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Phosphine fuel detected within the clouds of Venus might be an indication of life or some unusual unknown chemistry, Lisa Grossman reported in “Possible sign of life is found on Venus” (SN: 10/10/20 & 10/24/20, p. 6).
The story introduced again recollections for reader Bruce Hapke, a professor of planetary science on the College of Pittsburgh.
“In 1975, my colleague Robert M. Nelson and I printed the primary high-quality, broadband spectrum of the clouds of Venus … which we obtained utilizing the 106-inch telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas,” Hapke wrote. “This spectrum turned out to be equivalent to that of a type of elemental sulfur, and we recommended that tiny particles of sulfur within the clouds are liable for their yellowish colour. The sulfur comes from volcanic eruptions.”
By then, “Russia had launched a number of unmanned spacecraft that had efficiently landed on the floor of Venus. Within the paper, we identified that these spacecraft had not been sterilized and doubtless have been badly contaminated with microscopic, single-cell types of life, which the landers would then shed as they parachuted down by means of the clouds,” Hapke wrote. “We additionally identified that many forms of microbes are extraordinarily hardy and might readily survive the vacuum of house by going dormant till they’re in a hospitable atmosphere. Many can reside in sulfuric acid. On Earth they’re present in acid drainage from coal mines. Many are anaerobic and don’t require oxygen. As a substitute they generate power for his or her metabolism by chemically altering … sulfur that they ingest. Essentially, they survive by consuming sulfur,” he wrote. “If life does exist within the Venus clouds, it’s extremely prone to include immigrants from Earth.”
Different analysis teams have been questioning the phosphine detection (SN: 11/21/20, p. 16). “Based mostly on reanalyses of the info, a type of teams suggests the phosphine sign truly was sulfur dioxide. That might imply there’s no cause to get enthusiastic about attainable life indicators — not less than not but,” Grossman says. The idea that microbes can journey from planet to planet, both by hitching a journey on spacecraft or by another means, is gaining traction amongst some scientists. Current proof suggests some Earth microbes are hardy enough to make such journeys (SN: 9/26/20, p. 10).
Magnetized corpses of stars might be a supply of quick radio bursts and high-energy neutrinos, Lisa Grossman reported in “Magnetars could solve dual mystery” (SN: 10/10/20 & 10/24/20, p. 8).
Reader James Ash puzzled how neutrinos work together with one other mysterious phenomenon: high-energy cosmic rays.
Neutrinos are practically massless subatomic particles with no electrical cost. Which means they not often work together with regular matter, together with cosmic rays — a sort of charged particle with mass, Grossman says. However the two are related, produced in tandem by energetic celestial objects. Much like how magnetars would possibly produce each quick radio bursts and high-energy neutrinos, proof suggests bright galaxies called blazars eject both high-energy cosmic rays and high-energy neutrinos (SN: 8/4/18, p. 6).
On October 29, Scientific Experiences retracted the examine described in “Mouthbrooder lives in the deep” (SN: 4/11/20, p. 12) on the researchers’ request. Eggs discovered within the mouth of a deep-sea fish species, Parazen pacificus, belonged to a species of crab — not the fish, a reanalysis of the eggs confirmed. Although P. pacificus seems to own traits that recommend it might home fertilized eggs and maybe hatchlings within the mouth, “the unique information just isn’t ample to substantiate that this species is a mouthbrooder,” ichthyologist Randy Singer of the College of Michigan in Ann Arbor and colleagues wrote within the retraction.