Origins

  • Protein Archaeologists
    New methods for time-stamping ancient fossil bones hold promise of understanding Earth's genetic past.
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  • Lake Mysteries from the World’s Roof: Part Four
    An international team of scientists has spent the past three weeks in the Andes mountains, climbing to 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) above sea level to find out what's living in the highest lake in the world. In this expedition, editor Henry Bortman talks with
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  • 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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  • Hot Springs High in the Andes
    An international team of scientists has spent the past two weeks in the Andes mountains, preparing to explore the highest lake in the world: 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) above sea level. In this expedition, Henry Bortman talks with two graduate students who are participating
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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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  • Licancabur Expedition Journal: Part Two
    A team of scientists has traveled to the Andes mountains to explore the highest lake in the world. In this second of four articles, Astrobiology Magazine editor Henry Bortman talks with Nathalie Cabrol, the expedition leader, about what they've discovered so far.
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  • Cutting through the Protein Knots
    As webmaster of 200,000 computers across the globe, the Stanford computational biology team (folding@home) has unraveled the first 3-dimensional knot of a model protein, using the now familiar screensaver supercomputer popularized by SETI@home.
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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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  • What’s Living in the World’s Highest Lake?
    An international team of scientists this week began a three-week trek to the highest lake in the world. This is the first in a series of four articles about their expedition to Licancabur, Chile. Each Monday for the next three weeks, we will bring
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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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  • SpinCam: Pancake Recipe for Life
    Centrifuge-cameras begin exploration of life and genetic changes at the extremes of high gravity-- in the only animal with a completely sequenced gene library.
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  • Extreme Animals
    Because of their ability to withstand hostile conditions, tardigrades and other cryptobiotic organisms are of interest to astrobiologists. Some tardigrades can survive in temperatures as low as minus 200 degrees Celsius (minus 328 F).
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  • Tracking the Path of Green Slime
    Cyanobacteria gave us oxygen for the atmosphere and a protective ozone layer, and they led to the development of all the green plants in the world today. They can be found everywhere from the surface of the oceans to underneath
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  • Evolution’s Sweet Tooth
    How did intelligence evolve? A scientist studying differences between humans and great apes may have found a biochemical step in that direction.
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  • Encore
    Our debate panelists answer reader's questions about the possibility of complex life beyond Earth.
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