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Mono Lake South Tufa August

Studies find microbes in Pacific Ocean surviving on arsenic

Oceans are a rich and biodiverse habitat on its own. We can find organisms and plants ranging from a few millimetres to a length of 12 meters which is the size of the largest whale which weights close 50 tonnes. The vastness and the richness of the oceans are a wonder to study and explore a curious mind.

Scientists for many decades have believed that arsenic is a poisonous chemical for almost all living beings but until recently researchers have found a microorganism that lives by breathing Arsenic and is found over a large area in the Pacific ocean. The study has been published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists have believed that this species had used arsenic during the time of formation of Earth where the presence of oxygen was limited and microorganism had to survive on arsenic. In the face of global warming, there is a need to adapt which is slowly happening in the ocean ecosystem as organisms need to be able to adapt to lower levels of oxygen in the water.

Arsenic was known to be present in water for quite a long time but its use by microorganism for living was quite a new concept. These microorganisms were discovered off the coast of Mexico where there is a patch called anoxic where there is virtually no oxygen dissolved in water. Microorganisms which breath on sulphur and nitrogen were known for quite a long time but living on arsenic is still new to researchers.

Scientists have analyzed the DNA samples of these microorganisms and found two pathways which convert arsenic-based molecules to energy resource. It has opened gateways to explore the life where oxygen does not exist and also extraterrestrial life on other planets might take place. These arsenic-based microorganisms might account for around one percent of the total marine microbial community but there is scope to find and understand the complex chemical reactions which happen in oceans as a whole.

Scientists think that the best way to study these microorganisms is to artificially grow these samples in the lab and study their metabolism and how they respond to various levels of arsenic content in water.

Jaclyn Saunders, a researcher has commented that the coolest thing about these organisms is that they are expressing the genes in an environment that is very low on arsenic and that it opens up boundaries to finding other organisms that are respiring arsenic in poor arsenic conditions.

The amount of diversity one may find on the Earth may surprise anyone, there are a lot more opportunities and organisms that are waiting to be explored in the depth and the vastness of our Earth’s oceans.

Mohave Generating Station

Scientists demonstrate generation of electricity from coldness of universe

Conventional resources of energy have been providing and powering our needs since electricity was made in the late 1800s. The conventional resources of energy are polluting as well as a temporary solution for providing electricity. They are going to get over in the next couple of years after which we humans have to look out and seek other alternative resources, in the recent decade we have seen a good rise in the dependency on renewable sources of energy as we found out ways to develop electricity from water, wind, thermal and pressure differences.

Solar panels are currently the sector in boom however there are disadvantages to it. The drawbacks are that it cannot produce electricity in the absence of sunlight. Many regions of the Earth have a frigid zone where the chilling outflow can be harvested using thermal differences using the same kind of physics we use for solar panels. Scientists have demonstrated a way to generate a measurable amount of electricity, directly from the coldness of the universe. The semiconductor device faces the infrared rays of the sun and uses temperature difference of the Earth and the space to produce electricity.

In optoelectronic physics, there is a vast symmetry between incoming and outgoing radiations. In comparison to the leveraging energy (incoming), the negative illumination effect allows electricity to be harvested as the heat is transferred. The technology today is unable to capture the negative temperature difference very efficiently. The temperature in space is absolute zero and thus devices can be used to generate electricity.

The group found that negative illumination diode has the ability to generate 64 nanowatts of electricity per square meter,  this is very less than the theoretical standard. However Dr.Mashashi Ono, the author on this paper published in Applied Physics Letters, said that through increasing the optoelectronic efficiency and the material used, the power generated per square meter can be increased hugely. But when calculations are made and when atmospheric factors are taken into consideration we see that it has the ability to generate a power of 4 watts per square feet theoretically, which is enough to run power machinery during night time.

A typical solar panel can, however, produce close to 100-200 watts per square feet. Shanhui Fan, an author of a similar paper said that same principle could be used to recover waste heat from machines. From now onwards, however, he and his group are focusing on increasing the efficiency of the panels which if succeeds will be a breakthrough for mankind in its thirst to develop non-conventional resources of energy. Fan also comments that the vastness of the universe is a thermodynamic resource.

Ice age fauna of northern Spain

More than a million species endangered to get lost in a sixth mass extinction

Recent researches shows that the planet may be in the middle of sixth mass extinction. The phrase “mass extinction” does not mean any asteroid crash which led to the extinction of dinosaurs but today different devastating extinctions take place. Hotter oceans, deforestation, climatic change are the main reasons towards the verge of extinction of fauna and these reasons are reducing the scale of the population of animals in huge amount.

The scientists are saying maybe the report to be available in the next week can change the idea. It is said that the report is planned to release on Monday in United Nations. The report is from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that estimates the condition of the planet’s biodiversity. The document has been created since 2005 which analyses the number of species which are endangered due to the reason of extinction and what is the reason behind it and how many species are already extinct and the document also keeps an eye on the population growth as well as the increase in the release of greenhouse gas.

The documentation had almost 1800 pages and the documentation has information collected from more than 15000 research publications and academic papers and the main aim of this documentation is to notify the policymaker on how to handle the impacts of climate change in a better way. The research was published in AFP and they had got the early report on this matter and according to their research things can worsen than we thought.

The AFP in April reported that the rate of extinction of species has been growing faster, even more, faster than the normal rate. They also added that already many species are in the verge of extinction and now this becomes half of a million in one million species and they also said that it’s not a new research but they have been in the verge of extinction since many decades.

The UN decided to release only the summary of its report after it gets checked and finalized in Paris within this week. The report in the AFP also included 75% of the land, 40% of oceans and 50% of rivers species. The reason behind this degradation is the emission of greenhouse gas which is caused due to energy production, manufacturing, and transportation.

There is a rise in global temperature of a minimum of 0.7 degrees since the man-made emissions have doubled. In a study of 2017, it was found that species are experiencing “biological annihilation” thus leading to the highest mass extinction period than ever. A study in 2019 found out that insects are decreasing by 2.5% per year which may lead to the extinction of insects by 2119.

Schematic view of asteroid Itokawa

New clues on origin of life found from water samples on Asteroid Itokawa

Water is a precious and limited resource yet humans have not valued it only until recent times where there is awareness about the shortage of water and global warming. Nowadays, a lot of research is going on to find traces of life outside the Earth and various space missions are held which have successfully found traces of water on the moon and Mars.

In 2010 however, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) made history when its Hayabusa probe brought back samples from the Asteroid Itokawa, it was the first time mankind had gone to an asteroid, collected samples and brought it back safely to the Earth. After studying those samples a study was published in the Journal of Advanced Sciences that they contain lots of water inside them.

A cosmochemist at the Arizona State University, Maitrayee Bose had commented that no one really expected to find water samples on Itokawa as it was known that Itokawa asteroid faces temperatures up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit and faces many collisions in space in the voyage. So there wasn’t much hope to find traces of water until we did a lot of calculations which showed that indeed it might be possible. Itokawa is a 1,800 foot long and 1,000-foot wide satellite which orbits the sun every 18 months, Itokawa was an asteroid which was remains of a bigger asteroid close to 12 miles long. The research done by Bose aims to study the internal chemistry of small building blocks for life. He is interested in finding out whether asteroids and other eternal bodies are able to deliver water and organic chemicals to other planets, and also find planets with the existence of water other than our Earth.

The samples from the JAXA which were brought back to Earth contained 5 samples which were half as thick as the sample of hair. Two of these samples contained mineral pyroxene. Pyroxenes contain water as a part of their crystalline structure and which then suspected Itokawa to contain water. To study these samples which were half the thickness of the strand of hair, the team used ASU’s Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (NanoSIMS), which can measure such tiny mineral grains with great sensitivity.

The results showed the presence of water and those relatively dry asteroids like Itokawa can also contain traces of water. Itokawa is an S-class satellite based on its spectrum. Bose further added that S – class satellites are most common objects in the asteroid belt and although they are small and have contained water and other volatile minerals which they are made up of. The race for exploration of water and life is heating up between countries and for the good of humanity.

Asteroid Apophis Closest Approach To Earth

A 1100 ft wide asteroid to pass by Earth within a decade

According to reports from NASA, a huge asteroid will be visible to the human eyes when it passes the Earth at a very close distance, equal to the heights at which spacecraft orbit the Earth.

The asteroid is named 99942 Apophis, measuring 1100 ft wide. It will be passing the sky like a bright star-like point of light and will gain in brightness and velocity on Friday, 13 April 2029.

At a distance of 19000 miles from the surface of Earth, it will be visible to the human eyesight. The residents of Southern Hemisphere will be able to observe it first, namely the eastern and western coasts of Australia.

After that, it will be moving across the Indian Ocean and will be crossing the Atlantic Ocean in an hour’s duration, finally passing by the United States in the evening.

It is very rare for an asteroid of this dimension to cross Earth so closely. According to NASA, there have been smaller asteroids of 10-20 metres which have passed the Earth at very similar distances but those of the size of Apophis have been rare.

The observation and scientific opportunities related to this event were discussed by scientists at NASA at the Planetary Defence Conference 2019 which was held in Maryland.

Scientists have calculated that the asteroid will cover a distance which is more than the width of the full moon in the duration of only one minute and its brightness will be comparable to that of the stars in the Little Dipper constellation.

Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory situated in Pasadena, California commented that the close approach of the asteroid Apophis in 2029 will be a very exciting opportunity for the scientific world. She also said that the observations will be made with both optical and radar telescopes.

With the help of radar observations, it might be possible to view the details of the surface which are only of a few metres in size.

The asteroid Apophis was discovered on 19th of June, 2004 by a group of researchers that included Roy A. Tucker, David J. Tholen, and Fabrizio Bernardi. It was detected at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. The name Apophis is the Greek name of Apep, the enemy of Sun God in Egyptian Mythology.

When initially found, researchers detected the chance of the asteroid hitting Earth at a probability of 2.7% in 2029. However, the latest calculations show that the asteroid may hit our planet at a chance of 1 in 100000, several decades later.

neural activity

Scientists announce the possibility of wearable technology to monitor brains

The start of the 21st century has embarked the age of rapid and tremendous technological revolution in every sector of life. We are surrounded by wide scale applications of technology and smart devices which assist us in every moment of our life. The growth of smart devices and wearable technology has completely changed the devices we use in our life. This is also possible due to successfully being able to reduce the size of the devices without compromising on the functionality of the device.

A recent development in wearable technology is the introduction of devices called “Hearables”, which possess the technology required to communicate with neural signals which pass through the ear in order to monitor and interact with our brain.  Such devices are being developed and will act as smart hearing aids and monitor our brain activity to cure tinnitus. Such devices will be embedded with artificial intelligence and also with biological intelligence. Both these technologies can be collaborated for augmenting our thought process and collaborating with our brains. The Stanford University neuroscientist and chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, Dr Poppy Crum has stated that the ear is like the biological equivalent of a USB Port. The ear is a gateway for reading and writing in our brain. It is the area where we are able to read the stimulus which is being transmitted to our brain and also while listening to our favourite music; the brain is writing information to the brain. He has recently written about this in the IEEE Spectrum.

Other wearable devices like Google Glasses have been ridiculed for being creepy and dorky characteristics, however, the hearable are well embedded inside the ear and cannot be visible from outside.

Crum predicts that brain-computer interface is going to be the next big thing and brain-computer wearable interface devices could be made possible in the next 5 years. He has said that these kinds of wearable devices will constantly and silently assess and anticipate our needs, our state of mind and help us cope with the world around us.

Crum also added that soon they might be our true life partners. The key aspect of this wearable is Plug and Play and Surround sound features which are very important in generating refinement to the device. Wearable technology is the next big thing in the 21st century and has huge potential as well as a huge market base in support of this technology.

Would you like to increase your intelligence or get mastery in some new art form, very easily, by using this device, tell us by leaving a short and a quick comment.

hubble image field of the universe

Scientists produce the widest image of the universe using 16 years data

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have created the largest mosaic of the universe containing about 265,000 galaxies. This image is known as the Hubble Legacy Field, and it contains 265,000 galaxies which have been formed up to 500 million years after the Big Bang.

This is the widest view which has been taken of the universe using Hubble Space Telescope’s observations spanning 16 years. The faintest galaxies on the photograph are about one ten-billionth of the brightness which can be viewed by the human eye. This is a remarkable image as it enables us to view the entire history of the evolution of the universe and it also shows how changes occur in the galaxies over a period of time to come up as a giant galaxy.

The image has been possible due to the many deep field surveys which have been taken by Hubble which includes the eXtreme Deep Field(XDF) which is the deepest observation of the universe. The range of wavelength is from the ultraviolet light to the near-infrared light which enables to capture the main features of the changes in the galaxies as time passes.

Garth Illingworth, from the University of California, Santa Cruz, commented that as it has been possible to get a wider view in the universe than the previous surveys, many distant galaxies have been captured in the biggest ever dataset which has been produced by Hubble. A single image captures the entire history of the growth of galaxies.

Scientists feel that no image ever can compete with the image produced now, till space telescopes are launched in the future. Illingworth added that this image is meant to be a tool for studying by the astronomers and it will be an aid in the deeper understanding of the evolution of the universe.

Edwin Hubble once remarked that galaxies act as the markers of the space. They allow scientists to keep track of the expansion of the universe. This image is almost equal to the width of Full Moon. It is the culmination of the work of 31 Hubble programs which comprises several teams of astronomers.

Dan Magee, from the University of California, Santa Cruz, who is the data processing lead of the team explained that this legacy image has been made by judging the exposures spanning 16 years. It was not put in this manner previously and thus was not suitable for use by scientists. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project among several institutes such as NASA, ESA and Space Telescope Science Institute.

Tell us your opinion on this by leaving a short and a quick comment.

Read about the abnormal expansion of the universe


Rooftop Packaged Units

Using air conditioners for decreasing carbon dioxide levels

Fast Company posted a question stating if air conditioners were the only reason for stopping climatic changes since it kept us all cool and what would have happened if carbon was removed from the air instead of putting it. Adele Peters gave an explanation to this question, she said the air conditioners might be using a lot of electricity by the middle of the century which may lead to an increase in the average global temperature by half a degree.

Charlotte Jee,  Download writer has said that air conditioners use a lot of energy and emit harmful substances which causes rise to the global temperatures and this temperature rise is the main cause of the purchase of this air conditioner which is an irony.

The climate change can also be fixed so why don’t we replace it with the normal air conditioners and save energy and our environment as well. Scientists said that the CO2 capture functionality can be easily added to an air conditioning system and they too are going to show the same result as the HVAC system.

Scientific American has thought of making a machine which captures carbon dioxide and converts it into fuel. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning system help in moving a lot of air and they can be easily replaced by the entire volume of air by five or ten times an hour in an office building. They can also move large volumes of air and can also capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Crowd oil, not crude oil was the title given in the researcher’s paper by Roland Dittmeyer, Michael Klumpp, Paul Kant and Geoffrey Ozin in Nature Communications. They named it as crowd oil since all the people in homes, offices and other private enterprises all over the world together use the air conditioning and ventilation system to catch the CO2 and H2O from the air across the environment and convert it into renewable synthetic oil by chemical processes and crowd oil is the replacement of the non renewable oil based on fossils which is a step towards a circular CO2 economy.

The scientists have also made a dummy model of crowd oil from refineries similar to crowd electricity from solar panels which will allow people to control and manage global warming and the climatic changes instead of depending on the fossil power industrial behemoth. The reviews of the plan were that it’s highly theoretical and lots of challenges have to be faced before executing the plan.


Stata Center1 MIT

20 year old cryptographic puzzle solved by self-taught programmer

World famous architect, Frank Gehry received a time capsule in the month of April in 1999. It had the instructions to be included in his designs for the building which would eventually house the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab of MIT. It was basically a museum which included the early history of computing. It had items which were contributed by the likes of Tim Berners Lee and Bill Gates.

It was not to be opened for the next 35 years unless someone cracked the cryptographic puzzle which was present in the design. It was made by Ron Rivest, one of the co-inventors of the RSA cryptographic protocol. It was designed in such a way that it would take almost 35 years to compute the answer.

However, on April 15, after almost 20 years the puzzle was announced, it has been solved by Bernard Fabrot, a Belgian programmer. The solution was to be sent to the director for the Laboratory of Computer Science. But Bernard found out that the laboratory did not exist any more. It was merged with CSAIL.

The puzzle was to find a number which was obtained after executing a squaring calculation almost 80 trillion times. After obtaining this number it is to be put in a mathematical operation which uses this and another number which is present in a puzzle. This gives a new number which can be translated to a congratulatory message.

Solving this puzzle needed sequential operations. It means that the calculations had to be approached one by one, as the next step needed the previous result. Thus using powerful machines such as supercomputers was of no use here. Rivest calculated that it would take almost 35 years to come up with the answer to the puzzle.

Bernard Fabrot, an independent developer came to know about the puzzle in 2015. He felt that it could be solved faster using the GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library which is a free software for performing precise arithmetic calculations. Only for solving the puzzle, he dedicated one of his CPU cores to compute the squaring operations and his computer was running 24/7, except when he was holidaying. He solved the puzzle after three and a half years.

Unbeknownst to Fabrot, another group called Cryptophage was also working to solve the puzzle. Led by an ex-Intel engineer, Simon Peffers, this group was working on verifiable delay functions for security operations. With the help of an algorithm designed by Erdinc Ozturk, Sabanci University and a multi-purpose chip they would have solved the puzzle on May 10, but they were beaten by Fabrot just by few days.

colliding neutron stars

Neutron star collision identified as a major source for many elements on Earth

Space is a vast and boundary-less area full of mystery and unknown. The stars, planets and heavenly bodies exert gravitational forces on each other and which often leads to a collision between two or more planetary objects. The formation and existence of our solar system are always under question. There are many small collisions happening every minute across the universe but are unheard and unnoticed by us.

However, astrophysicists Szabolcs Marka at the University of Columbia and Imre Bartos from the University of Florida have identified a massive and violent collision of 2 neutron stars which happened 4.6 billion years ago and it may be a source of the most coveted matter which we find on Earth. The report has been published in the Nature journal.

This historic event is believed to be the source behind 0.3% of the Earth’s heaviest metals including gold, platinum etc. It also means that whatever we are today or the precious metals that we buy are somewhere or the other linked to the cosmic event which dates back 4.6 billion years. Meteors which have fallen to Earth have metals with radioactive nature. The level of radioactivity at the present instant can determine the age of the meteor; it can be calculated by knowing the decay of the radioactive element.

Scientists predict that the collision could have happened about 100 million years ago before the Earth was formed and that which led to the formation of a gas ball which later formed the milky way galaxy and our planets. Scientists predict that if any kind of similar event would have happened today the vast amount of radioactivity would completely outshine the entire night sky.

This event might just be a uniquely consequential event in our history and the study of the universe. It throws light upon the formation, processes involved, the origin and the composition of the solar system. This collision could be a part of a big cosmic puzzle which lays ahead of us and we need to employ traditional concepts of biology, geology, physics and chemistry to understand this piece of the puzzle and complete the puzzle.

Humans were always curious about where did they come from and where are they heading to. Our past, as well as our future, is a matter of curiosity and concern as we try to justify our place in the universe. More events and collisions like these need to be studied and mapped in order to gauge its effects on our humanity and our future. Space exploration and its understanding is a task which requires lots of hard work and years of patience and experience.