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Oct 28, 2020

Scientists discover new organic compounds that could have helped form the first cells

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, evolution

Chemists studying how life started often focus on how modern biopolymers like peptides and nucleic acids contributed, but modern biopolymers don’t form easily without help from living organisms. A possible solution to this paradox is that life started using different components, and many non-biological chemicals were likely abundant in the environment. A new survey conducted by an international team of chemists from the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at Tokyo Institute of Technology and other institutes from Malaysia, the Czech Republic, the U.S. and India, has found that a diverse set of such compounds easily form polymers under primitive environmental conditions, and some even spontaneously form cell-like structures.

Understanding how life started on Earth is one of the most challenging questions seeks to explain. Scientists presently study modern and try to see what aspects of their biochemistry are universal, and thus were probably present in the organisms from which they descended. The best guess is that life has thrived on Earth for at least 3.5 billion of Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history since the planet formed, and most scientists would say life likely began before there is good evidence for its existence. Problematically, since Earth’s surface is dynamic, the earliest traces of life on Earth have not been preserved in the geological record. However, the earliest evidence for life on Earth tells us little about what the earliest organisms were made of, or what was going on inside their cells. “There is clearly a lot left to learn from prebiotic chemistry about how life may have arisen,” says the study’s co-author Jim Cleaves.

A hallmark of life is evolution, and the mechanisms of evolution suggest that common traits can suddenly be displaced by rare and novel mutations which allow mutant organisms to survive better and proliferate, often replacing previously common organisms very rapidly. Paleontological, ecological and laboratory evidence suggests this occurs commonly and quickly. One example is an invasive organism like the dandelion, which was introduced to the Americas from Europe and is now a commo weed causing lawn-concerned homeowners to spend countless hours of effort and dollars to eradicate.

Oct 28, 2020

The Bugatti Bolide Is an 1825-HP Lightweight Track Monster

Posted by in category: transportation

Since being taken over by the Volkswagen Group in 1999, every modern Bugatti has been a heavy beast. Fast, thanks to their quad-turbo W-16s, but heavy. But Bugatti made its name not just on opulent GT cars, but lightweight race cars. Maybe modern Bugatti can do the same.

The Bolide is a concept for a modern Bugatti lightweight. It takes the all-wheel-drive drivetrain from the Chiron—albeit with a hotter engine tune—and marries it with a featherweight chassis. The projected numbers are hard to conceptualize. One-thousand eight-hundred twenty-five horsepower; a 2733-pound dry weight; a top speed well above 300 mph; a Le Mans lap of 3:07, and a Nürburgring lap of 5:23. So, faster than an LMP1 car and in the league of the Porsche 919 Evo. Madness.

“We asked ourselves how we could realize the mighty W-16 engine as a technical symbol of the brand in its purest form—with solely four wheels, engine, gearbox, steering wheel and, as the only luxury, two seats,” Bugatti boss Stephan Winkelmann said in a statement. “Important aspects of our considerations were fine-tuning our iconic powertrain without any limitations as regards the weight-to-power ratio”

Oct 28, 2020

Meet The Iceman — 5,300-Year-Old and Best Preserved Human Being Ever Found

Posted by in category: futurism

Back in 1991 on September 19th in the Austro-Italian Alps, an incredibly grim discovery was made by hikers Helmut and Erika Simon. While they were strolling across the mountainside they discovered what appeared to be a body that died recently still half-frozen from the bottom down. They called in the cops but after further analyzing it was uncovered that the cadaver was at the very least 4,000 years old. Nicknamed “Otzi the Iceman”, he was later on discovered to have died sometime around 3350 and 3100 BC making him around 5,300 years old, aka the oldest preserved human being ever discovered.

Oct 28, 2020

Podcast #52: Nurturing Foresight in a Short-Sighted World, with Peter Hayward

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, futurism

Fellow futurist podcaster Peter Hayward joins me to discuss the challenge of fostering foresight in a short-sighted world.

Oct 28, 2020

Watch the AMD RX 6000 Big Navi announcement live here today

Posted by in category: computing

Dr. Lisa Su is set to unveil the first Big Navi GPUs today at 12pm ET (9am PT, 4pm UK).

Oct 28, 2020

“2068” –Massive Asteroid Apophis on Path for Earth Impact

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Laser it o.o


Sixty Six million years ago a 14-kilometer long, Mount-Everest sized asteroid blasted a hole in the ground, when at the moment of impact, “the top of it might have still towered more than a mile above the cruising altitude of a 747,” writes Peter Brannen in Ends of the World. “In its nearly instantaneous descent, it compressed the air below it so violently that it briefly became several times hotter than the surface of the sun, hitting Earth with enough force enough to lift a mountain back into space at escape velocity, releasing the equivalent of 100 million megatons of TNT creating a 20-mile deep, 110-mile hole and sterilizing the remaining 170 million square miles of the ancient continent of Pangaea, killing virtually every species on Earth and, oddly, paving the way for the emergence of the human species.”

Magnified Preview of a Coming Attraction?

Continue reading “‘2068’ --Massive Asteroid Apophis on Path for Earth Impact” »

Oct 28, 2020

NASA Discovers “Very Weird” Molecule in Titan’s Atmosphere

Posted by in category: space

NASA scientists identified a molecule in Titan’s atmosphere that has never been detected in any other atmosphere. In fact, many chemists have probably barely heard of it or know how to pronounce it: cyclopropenylidene, or C3H2. Scientists say that this simple carbon-based molecule may be a precursor to more complex compounds that could form or feed possible life on Titan.

Oct 28, 2020

Recreating Historical Streetscapes Using Deep Learning and Crowdsourcing

Posted by in categories: mapping, robotics/AI

For many, gazing at an old photo of a city can evoke feelings of both nostalgia and wonder — what was it like to walk through Manhattan in the 1940s? How much has the street one grew up on changed? While Google Street View allows people to see what an area looks like in the present day, what if you want to explore how places looked in the past?

Oct 28, 2020

Uppsala in Last Preclinical Stage for New CAR T-cell Product for Glioblastoma

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Researchers at Uppsala University, in Sweden, in collaboration with the SciLifeLab Drug Discovery and Development Platform, have taken “a large step forward” in developing a potential CAR T-cell therapy for glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that is often difficult to treat.

Their project is now entering the final preclinical stage of development, according to the university. The goal is to start clinical studies within four years.

“Extremely few breakthroughs have been made around treating Glioblastoma,” Magnus Essand, professor of gene therapy at Uppsala, said in a press release.

Oct 28, 2020

NASA, European Space Agency to collaborate on Artemis Gateway lunar outpost

Posted by in category: space travel

NASA and the European Space Agency agreed on Tuesday to work together on the Artemis Gateway lunar outpost. The Artemis Gateway will act as a way station serving astronauts traveling from Earth before they reach the surface of the moon.