Feature Stories

  • Stuck in the Muck
    Deep beneath the ocean floor, microorganisms by the billions survive - but just barely. Measurements of the rate at which they carry out life's chemical reactions show that perhaps as few as one in a million is active.
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  • The Tree of Life: Cold Start?
    For decades, scientists have used a comprehensive tree of life showing heat-loving bacteria as the Earth's earliest bacteria. Now, a more accurate reanalysis of the data place those bacteria up among the leaves.
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  • The Life That Spawned A Quarter-Million Descendant Species
    The first cellular organisms with a nucleus, called protists, now comprise nearly a quarter-million named species. Including green algae and parasites, they make up the first link in the complex food chain that not only sustains all life on Earth, but modifies terrestrial weather.
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  • Concerted Evolution
    The rapid advances in genetic sequencing have allowed comparisons previously unavailable to those scientists who try to understand how such a complicated structure as DNA might have evolved. But communicating an entire organism compactly in code may require a more ancient art: the music
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  • When Did Life on Earth Begin? Ask a Rock
    Some of the oldest rocks on Earth, found in Greenland, hold important clues to life's beginnings. The problem is, experts disagree both about how to interpret the clues and about how old the rocks really are.
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  • Looking for Carbonates in Dry Places
    A research team claims it has found carbonates in dust around two dying stars, where water cannot exist. If the finding is confirmed, astronomers may have to re-think some assumptions about the presence of water during the formation of our own solar system. But both
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  • Studying Evolution with Digital Organisms
    Can we grasp the workings of Darwinian evolution by studying the behavior of digital organisms that exist only as strings of computer code? Scientists in Caltech's Digital Life Laboratory think so.
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  • Homing Signals
    Phoning home intergalactically may have one natural prerequisite if a civilization is hoping to connect: timing their precursor signal or 'ring' so that we might know that they're broadcasting. Dr. Robin Corbet, of the Universities' Space Research Association discusses his research findings on Synchronized SETI.
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  • Water Worlds
    Italian astronomers report on a method for water detection on extrasolar planets and cometary clouds, and their shortlist of candidates with promising initial findings from the 32-meter Medicina radio telescope.
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  • Shortlisting Stars With Planetary Systems
    Markus Landgraf and European Space Agency colleagues explore the first direct evidence of dust rings in our solar system, and propose a novel way to shortlist stars with likely extrasolar planets.
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  • The Lost World?
    Twists in the Sun's magnetic field create sunspots, and other stars also exhibit these dark, cooler spots on their surfaces. A new study suggests that starspots on the star HD 192263 may be masquerading as an extrasolar planet.
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  • Amalthea Flyby: The Heat is On
    On November 5, the Galileo spacecraft with fly less than 100 miles over one of Jupiter's moons called Almathea. The moon is unique as one that gives off more heat than it receives from the Sun--perhaps from Jupiter's radiation bands or tidal heating.
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  • News_Image_85
    From the Hubble Telescope to the even cooler Webb, a new generation of hot views promise insight into some of the most distant galactic incubators. The chances to image a distant planet may benefit from the enhanced infrared tools available to the next generation of
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  • No Drought of Mars Landing Sites
    With the Mars Exploration Rover (or MER) landing sites narrowed from 150 alternatives, the prospect of roaming around ancient lakebeds or searching for the grey crystals called hematite has orbital cameras clicking.
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  • Tuning In to Other Worlds
    Some scientists think it may be possible to detect planets beyond our solar system by looking for radio signals generated by same forces that lead to 'Northern Lights'. A team of scientists working on a radio telescope called the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR)
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