What's the buzz

What's the buzz

New Earth-like planet may contain water, life

Scientists claim to have discovered a potentially habitable planet which has an environment much similar to that of Earth and may contain water and even life.
The exoplanet, called Gliese 581g, is located around 123 trillion miles away from Earth and orbits a star at a distance that places it squarely in the habitable or the Goldilocks zone, the scientists said.

The research, published in a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, suggests that the planet could contain liquid water on its surface, meaning it tops the league of planets and moons rated as being most like Earth, they said.

“Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet said Vogt,” said lead researcher Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California Santa Cruz.“The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common,” Prof Vogt was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.

The team reported the discovery of two new planets around Gliese 581. This brings the total number of known planets around this star to six, the most yet discovered in a planetary system outside of our own.

Like our solar system, the planets around Gliese 581 have nearly-circular orbits, the team said.

Oxygen 2.48 billion years old

An international team says that banded ironstone core samples from the Pilbara rocks in Australia have aided in dating the first appearance of atmospheric oxygen at 2.48 billion years ago.

Prof Mark Barley, who led the team, says their findings, published in the ‘Nature’ journal. rested on the reliability of the rock samples they used as evidence. According to geologists, the Great Oxidation Event, when earth’s atmospheric oxygen formed, happened at between 2.48 and 2.32 billion years ago.

“This was evidence for the most primitive form of aerobic respiring life, aerobic respiring bacteria which oxidise pyrite that released acid that dissolved rocks and soils on land, including chromium, that was then carried to the oceans by the flow of water. “The aerobic respiring chemolitho-autorobic bacteria require coexistence with cyanobacteria producing oxygen to do this,” Prof Barley said.

Prof Barley says that geobiologists are working towards a better database, for more evidence of when the types of bacteria linked to the rise of oxygen were really functioning.

A mouthwash that kills cavity-causing bacteria

A dental researcher has led efforts to develop a mouthwash with technology that kills cavity causing bacteria in the mouth and could save costly trips to the dentist.
For the study, Wenyuan Shi and his colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles, first had to understand how the Streptococcus mutans interacts in biofilms, or the sticky colonies of microorganisms that build up as plaque on the teeth, Discovery News reported.

Bacteria often latch on to the surfaces of teeth, breaking down food debris and nutrients into acids that can eat away at enamel and form cavities.
 These harmful plaque build-ups can lead to gum disease and even tooth loss.  The technology, called “Specifically-Targeted Antimicrobial Peptides” (STAMPs), targets cavity-causing bacteria without interfering with other microbes in the mouth.

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