Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


At Phys.org: Alpine lake bacteria deploy two light-harvesting systems

Christopher Packham writes: Though humans, along with other vertebrate and invertebrate organisms, don’t photosynthesize, we’re definitely the downstream beneficiaries of the life forms that do. Phototrophic organisms at the bottom of the food chain convert abundant sunlight into the energy that ultimately powers all other life. The two metabolic systems for harvesting light energy are fundamentally different. The most familiar is the chlorophyll-based photosynthesis by which plant life uses light to power the conversion of carbon dioxide and water into sugars and starches; the other system consists of proton-pumping rhodopsins. Microbial rhodopsins, retinal-binding proteins, provide ion transport driven by light (and incidentally, sensory functions). It’s a family that includes light-driven proton pumps, ion pumps, ion channels and light sensors. Microbial rhodopsins are Read More ›

At Phys.org: Planetary interiors in TRAPPIST-1 system could be affected by solar flares

It's worth realizing that if the energy from stellar flaring is sufficient to noticeably heat the entire planet, it's more than enough to "cook its goose." Read More ›

At Phys.org: Experimentalists: Sorry, no oxygen required to make these minerals on Mars

"There are several life forms even on Earth that do not require oxygen to survive," Mitra said. "I don't think of it as a 'setback' to habitability—only that there was probably no oxygen-based lifeforms." Read More ›

At Phys.org: Comet impacts could bring ingredients for life to Europa’s ocean

"Comet strikes on Jupiter's moon Europa could help transport critical ingredients for life found on the moon's surface to its hidden ocean of liquid water—even if the impacts don't punch completely through the moon's icy shell." Read More ›

At Phys.org: Anatomy of a superorganism: Ant pupae secrete fluid as ‘milk’ to nurture young larvae

Life in an ant colony is a symphony of subtle interactions between insects acting in concert, more like cells in tissue than independent organisms bunking in a colony. Now, researchers have discovered a previously unknown social interaction that unites the colony, linking ants across developmental stages: adults, larvae, and pupae (an immobile stage, not unlike a butterfly’s chrysalis, during which ants transition from larvae to adults). The study, published in Nature, reveals that pupae secrete a never-before observed fluid that adults and larvae immediately drink. The health of the entire colony appears to hinge on the prompt consumption of this nutrient-packed fluid—the larvae need it to grow and, if adults and larvae fail to drink it, the pupae die of fungal infections as the fluid Read More ›

At Phys.org: Chemists create an ‘artificial photosynthesis’ system ten times more efficient than existing systems

"In nature, photosynthesis is performed by several very complex assemblies of proteins and pigments." Researchers have not been able to approach the efficiency of the natural process with artificial photosynthesis. Read More ›

At Phys.org: New study finds our ancient relatives were not so simple after all

Lacking a naturalistic mechanism for the generation of the new information of novel features, the idea of the "loss of features" is put forward as a driving factor for supposed evolutionary advance. Read More ›

At Phys.org: Aluminous silica: A major water carrier in the lower mantle

"Water is transported by oceanic plates into the Earth's deep interior and changes the properties of minerals and rocks, affecting the Earth's internal material cycle and environmental evolution since the formation of the Earth." Read More ›

At Phys.org: NASA announces 16 people who will study UFOs to see what’s natural—and what isn’t

What would the UFO team decide if they were fed the genetic code from human DNA, perhaps disguised in a format that didn't reveal it as such? Read More ›