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A New Thermodynamics Theory of the Origin of Life

A New Thermodynamics Theory of the Origin of Life
Why does life exist? Popular hypotheses credit a primordial soup, a bolt of lightning and a colossal stroke of luck. But if a provocative new theory is correct, luck may have little to do with it. Instead, according to the physicist proposing the idea, the origin and subsequent evolution of life follow from the fundamental laws of nature and “should be as unsurprising as rocks rolling downhill.” From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. Kristian Peters Cells from the moss Plagiomnium affine with visible chloroplasts, organelles that conduct photosynthesis by capturing sunlight. Courtesy of Jeremy England Wilson Bentley

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Sea anemone: genetically ½ animal, ½ plant A team led by evolutionary and developmental biologist Ulrich Technau at the University of Vienna has discovered that sea anemones display a genomic landscape with a complexity of regulatory elements similar to that of fruit flies or other animal model systems. This suggests that this principle of gene regulation is already 600 million years old and dates back to the common ancestor of human, fly and sea anemone. On the other hand, sea anemones are more similar to plants rather to vertebrates or insects in their regulation of gene expression by short regulatory RNAs called microRNAs. These surprising evolutionary findings are published in two articles in the journal Genome Research.

Life on other planets could be far more widespread, study finds ( —Earth-sized planets can support life at least ten times further away from stars than previously thought, according to academics at the University of Aberdeen. A new paper published in Planetary and Space Science claims cold rocky planets previously considered uninhabitable may actually be able to support life beneath the surface. The team, which included academics from the University of St Andrews, challenge the traditional 'habitable zone' – i.e. the area of space around a star, or sun, which can support life – by taking into consideration life living deep below the ground.

The Smartest Book About Our Digital Age Was Published in 1929 Scott Eyman’s new life of the actor John Wayne portrays an extremely complicated man who invented his own public persona and played it beautifully. “Truly, this man was the son of God.” Thus speaks a Roman centurion at the end of George Stevens’s inaptly named The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). It’s a line that always gets a big laugh, partly because the idea of anything so irreligious as Hollywood hokum commenting on the provenance of Jesus Christ is axiomatically funny, but mostly because the centurion is played by John Wayne, a movie star who might have known a son of a gun when he saw one, but who patently knew precious little else. Except, one learns from Scott Eyman’s exhaustive new biography, John Wayne: the Life and Legend, Wayne was a rather more cultivated man than his movie persona allowed. He was a talented chess-player and no slouch at bridge, and he had a penchant for reciting Milton and Dickens and Shakespeare from memory.

NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan Predicts We'll Find Signs Of Alien Life Within 10 Years Ellen Stofan (NASA) NASA's top scientist predicts that we'll find signs of alien life by 2025, with even stronger evidence for extraterrestrials in the years that follow. "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said Tuesday during a panel event on water in the universe. "We know where to look.

Tek 520A VectorClock! Television broadcasting has switched from analog to digital - and if you’ve got a nice HD TV, you’ll be loving it! But with that transition came the death of an entire breed of equipment – the Vectorscope. Just to be clear, these are not monitors for playing ancient video games using vector graphics!! Tree of Life Web Project The Tree of Life Web Project (ToL) is a collaborative effort of biologists and nature enthusiasts from around the world. On more than 10,000 World Wide Web pages, the project provides information about biodiversity, the characteristics of different groups of organisms, and their evolutionary history (phylogeny). Each page contains information about a particular group, e.g., salamanders, segmented worms, phlox flowers, tyrannosaurs, euglenids, Heliconius butterflies, club fungi, or the vampire squid.

Absurd Creature of the Week: The Incredible Critter That's Tough Enough to Survive in Space - Wired Science A color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph of a water bear, which is probably the only creature on Earth that looks like a cannon wearing wrinkled khakis. Image: Eye of Science/Science Source In 1933, the owner of a New York City speakeasy and three cronies embarked on a rather unoriginal scheme to make a quick couple grand: Take out three life insurance policies on the bar’s deepest alcoholic, Mike Malloy, then kill him.

Experience Just How Big the Universe is, in One Mind-Blowing Interactive This is the smallest unit of scale in the universe. How can you have a "smallest length"? In the same way that the speed of light has a physical limit. MIT study on exoplanet orbits may narrow parameters in search for life A team of researchers from MIT and Aarhus University, Denmark, have discovered that Earth-sized exoplanets orbit their parent stars in the same way that our planet orbits our own Sun – maintaining a roughly equidistant circular orbit. The discovery further narrows the characteristics of worlds that could potentially play host to extraterrestrial life. Astronomers have long wondered whether the highly-structured orbital trend displayed in our solar system was simply the norm, or the result of an amazing coincidence. A new study that examined the orbits of 74 exoplanets orbiting 28 distant stars appears to put the question to rest.

BeWifi lets you steal your neighbor’s bandwidth when they’re not using it What if when you were up at a ridiculous hour Skyping your relatives in Australia, you could borrow unused bandwidth from your sleeping neighbours to make your own broadband connection faster and stronger? High up in a glass tower in Barcelona, Telefonica's research and development team has been attempting to tackle exactly this question. The solution they have come up with, BeWifi, is a technology that gathers bandwidth from local Wi-Fi routers in order to enhance the connection of the users that happen to be on the internet at exactly that moment in time. Telefonica started to research the idea, without making changes to existing infrastructure, in 2008. "We were exploring what would be the opportunities for bringing the peer-to-peer and sharing phenomenon into this arena," Pablo Rodriguez, Telefonica's Director of Product Innovation & Research, told "Your broadband connection is not used 100 percent of the time," he explained.

Evolution of life's operating system revealed in detail Posted June 30, 2014 | Atlanta, GA The evolution of the ribosome, a large molecular structure found in the cells of all species, has been revealed in unprecedented detail in a new study. Click image to enlarge In a new study, scientists compared three-dimensional structures of ribosomes from a variety of species of varying biological complexity, including humans, yeast, bacteria and archaea. The researchers found distinct fingerprints in the ribosomes where new structures were added to the ribosomal surface without altering the pre-existing ribosomal core, which originated over 3 billion years ago before the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of life.

The Search for Aliens Is Just Getting Started A lot of people assume we're looking for complex patterns in radio signals, like the value of pi, a list of prime numbers, or the Fibonacci [sequence]. But what we're really looking for is just any radio signal that some sort of transmitter could have made—one that's restricted to a very narrow band of frequencies. This is because the cosmos makes a lot of radio waves and other noise, but those are all over the dial, which is a sign of bad engineering, because you're wasting a lot of energy. We're looking for something that is, so to speak, carefully manicured. Now there are also other SETI experiments looking for other types of signals beyond those made of radio waves, particularly very short flashes of visible light.

Alien Transit Systems May Be a Giveaway in the Search for ET Avi Loeb has an unorthodox new idea about how to search for alien civilizations—and it is hardly a surprise. Loeb, who chairs the astronomy department at Harvard University, has spent much of his career thinking about how the first stars came to life after the big bang, and how galaxies were born. But lately he’s become intrigued with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, and he tends to come at it in unusual ways. Over the past few years, for example, Loeb has suggested searching for aliens by looking for artificial lighting on Pluto, in the admittedly unlikely event that extraterrestrials (ET) have set up an outpost there.

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