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An important component of early genetic material found in meteorite fragments is extraterrestrial in origin, say scientists from Europe and the USA. They say their research in Earth and Planetary Science Letters provides evidence that life’s raw materials came from sources beyond the Earth.

The materials they have found include the molecules uracil and xanthine, which are precursors to the molecules that make up DNA and RNA, and are known as nucleobases. The team discovered the molecules in rock fragments of the Murchison meteorite, which crashed in Australia in 1969.

They tested the meteorite material to determine whether the molecules came from the solar system or were a result of contamination when the meteorite landed on Earth. The analysis shows that the nucleobases contain a heavy form of carbon which could only have been formed in space. Materials formed on Earth consist of a lighter variety of carbon.

Today Doritos makes history, taking the UK’s first step in communicating with aliens as they broadcast the first ever advert directed towards potential extra terrestrial life.

The transmission is being undertaken as part of the Doritos Broadcast Project, which invited the UK public to create a 30 second video clip that could be beamed out to the universe offering a snap shot of life on earth to anyone ‘out there’.

61% of the UK public believe this is just the start of communication with ET life and that we will enter into regular communication with an alien species at some stage in the future.

The winning space-ad entitled ‘Tribe’ was voted for by the British public and directed by 25-year-old Matt Bowron. It will officially be entered into the Guinness Book of Records and will be aired on the more conventional medium of television on Sunday 15th June on ITV at 7.44pm in the ad break of the final Group B game of Euro 2008.

CARLISLE, England, June 13 /PRNewswire/ --

Published today, The Pattern Recognition Theory of Humour, by Alastair Clarke, answers the eternal question about the nature of humor. Clarke explains how and why we find things funny and identifies the reason humor is common to all human societies, its fundamental role in the evolution of humans and its continuing importance in the cognitive development of infants.

Clarke explains: "For some time now it's been assumed that a global theory of humour is impossible. This theory changes thousands of years of incorrect analyses and mini-theories that have applied to only a small proportion of instances of humour. It offers a vital answer as to why humour exists in every human society."


Practice makes perfect, but a question that still remains a mystery is why it is so difficult to transfer learning from a trained to an untrained task? Why are we no better at remembering faces when we have been training our memory for words? Scientists at Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now show in the journal Science that the answer lies in the brain areas activated by each task.

The scientists studied the brain activity of healthy subjects as they performed a task that was part of a training program and two untrained tasks. Their performance on the trained task and one of the untrained tasks improved. What these two tasks had in common was the activation of the striatum, a cluster of neuronal nuclei in midbrain.

University of Florida mechanical and aerospace engineering associate professor Subrata Roy has submitted a patent application for a circular, spinning aircraft design reminiscent of the spaceships seen in countless Hollywood films. Roy, however, calls his design a “wingless electromagnetic air vehicle,” or WEAV.

The proposed prototype is small – the aircraft will measure less than six inches across – and will be efficient enough to be powered by on-board batteries.

Roy said the design can be scaled up and theoretically should work in a much larger form. Even in miniature, though, the design has many uses.


New research from the American Museum of Natural History says that global warming is forcing species to move up tropical mountains. Christopher Raxworthy, Associate Curator in the Department of Herpetology, predicts that at least three species of amphibians and reptiles found in Madagascar's mountainous north could go extinct between 2050 and 2100 because of habitat loss associated with rising global temperatures.

These species, currently moving up-slope to compensate for habitat loss at lower and warmer altitudes, will eventually have no place to move to. The mountains can only go so high.

In a paper published this month in Global Change Biology, Raxworthy and colleagues found overall trends for elevation changes among 30 species of amphibians and reptiles. Uphill movement is a predicted response to increased temperatures, and other studies, including that of J. Alan Pounds in Costa Rica, have provided some empirical evidence of how tropical animals respond to climate change.