Tag Archives: origin

Computer Scientists at UT Austin Crack Code for Redrawing Bird Family Tree

AUSTIN, Texas — A new computational technique developed at The University of Texas at Austin has enabled an international consortium to produce an avian tree of life that points to the origins of various bird species. A graduate student at the university is a leading author on papers describing the new technique and sharing the consortium’s findings about bird evolution in the journal Science.  (more…)

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Origin of Moon’s ‘ocean of storms’ revealed

New analysis, using data from NASA’s GRAIL spacecraft, has determined that the large dark patch on the western edge of the Moon’s near side is not an impact crater after all.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Oceanus Procellarum, a vast dark patch visible on the western edge of the Moon’s near side, has long been a source of mystery for planetary scientists. Some have suggested that the “ocean of storms” is part of a giant basin formed by an asteroid impact early in the Moon’s history. But new research published today in Nature deals a pretty big blow to the impact theory. (more…)

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Mysteries of Space Dust Revealed

Berkeley Lab researchers help give a first look at suspected extra-solar particles.

The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA’s Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks, which likely originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than previously imagined. (more…)

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What lit up the universe?

New research from UCL shows we will soon uncover the origin of the ultraviolet light that bathes the cosmos, helping scientists understand how galaxies were built.

The study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters by UCL cosmologists Dr Andrew Pontzen and Dr Hiranya Peiris (both UCL Physics & Astronomy), together with collaborators at Princeton and Barcelona Universities, shows how forthcoming astronomical surveys will reveal what lit up the cosmos. (more…)

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Ancient volcanic explosions shed light on Mercury’s origins

Mercury was long thought to be lacking volatile compounds that cause explosive volcanism. That view started to change when the MESSENGER spacecraft returned pictures of pyroclastic deposits — the telltale signature of volcanic explosions. Now more detailed data from MESSENGER shows that volcanoes exploded on Mercury for a substantial portion of the planet’s history. The findings suggest Mercury not only had volatiles but held on to them for longer than scientists had expected.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The surface of Mercury crackled with volcanic explosions for extended periods of the planet’s history, according to a new analysis led by researchers at Brown University. The findings are surprising considering Mercury wasn’t supposed to have explosive volcanism in the first place, and they could have implications for understanding how Mercury formed. (more…)

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Study Tests Theory that Life Originated at Deep Sea Vents

One of the greatest mysteries facing humans is how life originated on Earth. Scientists have determined approximately when life began (roughly 3.8 billion years ago), but there is still intense debate about exactly how life began. One possibility has grown in popularity in the last two decades – that simple metabolic reactions emerged near ancient seafloor hot springs, enabling the leap from a non-living to a living world.

Recent research by geochemists Eoghan Reeves, Jeff Seewald, and Jill McDermott at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is the first to test a fundamental assumption of this ‘metabolism first’ hypothesis, and finds that it may not have been as easy as previously assumed. Instead, their findings could provide a focus for the search for life on other planets. The work is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. (more…)

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New Study Outlines ‘Water World’ Theory of Life’s Origins

Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays. What started out as simple cells ultimately transformed into slime molds, frogs, elephants, humans and the rest of our planet’s living kingdoms. How did it all begin?

A new study from researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the Icy Worlds team at NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., describes how electrical energy naturally produced at the sea floor might have given rise to life. While the scientists had already proposed this hypothesis — called “submarine alkaline hydrothermal emergence of life” — the new report assembles decades of field, laboratory and theoretical research into a grand, unified picture. (more…)

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