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A sweet spot in space: Astronomers have spotted sugar molecules in gas surrounding a young Sun-like star

A sweet spot in space: Astronomers have spotted sugar molecules in gas surrounding a young Sun-like star | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
A team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has spotted sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star. This is the first time sugar been found in space around such a star, and the discovery shows that the building blocks of life are in the right place, at the right time, to be included in planets forming around the star.

 

The astronomers found molecules of glycolaldehyde — a simple form of sugar — in the gas surrounding a young binary star, with similar mass to the Sun, called IRAS 16293-2422. Glycolaldehyde has been seen in interstellar space before, but this is the first time it has been found so near to a Sun-like star, at distances comparable to the distance of Uranus from the Sun in the Solar System. This discovery shows that some of the chemical compounds needed for life existed in this system at the time of planet formation.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Quantum tunneling allows "impossible" molecules to form in space

Quantum tunneling allows "impossible" molecules to form in space | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
The extreme cold of space should make chemical reactions next to impossible, particularly those involving the formation of complex molecules.

 


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F. Thunus's curator insight, July 2, 2013 12:24 PM

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The Weirdest Things Recently Found on Mars | Wired Science

The Weirdest Things Recently Found on Mars | Wired Science | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it

Mars is a crazy place. In recent years we’ve discovered some of the strangest things on the Red Planet: ice spiders, Swiss cheese terrain, and perfectly spiral-shaped lava tubes.

 

And the more we explore our near planetary neighbor, the weirder the things we find get. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling Mars since 2006, provides the clearest and highest-resolution images of the planet’s surface. Looking through the image archive of its HiRISE camera, which can resolve things about a meter wide on the ground, reveals a vast supply of strange and wonderful things.

 

Here we share some of the orbiter’s most recent weird sightings from the last few months. The images provide incredible scientific insights into Mars. But, perhaps just as important, they are beautiful, fascinating, and reflective of the alien world that sits not too far from our own.

 

Click headline to read more and view pix--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Asteroid 2012 DA14: Stories and Scientific Analysis | Viva Technics

Asteroid 2012 DA14: Stories and Scientific Analysis | Viva Technics | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
Deborah Byrd | FEB 17, 2013

A near-Earth asteroid swept safely past Earth on February 15, 2013, and astronomers in many parts of the world were ready with cameras and video equipment.
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Mars' Chemistry Glitch Complicates Search for Ancient Life

Mars' Chemistry Glitch Complicates Search for Ancient Life | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
The quest for evidence of life on Mars could be more difficult than scientists previously thought. A chemical in the Martian soil that interferes with the techniques used by the Curiosity rover to test for traces of life.
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Scientists develop new therapeutics that could accelerate wound healing

Scientists develop new therapeutics that could accelerate wound healing | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
(Medical Xpress)—In 'before' and 'after' photos from advertisements for wound-healing ointments, bandages and antibiotic creams, we see an injury transformed from an inflamed red gash to smooth and flawless skin.
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100 Weird Facts About the Human Body | Viva Technics

100 Weird Facts About the Human Body | Viva Technics | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
This fun article by Christina Laun at BootStrapper explains 100 weird, wacky, and interesting facts about the human body. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. The largest cell in the human body is the female egg and the smallest is the male sperm.
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Controlling genes with light: New technique can rapidly turn genes on and off, helping scientists better understand their function

Controlling genes with light: New technique can rapidly turn genes on and off, helping scientists better understand their function | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
New technology can rapidly start or halt the expression of any gene of interest simply by shining light on the cells.
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Most Earthlike Planets Found Yet: A Breakthrough By Marc Kaufman | Viva Technics

Most Earthlike Planets Found Yet: A Breakthrough By Marc Kaufman | Viva Technics | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
By Marc Kaufman | Apr 18, 2013 | National Geographic News
Planet hunters are significantly closer to their goal of finding an
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Bionanotechnology and its applications - World Of Chemicals

Bionanotechnology and its applications - World Of Chemicals | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
Abstract

Bionanotechnology is a division of nanotechnology which uses biological starting materials, and it keeps exciting opportunities to bring high-impact advances in the field of bioengineering and medicine.

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Saturn's Titan is Capable of Creating Molecules that are Constituents of DNA even without Water

Saturn's Titan is Capable of Creating Molecules that are Constituents of DNA even without Water | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
Saturn's moon Titan has many of the components for life without liquid water. But the orange hydrocarbon haze that shrouds the planet's largest moon could be creating the molecules that make up DNA without the help of water – an ingredient widely thought to be necessary for the molecules formation according to a 2011 international study.

 

Paul Davies, a leading authority in astrobiology, director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and co-director of the ASU Cosmology Initiative, says: "To the best of our knowledge, the original chemicals chosen by known life on Earth do not constitute a unique set; other choices could have been made, and maybe were made if life started elsewhere many times."


Researchers warn however that although Titan's atmosphere is creating these molecules, that doesn't mean that the molecules are combining to form life, But the finding could entice astrobiologists to consider a wider range of extrasolar planets as potential hosts for at least simple forms of organic life, the team of scientists from the US and France suggests.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Life outside our Solar System? Hubble finds oxygen signature of water in ring of debris around dead star

Life outside our Solar System? Hubble finds oxygen signature of water in ring of debris around dead star | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it

The likely remains of a water-rich asteroid have been discovered orbiting a dead star 50 parsecs (150 light years) from Earth. The finding suggests that from cradle to grave, a wide range of stars might harbor rocky material rich in water — key ingredients for building a habitable planet.

 

Jay Farihi at the University of Cambridge, UK and his colleagues had been looking for several years at signs of rocky planets or their chemical building blocks around white dwarfs — the remains of stars between one and eight times the mass of the Sun crammed into a volume no bigger than Earth. White dwarfs are natural laboratories for studying the composition of exoplanets (planets outside the Solar System), as their strong gravitational pull shreds nearby asteroids and minor planets and pulls in their debris, Farihi notes. The remnants are relatively easy to detect because they pollute a white dwarf’s pristine atmosphere of hydrogen or helium with heavy elements. The team focused on the white dwarf GD 61, the compact core of a star about three times heavier than the Sun. Previous observations had revealed a disk of rocky debris orbiting GD 61 and an abundance of oxygen in its atmosphere, a clue that water might be present.

 

Using an ultraviolet spectrometer aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, the team took a more precise inventory of the oxygen content. Using the abundances of other elements measured by the Keck Observatory atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, the team determined how much oxygen should be present if it were all bound up in rock. The actual oxygen abundance revealed by Hubble was much greater, indicating that the additional oxygen was carried by either water or by carbonaceous material.

 

The white dwarf, however, contains very little carbon, leaving water as the only possible source of the oxygen abundance, Farihi says. The team calculates that if the debris disk surrounding GD 61 is the remains of a single object, then that would probably have been about the size of the Solar System asteroid Vesta, which has a diameter of around 500 kilometres, and would have possessed abundant water (26% by mass). That would make it similar to the asteroid Ceres, the type of asteroid thought to have ferried water to the young Earth.

 

“This is the first convincing case” that an object pulverized by a white dwarf was both rocky and water-rich, says astronomer Ben Zuckerman of the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.

 

The putative asteroid must have broken up relatively recently, because debris disks around white dwarfs last only for about a million years and material polluting their atmosphere sinks to the core in about 20,000 years or less, says Farihi.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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James Jandebeur's curator insight, October 11, 2013 6:57 PM

Of course, finding the remains of life in space would not necessarily be good news.

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One thousand exoplanets but still no identical twin for Earth

One thousand exoplanets but still no identical twin for Earth | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it

Any day now, the thousandth exoplanet discovery will be logged, but Earth's twin is not among them. Where are the habitable planets and why can't astronomers find them?

 

Imagine Earth's twin planet: shining blue with oceans and laced with white clouds. It orbits a star that is virtually indistinguishable from the sun, and is – of course – teeming with alien life. The problem is that try as they might, astronomers have not been able to find such a world. Even after two decades of searching, an Earth-sized world, in an Earth-like orbit, around a sun-like star eludes us still.

 

Jean Schneider at the Observatoire de Paris curates The Extrasolar Planet Encyclopaedia, which currently lists 998 exoplanets. He thinks that the focus on Earth's twin distracts from the real goal. "What we are interested in are habitable planets, even if they are not exactly Earth-like," he says. Yet there are still problems, even after widening the goalposts. The majority of known exoplanets are completely unlike Earth. They are either too big, or too small, or just too bizarre. Take the case of CoRoT-7b. It is so hot that astronomers theorise it could rain pebbles, which would condense out of the atmosphere in the way water droplets do on Earth.

 

This is pure speculation, though, because currently there is no way to analyse the atmosphere of most exoplanets. To do so would require aspace telescope dedicated to the task, but this is exactly what astronomers could get if the EChO space mission is approved by the European Space Agency (Esa). EChO is the Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory. At a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in London last week, astronomers and engineers discussed the way this mission would work.

 

It would target stars known to have planets that pass in front of them. The starlight would pass through the atmosphere of those worlds, and the gases there would naturally absorb certain wavelengths of light.

EChO would capture the remaining light, allowing astronomers on Earth to analyse which wavelengths were missing, and hence which gases are present in the planet's atmosphere. If they saw silicon compounds on CoRoT-7b, for example, then the pebble rain might begin to sound a little more plausible.

 

The EChO technique has been pioneered using ground-based telescopes to look at the biggest and brightest exoplanets. Now, principal investigator Giovanna Tinetti at University College London thinks it is ripe for taking into space. "Now would be the perfect moment for this mission. The next step for exoplanets must be to analyse their atmospheres and we will have several hundred planets to target," she says.

 

Until now, missions such as Nasa's Kepler Space Telescope have been designed simply to find planets. Together with follow-up observations from ground-based telescopes, they could provide bulk properties such as the planet's mass and diameter, and its orbit.

 

From such crude measurements, a rough surface temperature for the planet can be calculated and this has led to a number of headlines about "the most habitable exoplanet so far". In reality, what that means is that their temperatures may be in the range that allows liquid water to exist. And water in liquid form is thought to be a prerequisite for life.

 

For starters, there are a number of planets orbiting the red dwarf starGliese 667C that may be clement enough for liquid water. There is also Gliese 581g, which is by far the most similar world to our according to the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo's Earth Similarity Index. The trouble is not all astronomers are convinced that Gliese 581g actually exists. It shows up in some analyses of the data but not in others.

 

EChO could open the way to a new era in exoplanet research. It could lead to a time when much of the current speculation about conditions is replaced by plausible hypotheses. And it could put us on track to finding worlds with habitable atmospheres; maybe even Earth's twin.

 

However, EChO is not a done deal. It is a candidate for Esa's M3 launch opportunity and faces stiff competition from four other excellent mission possibilities. Each of the teams is racing to complete their studies to persuade the power-brokers at Esa that their project should be the one to receive the half-a-billion Euros on offer.

 

The decision will be made in February 2014, and the mission must be ready to launch between 2022 and 2024. In the meantime, if you need an excuse for a party, keep an eye on the exoplanet counter. Any day now, it will clock up the 1000th discovery.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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In 2084, Androids Enter Law Enforcement | Viva Technics

In 2084, Androids Enter Law Enforcement | Viva Technics | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
By Future Timeline 
Some humans are becoming more non-biological than biological
Today, the average citizen has access to a wide array of biotechnology implants and personal medical devices.
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Brain's vision secrets unraveled

Brain's vision secrets unraveled | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
A new study led by scientists at the Universities of York and Bradford has identified the two areas of the brain responsible for our perception of orientation and shape.
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Enzymes allow DNA to swap information with exotic molecules

Enzymes allow DNA to swap information with exotic molecules | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
(Phys.org) —The discovery of the Rosetta Stone resolved a longstanding puzzle, permitting the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs into Ancient Greek.
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Ancient fossilized sea creatures yield oldest biomolecules isolated directly from a fossil

Ancient fossilized sea creatures yield oldest biomolecules isolated directly from a fossil | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
Though scientists have long believed that complex organic molecules couldn’t survive fossilization, some 350-million-year-old remains of aquatic sea creatures uncovered in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa have challenged that assumption.
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New insights into the ribosome; important implications for disease

New insights into the ribosome; important implications for disease | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
In a first-of-its-kind study that broadly examines the composition of the riboproteome, a scientific team reveals previously unappreciated components of the ribosome, uncovering a large and dynamic structure that, among other things, can be altered...
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Developing Emotional Intelligence By Daniel Goleman | Viva Technics

Developing Emotional Intelligence By Daniel Goleman | Viva Technics | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
By Daniel Goleman | Feb 20, 2013 | LinkedIn
You may have heard that we're born with a huge amount of brain cells, and then we lose them steadily until we die. Now, the good news: that’s neuromythology.
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The Future of World and Technology in 2029 | Viva Technics

The Future of World and Technology in 2029 | Viva Technics | Chemistryproject | Scoop.it
By Future Timeline
Human-like AI is becoming a reality
A major milestone is reached in the field of AI this year as a computer passes the Turing Test for the first time.** This test...
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tatiyana fuentes's curator insight, October 24, 2013 9:44 AM

Information technology has reached the stage where an independent judge is literally unable to tell which is the real human and which is not. For example of the majority of retail environments are now cashless. Automated systems have made it possible for customers to shop with little or no physical interaction with a checkout.