Friday, March 06, 2009

Cycling of iron and Mono Lake’s lowly bacteria

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here's today's news:
g Abodes - The cycling of iron in Earth's oceans plays an important role in supporting a variety of ocean ecosystems – and is ultimately vital to the global biosphere. By studying extreme environments on the ocean floor, researchers have now revealed unexpected clues about how biologically useful iron is released into the ocean. See article.
g Life - In a mat of lowly bacteria found in a foul-smelling hot spring near Mono Lake, Calif., is a living window into Earth's early history, a time when photosynthesis was barely evolved and the atmosphere non-existent. See article.
g Intelligence - "New and improved" could describe a brush-tipped probe invented by wild chimpanzees in Africa that found it did a better job than previous versions of the tool at gathering termites for consumption, according to a new study. See article.
g Cosmicus - Humans have ventured into space over the last 50 years, and all manner of junk has been left behind. From tiny bolts to whole space stations, people have discarded lots of stuff up there. Much of it eventually dies a fiery death as it falls through Earth's atmosphere, but some larger debris poses risks for astronauts and spacecraft that could collide with it. Here are some of the quirkier items left in space. See article.

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