sciencesoup:

The Possibility of Intelligent Life
The Drake Equation is a famous attempt to mathematically estimate the number of technologically advanced civilisations in our galaxy. The equation was formulated in 1961 by Dr. Frank Drake (currently on the Board of SETI), and it identifies specific developmental factors and presents them as variables that narrow down the estimate. The equation looks like this:

N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L

R is the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy, fp is the fraction of stars with planets, ne is the number of Earth-like worlds within one of these star systems, fl is the fraction of those planets where life develops, fi is the fraction where intelligent life develops, fc is the fraction of intelligent life that develops a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space—and finally, L is length of time that these signals are sent. Currently, Drake’s own estimate is that there are 10,000 technologically-advanced civilizations in the Milky Way. Of course, we don’t have definite figures for most of these variables so an accurate answer is nearly impossible, but the calculating itself stimulates intellectual curiosity, helping us realise what a successful product of cosmic evolution we are. 

sciencesoup:

The Possibility of Intelligent Life

The Drake Equation is a famous attempt to mathematically estimate the number of technologically advanced civilisations in our galaxy. The equation was formulated in 1961 by Dr. Frank Drake (currently on the Board of SETI), and it identifies specific developmental factors and presents them as variables that narrow down the estimate. The equation looks like this:

N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L

R is the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy, fp is the fraction of stars with planets, ne is the number of Earth-like worlds within one of these star systems, fl is the fraction of those planets where life develops, fi is the fraction where intelligent life develops, fc is the fraction of intelligent life that develops a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space—and finally, L is length of time that these signals are sent. Currently, Drake’s own estimate is that there are 10,000 technologically-advanced civilizations in the Milky Way. Of course, we don’t have definite figures for most of these variables so an accurate answer is nearly impossible, but the calculating itself stimulates intellectual curiosity, helping us realise what a successful product of cosmic evolution we are. 

rhamphotheca:

STORIES I CANT STOP POSTING ABOUT:
If A Fish Grows Up On Land, Will It Learn To Walk?
Flipping your fins actually does get you pretty far.
by Lauren Grush
The old idiom about “being a fish out of water” just lost some of its luster. Researchers from McGill University in Canada successfully trained a group of fish to live on land and strut around.
The idea was to simulate what might have happened 400 million years ago, when the first group of ancient fish moved from water to land, eventually evolving into the amphibians, reptiles, birds and other animals roaming the Earth today. The researchers wanted to see if their land-dwelling fish looked and behaved similarly to the ancient fish, based on what has been learned about them from fossil records.
For their experiment, the research team raised 111 juvenile Polypterus senegalus – African fish also known as the “dinosaur eel” — on land. These fish already look a lot like the ancient fish that evolved millions of years ago, and they’re already capable of “walking” with their fins and breathing air.  According to the Verge, their terrestrial environment had mesh flooring covered in pebbles, as well as 3 millimeters of water, so the fish didn’t dry out completely…
(read more/ watch video: Popular Science)
photo: NATURE

rhamphotheca:

STORIES I CANT STOP POSTING ABOUT:

If A Fish Grows Up On Land, Will It Learn To Walk?

Flipping your fins actually does get you pretty far.

by Lauren Grush

The old idiom about “being a fish out of water” just lost some of its luster. Researchers from McGill University in Canada successfully trained a group of fish to live on land and strut around.

The idea was to simulate what might have happened 400 million years ago, when the first group of ancient fish moved from water to land, eventually evolving into the amphibians, reptiles, birds and other animals roaming the Earth today. The researchers wanted to see if their land-dwelling fish looked and behaved similarly to the ancient fish, based on what has been learned about them from fossil records.

For their experiment, the research team raised 111 juvenile Polypterus senegalus – African fish also known as the “dinosaur eel” — on land. These fish already look a lot like the ancient fish that evolved millions of years ago, and they’re already capable of “walking” with their fins and breathing air.  According to the Verge, their terrestrial environment had mesh flooring covered in pebbles, as well as 3 millimeters of water, so the fish didn’t dry out completely…

(read more/ watch video: Popular Science)

photo: NATURE

A message from Anonymous
Can enzymes live outside of the body?

thecraftychemist:

cyclopentadiene:

stackedcrates:

shychemist:

Well they’re not alive, but I believe like proteins different conditions (pH, heat, etc can change their form). Some conditions may break down enzymes into their component amino acids.

I’m not a biology person. I hope someone has a better answer than this. XD

As you noted, enzymes are proteins and are not alive in the first place. That being said, yeah, enzymes may not work properly in conditions unlike those inside the body, as they’re optimized to fold correctly at the conditions at which they work in the body. What happens to them outside the body is really largely dependent on the structure of the individual protein and what conditions you put it into.

It would take some pretty severe conditions to break proteins down into their component amino acids at any significant rate (that would require actually breaking the covalent peptide bonds), so that probably wouldn’t happen unless you specifically used other enzymes or something else to catalyze that reaction.

I think you’re looking for the term “physiological conditions”. :D

One of my friends works in a biochem lab, and she’s mentioned how they keep all of their enzymes in the fridge to prevent degradation. Enzymes (and all polypeptides, really) can unfold and deactivate, especially at higher temperatures. Ribozymes are especially easy to degrade, since RNA is inherently unstable to base.

You’d need proteases to degrade enzymes to the individual amino acids, and either base or RNases to break down ribozymes.

I’m going to assume Anon meant ‘is active’ rather than ‘alive’. In terms of what conditions enzymes are active under - there are some enzymes used in washing powders for instance amalyases, lipases and some proteases, They break down starches, fats, and protein based stains respectively, but have to be selected based on which ones are able to perform under conditions found in a washing machine.

I think temperature would be the biggest factor in whether an enzyme could work, other than being denatured at higher temperatures (~45 deg C  and up depending on the enzyme). That said, enzymes lose activity at lower temperatures, hence in this case washing clothes around body temperature would be more likely to remove a stain.

child-of-thecosmos:

Radio and television broadcasting may be only a brief passing phase in our technological development. When we imagine alien civilizations broadcasting signals with radio telescopes, are we any different from earlier generations who imagined riding cannon shells to the moon? Civilizations even slightly more advanced than ours may have already moved on to some other mode of communication, one that we have yet to discover or even imagine. Their messages could be swirling all around us at this very moment, but we lack the means to perceive them just as all of our ancestors, up to a little more than a century ago, would have been oblivious to the most urgent radio signal from another world. 

But there’s another more troubling possibility: Civilizations, like other living things, may only live so long before perishing due to natural causes, or violence, or self-inflicted wounds. Whether or not we ever make contact with intelligent alien life may depend on a critical question: What is the life expectancy of a civilization?

- Episode 11: The Immortals, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey

i-heart-histo:

A fetal lung fish
Our developing bronchial tree of the lung resemble glands when we are fetuses.
Only late in our mother’s pregnancy do the cells of our alveoli become thin enough to allow efficient gas exchange and mature enough to secrete the essential slippery, lipid based chemical known as surfactant. Surfactant will decrease the surface tension in the walls of our alveoli enough to ensure that when we take our first breath they will inflate with air - just like blowing a soap bubble.
To get an idea of how important surfactant is in allowing the alveoli to inflate. Imagine blowing a soap bubble compared to blowing a bubble made of tar. The presence of surfactant (soap) makes blowing bubbles easy because it decreases the surface tension in the bubble wall allowing it to inflate with less effort. Tar bubbles would be difficult to inflate because the surface tension in their walls will be high therefore requiring more effort to inflate.
If a baby is born prematurely (before ~37 weeks), the state of maturity of the lungs and in particular those cells that secrete surfactant will be an incredible factor in whether or not the child survives or dies from infant respiratory distress syndrome (IRDS) - the leading cause of death in preterm babies.
i♡histo

i-heart-histo:

A fetal lung fish

Our developing bronchial tree of the lung resemble glands when we are fetuses.

Only late in our mother’s pregnancy do the cells of our alveoli become thin enough to allow efficient gas exchange and mature enough to secrete the essential slippery, lipid based chemical known as surfactant. Surfactant will decrease the surface tension in the walls of our alveoli enough to ensure that when we take our first breath they will inflate with air - just like blowing a soap bubble.

To get an idea of how important surfactant is in allowing the alveoli to inflate. Imagine blowing a soap bubble compared to blowing a bubble made of tar. The presence of surfactant (soap) makes blowing bubbles easy because it decreases the surface tension in the bubble wall allowing it to inflate with less effort. Tar bubbles would be difficult to inflate because the surface tension in their walls will be high therefore requiring more effort to inflate.

If a baby is born prematurely (before ~37 weeks), the state of maturity of the lungs and in particular those cells that secrete surfactant will be an incredible factor in whether or not the child survives or dies from infant respiratory distress syndrome (IRDS) - the leading cause of death in preterm babies.

i♡histo

"We have grown up on this planet, trapped, in a certain sense, on it, not knowing of the existence of anything else beyond our immediate surroundings, having to figure the world out for ourselves. What a courageous and difficult enterprise, building, generation after generation, on what has been learned in the past; questioning the conventional wisdom; being willing, sometimes at great personal risk, to challenge the prevailing wisdom and gradually, slowly emerging from this torment, a well-based, in many senses predictive, quantitative understanding of the nature of the world around us. Not, by any means, understanding every aspect of that world but gradually, through successive approximations, understanding more and more. We face a difficult and uncertain future, and it seems to me it requires all of those talents that have been honed by our evolution and our history, if we are to survive."
"I love science, and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awed by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and reinvigorate it."
Robert M. Sapolsky (via pridejoyetc)
matthen:

Liquid water on the surface of Mars! NASA has just announced news that it has observed the phenomenon shown above. These dark surface flows in the Southern hemispheres seem to be a volatile substance, and the leading hypothesis is that it is heavily salty liquid water. [full video] [NASA TV] [more]

matthen:

Liquid water on the surface of Mars! NASA has just announced news that it has observed the phenomenon shown above. These dark surface flows in the Southern hemispheres seem to be a volatile substance, and the leading hypothesis is that it is heavily salty liquid water. [full video] [NASA TV] [more]

Interview with Maryam Mirzakhani, the brilliant Iranian mathematician who was the first woman to win the Fields Medal

  • Interviewer: What advice would you give lay persons who would
  • like to know more about mathematics—what it is,
  • what its role in our society has been and so on?
  • What should they read? How should they proceed?
  • Dr. Mirzakhani: This is a difficult question. I don’t think that everyone
  • should become a mathematician, but I do believe that
  • many students don’t give mathematics a real chance.
  • I did poorly in math for a couple of years in middle
  • school; I was just not interested in thinking about it.
  • I can see that without being excited mathematics can
  • look pointless and cold. The beauty of mathematics
  • only shows itself to more patient followers.
pennyfornasa:

NASA’s New Heavy-Lift Rocket Will Be Ready For Launch By 2018NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket designed for deep space exploration will be ready for its first flight no later than 2018 agency and is expected to cost $7 billion through the first launch officials announced Wednesday after completing a key review.The Space Launch System is the rocket NASA has been designing to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit and eventually to Mars. It is intended to replace the space shuttle fleet, which was retired in 2011. Passing the review, known as Key Decision Point C, is something NASA said “no other exploration class vehicle has achieved since the agency built the space shuttle.”NASA maintains that the first test flight of the SLS could happen as early as 2017, but that the agency is committed to having the rocket ready for launch by the end of 2018. The space agency is now moving forward from the formulation stage to the development of the heavy-lift rocket.Read more: http://www.penny4nasa.org/2014/08/28/nasas-new-heavy-lift-rocket-for-deep-space-flight-will-be-ready-for-launch-by-2018/

pennyfornasa:

NASA’s New Heavy-Lift Rocket Will Be Ready For Launch By 2018

NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket designed for deep space exploration will be ready for its first flight no later than 2018 agency and is expected to cost $7 billion through the first launch officials announced Wednesday after completing a key review.

The Space Launch System is the rocket NASA has been designing to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit and eventually to Mars. It is intended to replace the space shuttle fleet, which was retired in 2011. Passing the review, known as Key Decision Point C, is something NASA said “no other exploration class vehicle has achieved since the agency built the space shuttle.”

NASA maintains that the first test flight of the SLS could happen as early as 2017, but that the agency is committed to having the rocket ready for launch by the end of 2018. The space agency is now moving forward from the formulation stage to the development of the heavy-lift rocket.

Read more: http://www.penny4nasa.org/2014/08/28/nasas-new-heavy-lift-rocket-for-deep-space-flight-will-be-ready-for-launch-by-2018/

kqedscience:

An Interactive Map Lets You See Photos Of Earth Tweeted By Astronauts"Did the astronauts aboard the International Space Station snap a photo of where you live from orbit? Now you can find out, thanks to an interactive map of more than 650 pictures that the astronauts shared with the world on Twitter."
Learn more from io9.

kqedscience:

An Interactive Map Lets You See Photos Of Earth Tweeted By Astronauts

"Did the astronauts aboard the International Space Station snap a photo of where you live from orbit? Now you can find out, thanks to an interactive map of more than 650 pictures that the astronauts shared with the world on Twitter."

Learn more from io9.

child-of-thecosmos:

The Pale Blue Dot (Full video)

child-of-thecosmos:

The Pale Blue Dot (Full video)

sunshinychick:

futurescope:

Solar energy that doesn’t block the view

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface. And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”

[read more at MSU] [paper] [picture credit: Yimu Zhao]

sunshinychick:

futurescope:

Solar energy that doesn’t block the view

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface. And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”

[read more at MSU] [paper] [picture credit: Yimu Zhao]

image

txchnologist:

Electric Fields Made Visible

Physics educator James Lincoln helps people understand the natural world. The gifs above are from a Youtube video he made on how to “see” an electric field, the region around a charged object where electric force is experienced. When the object is positively charged, electric field lines extend radially outward from the object. When the object is negatively charged, the lines extend radially inward.  

Click the gifs for more info or see the full video below.

Read More