“With the right ingredients, life seems to form very quickly” Mark Harrison

The origin of life started much earlier than scientists thought. The 19th of October 2015,  a research supporting that our planet’s first form of life was originated at least 4.1 billion years ago was published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That means 300 million years earlier than previous research suggested, shortly after, almost instantaneously, the planet formed (4.54 billion years ago) and prior to the massive bombardment of the inner solar system that formed the moon’s large craters (3.9 billion years ago).

Scientists had long believed the Earth was dry and desolate during that time period. However, the new research, carried out in UCLA, showed that the planet was probably much more like it is today than previously thought. Simple life appears to have formed quickly and it would evolve to photosynthesize after many millions of years.

The scientists identified and revealed primary inclusions in a mineral, namely dark specks contained in zircons, that were analyzed with Raman spectroscopy. The zircons had a specific ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 that indicates the presence of photosynthetic life. The graphite is older than the zircon containing it, being the latter 4.1 billion-years old.

Video: Dark specks contained in zircons.

Read more here

15 PhD positions on the Resource Recovery

The EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie MSCA-ETN Project NEW-MINE (Resource Recovery Through Enhanced Landfill Mining) is looking for candidates to conduct funded PhDs on the Resource Recovery Through Enhanced Landfill Mining. The project lies on a consortium of high profile universities, research institutions and companies located in Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy and UK.

Information and applications can be found in the website of new-mine.

How to build the visibility of your work and manage your reputation

Nowadays, it is important to create awareness of or share materials relating to your work. The global shift towards making research findings available free of charge for readers, so-called ‘Open access’, has been a core strategy in the European Commission to improve knowledge circulation and thus innovation. It is illustrated in particular by the general principle for open access to scientific publications in Horizon 2020 and the pilot for research data.

Ways to aware and share your work vary from conversations with colleagues to multimedia sharing sites (e.g., Slideshare or YouTube). Other strategies include:

  • Social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
  • Discussion lists
  • Academic networking and profile sites (Table 1).
  • Subject-based websites and repositories (e.g., arXiv, SSRN)
  • Your own blog and website
  • Posts on other blogs and websites
  • Conferences and meetings
  • Institutional websites and repositories

Figure from http://redrisestudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10

 

Table 1. Academic networking and profile sites.

ResearchGate
ResearcherID
Mendeley
Academia.edu
Google Scholar
ImpactStory
Elsevier’s “My Research Dashboard”
Loop
Kudos
ORCID

The benefits of using academic network and creating profiles in such webpages (Table 1) are numerous. You can discover relevant publications, share links to your/other publications, discuss and comment on relevant research, find jobs, find collaborators, find applicants for a project proposal, track metrics relating to research performance, help people find and contact you, find and contact other people, post files such as your publications or other research outputs… In general, these web-design platforms allow you to assemble and create information help search filtering, share information to drive discovery, and measure and monitor the effect of these activities.

Tools for improving both the visibility of your work and your reputation are listed below:

  • Presenting at conferences
  • Blogging
  • Communicating via social media
  • Consultancy
  • Industry engagement
  • Teaching
  • Winning funding / grants
  • Winning awards / prizes
  • Community contribution (e.g. activities for a professional body)
  • Editorship
  • Publication
  • Peer-reviewing
  • Commercializing your research / registering your designs / patents
  • Collaboration
  • Mentoring
  • Engaging with the media
  • Community contribution (e.g. activities for a professional body)

In addition, Kudos (a web-based service for researchers that aims to help them and their institutions to maximize the visibility and impact of their published articles) is undertaking a survey to learn about researchers’ behaviour, experiences and expectations in relation to building the visibility of their work, and managing their reputation. Results from this survey will be presented at forthcoming conferences (including UKSG and FORCE 16) and on Kudos’ blog in due course. Any researcher can complete the survey here and will enter a prize draw for an online shopping voucher of £100.

Earth’s temperature changes in the last century-and-a-half, analyzed within 30 seconds in a video

Earth continues to increase its temperature. According to NASA scientists, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record have all occurred since 1998, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years. The average global temperature in 2013 was 14.6 °C (58.3 °F), which is 0.6 °C (1.1 °F) warmer than the mid-20th century.

The following video shows a color-coded map which represents how Earth’s surface temperature has changed from 1880 to 2013: red colour denotes higher-than-normal temperatures and blue colour denotes lower-than-normal temperatures.

The temperature analysis done by GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1 000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea-surface temperature and Antarctic research station measurements, taking into account station history and urban heat-island effects. Software is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same place from 1951 to 1980.

Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Ununtrium, the 113th (synthetic) element on the periodic table

Ununtrium is a man-made element so unstable and radioactive that only tiny amounts of it could be observed and created. Like Plutonium, Ununtrium emits deadly alpha rays as it decays, a radiation much more harmful than gamma and beta rays. Little is yet known about its properties and applications, but it is likely that Ununtrium could only be used in the nuclear power or weapons industries. In both cases, it is inevitable to remember the Fukushima Plutonium nuclear power plant that failed after a 9-scale earthquake in 2011 (even today a 12-mile containment zone exists) and the Nagasaki implosion-type fission Plutonium bomb that exploded at the WWII in 1945 (200,000 deaths).

Even though Japan has these experiences, Ununtrium is officially recognized by Japanese researchers in the Riken Nishina Centre for Accelerator-Based Science. This begs the question why these elements are being made, especially when Ununtrium is more destructive than Plutonium. One explanation could be the thirst for search and desire to find the “Islands of Stability”, i.e.; the elements that belonging to this kind of heavy elements are extraordinarily and unexpectedly stable, unlike the rest which are very unstable. What is your opinion about this kind of research?

From waste to precious metals

Just as a modern version of the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling, a group of FEFU (Far Eastern Federal University) scientists have developed a method to take care of combustible stone’s waste and turn it into precious metals. As explain in rbth science and technology, ash waste is no longer considered a problem that occupies vast areas and pollute the environment, but a cost-effective mine for processing the platinum group metals and other valuable components.

This work falls within the scope of EURELCO (European Enhance Landfill Mining), which promotes research on conditioning and integrated valorisation of a landfilled waste stream, using innovative transformation technologies.