Thursday, December 11, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
In the hot, dark water of a South African mine, scientists have found the world's loneliest species.
Everywhere else biologists have studied life on our planet, they've found communities of life, but today, biologists announced they have discovered an ecosystem that contains just a single species of bacteria.
In all other known ecosystems, the key functions of life -- harvesting energy and elements like carbon and nitrogen from the environment -- have been shared among different species. But in the water of the Mponeng gold mine, two miles under the earth's surface, Desulforudis audaxviator carries out all of those functions by itself. In short, it's the tidiest package of life found yet.
All known life forms need carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and an energy source to live. Plants need nitrogen, but can't just pull it from the atmosphere and start using it to make amino acids. Instead, they rely on archaea for that task. Interconnections like these form the basis of an ecosystem, often cheesily called the 'web of life'.
What makes D. audaxviator so special is that its genome, cobbled together from bacterial and archaeal genes, can carry out all life's functions by itself.
That could make the bug a prime candidate for any attempt to see if Earth's microbes could live in some other extreme environment within the solar system.
"Since it could live on its own on Earth, if it were given a matching habitat elsewhere, it could live," said Chivian.
Images: 1. Inside a tunnel in the Mponeng mine. Courtesy Anglo Gold. 2. D. audaxviator's genome annotated by Chivian. Courtesy Science.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Samantha Bee is really funny... And republican delegates are too...!
Monday, June 30, 2008
NEW YORK - A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule, and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. "Al-gebra is a problem for us," Gonzalez said. "They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns,' but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle.' 'When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better Weapons of Math Instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes." White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more profound statement ever made by the president.