8 hour sleeping is a modern invention.Imagine you are a denizen of the 18th century. It’s just past 8:30 P.M., you’ve got your night-cap on. You blow out your candles and fall asleep to the smell of the wax and the wick, which gently fills the air…
Sleep twice a night? I’m on board!
Very excited, we just got our Oregon Olive Mill olio nuovo delivered today and we’re really looking forward to the tasting on Sunday 2-4pm. FYI, we are the only retailer in town to carry this fresh pr …
Every Christmas, after the initial flurry of present-opening, we’d toss all the paper into the biggest box we could find. Sometimes the cat would make a bed of it, and she seemed pretty comfortable. So when I’d walk down my back lane to learn what…
they will do more harm than good.
for some reason, when people imagine the zombie apocalypse, they imagine themselves with a rifle or hand gun performing headshot after headshot.
the reality of the situation is much different.
people get scared. their nerves are rattled. they can’t hold the gun…
“Little League Buttons” by Yale Stewart
Characters © DC Comics. Creative content © Yale Stewart.
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Was Earth’s most devastating mass extinction caused by a single microbe?
Around 251 million years ago, over 90% of the species on Earth suddenly went extinct. Their killer may not have been a devastating meteorite or a catastrophic volcanic eruption, but a humble microbe.
The prevailing theory is that the mass extinction at the end of the Permian period was triggered by volcanic eruptions over a vast area of what is now Siberia. This led, among other things, to a dramatic rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
But the scenario just doesn’t fit the facts, says Daniel Rothman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From his analysis of an end-Permian sediment sample from China, Rothman says carbon levels surged much too quickly for geological processes to be at work.
Microbes can generate carbon compounds that fast, though. When Rothman’s group analysed the genome of Methanosarcina - a methanogen responsible for most of Earth’s biogenic methane today - they discovered that the microbe gained this ability about 231 million years ago. The date was close to that of the mass extinction, but not close enough to suggest a link.
But Methanosarcina needs large amounts of nickel to produce methane quickly. When the team went back to their sediment cores, they discovered that nickel levels spiked almost exactly 251 million years ago - probably because the Siberian lavas were rich in the metal. That suggests Methanosarcina did trigger the extinction, Rothman told the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco last week.
Other geologists remain to be convinced. “[But] it’s a fascinating idea that the evolution of a new life form led to an extinction,” says Anthony Barnosky of the University of California, Berkeley. Today’s mass extinction of biodiversity is similar, says Barnosky, because it is largely driven by our species.