I have not had a chance to update my blog for a while because I have been away on a trip to Iceland. The country has so much breathtaking scenery, thanks to its unique geology, I will have to put a longer blog together about it soon. But to begin with, here is one of my favourite pictures from the trip.
It is of the Svartifoss waterfalls in Skaftafell National Park. Their name, which means the Black Falls, comes from the dark lava columns, which look more like they are the work of an architect than nature.
In nature, DNA has stood the test of time to be selected by evolution as a store of the genetic information required to create life.
Now scientists have pushed the boundaries of what DNA can store by successfully using it to hold the contents of a book. But what makes DNA such a great store of information? Not only is it extremely robust, allowing it to last a long time, very small quantities of DNA can store vast amounts of information. As little as one gram can store the contents of 100 billion DVDs.
At the moment, the DNA storage process is slow and expensive but the cost is expected to drop rapidly to make it cheaper than current digital storage devices, within 5 to 10 years. Improvements are also being made to speed up the process.
In this video, the Harvard’s Wyss Institute scientists explain their work on DNA storage.
Could Mars once have supported life? That’s the question scientists hope the Mars Science Laboratory mission will answer.
The mission’s successful landing of the Curiosity Rover a week ago was met with whoops of joy from NASA. In this video, Mars Science Laboratory’s Jessica Samuels gives a progress report on Curiosity’s first days on Mars.
Curiosity is a robot the size of a small car and will spend 23 months analysing the planet’s atmosphere and collecting rock and soil samples. This will help work out whether conditions on Mars could once have supported life. Water and carbon are known to be vital to life on earth, so scientists will be looking for clues of either of these on Mars. For instance, hydrogen may indicate the presence of water.
To learn more, NASA has created a site that offers plenty of interactive experiences and if you want to keep up with the latest news from the Mars Curiosity Rover, tune into JPL news on You Tube.
Mars Curiosity Rover Report (Aug.10, 2012) (by JPLnews)