardigrades will be the last surviving creatures on earth after the sun dies

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