Scientists suggest life on Earth may have been carried here in streams of space dust

Scientists have suggested life on our planet might have originated from biological particles brought to Earth in streams of space dust.

In a paper published in Astrobiology,  scientists at the University of Edinburgh suggested that fast-moving flows of interplanetary dust delivered tiny organisms from far-off worlds.

“The proposition that space dust collisions could propel organisms over enormous distances between planets raises some exciting prospects of how life and the atmospheres of planets originated,” said professor Arjun Berera of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

“The streaming of fast space dust is found throughout planetary systems and could be a common factor in proliferating life.”

An adult tardigrade. Image courtesy of Bob Goldstein & Vicky Madden, UNC Chapel Hill

In the study the scientists also considered how Earth-based organisms could travel to other planets.

The scientists calculated how powerful flows of space dust – which can move at up to 43.75 miles per second (70km/s) – could collide with particles in our atmospheric system.

Small particles existing at 150km or higher above Earth’s surface could then be knocked beyond the limit of Earth’s gravity by fast-moving space dust and eventually reach other planets.

Some bacteria, plants and small animals called tardigrades are known to be able to survive in space, so it is possible that such organisms – if present in Earth’s upper atmosphere – might collide with space dust and withstand a journey to another planet.

The scientists theory, called Panspermia, was first proposed in 1871, and has since been gaining traction among the scientific community, as astronomers have discovered just how full the universe is with organic compounds.

The Panspermia theory suggests that Mars once had the right conditions for life to form, including water and an atmosphere.

Astronomer and director of the multidisciplinary Columbia Astrobiology Centre at Columbia University, Caleb Scharf, told Business Insider: “We can find pieces of Mars here on Earth and we suspect that there are pieces of Earth on Mars.

“If that material can carry living organisms on it, it’s possible that we are Martian.”

Crypto-currency mining is hindering the search for alien life

Researchers searching for extraterrestrial life are struggling to get the computer hardware they need, due to crypto-currency mining. "We'd like to use the latest GPUs...and we can't get 'em," said Dan Werthimer. Demand for GPUs has soared recently thanks to crypto-currency mining.

Source: BBC

Genetic study of soil reveals new family of antibiotics

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Source: Phys.org

UK police are identifying suspects using fingerprint scanners

UK police have begun using a mobile fingerprinting system to identify people in less than a minute. Fingerprints are compared against 12 million records stored in the national criminal and immigration fingerprint databases and, if a match is found, return info like the individual’s name and date of birth.

Source: Wired

Robots 1,000 times smaller than a human hair could treat cancer

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NASA is bringing back Cold War-era rockets to get to Mars

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Source: Bloomberg

Facial recognition systems have gender and racial biases

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Source: The Inquirer

Skydio unveils its obstacle-dodging, thrill-seeking, AI-powered drone

An autonomous drone startup founded by former MIT researchers has today launched its R1, a fully autonomous flying camera that follows its subjects through dense and challenging environments.

In a promotional video, launched to introduce the autonomous camera, R1 can be seen following an athlete as she parkours her way through dense woodland.

The drone’s makers Skydio have explained that the camera combines artificial intelligence, computer vision, and advanced robotics and works by anticipating how people move, so R1 can make intelligent decisions about how to get the smoothest, most cinematic footage in real-time.

“The promise of the self-flying camera has captured people’s imaginations, but today’s drones still need to be flown manually for them to be useful,” said Adam Bry, CEO and co-founder of Skydio.

“We’ve spent the last four years solving the hard problems in robotics and AI necessary to make fully autonomous flight possible. We’re incredibly excited about the creative possibilities with R1, and we also believe that this technology will enable many of the most valuable drone applications for consumers and businesses over the coming years.”

Launching today is the Frontier Edition of R1, which is aimed at athletes, adventurers, and creators.

This version of R1 is powered by the Skydio Autonomy Engine, enabling it to see and understand the world around it so that it can fly safely at speeds of upto 25mph while avoiding obstacles.

The autonomous drone is fitted with 13 cameras, which gives it the ability to map and understand the world in real-time, allowing it to be fully autonomous and independently capture footage that in Skydio’s words “once required a Hollywood film crew” and will “enable a new type of visual storytelling”.

The R1 “Frontier Edition” is available for order now on Skydio’s website for $2,499.