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The discovery of a “lost world” belonging to a billion years ago



The discovery of a “lost world” belonging to a billion years ago. Newly discovered biomarker traces indicate the existence of a new group of previously unknown organisms called “protosteroids” that ruled complex life on Earth about a billion years ago.

The discovery of a “lost world” belonging to a billion years ago

According to AI, scientists have discovered ancient microorganisms that lived between one and 1.6 billion years ago. These creatures probably lived in marine environments.

It seems that the more we learn about the evolution of life, the more mysteries we uncover. In new research, fossils of unknown creatures have been discovered, which probably belong to about 1 to 1.6 billion years ago. These tiny organisms, known as protostole biota, lived in a world with much less oxygen than the present atmosphere and lived in the waterways of our planet.

These organisms, which belonged to the family of eukaryotes, had a complex cell structure with mitochondria and a nucleus, and they were very different from today’s eukaryotes such as animals, plants, and amoebas, and they were adapted to the needs of their environment.

Read More: The world’s oldest DNA dating back 2 million years, was discovered

These ancient organisms, which were discovered by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Helmholtz Society (Helmholtz) from German research centers, extended the current record of fossil steroids to 1.6 billion years (from 800 million). Another remarkable achievement lies in the way this discovery was made.

As Jochen Brocks, a professor at the Australian National University and one of the study’s first authors, explained, the scientists first had to find what they were looking for, using a combination of methods to “convert a variety of modern steroids into their fossil equivalents.” They were drawing. This allowed them to find overlooked traces of fossilized fat molecules inside a 1.6-billion-year-old rock at the bottom of the ocean near Australia’s Northern Territory.

Perform discovery

Dr. Benjamin Nettersheim of the University of Bremen and the other first author of the study explained how to determine where early organisms were found. Their goal, he says, is to trace the molecular remains of early organisms as far back as possible in Earth’s history.

He explains: “We knew from previous research how and where on Earth to find these precious molecular traces of early life on Earth.” There are only a few places in the world where ancient sediments are not buried deeper than a few kilometers and have never been warmed to such an extent that the diagnostic ecological information of key biological biomolecules is completely destroyed by heat and geological metamorphic processes.

The discovery of a "lost world" belonging to a billion years ago

One such place where diagnostic molecular fossils still exist is in northern Australia. As Dr. Nettersheim explained, the sedimentary rocks there have undergone very little change over 1.64 billion years of geologic history.

The discovery of a “lost world” belonging a billion years ago

To find these missing fossils, scientists had to develop new search patterns in the lab and then began finding fossil steroids in almost all rocks with biomarkers between 800 million and 1.6 billion years ago. According to Netersheim, of these, only bacterial hopanoids were known.

But these are not fossil cholesterols, but biosynthetically more primitive versions of them, he explained.

Now we have found fossil derivatives of these molecules. We think they probably derive in part from our very early eukaryotic ancestors, which must have been much more widespread and ecologically important than previously thought.

Changing our understanding of evolution

In response to the question of how this discovery affects our knowledge of evolutionary processes, Netersheim stated: “If our interpretation is correct that molecular fossils mainly originate from our early eukaryotic ancestors, it means that our early ancestors, which are the most Marine environments between 1.6 billion and about 800 million years ago still belonged to the stem of the eukaryotic tree.

This means that it was during the Tonian period, about 800 million years ago, that modern types of eukaryotes such as red algae and heterotrophic eukaryotes and so-called protists such as ciliates increased, and this is ecologically important on a global scale.

What caused their extinction?

The researchers believe their findings will improve our understanding of the major change that took place during the Tonian Period, a time known from about 1 billion to 720 million years ago. Netersheim believes that both the dramatic increase in eukaryote fossil diversity and the appearance of the first modern sterol fossils following the 800 million years of exclusively early sterols during that period produced a significant transformation of marine ecosystems on a global scale that should have led to extinction. These creatures have become ancient.

It is possible that early protosterol biota became extinct or, more likely, was marginalized by environmental disturbances during this period, he says. Their extinction may have been due, for example, to the emergence of modern eukaryotes and changes in atmospheric oxygen concentration or nutrient regimes.

Search for other ancient creatures

Now that they have identified some microorganisms from a billion years ago, scientists are looking to find more. They attempt to reconstruct ancient ecosystems and the evolution of early life as recorded in the rock record in as much detail as possible.

Their study titled “The Lost World of Complex Life and the Late Emergence of the Eukaryotic Crown” is published in the journal Nature.


Discovery of new hydrothermal wells at a depth of 2.5 km in the ocean




hydrothermal wells

Scientists have managed to discover new active hydrothermal wells at a depth of 2,550 meters below the surface of the ocean, wells that emit water with a temperature of more than 300 degrees Celsius.

Discovery of new hydrothermal wells at a depth of 2.5 km in the ocean

Five active and new hydrothermal wells have been discovered in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 2,550 meters on the seabed. These wells are places where superheated water erupts from the sea floor.

A hydrothermal vent is a crack on the surface of the earth, which geologically heats the surrounding waters.

Hydrothermal vents are often found in areas that are volcanically active, such as areas where tectonic plates are moving apart, ocean floors, and hot spots. The most famous hydrothermal system on land is probably Yellowstone National Park in America. Under the sea, hydrothermal vents are called black chimneys and can be found in most deep ocean waters.

The surroundings of hydrothermal wells are biologically more productive and are often home to complex communities that use chemicals dissolved in well fluids. Chemosynthetic activities form the base of the food chain and are used by organisms as diverse as large tube worms, bivalves, barnacles, and shrimp.

It is believed that there are active hydrothermal vents on Jupiter’s moon Europa and also on one of Saturn’s moons Enceladus. It is also believed that there were active hydrothermal vents on Mars in the past.

hydrothermal wells

It should be mentioned that these new hydrothermal wells were discovered by Sentry, which is an autonomous underwater probe, accompanied by Alvin, a manned submarine. These two technologies together accelerated the process of this research and exploration.

“By jointly operating these two advanced deep-sea submarines, we can make significant new discoveries about how the deep ocean floor is structured in some of the most inhospitable environments on Earth,” said Ross Parnell-Turner, a member of the operations team.

The team, led by Jill McDermott of Lehigh University, discovered these wells in a highly volcanic region in the eastern Pacific. These wells spit out fluids with a temperature of more than 300 degrees Celsius.

Read more: The discovery of a “lost world” belonging to a billion years ago

Supervolcanic region

These wells are formed due to the continuous separation of tectonic or tectonic plates in the East Pacific Rise, which is located in the wide volcanic mountain chain of the mid-ocean ridge. In this section, two tectonic plates are moving away from each other by approximately 11 cm per year.

Mid-ocean ridges are underwater mountain ranges formed by plate tectonics. The mid-ocean ridges are connected and form a global mid-ocean ridge system.

Thibaut Barriere, one of the senior scientists of this exploration from the University of Brest in France, says: The mid-ocean ridge accounts for more than 75% of all volcanic activity on our planet.

He, who is an expert in thermal measurements and modeling of hydrothermal wells, added: This area is filled with thousands of hot water springs in the deep sea like this, all of which remove 10% of the total internal heat of the earth.

We want to increase our understanding of how hydrothermal vents release heat and chemicals as they pass through the seafloor and affect the global ocean.

The researchers first sent Sentry to use its sensors to create high-resolution maps during the night. Maps of this robot were analyzed to show how humans travel to this location during the day. This process allowed them to collect first-hand data.

“The high-resolution maps that Sentry produces will allow us to identify new hydrothermal fields immediately after the robot returns to the deck,” McDermott said. Sentry gives us great targets for Alvin and the opportunity for multiple discoveries in one dive.

Finding extraterrestrial life

Wells rich in chemicals are known to support life around them, even in the darkest and deepest places on the sea floor. Studying these wells can provide valuable insights into the conditions they may support beyond Earth.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus is believed to have hydrothermal vents beneath its icy surface.

Additionally, understanding hydrothermal vents helps scientists understand the geophysical, chemical, and biological processes that shape our planet.

The study team aims to further investigate this hydrothermal activity and volcanoes along the eastern Pacific mid-ocean ridge in a subsequent mission that will also include the use of Sentry and Alvin.

It is worth mentioning that the Alvin probe has been involved in the discovery of several hydrothermal vents since 1977 and began its work by investigating an ocean ridge in the north of the Galapagos Islands.

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Climate change slows down the rotation of the earth!




Climate change slows down the rotation of the earth!
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have written in a new paper that climate change significantly alters the Earth’s rotation and disrupts time.

Climate change slows down the rotation of the earth!

Climate change seems to be disrupting time.

According to the Washington Post, the melting of polar ice caps due to global warming affects the rotation of the Earth and can also affect accurate timekeeping.

The planet is not going to stop, nor is it going to speed up so much that everyone is launched into space, but timing is an exact science in a high-tech society. For this reason, humans were forced to invent the concept of “leap second” more than half a century ago by observing slight changes in the Earth’s rotation.

Climate change has now complicated these calculations. In just a few years it may be necessary to introduce a “negative leap second” into the calendar to bring the planet’s rotation into line with the Universally Coordinated Clock.

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) geophysicist Duncan Agnew said: Global warming actually measurably affects the rotation of the entire Earth. Things are happening that have not happened before.

The main problem with timing

Chronology has traditionally had an astronomical basis. The earth is a kind of clock. In simpler times, the planet made one complete revolution on its axis, and everyone called that a day.

However, technologists are looking for difficult levels of accuracy. Atomic clocks already tell us what time it is. The goal of people who want to do things exactly right is to make sure that atomic time is perfectly aligned with astronomical time. For example, GPS-equipped satellites must know exactly where the earth is below them and exactly what time it is in order to accurately get you from home to your destination.

But the earth does not rotate at a constant speed. Our planet is in a complex gravitational dance with the moon, sun, ocean tides, its atmosphere, and the motion of the solid inner core.

Agnew noted that the Earth’s core is not accessible for close inspection and is a bit like a black box. By drilling into certain areas of the sea floor, geophysicists can understand details about the planet’s interior. Last year, it was reported that scientists had detected changes in the Earth’s rotation that seemed to match the 70-year fluctuations in the core’s rotation.

When scientists try to describe what the Earth is doing at any given moment, they have to account for a lot of tilting and shaking.

Read More: Climate changes will continue for 50 thousand years

Earth is no longer slowing down. In fact, the Earth has sped up quite a bit, and not a single leap second has been added since the end of 2016.

تغییرات اقلیمی، سرعت چرخش زمین را کند می‌کنند!

Melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets transports the melt water towards the equator. This process increases the equatorial bulge of the planet. Meanwhile, land compressed by ice rises at the poles, making the Earth more spherical. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) physicist Judah Levine, who was not involved in this research, said: These two changes in the shape of the planet have opposite effects on its rotation.

Agnew’s new paper says that although the core makes the planet spin faster, changes in the planet’s shape caused by warming climates slow it down. Without this effect, the overall acceleration of the planet’s rotation might require timers to enter a negative leap second at the end of 2026, Agnew wrote. Due to climate change, this may not be necessary until 2029.

This research was published in “Nature” magazine.

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A device that produces endless energy from soil




A device that produces endless energy from soil

A new fuel cell harnesses energy from soil-dwelling microbes to power sensors, harvesting nearly unlimited energy from the soil. In this article we will talk about a device that produces endless energy from soil.

A device that produces endless energy from soil

A team from Northwestern University has demonstrated a new way to generate electricity. They introduced a device the size of a book that sits on top of the soil and collects the force generated by microbes breaking down the soil (as long as there is carbon in the soil).

According to New Atlas, microbial fuel cells, as their name suggests, have been around for over 100 years. They work a bit like a battery, with an anode, cathode, and electrolyte, but instead of taking electricity from a chemical source, they work with bacteria that naturally donate electrons to nearby conductors.

This newly invented fuel cell relies on the ubiquitous natural microbes in the soil to generate energy.

Powered by soil, this device is a viable alternative to batteries in underground sensors used for precision agriculture.

A microbial fuel cell (MFC) or biological fuel cell is a biochemical system that produces electric current by mimicking the activity of bacteria that occurs in nature. A microbial fuel cell is a type of biochemical fuel cell system that generates electric current by diverting electrons produced from the microbial oxidation of reduced compounds (also known as fuel or electron donors) on the anode to oxidizing compounds (known as oxidizing agents or also known as electron acceptor) on the cathode through an external electrical circuit.

Fuel cells can be divided into two general categories “mediated and non-mediated”. The first fuel cells, introduced in the early 20th century, used a mediator, a chemical substance that transfers electrons from the bacteria in the cell to the anode. Non-intermediate fuel cells emerged in the 1970s. In this type of fuel cell, bacteria usually have electrochemically active proteins such as cytochromes on their outer membrane that can transfer electrons directly to the anode.

Read More: What if all the fish in the ocean disappeared?

Northwestern University researchers note the durability of their powerful fuel cell and have shown its ability to withstand various environmental conditions, including dry soil and flood-prone areas.

The issue so far has been to supply them with water and oxygen while they are buried in the soil. Although these devices have existed as a concept for more than a century, their uncertain performance and low power output have hampered efforts to put them into practice, especially in low-power conditions, says Northwestern University graduate student Bill Yen, who led the project. The humidity had stopped.

So the team set out to create several new designs aimed at providing cells with continuous access to oxygen and water and succeeded with a cartridge-shaped design that sits vertically on a horizontal disk.

A disk-shaped carbon-felt anode sits horizontally at the bottom of the device and goes deep into the soil, where it can capture electrons as microbes break down the soil.

Meanwhile, the conductive metal cathode is placed vertically above the anode. So the lower part goes deep enough to access the deep soil moisture, while the upper part is flush with the ground and a fresh air gap runs the entire length of the electrode, and a protective cap on top prevents soil from falling and It becomes waste and cuts off the cathode’s access to oxygen. Part of the cathode is also covered with a water-insulating material so that when water is present, a hydrophobic part of the cathode is still in contact with oxygen for the fuel cell to work.

The researchers used a waterproof material on the surface of the cathode, which allows it to work even during flooding and ensures gradual drying after immersion in water.

“These microbes are everywhere,” says George Wells, lead author of the study. They live in the soil everywhere now and we can use very simple engineered systems to get electricity from them. We’re not going to power entire cities with this energy, but we can capture very small amounts of energy to fuel essential, low-consumption applications.

Also, chemicals left over from batteries can potentially seep into the soil. This new technology is an environmentally friendly alternative that reduces environmental concerns associated with hazardous battery components and is also non-combustible.
The design performed consistently well in tests at varying levels of soil moisture, from completely waterlogged to relatively dry, and produced, on average, about 68 times more energy than its sensors needed to operate. It was also strong enough to survive extreme changes in soil moisture.

As with other sources of long-term electricity generation, such as diamond beta-voltaic batteries made from nuclear waste, the amount of electricity produced here is not enough to start a car or power a smartphone, but rather to power small sensors that can be used for long periods. work for a long time without needing to replace the battery regularly.

In addition, the researchers attached the soil sensor to a small antenna to enable wireless communication. This allowed the fuel cell to transmit data to a nearby station by reflecting existing radio frequency signals.

It is noteworthy that this soil fuel cell has a 120% better performance than similar technology.
Bill Yen says: “If we imagine a future with trillions of devices, we can’t make them all out of lithium, heavy metals, and toxins that are dangerous to the environment.” We need to find alternatives that can provide small amounts of energy to power a decentralized network of devices. In our search for a solution, we turned to soil microbial fuel cells, which use special microbes to break down soil and use that small amount of energy. As long as there is organic carbon in the soil for microbes to break down, our fuel cells can potentially survive.

Therefore, sensors like these can be very useful for farmers looking to monitor various soil elements including moisture, nutrients, pollutants, etc., and to use a technology-based precision agriculture approach. So if you put several of these devices around your farm, they can generate data for you for years, maybe even decades.

It should be mentioned that according to the research team, all the components of this device can be purchased from hardware stores. Therefore, there is no problem in the supply chain or materials for the widespread commercialization of this product.

This research was published in the ACM Journal on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable, and Ubiquitous Technologies.​

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