NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has dug up organic molecules, the raw building blocks of life. The robot drilled out the organic carbon samples from 3-billion-year-old sediments in Mars’s Gale Crater that was once filled with water. From the New York Times:
That does not prove that life has ever existed on Mars. The same carbon molecules, broadly classified as organic matter, also exist within meteorites that fall from space. They can also be produced in chemical reactions that do not involve biology.
But the discovery, published on Thursday by the journal Science, is a piece of the Mars puzzle that scientists have long been seeking. In 1976, NASA’s two Viking landers conducted the first experiments searching for organic matter on Mars and appeared to come up empty.
“Now things are starting to make more sense,” said Jennifer L. Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of the Science paper. “We still don’t know the source of them, but they’re there. They’re not missing any more.”
"Life on Mars? Rover’s Latest Discovery Puts It ‘On the Table’" by Kenneth Chang (NYT)
This video depicts light speed in contexts where it appears to be slow. The moon is 1.2 light seconds from Earth; Mars several light minutes. This is, of course, why humans aren’t moving out of this solar system any time soon.
Randall Munroe's "Good Question" column in the New York Times is in the vein of his How To and What If books, in which he answers weird science questions with equally weird thoroughness.
This year’s episode of the grand meteor shower the Leonids will peak on Monday morning before dawn. The meteors are bits of debris dropping off the comet Tempel-Tuttle that intersects Earth’s orbit every November. Unfortunately, it may be tough to see many shooting stars because activity this year will be low and the waning gibbous […]
Need a boost on that resume? Get a valuable tech education on your own time with these eBook bundles. They contain guides from Packt Publishing that cover everything from game development to machine learning. The Complete Mobile App Developer eBook Bundle It’s a veritable gold rush in the App Store these days. Get in on […]
Vinyl is officially back. People are hearing the proof behind the initial “retro” excitement: that records really do have a richer sound. And if you haven’t switched to old-school records for serious listening, it’s a new golden age. Why? Because quality turntables like the Altec Lansing ALT-500 are finally available to a market other than […]
Between all of our apps, streaming devices, Bluetooth speakers, and energy-sucking decorations, paying for utilities each month can be…brutal. In fact, the average household spends roughly $70 a month on the water bill alone. That number might not seem terribly significant, but when you add it up, that’s $840 a year — a pretty significant […]