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Alchemical symbol for arsenic

Image via Wikipedia

After a 24-hour-long media hype, the official anonuncement came at NASA press conference. No, it’s not about “alien life” evidences recently found. At least, *not yet*. But the results of a recent research are really stunning: Life may exist elsewhere in the universe, under the circumstances we couldn’t even dream of. “Arsenic, in place of phosporus” ? Ground-breaking for sure.

Amplify’d from www.nytimes.com

Scientists said Thursday that they had trained a bacterium to eat and grow on a diet of arsenic, in place of phosphorus — one of six elements considered essential for life — opening up the possibility that organisms could exist elsewhere in the universe or even here on Earth using biochemical powers we have not yet dared to dream about.

The bacterium, scraped from the bottom of Mono Lake in California and grown for months in a lab mixture containing arsenic, gradually swapped out atoms of phosphorus in its little body for atoms of arsenic.

Scientists said the results, if confirmed, would expand the notion of what life could be and where it could be. “There is basic mystery, when you look at life,” said Dimitar Sasselov, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and director of an institute on the origins of life there, who was not involved in the work. “Nature only uses a restrictive set of molecules and chemical reactions out of many thousands available. This is our first glimmer that maybe there are other options.”

Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology fellow at the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., who led the experiment, said, “This is a microbe that has solved the problem of how to live in a different way.”

Read more at www.nytimes.com

I just noticed how much I longed for seeing this picture… Especially after an eight-year-long nightmare that ruined the entire world.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.
Mr. Obama’s election amounted to a national catharsis — a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country. But it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago.
Now I suspect if it’s really pollution which killed the fish or if there’s something “geological” happening around the Assam riverbed. If the latter is true, then it means there is a serious trouble which can trigger a scary seismical event near Brahmaputra and Assam.
clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Dead Brahmaputra fish

Pollution may be responsible (Pics: Subhamoy Bhattacharjee)

Thousands of dead fish have been washed ashore in a river in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam river since early this week.

They were discovered on the banks of the Brahmaputra river in the state capital, Guwahati.
An equal number of sick fish were found in the same place, officials said. They blamed rising pollution levels.
An investigation has been ordered by the Assam government, said C.K.Bhuiyan, senior district official in Guwahati.
Earlier in the year, the Assam Pollution Control Board (APCB) told all the oil refineries in the state to achieve “zero pollution” levels by 31 December, otherwise they would be threatened with closure.

Man holding dead Brahmaputra fish
The Guwahati refinery was found to be the worst polluting refinery and was perhaps the only one in Assam not to have yet complied, pollution control board officials said.
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Since 1998, our view on Mars have been changing very fast: from a “dead planet” with “nothing interesting at all” to an exciting world that hides the mysteries of life in it.This sounds intriguing to me:

If microbes survive deep below Mars, they could be transported to the surface by water gushing up from deep underground.

Keep an eye on Mars; it seems we’ll get a series of “shocking news” very soon.

clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

White tips may be areas of freshly exposed ice

A probable active glacier has been identified for the first time on Mars.

The icy feature has been spotted in images from the European Space Agency’s (Esa) Mars Express spacecraft.
Ancient glaciers, many millions of years old, have been seen before on the Red Planet, but these ones may only be several thousand years old.
The young glacier appears in the Deuteronilus Mensae region between Mars’ rugged southern highlands and the flat northern lowlands.
“If it was an image of Earth, I would say ‘glacier’ right away,” Dr Gerhard Neukum, chief scientist on the spacecraft’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) told BBC News.
“We have not yet been able to see the spectral signature of water. But we will fly over it in the coming months and take measurements. On the glacial ridges we can see white tips, which can only be freshly exposed ice.
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Here comes a new study from British scientists confirming well with many previous reports that suggested a very serious warming trend. “The 11 warmest years in this set have all occurred within the last 13 years,” concludes the climatologists from UK’s Hadley Centre and University of Anglia. “Climate alarmism” or the shouting voice of Mother Nature? You decide it.
clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Man in fountain. Image: AP

In Spain’s 2007 heatwave, people cooled off as best they could

2007 has been one of the warmest years since 1850, despite the cooling influence of La Nina conditions.

The UK’s Hadley Centre and University of East Anglia conclude that globally, this year ranks as the seventh warmest.
The 11 warmest years in this set have all occurred within the last 13 years. For the northern hemisphere alone, 2007 was the second warmest recorded.

The findings come as politicians at the UN climate summit try to agree a path leading to cuts in carbon emissions.

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After the bloody attacks on Sunday, which killed 12 Turkish soldiers and 34 PKK guerillas, the situation looks heated along Turkey-Iraq border. Considering the government having the approval of the parliament for a cross-border incursion, and the growing pressure that comes from the street protests (mostly organized by the extreme-right, nationalist MHP and likes), chances are the region is in the middle of a new “war crisis”.

The timing of the deadly attacks from PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) is very intriguing. There is a group of Kurdish MPs of DTP (Democratic People’s Pary) in the parliament since July 22 elections; there were hopes for a peaceful solution in the Southeastern Turkey, without disturbing the unity and the integrity of the country, and suddenly these violent attacks took place one by one in a very short time. Somebody are trying hard to incite/provoke Turkey to enter Northern Iraq in such a critical time. But who and why? No comments for now; we’ll wait and see soon.

clipped from news.yahoo.com

Turkey said on Monday eight of
its soldiers were missing a day after clashes with Kurdish
rebels near the Iraqi border, in which at least 12 soldiers
were killed.
Turkey has deployed as many as 100,000 troops, backed by
tanks, F-16 fighter jets and attack helicopters along its
border with Iraq in anticipation of a possible incursion.
Asked about any pending attack, Defense Minister Vecdi
Gonul
said on Sunday: “Not urgently. They are planning a
cross-border (incursion)…We’d like to do these things with
the Americans.”
The United States and Iraq have called on Turkey to refrain
from a military push into the largely autonomous Kurdish
region, one of the few relatively stable parts of the Iraq
since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Turkey’s tougher stance has helped propel global oil prices
to record highs over the past week. The PKK has said it might
target pipelines carrying Iraqi and Caspian crude across
Turkey.

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Still dark news are coming from Burma. The rulers of the oppressive regime keep the pressure on activists and pro-democracy groups, by arresting more key figures of the protests that were held this month. Violence dominates the streets of Yangon while there are serious fears for torture and maltreatment to the ones that have been arrested or detained. BBC news service reports:

clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Htay Kywe in Rangoon - 27/5/07

Htay Kywe has been in hiding since the crackdown

Burma’s military rulers have arrested three of the last remaining leaders of the recent pro-democracy protests which were violently suppressed.

Among those detained was Htay Kywe, who led some of the first marches and was a prominent activist in a 1988 uprising.
The arrests came as thousands attended a pro-government rally in Rangoon, many of them apparently under duress.


The arrests are going on, despite assurances given by the authorities to the UN

Daniel Alberman, Amnesty International

Following the latest arrests, few, if any, leaders of the 1988 generation of former student activists are thought to remain at large.

Other leaders detained overnight included Thin Thin Aye, also known as Mie Mie, and Aung Htoo, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
Amnesty fears the detainees are at risk of torture and ill treatment.

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