Category Archives: News & Archives

Water seems to flow freely on Mars

Dark streaks that hint at seasonally flowing water have been spotted near the equator of Mars1. The potentially habitable oases are enticing targets for research. But spacecraft will probably have to steer clear of them unless the craft are carefully sterilized — a costly safeguard against interplanetary contamination that may rule out the sites for…
Read more

‘It’s Alive! It’s Alive!’ Maybe Right Here on Earth

Here in a laboratory perched on the edge of the continent, researchers are trying to construct Life As We Don’t Know It in a thimbleful of liquid. Generations of scientists, children and science fiction fans have grown up presuming that humanity’s first encounter with alien life will happen in a red sand dune on Mars,…
Read more

Ask a science teacher: What makes ice float?

The simple answer is that ice is less dense than water. The question then becomes: Why is ice, which is water in solid form, lighter than water in its liquid form? Something must be happening to water when it freezes. One molecule of water has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, or H2O. The…
Read more

New Results Send Mars Rover on a Quest for Ancient Life

When the Curiosity rover landed in Gale crater 16 months ago, its goal was to find a place on Mars that was habitable 4 billion years ago. It has done that, and now a spate of new findings is driving the mission in a new direction: searching for traces of ancient life. Leaders of the 400-strong Curiosity…
Read more

Coffee or Beer? The Choice Could Affect Your Genome

Coffee and beer are polar opposites in the beverage world. Coffee picks you up, and beer winds you down. Now Prof. Martin Kupiec and his team at Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology have discovered that the beverages may also have opposite effects on your genome. Working with a kind of yeast…
Read more

MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons

MIT researchers have shown, for the first time ever, that memories are stored in specific brain cells. By triggering a small cluster of neurons, the researchers were able to force the subject to recall a specific memory. By removing these neurons, the subject would lose that memory. As you can imagine, the trick here is…
Read more

Ancient Minerals: Which Gave Rise to Life?

Life originated as a result of natural processes that exploited early Earth's raw materials. Scientific models of life's origins almost always look to minerals for such essential tasks as the synthesis of life's molecular building blocks or the supply of metabolic energy. But this assumes that the mineral species found on Earth today are much…
Read more

GMOs May Feed the World Using Fewer Pesticides

Walter De Jong shouts over the roar of fans in the greenhouse. He’s telling me about the seedlings beside him, which pepper the dark soil in a grid of small planting pots. De Jong, a potato breeder and geneticist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, hopes that at least one of the plants will…
Read more

Powerful Tool for Genetic Engineering

Viruses cannot only cause illnesses in humans, they also infect bacteria. Those protect themselves with a kind of 'immune system' which -- simply put -- consists of specific sequences in the genetic material of the bacteria and a suitable enzyme. It detects foreign DNA, which may originate from a virus, cuts it up and thus…
Read more