Tag: Cornell University

Neonics Causing Bee Collapse with ‘Limited to No Benefit’ for Farmers

Alex Pietrowski, Staff WriterFor over the last decade, beekeepers and scientists have been documenting the decline of important pollinators such as honeybees. This decline poses a huge threat to the food supply, because without pollinators some crops wouldn’t exist, while others would suffer in crop output and quality. Losing the bees would be an indicator that we are next to go.The American Beekeeping Federation offers some insight:As honey bees gather pollen and nec [...]

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Here’s How To Avoid One Of The Most Common Life Regrets

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comKarl Pillemer, a Ph.D. gerontologist at Cornell University, has spent the last several years interviewing hundreds of older Americans to systematically collect their practical wisdom.His first book, 30 Lessons for Livin...

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Guiding Our Search for Life on Other Earths


The James Webb Telescope


Excerpt from space.com

A telescope will soon allow astronomers to probe the atmosphere of Earthlike exoplanets for signs of life. To prepare, astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger and her team are modeling the atmospheric fingerprints for hundreds of potential alien worlds. Here's how:
The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018, will usher a new era in our search for life beyond Earth. With its 6.5-meter mirror, the long-awaited successor to Hubble will be large enough to detect potential biosignatures in the atmosphere of Earthlike planets orbiting nearby stars.
And we may soon find a treasure-trove of such worlds. The forthcoming exoplanet hunter TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), set to launch in 2017, will scout the entire sky for planetary systems close to ours. (The current Kepler mission focuses on more distant stars, between 600 and 3,000 light-years from Earth.) 

Astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger




While TESS will allow for the brief detection of new planets, the larger James Webb will follow up on select candidates and provide clues about their atmospheric composition. But the work will be difficult and require a lot of telescope time.
"We're expecting to find thousands of new planets with TESS, so we'll need to select our best targets for follow-up study with the Webb telescope," says Lisa Kaltenegger, an astronomer at Cornell University and co-investigator on the TESS team.
To prepare, Kaltenegger and her team at Cornell's Institute for Pale Blue Dots are building a database of atmospheric fingerprints for hundreds of potential alien worlds. The models will then be used as "ID cards" to guide the study of exoplanet atmospheres with the Webb and other future large telescopes.
Kaltenegger described her approach in a talk for the NASA Astrobiology Institute's Director Seminar Series last December.
"For the first time in human history, we have the technology to find and characterize other worlds," she says. "And there's a lot to learn."

Detecting life from space  

In its 1990 flyby of Earth, the Galileo spacecraft took a spectrum of sunlight filtered through our planet's atmosphere. In a 1993 paper in the journal Nature, astronomer Carl Sagan analyzed that data and found a large amount of oxygen together with methane — a telltale sign of life on Earth. These observations established a control experiment for the search of extraterrestrial life by modern spacecraft.
"The spectrum of a planet is like a chemical fingerprint," Kaltenegger says. "This gives us the key to explore alien worlds light years away."
Current telescopes have picked up the spectra of giant, Jupiter-like exoplanets. But the telescopes are not large enough to do so for smaller, Earth-like worlds. The James Webb telescope will be our first shot at studying the atmospheres of these potentially habitable worlds.
Some forthcoming ground-based telescopes — including the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), planned for completion in 2020, and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), scheduled for first light in 2024 — may also be able to contribute to that task. [The Largest Telescopes on Earth: How They Compare]
And with the expected discovery by TESS of thousands of nearby exoplanets, the James Webb and other large telescopes will have plenty of potential targets to study. Another forthcoming planet hunter, the Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO), a planned European Space Agency mission scheduled for launch around 2022-2024, will contribute even more candidates.
However, observation time for follow-up studies will be costly and limited.
"It will take hundreds of hours of observation to see atmospheric signatures with the Webb telescope," Kaltenegger says. "So we'll have to pick our targets carefully."

Giant Magellan Telescope
Set to see its first light in 2021, The Giant Magellan Telescope will be the world’s largest telescope.

Getting a head start

To guide that process, Kaltenegger and her team are putting together a database of atmospheric fingerprints of potential alien worlds. "The models are tools that can teach us how to observe and help us prioritize targets," she says.
To start, they have modeled the chemical fingerprint of Earth over geological time. Our planet's atmosphere has evolved over time, with different life forms producing and consuming various gases. These models may give astronomers some insight into a planet's evolutionary stage.
Other models take into consideration the effects of a host of factors on the chemical signatures — including water, clouds, atmospheric thickness, geological cycles, brightness of the parent star, and even the presence of different extremophiles.
"It's important to do this wide range of modeling right now," Kaltenegger said, "so we're not too startled if we detect something unexpected. A wide parameter space can allow us to figure out if we might have a combination of these environments."
She added: "It can also help us refine our modeling as fast as possible, and decide if more measurements are needed while the telescope is still in space. It's basically a stepping-stone, so we don't have to wait until we get our first measurements to understand what we are seeing. Still, we'll likely find things we never thought about in the first place."
 

A new research center

The spectral database is one of the main projects undertaken at the Institute for Pale Blue Dots, a new interdisciplinary research center founded in 2014 by Kaltenegger. The official inauguration will be held on May 9, 2015.
"The crux of the institute is the characterization of rocky, Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of nearby stars," Kaltenergger said. "It's a very interdisciplinary effort with people from astronomy, geology, atmospheric modeling, and hopefully biology."
She added: "One of the goal is to better understand what makes a planet a life-friendly habitat, and how we can detect that from light years away. We're on the verge of discovering other pale blue dots. And with Sagan's legacy, Cornell University is a really great home for an institute like that."

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Ancient supernova had enough dust to make 7,000 earths


The Cassiopeia A nebula is the gaseous remnant of a supernova explosion whose light reached the Earth around the year 1680.


Excerpt from sciencerecorder.com


A recent discovery has revealed that a supernovae is capable enough producing such quantities of cosmic dust that it can yield thousands of Earths.

An international team of researchers analyzed data obtained by SOFIA – a NASA and German Aerospace Center’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy project – which took images of a cosmic dust cloud.

Supernova remant. Image Credit: NASA/CXO/Herschel/VLA/Lau et al

“This discovery is a special feather in the cap for SOFIA, demonstrating how observations made within our own Milky Way galaxy can bear directly on our understanding of the evolution of galaxies billions of light years away,” said Pamela Marcum, one of the researchers.

The team made measurements of long infrared wavelengths of the Supernova Remnant Sagittarius A East, gaining an estimate for the total mass of dust within the cloud based on what it released.
SOFIA, an enhanced Boeing 747 with high end telescope, flies in altitudes between 39,000 to 45,000 feet to capture its images.

Astronomers already knew that the shock waves of supernovas produce high concentrations of dust when they move outward.
The question was whether the cosmic particles could withstand the intense shock waves.

“The dust survived the later onslaught of shock waves from the supernova explosion, and is now flowing into the interstellar medium where it can become part of the ‘seed material’ for new stars and planets,” said Ryan Lau, of Cornell University, who led the research team.

This new discovery encouraged the idea that the vast quantities of dust seen in remote yet fairly young galaxies may have been produced by the explosions of large stars that were actually much older.

The research was published in Science magazine on Thursday.

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Could Saturn’s moon Titan host an alternate type of life?


Titan


Excerpt from mashable.com

In a world first, chemical engineers have taken a different look at a question astronomers and biologists have been pondering for decades: Does Saturn moon Titan host life?

Of course, Titan is way too hostile for life as we know it to eke out an existence — it is a frigid world awash with liquid methane and ethane and a noxious atmosphere devoid of any liquid water. But say if there is a different kind of biology, a life as we don't know it, thriving on the organic chemistry that is abundant on Titan's surface?

Normally, astrobiologists combine what we know about Earth's biosphere and astronomers zoom in on other stars containing exoplanets in the hope that some of those alien world have some similarities to Earth. By looking for small rocky exoplanets orbiting inside their star's habitable zones, we are basically looking for a "second Earth" where liquid water is at least possible. Where there's liquid water on Earth, there's inevitably life, so scientists seeking out alien life 'follow the water' in the hope of finding life with a similar terrestrial template on other planets.

Titan, however, does not fall into this category, it is about as un-Earth-like as you can get. So, chemical molecular dynamics expert Paulette Clancy and James Stevenson, a graduate student in chemical engineering, from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, have looked at Titan in a different light and created a theoretical model of a methane-based, oxygen-free life form that could thrive in that environment.

There is no known template for this kind of life on Earth, but the researchers have studied what chemicals are in abundance on Titan and worked out how a very different kind of life could be sparked.

As a collaborator on the NASA/ESA Cassini-Huygens mission, Lunine, professor in the Physical Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Astronomy, has been fascinated with the possibility of methane-based life existing on Titan for some time, so he joined forces with Clancy and Stevenson to see what this hypothetical life form might look like.

In their research published in the journal Science Advances on Feb. 27, Clancy and Stevenson focused on building a cell membrane "composed of small organic nitrogen compounds and capable of functioning in liquid methane temperatures of 292 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit; or 94 Kelvin)," writes a Cornell press release. On Earth, water-based molecules form phospholipid bilayer membranes that give cells structure, housing organic materials inside while remaining permeable. On Titan, liquid water isn't available to build these cell membranes.

"We're not biologists, and we're not astronomers, but we had the right tools," said Clancy, lead researcher of the study. "Perhaps it helped, because we didn't come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn't. We just worked with the compounds that we knew were there and asked, 'If this was your palette, what can you make out of that?'"

The researchers were able to model the ideal cell that can do all the things that life can do (i.e. support metabolism and reproduction), but constructed it from nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen-based molecules that are known to exist in Titan's liquid methane seas. This chemical configuration gives this theoretical alien cell stability and flexibility in a similar manner to Earth life cells.
"The engineers named their theorized cell membrane an 'azotosome,' 'azote' being the French word for nitrogen. 'Liposome' comes from the Greek 'lipos' and 'soma' to mean 'lipid body;' by analogy, 'azotosome' means 'nitrogen body.'" — Cornell
"Ours is the first concrete blueprint of life not as we know it," said lead author Stevenson, who also said that he was inspired, in part, by Isaac Asimov, who wrote the 1962 essay "Not as We Know It" about non-water-based life.

Having identified a possible type of cell membrane chemistry that functions in the Titan environment as a cell on Earth might, the next step is to model how such a hypothetical type of biology would function on Titan. In the long run, we might also be able to model what kinds of observable indicators we should look for that might reveal that alien biology's presence.

That way, should a mission be eventually sent to Titan's seas, sampling the chemical compounds in the soup of organics may reveal a biology of a very alien nature.
Scientists have been trying to know if life could exist on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. According to scientists, there are possibilities that life could survive amidst methane-based lakes of Titan. After conducting many studies, they have found signs of life on Titan, but the scientists also said that life will not be like life on earth.
As per some scientific reports, Titan is the only object other than earth which has clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid. Like earth, the moon has mountains, islands, lakes and storms, but it doesn’t have oxygen, which is a major element to support life. It means that only oxygen-free and methane-based can exist on Titan.
According to lead researcher Paulette Clancy, “We didn’t come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn’t. We just worked with the compounds that, we knew were there and asked, ‘If this was your palette, what can you make out of that”.
Clancy said although they are not biologists or astronomers, they had the right tools to find life on Saturn’s largest moon. Adding to that, the researchers didn’t know what should be in a membrane and what should be not. They worked with compounds and found that life can exist on Titan, but would be very different from earth’s life, Clancy added.
According to reports, the researchers had used a molecular dynamics method to know about Titan. They screened for suitable candidate compounds from methane for self-assembly into membrane-like structures. As per the researchers, the most promising compound they discovered was an acrylonitrile azotosome, which is present in the atmosphere of Titan.
As per the researchers, acrylonitrile has shown good stability and flexibility similar to that of phospholipid membranes on Earth. It means that the Saturn largest has atmosphere and conditions to support life in a different way than earth.
- See more at: http://perfscience.com/content/2141391-life-titan-would-be-different-earth#sthash.2Kqc3Ewf.dpuf

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Scientists Believe Oxygen Free Methane Based Aliens Might Exist on Icy Saturn Moon Titan





Excerpt from viralglobalnews.com

A group of scientists at Cornell University believe that Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, may be a haven of life. However, it would not be in the form that human beings know. Methane based life forms might live on Titan, the scientists have said, after they created a model of an oxygen free life form which would be able to thrive in the icy, unforgiving conditions that Saturn’s moon offers.
They studied the various forms of cell membranes that exist on Earth, which are made up of lipid bi-layer structures. The Cornell scientists said such membranes would not be able to exist in environments where liquid water could not be present, according to Design and Trend.
Titan has plenty of lakes filled with methane, so that means it might not be habitable in the way that scientists had formerly described habitability. However, Dr. James Stevenson and his team thinks that contrarily structured membranes could offer the foundation for life to exist on Saturn’s moon. The model they created used organic nitrogen mixtures, so that the new structure could easily function on Titan in the richness of the methane that exists in liquid form there.

 Titan

Dr. Stevenson said it was Isaac Asimov, the celebrated sci-fi writer, who first gave the rudimentary inspiration for the idea in the paper he penned, which was called the Not as We Know It essay. It was written about non-water-based life forms. Because Saturn’s moon is the only known celestial form in the solar system to have naturally occurring fluids on its surface, except for the Earth, the group of scientists believe it to be a possible perfect foundation for life forms to develop.
Dr. Paulette Clancy, who has helped lead the group, constructed an “azotosome.” It is comparable in name origin to liposome which comes from the Greek words lipos and soma. An azotosome comes from the French word for nitrogen. Therefore, the word is describing a nitrogen body.
Instead of trying to find alien life within the area that surrounds the Sun where water exists in liquid form, the group decided to try and imagine a new kind of cell, grounded on methane instead of water. Clancy and the team were dumbfounded to find that this new projected model presented an alike stability to the cell membranes already here on Earth.
Dr. Clancy seemed very anxious to carry on the group’s work and find out how such compounds would truly work in the methane atmosphere. Dr. Jonathan Lunine, who is a top expert in Titan and also one of the co-authors of the study, thinks that it might be possible in the future to in fact test these theories by actually examing organic material from Saturn’s moon. In the years to come, Dr. Lunine stated that probes might be sent to Titan to gather the needed material by floating down on the methane seas of the moon of Saturn.
The group discovered a compound they named acrylonitrile azotosome, which appeared to show good stability. It had a strong barricade to decomposition, and a suppleness that was similar to phospholipid membranes that exist on Earth. Acrylonitrile is a poisonous, colorless, liquid organic compound that is used in the production of acrylic fibers and thermoplastics and it is present in Titan’s atmosphere as well.
They have written up about their discovery and what they believe to be possible. The scientists’ paper was printed up in the journal Science Advances on Friday.

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Intermittent fasting promotes brain health

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by Michelle Bosmier

(NaturalNews) According to a new study carried out at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, fasting for one or two days each week may help improve the condition of individuals suffering from Alzheimer&...

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Astrophysicists: Phobos is a giant spaceship orbiting Mars

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I think the same can be said about our moon...

EagleEyes

06/04/2011 by Ray

Phobos is spaceship says famous scientist, Astrophysicist Dr. Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky

Shklovsky calculated the orbital motion of Mart...

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Mass bird and fish deaths becoming worldwide phenomenon

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By David Edwards Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 -- 10:08 am  

Update: 40,000 crabs have been found dead on England beaches.

The Star reported Wednesday th...

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