Earth’s Mysterious ‘Deep Biosphere’ Is Home to Millions of Undiscovered Species, Scientists Say

Life on Earth takes billions of shapes, but to see most of them you’ll have to dig deep below the planet’s surface. For the past 10 years, that’s what the scientists of the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) have been doing. Composed of more than 1,000 scientists from 52 countries around the world, this group of scientists maps the weird, wild life of Earth’s “deep biosphere” — the mysterious patchwork of underground ecosystems that exists between Earth’s surface and its core. It might sound like an unglamorous world of dirt, darkness…

This X-ray photoelectron spectrometer uses the principles of X-ray spectroscopy to measure the elemental composition of materials.

X-ray spectroscopy is a technique that detects and measures photons, or particles of light, that have wavelengths in the X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s used to help scientists understand the chemical and elemental properties of an object. There are several different X-ray spectroscopy methods that are used in many disciplines of science and technology, including archaeology, astronomy and engineering. These methods can be used independently or together to create a more complete picture of the material or object being analyzed. How X-ray spectroscopy works When an atom is unstable or is bombarded with high-energy…

Infectious ‘Prions’ Found in the Eyes of Patients with Fatal Brain Disease

People with the rare and fatal brain disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) show signs of the disease in their eyes, according to a new study. The study found evidence of prions — the infectious proteins that cause the disease — in the eyes of nearly a dozen patients with CJD. The findings suggest that patients’ eyes could potentially provide a “window” to the brain that may help researchers diagnose the disease early, if new eye tests are developed. The results also raise concern about the potential for the disease to spread through routine eye exams…

There’s Something Hot Hidden Under East Antarctica

There’s something hot hidden under East Antarctica, and scientists aren’t sure precisely what it is — though they have a pretty good guess. East Antarctica is a craton, a big continent-size chunk of Earth’s crust. It’s solid, and thick. It’s not supposed to let heat through from inside the Earth. (That makes it different from the thinner crust of West Antarctica, where magma is, in some places, quite close to the surface.) That craton means that East Antarctica shouldn’t have much melted water at the bottom of its ice sheet. And…

European Researchers Baked Fake Moon Dust into Money and Screws

How do you start a colony on the moon? Can you ship everything the colonists need from Earth? That’s how NASA handled brief excursions to the lunar surface in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but astronauts couldn’t haul that much with them — certainly not enough to sustain themselves over the long term. Technology has improved since then, but most plans for a sustainable lunar base assume that its residents will use local resources, rather than hauling everything from Earth. So that’s why the European Space Agency (ESA) created a…