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  • Clobbered Mars has more than 635,000 craters - Futurity
    Washington University in St Louis Yale University Top Stories Related Articles Happy heads may get better sleep Aging musicians have sharp brains Why comets aren t just dirty snowballs Share This Article facebook twitter Action googleplus Google linkedin LinkedIn pinterest Pinterest reddit Reddit Stumbleupon mail Email Print Clobbered Mars has more than 635 000 craters University of Colorado at Boulder right Original Study Posted by Jim Scott CU Boulder on June 13 2012 You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4 0 International license U COLORADO BOULDER US Researchers recently finished counting and cataloging more than 635 000 violent impact craters on Mars The craters are roughly a kilometer or more in diameter according to the University of Colorado Boulder research team involved in the project As the largest single database ever compiled of impacts on a planet or moon in our solar system the new information will be of help in dating the ages of particular regions of Mars says postdoctoral researcher Stuart Robbins who led the effort The new crater atlas also should help researchers better understand the history of water volcanism on Mars through time as well as the planet s potential for past habitability by primitive life he says httpv www youtube com watch v AS1yTo10e A This database is a giant tool that will be helpful in scores of future Mars studies ranging from age dating and erosion to planetary habitability and to other applications we have not even thought of yet says Robbins In a sense it s like building a new and better hammer which quickly becomes used by everyone A paper on the subject by Robbins and CU Boulder faculty member Brian Hynek appeared last week in the Journal of Geophysical Research Planets a publication of the American Geophysical Union A companion study by the two researchers was published in a recent issue of the same journal The study was funded by NASA s Mars Data Analysis Program Past life The assembly of the new Mars crater database was tedious says Robbins We have all this new information coming from Mars orbiters and landers that have helped generate far better maps illustrating the planet s topography and surface details I basically analyzed maps and drew crater rim circles for four years Hynek an assistant professor in the geological sciences department says knowing more about the history and extent of Martian cratering has implications for better understanding the potential for past life on Mars Many of the large impact craters generated hydrothermal systems that could have created unique locally habitable environments that lasted for thousands or millions of years assuming there was water in the planet s crust at the time says Hynek But large impacts also have the ability to wipe out life forms as evident from Earth s dinosaur killing Chicxulub impact 65 million years ago Robbins says most of the smaller diameter craters on Mars are younger than the largest craters and form the bulk of the

    Original URL path: http://www.futurity.org/clobbered-mars-has-more-than-635000-craters/ (2016-02-11)
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  • 'Extreme' microbes found in high-altitude volcanoes - Futurity
    fungi and other rudimentary organisms called archaea which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world We haven t formally identified or characterized the species says Ryan Lynch a doctoral student at the University of Colorado Boulder who was involved in the study But these are very different than anything else that has been cultured Genetically they re at least 5 percent different than anything else in the DNA database of 2 5 million sequences Life gets little encouragement on the incredibly dry slopes of the tallest volcanoes in the Atacama region where Steve Schmidt a professor at CU Boulder and his team collected soil samples Much of the sparse snow that falls on the terrain sublimates back to the atmosphere soon after it hits the ground and the soil is so depleted of nutrients that nitrogen levels in the scientists samples were below detection limits Ultraviolet radiation in the high altitude environment can be twice as intense as in a low elevation desert says Schmidt of the ecology and evolutionary biology department While the researchers were on site temperatures dropped to 14 degrees Fahrenheit one night and spiked to 133 F the next day How the newfound organisms survive under such circumstances remains a mystery Although Ryan Schmidt and colleagues looked for genes known to be involved in photosynthesis and peered into the cells using fluorescent techniques to look for chlorophyll they couldn t find evidence that the microbes were photosynthetic Instead they think the microbes might slowly generate energy by means of chemical reactions that extract energy and carbon from wisps of gases such as carbon monoxide and dimethylsulfide that blow into the desolate mountain area The process wouldn t give the bugs a high energy yield Lynch says but it could be enough as it adds up over time A paper on the findings has been accepted by the Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences published by the American Geophysical Union Lack of water While normal soil has thousands of microbial species in just a gram of soil and garden soils even more remarkably few species have made their home in the barren Atacama mountain soil the new research suggests To find a community dominated by less than 20 species is pretty amazing for a soil microbiologist Schmidt adds He has studied sites in the Peruvian Andes where four years after a glacier retreats there are thriving diverse microbe communities But on these volcanoes on the Chile Argentina border which rise to altitudes of more than 19 685 feet and which have been ice free for 48 000 years the bacterial and fungal ecosystems have not undergone succession to more diverse communities It s mostly due to the lack of water we think he says Without water you re not going to develop a complex community Overall there was a good bit lower diversity in the Atacama samples than you would find in most soils including other mountainous mineral soils

    Original URL path: http://www.futurity.org/extreme-microbes-found-in-high-altitude-volcanoes/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Wisps of gas may fuel 'extremophile' bugs - Futurity
    hardy microbes that are eking out a living on volcanoes in South America a Martian like landscape that is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth A new DNA analysis of the rocky soils extreme conditions has revealed a handful of bacteria fungi and other rudimentary organisms called archaea which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world We haven t formally identified or characterized the species says Ryan Lynch a doctoral student at the University of Colorado But these are very different than anything else that has been cultured Genetically they re at least 5 percent different than anything else in the DNA database of 2 5 million sequences Life gets little encouragement on the incredibly dry slopes of the tallest volcanoes in the Atacama region where Professor Steve Schmidt and his team collected soil samples Much of the sparse snow that falls on the terrain sublimates back to the atmosphere soon after it hits the ground and the soil is so depleted of nutrients that nitrogen levels in the scientists samples were below detection limits Ultraviolet radiation in the high altitude environment can be twice as intense as in a low elevation desert says Schmidt of the ecology and evolutionary biology department While the researchers were on site temperatures dropped to 14 degrees Fahrenheit one night and spiked to 133 F the next day How the newfound organisms survive under such circumstances remains a mystery Although Ryan Schmidt and their colleagues looked for genes known to be involved in photosynthesis and peered into the cells using fluorescent techniques to look for chlorophyll they couldn t find evidence that the microbes were photosynthetic Instead they think the microbes might slowly generate energy by means of chemical reactions that extract energy and carbon from wisps of gases such as carbon monoxide and dimethylsulfide that blow into the desolate mountain area The process wouldn t give the bugs a high energy yield Lynch says but it could be enough as it adds up over time A paper on the findings has been accepted by the Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences published by the American Geophysical Union While normal soil has thousands of microbial species in just a gram of soil and garden soils even more remarkably few species have made their home in the barren Atacama mountain soil the new research suggests To find a community dominated by less than 20 species is pretty amazing for a soil microbiologist Schmidt says Little diversity He has studied sites in the Peruvian Andes where four years after a glacier retreats there are thriving diverse microbe communities But on these volcanoes on the Chile Argentina border which rise to altitudes of more than 19 685 feet and which have been ice free for 48 000 years the bacterial and fungal ecosystems have not undergone succession to more diverse communities It s mostly due to the lack of water we think he says Without water you

    Original URL path: http://www.futurity.org/wisps-of-gas-may-fuel-extremophile-bugs/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Want fewer frogs with extra legs? Add parasites - Futurity
    Nottingham University of Oregon University of Pennsylvania University of Pittsburgh University of Queensland University of Rochester University of Sheffield University of Southampton University of Southern California University of Texas at Austin University of Toronto University of Virginia University of Warwick University of Washington University of York Vanderbilt University Washington University in St Louis Yale University Science and Technology Related Articles Map of 6 000 clouds pinpoints where stars are born Test quickly detects if food is contaminated Enough water vapor in star cloud to fill 2 000 oceans Share This Article facebook twitter Action googleplus Google linkedin LinkedIn pinterest Pinterest reddit Reddit Stumbleupon mail Email Print Want fewer frogs with extra legs Add parasites University of Colorado at Boulder right Original Study Posted by Jim Scott CU Boulder on May 21 2012 You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4 0 International license U COLORADO BOULDER US Harmful parasites including one that causes malformed limbs in frogs are less successful at infecting amphibians when there is a rich diversity of parasites a new study finds Charting the relationships between parasites and amphibians is important since few studies have examined the influence of parasite diversity on disease and the fact that amphibians are declining faster than any group of animals on the planet due to human activities like habitat loss pollution and emerging diseases says Pieter Johnson assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado For a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers sampled 134 California ponds for parasites known as trematodes comparing their abundance and distribution to the health of more than 2 000 Pacific chorus frogs The team combined the field studies with extensive lab experiments that charted the health of the frogs in the presence of different combinations of the six most common amphibian parasites including the Ribeiroia group whose larvae burrow into tadpole limb regions and form cysts that disrupt normal frog and toad leg development causing extra or missing limbs When the chorus frogs were exposed to all six trematode types simultaneously the infection success rate was 42 percent lower than for frogs exposed to only a single species of parasite Our results show increases in parasite diversity consistently cause a decrease in infection success by the most virulent parasite Johnson says While the six parasites used in the study are responsible for about 95 percent of trematode infections in the wild most of the world s parasites cause limited damage to host individuals Johnson says In the new study only two parasites Ribeiroia and a parasite group called Echinostoma which can trigger amphibian mortality were known to be particularly dangerous to their host species The results support the idea that higher biodiversity can help protect against certain diseases but few previous studies had considered the diversity of the parasites themselves Because many parasites compete with each other ecological systems richer in parasites can act as a buffer against virulent pathogens One

    Original URL path: http://www.futurity.org/want-fewer-frogs-with-extra-legs-add-parasites/ (2016-02-11)
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  • ‘Map of Life’ tracks animals around the globe - Futurity
    Washington University in St Louis Yale University Earth and Environment Related Articles Changes mix up critters in stream ecosystems Why vampire plants are good to have around What killed California s sea stars and urchins Share This Article facebook twitter Action googleplus Google linkedin LinkedIn pinterest Pinterest reddit Reddit Stumbleupon mail Email Print Map of Life tracks animals around the globe University of Colorado at Boulder Yale University right Original Study Posted by Jim Scott CU Boulder on May 11 2012 You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4 0 International license U COLORADO YALE US The Map of Life online database aims to show the distribution of all living plants and animals on the planet and is now available to the public The demonstration version allows users to map the known global distribution of almost 25 000 species of terrestrial vertebrate animals including mammals birds amphibians reptiles and North American freshwater fish httpv www youtube com watch v FEAGojz5Hs8 The database which continues to expand already contains hundreds of millions of records on the abundance and distribution of the planet s diverse flora and fauna We are taking 200 years of different types of knowledge coming from different sources all documenting the locations of species around the world and compiling them in a way that will greatly enhance our knowledge of biodiversity says University of Colorado Boulder Associate Professor Robert Guralnick of the ecology and evolutionary biology department Such information could be used by any organization that needs to make informed decisions regarding land management health conservation and climate change The initial version of the map tool being released today is intended to introduce it to the broader public according to the researchers It allows users to see several levels of detail for a given species at its broadest the type of environment it lives in and at its finest specific locations where the species presence has been documented One function allows users to click a point on the map and generate a list of vertebrate species in the surrounding area More functions will be added over time according to the team It is the where and the when of a species says Walter Jetz associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University and leader of the project It puts at your fingertips the geographic diversity of life Ultimately the hope is for this literally to include hundreds of thousands of animal and plant species and show how much or indeed how little we know of their whereabouts A paper by Jetz Guralnick and Jana McPherson of the Calgary Zoological Society describing the evolving Map of Life technology tool appeared in a recent issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution By highlighting the known abundance and distribution of species the researchers hope to identify and fill knowledge gaps and also offer a tool for detecting change over time They expect the map tool will prove useful for professional scientists wildlife and land

    Original URL path: http://www.futurity.org/map-of-life-tracks-animals-around-the-globe/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Compassion may motivate faithful less - Futurity
    linkedin LinkedIn pinterest Pinterest reddit Reddit Stumbleupon mail Email Print Compassion may motivate faithful less University of California Berkeley University of Colorado at Boulder right Original Study Posted by Yasmin Anwar UC Berkeley on May 1 2012 You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4 0 International license UC BERKELEY US The highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists agnostics and less religious people according to new research In three experiments social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous For highly religious people however compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion researchers said In the study the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non religious or less religious Overall we find that for less religious people the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not says University of California Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer a co author of the study The more religious on the other hand may ground their generosity less in emotion and more in other factors such as doctrine a communal identity or reputational concerns Compassion is defined in the study as an emotion felt when people see the suffering of others which then motivates them to help often at a personal risk or cost While the study examined the link between religion compassion and generosity it did not directly examine the reasons for why highly religious people are less compelled by compassion to help others However researchers hypothesize that deeply religious people may be more strongly guided by a sense of moral obligation than their more non religious counterparts We hypothesized that religion would change how compassion impacts generous behavior says study lead author Laura Saslow who conducted the research as a doctoral student Saslow who is now a postdoctoral scholar at UC San Francisco says she was inspired to examine this question after an altruistic nonreligious friend lamented that he had only donated to earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti after watching an emotionally stirring video of a woman being saved from the rubble not because of a logical understanding that help was needed I was interested to find that this experience an atheist being strongly influenced by his emotions to show generosity to strangers was replicated in three large systematic studies Saslow says Three experiments In the first experiment researchers analyzed data from a 2004 national survey of more than 1 300 American adults Those who agreed with such statements as When I see someone being taken advantage of I feel kind of protective towards them were also more inclined to show generosity in

    Original URL path: http://www.futurity.org/compassion-may-motivate-faithful-less/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Climate threat worst at seasonal icy spots - Futurity
    of the journal BioScience The papers are tied to data gathered at 26 sites in North America Puerto Rico the island of Moorea near Tahiti and Antarctica which are known as Long Term Ecological Research or LTER sites and are funded by the National Science Foundation University of Colorado Boulder s Niwot Ridge site one of the five original LTER sites designated by NSF in 1980 encompasses several thousand acres of subalpine forest tundra talus slopes glacial lakes and wetlands stretching up to more than 13 000 feet on top of the Continental Divide As part of the new reports LTER scientists in association with NSF have come up with a new evaluation system of the research sites that brings in the human dimension says Professor Mark Williams the principal investigator on the Niwot Ridge LTER site In the past we tried to look at pristine ecosystems but those are essentially gone says Williams So we ve come up with an approach that integrates human activities with our ecological research One of the six papers Long Term Studies Detect Effects of Disappearing Ice and Snow was led by Portland State University Professor Andrew Fountain and co authored by several others including Williams a geography professor and a fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research According to the authors there are big changes occurring in temperate areas beyond the poles where warming temperatures have triggered declines in polar bear and penguin populations Key measurements at the Niwot Ridge site which has climate records going back more than 60 years thanks to work by biology Professor John Marr in the 1950s are temperature and precipitation logs from two stations one at 12 700 feet in elevation and a second at 10 000 feet Although the climate at the higher meteorological station by far the highest long term climate station in the United States has been getting slightly wetter and cooler in recent decades the station at 10 000 feet in a subalpine forest is getting significantly warmer and drier Williams says warming at 10 000 feet and lower may be causing enhanced surface water evaporation and transport that moves westward and higher in the mountains with the water vapor being converted to snow that falls atop the Continental Divide Snow cover increases reflectivity of incoming sunlight further cooling the alpine area and overriding the overall warming signal in the West which is believed to be a 2 or 3 degree Fahrenheit rise over the past decade due to rising greenhouse gases These two Niwot Ridge stations are less than five miles away from each other you can see one from the other but there are totally different trends occurring he says In many places in the mountainous West only a small increase in temperature can cause the climate to cross a threshold that triggers earlier and more intense snow melting says Williams who was principal investigator on a 2011 grant from NSF to continue long term ecological studies at Niwot

    Original URL path: http://www.futurity.org/climate-threat-worst-at-seasonal-icy-spots/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Underwater ruins of Greek harbor are full of surprises - Futurity
    talk alike when we think alike Share This Article facebook twitter Action googleplus Google linkedin LinkedIn pinterest Pinterest reddit Reddit Stumbleupon mail Email Print We have found and documented several monumental architectural structures built at great expense showing that Lechaion was developed as a grand harbor to match the importance of her powerful metropolis Corinth says Bjørn Lovén Above A scientist investigates the outer part of the entrance canal Credit V Tsiairis Underwater ruins of Greek harbor are full of surprises University of Copenhagen Posted by Carsten Munk Hansen U Copenhagen on December 25 2015 You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4 0 International license Researchers have made some surprising discoveries while investigating the underwater ruins of Lechaion ancient Corinth s partially submerged harbor town Lechaion was one of two bustling ports of the ancient city of Corinth The harbor saw vibrant maritime activity for more than a thousand years from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE Ships and fleets departed filled with cargoes colonists and marines destined for ports all over the Mediterranean and beyond Aerial photo of the Western Mole Credit K Xenikakis S Gesafidis According to ancient sources most of the city s wealth derived from the maritime trade that passed through her two harbors eventually earning her the nickname Wealthy Corinth says archaeologist Bjørn Lovén from the University of Copenhagen and co director of the Lechaion Harbor Project LHP The Lechaion Harbour Project LHP a collaboration between the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Greece the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Institute at Athens is exploring the submerged main harbor of ancient Corinth The research team has initiated full scale excavations and a digital and geophysical survey of the seaward side of the harbor using various innovative technologies including a newly developed 3D parametric sub bottom profiler To date they have uncovered two monumental moles constructed of ashlar blocks along with a smaller mole two areas of wooden caissons a breakwater and an entrance canal that leads into Lechaion s three inner harbor basins The 2015 excavations focused on two areas The first is a unique early Byzantine mole constructed of six well preserved wooden caissons together stretching 57 meters in length The second is the stone lined entrance canal to the little explored Inner Harbor of Lechaion We have found and documented several monumental architectural structures built at great expense showing that Lechaion was developed as a grand harbor to match the importance of her powerful metropolis Corinth says Lovén Surprise discovery The discovery of well preserved wooden caissons however caught everyone off guard The wooden caissons acted as single mission barges built for the express purpose of being sunk together with their concrete cargoes all of which were designed to form a solid foundation to hold back the force of the sea along this highly exposed stretch of coast Roman imperial engineers employed a similar technology on a large scale at Caesarea Maritima in Israel in the

    Original URL path: http://www.futurity.org/lechaion-corinth-harbor-1077572-2/ (2016-02-11)
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