Prehistoric Earth, bombarded with asteroids, rife with bubbling geothermal pools, would seem an inhospitable place. But somewhere, the right chemicals combined in the precise sequence needed to form the building blocks of life. How? For decades, scientists have attempted to create miniature replicas of infant Earth in the lab. There, they hunt for the chemical pathways that led to life on Earth.
It’s attractive to chase our origin story. But this pursuit can bring more than just excitement. Knowledge of how Earth built its first cells could inform the search for extraterrestrial life. If...
Congratulations to Gustave Lester for being awarded the Michele Aldrich History and Philosophy of Geology Student Research Award and the Geological Society of America’s History and Philosophy of Geology Student Award!
Scientists are painting the clearest picture yet of what life may have been like for Neanderthals living in Southern France some 250,000 years ago, and to do it, they’re using an unlikely day-to-day record of what their environment was like — their teeth.
A team of researchers showed that examining the teeth of Neanderthal infants could yield insight into nursing and weaning behavior as well as winter and summer cycles. The study even found evidence that the Neanderthals had been exposed to lead — the earliest such exposure ever recorded in any human ancestor.
Mammals can use their forelimbs to swim, fly, jump, climb, dig, and nearly everything in between, yet the question of how all that diversity evolved has remained a vexing one for scientists.
To help answer that, Harvard researchers are turning to one of the most unusual mammals around: echidnas. These sprawling, egg-laying mammals have many anatomical features in common with mammal ancestors, and so can help bridge the gap between extinct and modern-day species.
Using a detailed, musculoskeletal model of an echidna forelimb, Sophie Regnault, a postdoctoral fellow, and Stephanie...
In the world of quantum computing, interaction is everything.
For computers to work at all, bits — the ones and zeros that make up digital information — must be able to interact and hand off data for processing. The same goes for the quantum bits, or qubits, that make up quantum computers.
But that interaction creates a problem — in any system in which qubits interact with each other, they also tend to want to interact with their environment, resulting in qubits that quickly lose their quantum nature.
To get around the problem, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Ph.D....
A tiny seed could change the way we experience the natural world. It’s already changed the careers of Tiffany Enzenbacher and Kea Woodruff, who work tending seed in their greenhouses. And it may one day bear fruit in an example of flora rescued from extinction — and a growing space for women in science.
In October, Enzenbacher, manager of plant production, and Woodruff, plant growth facilities manager, left the...
More than a century ago, when botanists and naturalists were in the field collecting plant and animal specimens, they couldn’t have imagined that scientists would one day be able to extract DNA from samples to understand how plants and animals are related to one another.
They couldn’t have imagined that their collections could one day shed light on the effects of global climate change, or the emergence and spread of pathogens, the spread of fungal-driven amphibian extinction, or the effectiveness of policies aimed at reducing pollution in the U.S.
Filtering and treating water, both for human consumption and to clean industrial and municipal wastewater, accounts for about 13 percent of all electricity consumed in the U.S. and releases about 290 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year — roughly equivalent to the combined weight of every human on earth.
One of the most common methods of processing water is passing it through a membrane with pores that are sized to filter out particles that are larger than water molecules. However, these membranes are susceptible to “fouling” — clogging by the very...