March 17, 2009
Astronomy, Biology, Extraterrestrial Life
Astrobiology, Extraterrestrial Life, Panspermia
A variety of news sources have picked up a story about an Indian Space Research Organization balloon which collected three new species of bacteria in the upper atmosphere.
A research team from ISRO conducted an earlier study which reported the discovery of life in the upper atmosphere but the scientific community expressed doubts . Oddly for a discovery like this, I haven’t seen mention of it in the science news sources I frequent, but perhaps it is still early. It will be interesting to see the reaction, if any.
Quotes and the naming of one of the new species after astronomer Fred Hoyle hint that one motivation of the mission may have been to study panspermia, the theory that life on Earth came from space. I am not a particular advocate of that theory, but the discovery of bacteria which are resistant to UV is exciting. Even if the bacteria are shown to have terrestrial origin, their existence is evidence once more of the versatility of life, which is promising in the search for extraterrestrial life.
What do you think? Would the existence of UV resistant bacteria bolster claims that life might be present elsewhere, perhaps even in this solar system?
Here is the actual press release from the ISRO.
The Hindu ‘s take
The Times of India‘s take
The Hindustan Times‘ take
December 23, 2008
Equivocation of Homonyms, MSU
Warning: There is equivocation of homonyms in this post!
There was a time, somewhere in the haze of middle school, when I thought one key to popularity was to have the clothes which the cool kids had. Never mind that I went to a parochial school with white-poloed, navy panted uniforms, it was the ‘dress down’ days which concerned me. I thought objects like clothes and cologne, and haircuts mattered in the quest to be liked (and perhaps, in middle school, they did). As a result,I desired to have the types of jeans which the most popular kids sported when not in uniforms. I thought these where the overpriced, baggy, sloppy sort of pants which my parents would never buy for me and for which I dared not ask them. So, instead I settled for relaxed fit.
Now a study from the academia I call home (rather, my second home), Michigan State University, suggests that popularity may in fact be influenced by genes!
As described in the link above, the researcherss sampled DNA from a group of male college students and had them interact. After a period of time, each person filled out a questionarie. Results suggested that the most popular students were most often those with a gene linked to ‘trouble making.’ Previous studies have suggested that riskiness or at least rule-breaking influences popularity in the adosolent bunch.
Well I guess I never had the right genes anyway.
Image Credit: Flickr User: mijori