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Electrical Activity -Is It a Key Indicator of Extraterrestrial Life?


LighteningPhysicists from the University of Granada and University of Valencia, analyzing data sent by the Huygens probe from Titan, have “unequivocally” proved that there is natural electrical activity on Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons. The world scientist community believes that the probability of organic molecules, precursors of life, being formed is higher on planets or moons which have an atmosphere with electrical storms.

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Most Distant Black Hole Ever Observed

NGC300_Halpha_l Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have detected a stellar-mass black hole much farther away than any other previously known in a spiral galaxy called NGC 300, six million light-years from Earth. With a mass above fifteen times that of the Sun and joined with a star that will soon become a supernova, then a black hole itself. This is also the second most massive stellar-mass black hole ever found. 


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Were Comets "Incubators" of Life on Earth? New Research Points to "Yes"


Red_comet It  is widely believed among planetary scientists that carbon dioxide, not ammonia and methane, dominated Earth's earliest atmosphere.  The primal, early conditions, essentially Earth as a molten ball with an atmosphere of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other volcanic emissions may not have favored widespread synthesis of organic molecules.

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New Antarctica Research: Ice Sheets Act as Giant Mirrors Controlling Future Climate Change

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New Antarctica research may provide critical clues to understanding one of the most dramatic periods of climatic change in Earth's history - and a glimpse into what might lie far ahead in the planet's climate’s future.

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Mars in 3D: James Cameron Convinces NASA to Include 3-D Camera on Mars Rover "Curiosity"

N_ChemCam-Art-cover1 James Cameron, director for the all-time great SciFi blockbuster, smash Avatar, is now helping to direct the search for life on Mars. The AP reports that Cameron has successfully lobbied Charles Bolden, NASA'a administrator, to include a special 3-D camera atop Mars rover "Curiosity." 

The inclusion of a 3-D camera was planned years ago, but was scrapped from the project in 2007 as Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) cut-back due to budget and schedule overruns. Cameron, however, met with Bolden in January, and convinced him that a 3-D camera would gain public interest and help people connect with NASA'a mission to Mars.  

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Image of the Day: "The Black Widow" Pulsar


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The pulsar, a.k.a. the "Black Widow," is moving through the galaxy at a speed of almost a million kilometers per hour. A bow shock wave due to this motion is visible to optical telescopes, shown in this image as the greenish crescent shape. The pressure behind the bow shock creates a second shock wave that sweeps the cloud of high-energy particles back from the pulsar to form the cocoon.

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Could a Major Eruption -Like Katla, Iceland's "Big One"- Reverse Global Warming?

Myrdalsjökull_glacier_iceland_2005_1
 

Advocates of hacking the planet via "geo-engineering" to cool the Earth to offset the effects of greenhouse gases--suggest that major volcanic eruptions such as Iceland's currently quiet Katla Volcano could be the answer. This sounds powerfully like one of those "beware what you wish for" scenarios with profound unintended consequences -economic and otherwise, as Europe just discovered from the eruption of  the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Katla's interconnected sister.

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