Scientists in the United States say they have taken an important step on a decades-old quest to harness nuclear fusion to generate nearly inexhaustible energy. For the first time, two nuclear fusion experiments succeeded in producing more energy than was used to trigger the reaction, the journal Nature reports :: Read the full article »»»»
Palaeontologists have verified a 200-year old hunch about an African fish and, in the process, showed how the first land animals developed the ability to breathe.
The scientists found the polypterus, a bony fish species, receives most of its oxygen not through gills but primitive nostrils on the top of its head.
Scientists had previously noticed similar holes, known as spiracles, in fossils of much more ancient species which are today regarded as the ancestors of modern land animals. Those species include the gogonasus, which inhabited the oceans 380 million years ago and was first identified by Flinders University palaeontologist Professor John Long.
His new research, in conjunction with a team based at the Scripps Research Institute in the US, has now been published in the journal Nature Communications. The discovery marks the first step in the evolutionary transition of similar ancient fishes to the land as tetrapods, or four-legged animals :: Read the full article »»»»
NASA’s Curiosity rover has dug below the Martian surface, and for the first time uncovered direct evidence of what used to be a freshwater lake. There is no water left where the lake once was, but drill tests and chemical analysis of fine-grained rocks by the Curiosity robot’s science tools suggest conditions were right for the lake to have once supported microbial life, perhaps as long as 3.6 billion years ago.
NASA’a latest findings provide the strongest evidence to-date that Mars could have held life to take hold, according to the report in the journal Science :: Read the full article »»»»
NASA’s latest trick, MAVEN – Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution – has kicked-off with a seamless countdown and flawless launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex. The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the 2 tonne spacecraft lifted off at 1:28 pm local time.
“MAVEN deployed without a hitch, everything is looking good,” NASA Mission Control said.
The MAVEN mission will measure the effect solar winds have had on stripping its atmosphere of water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. When a spacecraft was first sent to Mars in the 1960s, it looked like a cratered, battered world, not much different to Earth’s moon :: Read the full article »»»»
Global greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached an ominous milestone that is unprecedented in human history. The world’s longest measure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 400 parts per million for the first time in three million years.
The daily CO2 level is measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which tracks greenhouse gases in the Northern Hemisphere. The level has been measured at Mauna Loa since 1958, with data before that taken from ice core samples.
The last time it reached this level, temperatures rose by between three and four degrees and sea levels were between five and 40 metres higher than today. Still sceptical? :: Read the full article »»»»