Unknown bacteria found living on the International Space Station

The discovery could help astronauts find better ways to grow food in space.

Credit: Aslam Z., Lee C. S., Kim K.-H., Im W.-T., Ten L. N., Lee S.-T. via Wikipedia
  • The bacteria were collected as part of a surveillance program that tasks astronauts with regularly collecting samples from eight sites aboard the International Space Station.
  • The bacteria discovered on the space station belong to a family of bacteria that helps plants grow and blocks pathogens.
  • Finding sustainable ways to grow food is critical to any long-term space mission.
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If we do find alien life, what kind will it be?

Three lines of evidence point to the idea of complex, multicellular alien life being a wild goose chase. But are we clever enough to know?

Credit: "Mars Attacks!" / Warner Bros
  • Everyone wants to know if there is alien life in the universe, but Earth may give us clues that if it exists it may not be the civilization-building kind.
  • Most of Earth's history shows life that is single-celled. That doesn't mean it was simple, though. Stunning molecular machines were being evolved by those tiny critters.
  • What's in a planet's atmosphere may also determine what evolution can produce. Is there a habitable zone for complex life that's much smaller than what's allowed for microbes?
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Researchers announce a new state of matter: swirlons

Starling flocks, schools of fish, and clouds of insects all agree.

Credit: Fraser Morrison/Flickr
  • Scientists discover that active particles take a pass on Newton's Second Law.
  • Active particles exist in a "swirlonic" state of matter.
  • Swirlonic behavior explains some of the more dazzling natural phenomena such as starling swarms and shape-shifting schools of fish.
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The bacteria in our guts can tell time

For the first time, it was discovered that nonphotosynthetic bacteria have a circadian clock.

Credit: Paulista / Adobe Stock
  • For the first time, nonphotosynthetic bacteria are shown to have a circadian clock.
  • B. subtilis thrives in the gastrointestinal tracts of humans as well as grass-feeding ruminants.
  • The researchers believe that this rhythm provides bacteria with an advantage.
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New type of dual-acting antibiotic shows promise

A new antibiotic hits germs with a two pronged attack.

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  • Antibiotic resistance is a big problem, but not many new drugs are currently under development.
  • A recent discovery may give us a new antibiotic that is effective against a wide range of germs, including those resistant to other drugs.
  • The new drug's mechanism also appears to signal the immune system, helping to amplify its response.
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