“Pitch Lake, which is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world, is a poisonous, foul smelling, hell hole on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. The lake is filled with hot asphalt and bubbling with noxious hydrocarbon gases and carbon dioxide. Water is scarce here and certainly below the levels normally thought of as a threshold for life. Various scientists have suggested that it is the closest thing on Earth to the kind of hydrocarbon lakes that they can see on Saturn’s moon Titan.
Now a group of researchers have discovered that the lake is teeming with microbial life which is thriving in the oxygen-free environment with very little water, eating hydrocarbons and respiring with metals. Gene sequence analysis indicates that these bugs are single-celled organisms such as archea and bacteria.
The researchers say the discovery has exciting implications for the possibility of life on Titan. There is a growing sense that Titan has all the ingredients for life: thermodynamic disequilibrium, abundant carbon-containing molecules and a fluid environment.
This is also evidence that liquid water may not be as important for life as everybody has assumed since some microorganisms can make their own water by chewing on various hydrocarbons. That may make Titan an even better place to look for life than previously thought.”
The Eyjafjallajokull volcano’s Wednesday eruption after 190 quiet years, which has severely disrupted air-travel in Western Europe, has “forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and left airplanes stranded on the tarmac at some of the world’s busiest airports as the rolling cloud — made up of minute particles of silicate that can severely damage airplane engines — spread over Britain and toward continental Europe” – according to the NY Times.
The ash plume can be seen sweeping east, just north of the United Kingdom, en route to Norway. As the NY Times fear, the silicates in the ash plume could turn into molten glass inside planes’ jet engines.
New York Times displays some of the winning photographs and illustrations from the 2009 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.
Will Light Peak, a high-speed optical interconnect for mobile devices being developed by Intel, that can run as fast as 10Gbps and can do everything from storage to displays to networking at that speed over 100-meter runs, replace USB 3.0?
“PC World reports that while Intel is still dragging its feet regarding USB 3.0, it’s planning to have Light Peak fiber optic devices in the market next year.
Intel insists Light Peak isn’t meant to replace USB, in so much as it can use the same ports and protocols (photographic evidence above), but at the same time it’s not shying away from the possibility of obliterating its copper competition with beams of light.”