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August 2010
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Does NASA Antarctica Discovery Mirror Potential Extraterrestrial Life Forms? (Today's Most Popular)

Zodiac (1) In a discovery at the bottom of the world that could have implications on the search for extraterrestrial life, researchers were astounded to find an amphipod swimming beneath a massive Ross Ice Shelf, about 12.5 miles away from open water. NASA scientists were using a borehole camera to look back up towards the ice surface when they spotted this pinkish-orange creature swimming 600 feet below the ice, where the NASA team expected to find no higher life form than some microbes. 

This video frame provided by NASA, taken in Dec. 2009, shows a Lyssianasid amphipod, which is related to a shrimp, where a NASA team lowered a video camera to get the first long look at the underbelly of an ice sheet and a curious shrimp-like creature came swimming by and then even parked itself on the cable attached to the camera. In a surprising discovery that shakes the idea of where higher life can thrive, scientists for the first time found a shrimp-like creature and a jellyfish frolicking beneath a massive Antarctic ice sheet.

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We're Getting Closer! Exo Planet Located in 'Habitable Zone' Sweet Spot 20 Light Years from Earth

6a00d8341bf7f753ef0115701a5843970c-320wi Astronomers may have just sighted an Earth-like planet, a find that would add fresh impetus to the search for extraterrestrial life. To date, Planet hunters have spotted more than 500 planets beyond our solar system, but the vast majority are hot, Jupiter-sized planets that would dwarf the Earth and are almost certainly lifeless.

A team of planet hunters led by astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington has announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet (three times the mass of Earth) orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star's "habitable zone," where liquid water could exist on the planet's surface. If confirmed, this would be the most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one.

"Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet," said Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. "The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common."

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Search for Dark Energy Heats Up at the Bottom of the World

South_pole_telescope_with_aurora_or“We’re looking at a tug-of-war with dark energy and gravity trying to expand or collapse the universe.”

John Carlstrom, South Pole astronomer and University of Chicago astrophysicist.

A big telescope, as high as a seven-story building, with a main mirror measuring 32 1/2 feet across was built at the Amundsen-Scott Station in the Antarctica  looming over a barren plain of ice that gets colder than anywhere else on the planet. The South Pole Telescope (SPT), a microwave telescope, has been in use since February 16, 2007.

The instrument at the far end of the world was built so scientists can search for clues that might identify the most powerful, plentiful but elusive substance in the universe -- dark energy.

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The Lost World? A Third of Planet's 'Extinct' Mammals are Alive

Tasmanian-Tiger_2 Last week Conservation International reported that its scientists had rediscovered three species of amphibians, including a Mexican salamander not seen since 1941. Australian species returned from the supposed dead also include Gilbert's pottoroo and Leadbeater's possum, Victoria's state animal emblem that was found in 1961 after not being seen for half a century. The Tasmanian Tiger, left, was believed hunted to extinction by settlers on the Australian island state of Tasmania during the 19th century. The last known thylacine died at Hobart Zoo in 1936. Could they still exist?

Many animals feared extinct have actually been found alive and well, adapting to different habitats. "I think it might be useful to know that rediscoveries are not random," says Diana Fisher of the University of Queensland, who led the work. "If we know which types of species are most likely to be alive but hard to detect we might be able to better target searches for missing species."

Globally, the number of animals declared extinct continues to increases significantly. However, about one third of mammals that have been reported as possibly extinct at some stage have been rediscovered. 

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Image of the Day: Patagonia's Pristine Wild Rivers Threatened by Dams

ILCP-Rave--Hydroaysen-dam-009
 

The Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia is threatened by a plan to build five dams on the Baker and the Pascua rivers – two of the wildest most pristine rivers on the planet. The Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (Rave), an initiative of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), set up to address the challenges of modern conservation, visited the area in February this year to assess what impact the dams would have on the surrounding area and its way of life.

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The Social Network -The Facebook Story (VIDEO Preview)

Social-network-movie The Social Network captures the irony that a character with limited social skills builds a site that redefines social relationships for half a billion people. Facebook investor Peter Thiel told the Disrupt Conference in San Francisco yesterday that even at $30 billion, the site is still undervalued. While most of us will never know how close The Social Network is to the real deal, it will define Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg for a very long time to come. And as for Facebook's bottom line - myth building this good is only going to spike it up. We give it four out of five shooting stars.

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Will DNA Prove to be a Cosmic Constant? (Today's Most Popular)

Dna_cosmic (1)  A recent mathematical analysis says that life as we know it is written into the laws of reality.  DNA is built from a set of twenty amino acids - the first ten of those can create simple prebiotic life, and now it seems that those ten are thermodynamically destined to occur wherever they can.

For those unfamiliar with thermodynamics, it's the Big Brother of all energy equations and science itself.  You can apply quantum mechanics at certain scales, and Newtonian mechanics work at the right speeds, but if thermodynamics says something, then everyone listens. 

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Hubble's Heir will Orbit at the Lagrange Point 1 Million Miles from Earth

070531152019-largeImagine a place colder than Pluto where rubber behaves like glass and where most gasses are liquid. The place is called a Lagrange point where the James Webb Space Telescope will orbit.

NASA engineers have created a unique engineering marvel called the ISIM structure that recently survived exposure to extreme cryogenic temperatures, proving that the structure will remain stable when exposed to the harsh environment of space. 

The ISIM, or the Integrated Science Instrument Module Flight Structure, will serve as the structural "heart" of the James Webb Space Telescope. The ISIM is a large bonded composite assembly made of a light weight material that has never been used before to support high precision optics at the extreme cold temperatures of the Webb observatory.

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Is Time Coming To an End Within Earth's Lifespan?


Across-the-universe There is a 50 per cent chance that time will end within the next 3.7 billion years, according to a new model of the universe. A team of physicists led by Raphael Bousso at the University of California, Berkeley rebel against this idea. They say an infinitely expanding universe is contrary to the laws of physics do not work in an infinite cosmos. For these laws to make any sense, the universe must come to an end

Their argument is simple yet surprisingly powerful: If the universe lasts forever, then any event that can happen, will happen, no matter how unlikely. In fact, this event will happen an infinite number of times, which leads to the key obstacle: When there are an infinite number of instances of every possible observation, it becomes impossible to determine the probabilities of any of these events occurring. And when that happens, the laws of physics simply don't apply. They just break down. "This is known as the "measure problem" of eternal inflation," say Bousso and buddies. In short, the laws of physics abhor an eternal universe.

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