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The Declaration of White Independence: Fourth Political Theory

A unilateral assertion offered to and for consideration by the European Descended People of the fifty united States of America and all ...

30 December 2013

Mankind should not tamper with forces they do not understand.

Scientists create glow in the dark pigs using jellyfish DNA
"The glowing mammals were created when scientists inserted a foreign gene into the animals' DNA. In a process called active transgenesis, the scientists removed embryos from pregnant females and injected each one with a jellyfish gene that creates a glow-in-the-dark protein. Then the embryos were put back in the mother." 
 
This is butchery. This is sadistic commodification, not science. The mechanizers are bastardizing harmonic bio-immanence.
 
 

28 December 2013

The Big Seed

The Big Seed is where big history begins. Everything that's ever existed - including you - traces back to this unimaginably profound event.

Bio-teleology

New Study Brings Scientists Closer to the Origin of RNA

http://phys.org/news/2013-12-scientists-closer-rna.html

One of the biggest questions in science is how life arose from the chemical soup that existed on early Earth. One theory is that RNA, a close relative of DNA, was the first genetic molecule to arise around 4 billion years ago, but in a primitive form that later evolved into the RNA and DNA molecules that we have in life today. New research shows one way this chain of events might have started.
 
Today, genetic information is stored in DNA. RNA is created from DNA to put that information into action. RNA can direct the creation of proteins and perform other essential functions of life that DNA can't do. RNA's versatility is one reason that scientists think this polymer came first, with DNA evolving later as a better way to store genetic information for the long haul. But like DNA, RNA also could be a product of evolution, scientists theorize.
 
Chemists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have shown how molecules that may have been present on early Earth can self-assemble into structures that could represent a starting point of RNA. The spontaneous formation of RNA building blocks is seen as a crucial step in the origin of life, but one that scientists have struggled with for decades.
 
RNA is perfect for the roles it plays in life today, Hud said, but chemically it's extraordinarily difficult to make. This suggests that RNA evolved from simpler chemical couplings. As life became more chemically complex and enzymes were born, evolutionary pressures would have driven pre-RNA into the more refined modern RNA.
 
"This study is important in showing a feasible step for how we get the start of an RNA-like molecule, but also how the building blocks of the first RNA-like polymers could have found each other and self-assembled in what would have been a very complex mixture of chemicals," Hud said.
 
"It is amazing that these nucleosides and bases actually assemble on their own, as life today requires complex enzymes to bring together RNA building blocks and to spatially order them prior to polymerization,"said Brian Cafferty, a graduate student at Georgia Tech and co-author of the study.

SPONTANEOUS SPECIATION

Cosmic Manifest Destiny

 
http://www.opednews.com/Diary/Paradigm-Shift-Thoughts-o-by-Kyle-McDermott-110726-880.html

Human beings have altered the Earth so much that human extinction is a real possibility if people continue on their current path. But if they can figure out a way to live sustainably, at least some human civilizations could become quasi-immortal, one researcher says.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Cosmos-as-a-Living-Org-by-Kyle-McDermott-110809-351.html

Now, civilization is at a crossroads, Grinspoon says: If global warming and other Earth-altering phenomena continue unchecked, humanity could die out. But, if Homo sapiens can overcome those challenges, the people who do survive could build a longer-lived civilization than any that thrived in the past. In essence, at a bifurcation in history, civilizations could be capped at a few thousand years or, alternatively, last for hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of years.

 

"If even a small fraction of people come through the bifurcation in lifetime of civilizations, then they may become quasi-immortal," he said.

In the beginning, there was darkness, and then - sprout...
 
Civilization is facing a bottleneck, said Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.
 
"Eventually, you either have to stabilize the population and reuse everything, or you have to do something else," such as go into space to live or mine for resources.

The Path of the Upward Spiral 
http://www.opednews.com/Diary/Bioelectrical-harmonic-bio-by-Kyle-McDermott-111221-437.html
SIC ITUR AD ASTRA!

Optogenetics

A technique called optogenetics is being used in the laboratory to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time.
Henning Dalhoff/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RM

It's a relatively new set of techniques called optogenetics that allows researchers to control the activity of brain cells using light.

"This is fantastic," says Elizabeth Hillman, a biomedical engineer at Columbia University. "We can turn things on, turn things off, read stuff out." In short, she says, it provides a way to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time in a living brain.
 
"You can select that very specific genetic cell type, and you can tell that specific cell type to react when you shine light on it," she says.
 
For one thing, Hillman says, when you use optogenetics, "You're actually altering the genes of the neurons." That's because most neurons don't normally respond to light. So you have to add genetic material to every brain cell you want to control. Scientists can do that in mice with genetic engineering, but that's not an option for people.
 
Another challenge for optogenetics, Hillman says, has to do with delivering light to cells deep in the brain. "It's really hard to get light to go deep," she says, "and we all know this just from trying to shine a flashlight through our hand."


26 December 2013

Evolutionary transubstantiation

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/26/science/in-the-human-brain-size-really-isnt-everything.html?hpw&rref=science&_r=0

Our association cortices are crucial for the kinds of thought that we humans excel at. Among other tasks, association cortices are crucial for making decisions, retrieving memories and reflecting on ourselves.
 
Association cortices are also unusual for their wiring. They are not connected in the relatively simple, bucket-brigade pattern found in other mammal brains. Instead, they link to one another with wild abandon. A map of association cortices looks less like an assembly line and more like the Internet, with each region linked to others near and far.
 
Dr. Buckner and Dr. Krienen argue that this change occurred because of the way brains develop. In the human brain, some neurons still receive chemical signals that cause them to form a bucket brigade from the sensory cortices to the motor cortices. But because of the brain’s size, some neurons are too far from the signals to follow their commands. “They may have broken off and formed a new circuit,” Dr. Buckner said.
 
This new wiring may have been crucial to the evolution of the human mind. Our association cortices liberate us from the rapid responses of other mammal brains. These new brain regions can communicate without any input from the outside world, discovering new insights about our environment and ourselves.
 
The emergence of the human mind might not have been a result of a vast number of mutations that altered the fine structure of the brain. Instead, a simple increase in the growth of neurons could have untethered them from their evolutionary anchors, creating the opportunity for the human mind to emerge.
 

25 December 2013

Study Challenges Long-Held Darwin Theory

http://www.science20.com/news_articles/species_dont_need_evolve_differently_avoid_competition_or_perish-126881
A phylogenetic tree illustrating evolutionary relationships and beak variation among 350 lineages of ovenbirds. Credit: Joseph A. Tobias and D. Seddon, images reproduced with the permission of Lynx Edicions.
 
By focusing on ovenbirds, one of the most diverse bird families in the world, a team conducted the most in-depth analysis yet of the processes causing species differences to evolve. They found that although bird species occurring together were consistently more different than species living apart, this was simply an artifact of species being old by the time they meet. In fact, once variation in the age of species was accounted for, coexisting species were actually more similar than species evolving separately.
 
"The reason seems to be linked to the way new species originate in animals, which almost always requires a period of geographic separation. By using genetic techniques to establish the age of lineages, we found that most ovenbird species only meet their closest relatives several million years after they separated from a common ancestor. This gives them plenty of time to develop differences by evolving separately," says Dr. Joe Tobias of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, who led the study.

20 December 2013

Gaia

How Plants Secretly Talk to Each Other

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/12/secret-language-of-plants/
Vermont Wildflower Farm
 
Up in the northern Sierra Nevada, the ecologist Richard Karban is trying to learn an alien language. The sagebrush plants that dot these slopes speak to one another, using words no human knows. Karban, who teaches at the University of California, Davis, is listening in, and he’s beginning to understand what they say.
 
Plant communication may still be a tiny field, but the people who study it are no longer seen as a lunatic fringe. “It used to be that people wouldn’t even talk to you: ‘Why are you wasting my time with something we’ve already debunked?’” said Karban. “That’s now better for sure.” The debate is no longer whether plants can sense one another’s biochemical messages — they can — but about why and how they do it. Most studies have taken place under controlled lab conditions, so one of the major open questions is to what extent plants use these signals in the wild. The answer could have big implications: Farmers might be able to adapt this chatter, tweaking food plants or agricultural practices so that crops defend themselves better against herbivores. More broadly, the possibility that plants share information raises intriguing questions about what counts as behavior and communication — and why organisms that compete with one another might also see fit to network their knowledge.
 
Scientists are also exploring how the messages from these signals might spread. Just a few months ago, the plant signaling pioneer Ted Farmer of the University of Lausanne discovered an almost entirely unrecognized way that plants transmit information — with electrical pulses and a system of voltage-based signaling that is eerily reminiscent of the animal nervous system. “It’s pretty spectacular what plants do,” said Farmer. “The more I work on them, the more I’m amazed.”
 
Farmer’s study doesn’t mean that plants have neurons, or brains, or anything like the systems that animals use to communicate. We don’t do justice to them when we try to put their fascinating, alien biology into human terms, he said. But we may have dramatically underestimated their capabilities. As researchers begin to learn the language of plants, they are starting to get a whole new view of the leafy green world we live in.

18 December 2013

Gaia space telescope's billion pixel camera to map Milky Way

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/18/world/europe/gaia-space-telescope/
An artist's impression of the European Space Agency's space telescope Gaia in operation.
 
Scientists hope to glean more clues about the origin and evolution of the universe, and in particular our own galaxy, when a camera of this incredible scale -- fitted to the Gaia space telescope -- is launched Thursday.
 
Gaia, which is due to lift off from French Guyana, has been tasked with mapping the Milky Way in greater detail than ever before.
 
Designed and built by Astrium for the European Space Agency (ESA), the makers say the telescope is so sensitive that it could measure a person's thumbnail from the Moon, or to put it another way, detect the width of a human hair from 1,000km (620 miles) away.
 
The mission's aim is to build a three-dimensional picture of our galaxy, measuring precise distances to a billion stars. Even this is a small fraction of the Milky Way, as astronomers believe there are at least 100 billion stars in our galaxy (Tens of billions like Earth, study says).
 
Astrium says Gaia is also expected to log a million quasars beyond the Milky Way, and a quarter of a million objects in our own solar system, including comets and asteroids.
 
"It can do it with incredible accuracy. It's the biggest camera ever put into space," said Ralph Cordey, head of science and exploration at Astrium.
 
"Gaia is an amazingly ambitious mission," he said. "Until now astronomers have relied on very indirect methods to gauge the distance to all but the nearest stars, meaning that the foundation on which we build a map of the universe is surprisingly weak.
 
"Building on the work of the pioneering Hipparcos satellite that mapped the stellar neighbourhood in the 1990s, Gaia will be used to carry out work analogous to the cartographers who surveyed the Earth in the 19th and 20th centuries, building up the first accurate charts of the cosmos and helping us better understand the structure, history and fate of the galaxy we live in."
 
One of Gaia's objectives is to help in the hunt for exoplanets -- new worlds beyond our own solar system.
 
NASA's Kepler mission has so far confirmed the existence of 167 exoplanets with hundreds more being investigated, but Cordey anticipates Gaia will likely discover thousands of new planets, while further missions will be able to uncover more detail about them.
 
In a recent interview with CNN, George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic -- the company planning to take tourists into space -- said he thought that within a lifetime it would be possible to detect seasons on far-off worlds.
 
He may have not have too long to wait, as Astrium is already working on design concepts to examine exoplanet atmospheres -- which may provide signs of seasonal variations.
 
"We are designing missions that could probably do that very thing -- it's not science fiction," said Cordey.

17 December 2013

Astronomers Pull Back the Curtain to Discover an Embryonic Star Cluster

U.S. astronomers say they've penetrated a cosmic fog of dust to peer into one of the best-kept secrets in our galaxy, an active stellar nursery.
http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/11620/20131217/sma-spots-giant-star-cluster-forming-behind-dusty-fog.htm
It may be one of the best-kept secrets in our galaxy. The Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array (SMA) has now peered through a cloud of dusty fog in order to provide the first-ever clear view of W49A, a giant star-forming region. This image from the Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array maps the projected density of molecular gas in the central 30 light years of W49A. (Photo : Roberto Galván-Madrid (ESO), Hauyu Baobab Liu (ASIAA, Taiwan), Tzu-Cheng Peng (ESO)) 
 
It may be one of the best-kept secrets in our galaxy. The Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array (SMA) has now peered through a cloud of dusty fog in order to provide the first-ever clear view of W49A, a giant star-forming region. The new image reveals a bit more about this stellar nursery, which shines 100 times brighter than the Orion nebula but is so obscured by dust that very little visible or infrared light escapes.

"We were amazed by all the features we saw in the SMA images," said Roberto Galvan-Madrid, one of the researchers, in a news release.
 
W49A itself is located about 36,000 light-years from Earth on the opposite side of the Milky Way. It actually represents a type of vigorous star formation of the sort seen in starburst galaxies. That's where stars form about 100 times faster than in our own galaxy.
 
At the heart of W49A is a giant and yet surprisingly compact star cluster. About 100,000 stars are packed into a space only 10 light-years wide on a side. In contrast, fewer than 10 stars lie within 10 light-years of our Sun. In a few million years, the giant star cluster will almost be as crowded as a globular cluster.
 
What was more interesting was the detail that the new image provides. The scientists spotted an intricate network of filaments feeding gas into the center, much like tributaries feed water into rivers on Earth. The gaseous filaments in W49A form three big streamers which funnel star-building material inward at speeds up about 4,500 miles per hour. In addition, the compactness of the star cluster will allow it to remain intact for billions of years.
 
"We suspect that the organized architecture seen in W49A is rather common in massive stellar cluster-formation," said Hauyu Baobab, one of the researchers, in a news release.
 
The findings reveal a bit more about this particular region of massive star formation. In addition, it shows that as instruments improve, we're learning more and more about our universe.
 
The findings are published in the Astrophysical Journal.

New Hubble Image Shows Sparkling Super Star

http://www.weather.com/news/science/new-hubble-image-shows-sparkling-super-star-20131217
Hubble's latest image shows pulsating star RS Puppis. (NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team/STScI/AURA/Hubble/Europe Collaboration)
 
Everything is cooler in space — including holiday photos.
 
In the latest image released from the Hubble Space Telescope, a dying star pulses light through a swirl of dust and gas to produce a phenomenon known as “light echo,” resulting in a photo that the folks at Hubble say looks like a holiday wreath replete with twinkling lights.
 
The image is of literal super star RS Puppis, which burns about 6,500 light-years from Earth and which is visible in the southern hemisphere sky. Puppis is 10 times more massive, 200 times larger and 15,000 times more luminous than our sun.
 
Puppis is in a class of stars known as Cepheid variables, which vary in size as they consume the last of their fuel. Puppis cycles through periods of dimness and brightness every 40 or so days.
 
To get this image, Hubble observed the star for five weeks in 2010. Astronomers then stitched the snapshots into the below video, which shows the traveling light echo. The echo helps astronomers measure the distance from Earth to the star and comprehend the scale of the cosmos, but it also makes for a pretty viewing experience.
 

New Research Affirms That Milky Way Has Four Spiral Arms

A debate has been raging about whether our galaxy has four spiral arms, or two. A 12-year study of massive stars suggests that it has four.
 
http://earthsky.org/space/our-milky-way-does-have-four-arms-astronomers-say
Every picture you’ve ever seen of our Milky Way galaxy has been an artist’s illustration, like this one. After all, we can’t get outside the galaxy to photograph it. Illustration via NASA/JPL-Caltech.
 
Our galaxy has four spiral arms, not two, says astronomer James Urquhart at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany. Urquhart is lead author of new research, published today (December 17, 2013) in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. He and his team conducted a 12-year survey of massive stars in our galaxy, and, Urquhart says, these stars trace out the galaxy’s four spiral arms.

An investigation into the precise structure of the Milky Way has ongoing, perhaps, for as long as we’ve known we live inside a galaxy, one of billions of islands of stars in space. That awareness hasn’t been around as long as you might think, less than a century. We can’t step outside the Milky Way to get perspective. Every picture you’ve ever seen of it has been an artist’s concept.

For the new study, astronomers used several radio telescopes in Australia, the U.S. and China to observe about 1,650 massive stars. From their observations, the distances and luminosities of the massive stars were calculated, revealing, they say, a distribution across four spiral arms.
These astronomers point out that massive stars are much less common than the lower-mass star seen by Spitzer, because they only live for a short time – about 10 million years. According to the press release:
The shorter lifetimes of massive stars means that they are only found in the arms in which they formed, which could explain the discrepancy in the number of galactic arms that different research teams have claimed.
So, if Spitzer caused two of the galaxies spiral arms to go missing for awhile, at least in the minds of astronomers … now they’re back. Will other astronomers agree with this new result? We’ll see. In the meantime, astronomer Hoare said:
Star formation researchers, like me, grew up with the idea that our galaxy has four spiral arms. It’s great that we have been able to reaffirm that picture.
http://earthsky.org/space/our-milky-way-does-have-four-arms-astronomers-say
Looking at the Milky Way from the inside out. Photo taken over Joshua Tree National Park by EarthSky Facebook friend Manish Mamtani. Thank you, Manish. From our perspective inside the galaxy, it’s tough to know the Milky Way’s exact structure. But new research suggests the Milky Way has four spiral arms, not two.

15 December 2013

Search finds no shortage of alien super-Earth planets

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/search-finds-no-shortage-alien-super-earth-planets-2D11741837
NASA / Ames / JPL-Caltech
An artist's impression of Kepler-62f, a potential super-Earth in its star's habitable zone.
 
Observations using space-based and ground-based telescopes have indicated that a new class of objects dubbed super-Earths – worlds that are about two to 10 times our planet's mass and up to two times its radius – could be among the most common type of planets orbiting other stars.
 
That's because during the past few years, astronomers have found plenty of these super-sized rocky bodies orbiting different types of stars. Among these planetary systems, those around M-class stars, which are cooler and fainter than our sun, are particularly important. Because of the low surface temperatures of these stars, the regions around them where an Earth-like planet can maintain liquid water on its surface (also known as the Habitable Zone) are closer to them -- making such potentially habitable super-Earths in those regions more detectable.
 
Scientists also believe that these smaller stars are the most abundant in the sun's corner of the universe, implying super-Earths would be plentiful in our solar neighborhood, as well.

14 December 2013

Swirls in remnants of big bang may hold clues to universe's infancy

http://phys.org/news/2013-12-swirls-remnants-big-clues-universe.html
Physics Review magazine has named research results published earlier this year by the South Pole Telescope collaboration as one of the top 10 physics breakthroughs of 2013. Credit: Daniel Luong-Van
 
South Pole Telescope scientists have detected for the first time a subtle distortion in the oldest light in the universe, which may help reveal secrets about the earliest moments in the universe's formation.

The scientists observed twisting patterns in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background—light that last interacted with matter very early in the history of the universe, less than 400,000 years after the big bang. These patterns, known as "B modes," are caused by gravitational lensing, a phenomenon that occurs when the trajectory of light is bent by massive objects, much like a lens focuses light.

The detection of a primordial B-mode polarization signal in the microwave background would amount to finding the first tremors of the Big Bang," said the study's lead author, Duncan Hanson, a postdoctoral scientist at McGill University in Canada.
 
B modes from inflation are caused by gravitational waves. These ripples in space-time are generated by intense gravitational turmoil, conditions that would have existed during inflation. These waves, stretching and squeezing the fabric of the universe, would give rise to the telltale twisted polarization patterns of B modes. Measuring the resulting polarization would not only confirm the theory of inflation—a huge scientific achievement in itself—but would also give scientists information about physics at very high energies—much higher than can be achieved with particle accelerators.

Spooky physics phenomenon may link universe's wormholes

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/spooky-physics-phenomenon-may-link-universes-wormholes-2D11690659?lite&lite=obinsite
This visualization of the universe as it condenses around fluctuations in the density of dark and ordinary matter is a result from a collaboration between Argonne National Lab in Illinois and the San Diego Supercomputer Center in California.
 
Wormholes — shortcuts that in theory can connect distant points in the universe — might be linked with the spooky phenomenon of quantum entanglement, where the behavior of particles can be connected regardless of distance, researchers say.
These findings could help scientists explain the universe from its very smallest to its biggest scales.
Scientists have long sought to develop a theory that can describe how the cosmos works in its entirety. Currently, researchers have two disparate theories, quantum mechanics and general relativity, which can respectively mostly explain the universe on its tiniest scales and its largest scales. There are currently several competing theories seeking to reconcile the pair.
 
Recently, theoretical physicists Juan Martín Maldacena at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and Leonard Susskind at Stanford University argued that wormholes are linked with entanglement. Specifically, they suggested that wormholes are each pairs of black holes that are entangled with one another.

Jensen and his colleague theoretical physicist Andreas Karch at the University of Washington in Seattle investigated how entangled pairs of particles behave in a supersymmetric theory, which suggests that all known subatomic particles have "superpartner" particles not yet observed. The theory was one proposed to help unite quantum mechanics and general relativity.

An idea in this theory is that if one imagines certain quantum mechanical systems exist in only three dimensions, their behavior can be explained by objects behaving in the four dimensions that general relativity describes the universe as having — the three dimensions of space, and the fourth of time. This notion that actions in this universe may emerge from a reality with fewer dimensions is known as holography, akin to how two-dimensional holograms can give the illusion of three dimensions. 
 
Jensen and Karch found that if one imagined entangled pairs in a universe with four dimensions, they behaved in the same way as wormholes in a universe with an extra fifth dimension. Essentially, they discovered that entanglement and wormholes may be one and the same.
 
"Entangled pairs were the holographic images of a system with a wormhole," Jensen said. Independent research from theoretical physicist Julian Sonner at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology supports this finding.
 
"There are certain things that get a scientist's heart beating faster, and I think this is one of them," Jensen told LiveScience. "One really exciting thing is that maybe, inspired by these results, we can better understand the relation between entanglement and space-time."

Scientists discover secret code hidden within human DNA

http://rt.com/news/scientists-discover-dna-code-222/ 
Scientists have discovered a secret second code hiding within DNA which instructs cells on how genes are controlled. The amazing discovery is expected to open new doors to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, according to a new study.
 
Ever since the genetic code was deciphered over 40 years ago, scientists have believed that it only described how proteins are made. However, the revelation made by the research team led by John Stamatoyannopoulos of the University of Washington indicates that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages.
 
“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said Stamatoyannopoulos, according to the press release. “Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture.”
 
Scientists discovered that the second language instructs the cells on how genes are controlled, according to findings published in Science magazine on Friday. The study is part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, also known as ENCODE.
 
The second language remained hidden for so long because one language is written on top of the other, scientists said.
 
Scientists already knew that the genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons. The research team discovered that some of the codons can have two meanings – one related to proteins, the other to gene control. Those codons were given the name ‘duons.’
 
And it’s those duons that are expected to change the way physicians interpret human genomes, and give clues for the treatments of diseases.
 
The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously,” said Stamatoyannopoulos.
 
Speaking about the discovery, Stamatoyannopoulos said that the “new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways.”

http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/

Fruit Flies Living on Tropical and Temperate Sides of 'Evolutionary Canyon' have Significant Genetic Differences

http://www.hngn.com/articles/19447/20131212/fruit-flies-living-on-tropical-and-temperate-sides-of-evolutionary-canyon-have-significant-genetic-differences.htm
Allopatric and Sympatric speciation
 
A research team observed that fruit flies that live on opposite sides of a unique environment, dubbed the "Evolution Canyon," are primarily genetically affected by their surroundings even in extreme situations such as cross-breeding, migration, and even extinction.
 
"Despite complicating factors, such as likely gene flow between the two populations and changing demographics, the difference in the microclimate in this canyon apparently is so pervasive that it is sufficient to drive the genetic differences," said Pawel Michalak, an associate professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute said. "We don't have many examples of rapid environmental adaptation to stressful conditions from the field. We can simulate such conditions in a lab, but it is valuable to observe this actually happening in a natural system."
The "canyon" can be found in Mount Carmel, Israel. The regions are surprisingly close to each other (about the distance of two football fields). One side of the canyon faces north and gets about eight times as much sun as the south -facing side. The south side has been described as "tropical" while the other is more comparable to a European forest.
The drastically different environments seem to affect the fruit flies' genomes despite other factors such as migration.

Element Essential for Life Found in Supernova Remains

http://www.space.com/23943-supernova-elements-life-chemicals.html
Artist's conception of Cassiopeia A as it went supernova, along with two planets.
Credit: Mark A. Garlick; Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, U of T
 
Phosphorous — one of the essential elements for life — has been discovered in the cosmic leftovers from a star explosion for the first time, scientists say.
 
The finding is one of two discoveries of elements in deep space that may give scientists clues to how life is possible in the universe, researchers said. The second discovery by a second team of scientists found traces of argon gas in a distant nebula.
 
Life as we know it depends on a combination of many elements, principally carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorous. While scientists have found ample abundance of the first four elements in other star explosions, new observations of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A revealed the first evidence of phosphorus.

Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram

http://www.nature.com/news/simulations-back-up-theory-that-universe-is-a-hologram-1.14328
At a black hole, Albert Einstein's theory of gravity apparently clashes with quantum physics, but that conflict could be solved if the Universe were a holographic projection.
Artist's impression by Markus Gann/Shutterstock
 
A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection.
 
In two papers posted on the arXiv repository, Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan and his colleagues now provide, if not an actual proof, at least compelling evidence that Maldacena’s conjecture is true.
 
In one paper, Hyakutake computes the internal energy of a black hole, the position of its event horizon (the boundary between the black hole and the rest of the Universe), its entropy and other properties based on the predictions of string theory as well as the effects of so-called virtual particles that continuously pop into and out of existence. In the other, he and his collaborators calculate the internal energy of the corresponding lower-dimensional cosmos with no gravity. The two computer calculations match.
 
“It seems to be a correct computation,” says Maldacena, who is now at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and who did not contribute to the team's work.
 
The findings “are an interesting way to test many ideas in quantum gravity and string theory”, Maldacena adds. The two papers, he notes, are the culmination of a series of articles contributed by the Japanese team over the past few years. “The whole sequence of papers is very nice because it tests the dual [nature of the universes] in regimes where there are no analytic tests.”
 
“They have numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture — namely that the thermodynamics of certain black holes can be reproduced from a lower-dimensional universe,” says Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University in California who was among the first theoreticians to explore the idea of holographic universes.
 
Neither of the model universes explored by the Japanese team resembles our own, Maldacena notes. The cosmos with a black hole has ten dimensions, with eight of them forming an eight-dimensional sphere. The lower-dimensional, gravity-free one has but a single dimension, and its menagerie of quantum particles resembles a group of idealized springs, or harmonic oscillators, attached to one another.
 
Nevertheless, says Maldacena, the numerical proof that these two seemingly disparate worlds are actually identical gives hope that the gravitational properties of our Universe can one day be explained by a simpler cosmos purely in terms of quantum theory.

Complex Life Possible Within Cosmos' First Billion Years

The evolution of complex life in the universe has, heretofore, thought to have been quite a long slog.
 
But in a paper submitted to the journal Astrobiology, theoretical cosmologist Avi Loeb argues that some form of complex life may have arisen within the first billion years of our universe’s existence.
 
To date, however, the standard paradigm for the evolution of intelligent life in the universe is that if it’s out there, it’s probably only been around for the last 6 billion years, or about a billion years after the peak of cosmic carbon production.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2013/12/10/complex-life-possible-within-cosmos-first-billion-years/

But what if life did evolve on an earth-like planet circling an early Population II star? One born only 50 million years after the Big Bang?
 
If it vectored into intelligence that somehow persisted over much of the universe’s 13.8 billion-year history, by now such an ancient civilization’s technology would arguably be nothing short of “godlike.”
 
“The picture that we have of the [early] universe is that the cosmos is sort of dead,” said Loeb. “But it’s quite possible that life is everywhere and we are the late-comers.”

Life could have hitchhiked from Earth to moons of Jupiter and Saturn

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/life-could-have-hitchhiked-earth-moons-jupiter-saturn-2D11744227
An artist's conception shows the impact created 65 million years ago by a 6-mile-wide (10-kilometer-wide) asteroid. The cosmic blast pushed the dinosaurs into extinction, but researchers say it also could have seeded Mars or the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn with life.

Life on Earth or Mars could have been brought to the moons of Jupiter or Saturn on rocks blasted off those planets, researchers say.
 
These findings suggest that if scientists ever detect life on those moons, they might have to contemplate the possibility that it came from elsewhere rather than originating there on its own.
The idea that life can spread through space is known as panspermia. One class of panspermia is lithopanspermia — the notion that life might travel on rocks knocked off a world's surface. If these meteoroids encase hardy enough organisms, they could seed life on another planet or moon.

"We stand on a great threshold in the human history of space exploration"

Testimony of Dr. Sara Seager: Hearing on Astrobiology
 
 
It is within the power of our influence to cross the great historical threshold and be the first generation in human history to map the nearby exoplanetary systems and find signs of life on other Earth-like worlds. As a country, this achievement may prove to be our greatest legacy. As a species, it may be the beginning of our boldest adventure. I imagine that hundreds or a thousand years from now, our descendants will find a way to travel to these nearby star systems, and embarking on their interstellar journey will look back upon us here in the 21st century as those who first found the Earth-like worlds.
 

More evidence there’s an ocean on Europa primed for life

http://www.futurity.org/ice-jupiters-moon-salty-ocean/
The icy surface of Europa is shown strewn with cracks, ridges and "chaotic terrain," where the surface has been disrupted and ice blocks have moved around. (Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
 
An ocean below the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers that are capable of sustaining life.
 
Scientists believe Europa is one of the planetary bodies in our solar system most likely to have conditions that could sustain life, an idea reinforced by magnetometer readings from the Galileo spacecraft detecting signs of a salty, global ocean below the moon’s icy shell.
 

'Memories' pass between generations

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25156510
Behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory, animal studies suggest.
 
The findings provide evidence of "transgenerational epigenetic inheritance" - that the environment can affect an individual's genetics, which can in turn be passed on.
One of the researchers Dr Brian Dias told the BBC: "This might be one mechanism that descendants show imprints of their ancestor.
"There is absolutely no doubt that what happens to the sperm and egg will affect subsequent generations."

Infant Galaxies Merge Near 'Cosmic Dawn'

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-338
The big blob-like structure shown here, named Himiko after the legendary ancient queen of Japan, turns out to be three galaxies thought to be in the process of merging into one. In this image, infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope are red; visible data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope are green; and ultraviolet data from Japan's Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii are blue.
 
Astronomers using the combined power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile and NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have discovered a far-flung trio of primitive galaxies nestled inside an enormous blob of primordial gas nearly 13 billion light-years from Earth. It's possible the trio will eventually merge into a single galaxy similar to our own Milky Way.

"This exceedingly rare triple system, seen when the universe was only 800 million years old, provides important insights into the earliest stages of galaxy formation during a period known as 'cosmic dawn,' when the universe was first bathed in starlight," said Richard Ellis of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, a member of the research team.
 
New data from ALMA, Hubble and Spitzer also led astronomers to speculate that Himiko could be made up almost entirely of primordial gas, a mixture of the light elements hydrogen and helium, which were created in the Big Bang event that gave birth to our universe. If correct, this would be a landmark discovery signaling the detection of a primordial galaxy seen during its formation.

An Icy Observatory Detects Neutrinos From Far, Far Away

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/science/space/icy-observatory-detects-neutrinos-from-outside-our-solar-system.html?_r=1&
The site of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.
 
At the bottom of the world, an observatory embedded in ice and designed to catch bountiful but elusive subatomic particles could give astronomers a brand-new look at the universe. An international team of scientists reported on Thursday that over a two-year period they had detected 28 of these particles, known as neutrinos, that arrived from outside the solar system and possibly from across the universe.
      
“This gives us a new way to do astronomy,” said Francis Halzen, a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin who is the principal investigator for the project, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. The findings appear in the journal Science.
Neutrinos are ghostlike particles that interact only very rarely with the rest of the universe. The fusion reactions that power the sun give off a flood of neutrinos, but almost all of them go undetected and unfelt: Every second, trillions of them pass through every person on earth.
 
The very-high-energy neutrinos detected by IceCube open a new spectrum for observing the universe.