Martian Stream Bed

Scientists have identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon - some of the key chemical ingredients for life - in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month. Sedimentary rock means running water once upon a time. Water often means life and the rock had the right chemistry to do this. Clues to this habitable environment come from data returned by the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instruments. The data indicate the Yellowknife Bay area the rover is exploring was the end of an ancient river system or an intermittently wet lake bed that could have provided chemical energy and other favorable conditions for microbes. The rock is made up of a fine-grained mudstone containing clay minerals, sulfate minerals and other chemicals. This ancient wet environment, unlike some others on Mars, was not harshly oxidizing, acidic or extremely salty.

German Home for the Bison to Roam

What would you do if you owned 30,000 acres in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany? While this area is one of the country's most densely populated states, this vast acreage is covered with Norwegian spruce and beech trees and owned by Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. So what has this royal decided to do with his land? Fulfill his dream of reintroducing bison known as wisents, of course.

Tribe rejects payment from electricity company behind destructive Amazon Dam

Leaders of more than two dozen Kayapó indigenous communities have rejected a $9 million offer from Brazilian state energy company Eletrobras to fund development projects in their region due to the the firm's involvement in the construction of the Belo Monte dam, reports Amazon Watch, an activist group fighting the hydroelectric project.

Endangered Sharks

Well-known species of sharks such as the great white shark, tiger shark, blue shark, mako shark, and the hammerhead shark are apex predators—organisms at the top of their underwater food chain. Well man is actually at the very top. Many sharks are endangered as are many other creatures. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES has just accepted Committee recommendations to list five species of highly traded sharks under the CITES Appendices, along with those for the listing of both manta rays and one species of sawfish. Japan, backed by Gambia and India, unsuccessfully challenged the Committee decision to list the oceanic whitetip shark, while Grenada and China failed in an attempt to reopen debate on listing three hammerhead species. Colombia, Senegal, Mexico and others took the floor to defend Committee decisions to list sharks.

7 Myths of Meditation

Deepak Chopra attempts to debunk some of the more common myths surrounding the practice of meditation. In the past 40 years, meditation has entered the mainstream of modern Western culture, and been prescribed by physicians and practiced by everyone from business executives, artists, and scientists to students, teachers, military personnel, and - on a promising note - politicians.

Sleeping Less May Lead to Weight Gain

Health professionals have always emphasized the importance of sleep, but why? Research has shown that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, but the reasons why have remained somewhat unclear. However, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder, staying awake longer requires more energy and therefore more food intake during the next day which can lead to weight gain.

Victory for Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises at CITES

Several freshwater turtle and tortoise species are to be afforded greater protection as a result of successful conservation talks at the CITES meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. At the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), proposals were put forward to restrict trade in 44 Asian turtle and tortoise species, as well as three North American pond turtle species.

Sustainable Air Travel Takes Off

Last Thursday, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Flight 642 completed the seven hour and 17 minute flight from New York's JFK Airport to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol using sustainable biofuels. Flight KL642, operated by a Boeing 777-200, will fly every Thursday fueled by recycled cooking oil as part of the Dutch carrier's goal to have one percent of its flights operate on biofuels by 2015. For five years, KLM has experimented with various forms of biofuels in order to try to reduce its carbon footprint. First was the attempt to fuel 12 Fokker-50 planes with algae-based biofuel. Bio-kerosene was an experiment a year later, and as many as 200 short hop flights are now powered by a 50-50 blend of kerosene and recycled cooking oil.

Martian Water Channels

Water on Mars exists today almost exclusively as water ice. The Martian polar ice caps consist primarily of water ice, and further ice is contained in Martian surface rocks at more temperate latitudes (permafrost). A small amount of water vapor is present in the atmosphere. There are no bodies of liquid water on the Martian surface today. Despite this, research suggests that in the past there was liquid water flowing on the surface, creating large areas similar to Earth's oceans. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided images allowing scientists for the first time to create a 3-D reconstruction of ancient water channels below the Martian surface. The spacecraft took numerous images during the past few years that showed channels attributed to catastrophic flooding in the last 500 million years. During this period, Mars had been otherwise considered cold and dry. These channels are essential to understanding the extent to which recent hydrologic activity prevailed during such arid conditions. They also help scientists determine whether the floods could have induced episodes of climate change.

Honeybees Get the Caffeine Buzz

Most of us rely on a cup of coffee to jump start our day. For us, that jolt of caffeine wards off drowsiness and restores alertness. Not only does caffeine help to wake us up, but it also can affect our memory. So how does caffeine affect other species in the animal kingdom? Does anything else share our addiction to morning caffeine? Well according to new research, it seems that honeybees also get their buzz from drinking caffeine-laced nectar.