Life from the sky?
"Life on Earth may have originated high up in the atmosphere rather than in the surface waters of oceans or pools, researchers have found," Space.com reports. "Scientists simulating possible chemical reactions occurring in the upper atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, found that amino acids and nucleotide bases - the building blocks of life as we know it - could form without much prodding. A similar process may have taken place on Earth, they said. Meanwhile, an unrelated study released … Nov. 10 in the journal Nature suggests that Earth's atmosphere had enough oxygen to support complex life forms on the surface as early as 1.2 billion years ago. … While Titan and Earth aren't exactly twins - the Saturn moon is much colder, with average surface temperatures around … -179 C - they share a thick, nitrogen-rich atmosphere."
"A group of scientists working with data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope said Tuesday that they had discovered two bubbles of energy erupting from the centre of the Milky Way galaxy," The New York Times reports. The bubbles, they say in a paper for The Astrophysical Journal, extend 25,000 light years up and down from each side of the galaxy and contain the energy equivalent to 100,000 supernova explosions. "Wow," said David Spergel, an astrophysicist at Princeton who was not involved in the work. "And we think we know a lot about our own galaxy."
Mean parents? It's al-Qaeda
"With the recent discovery of explosives hidden in cargo airplanes, fears of a terrorist attack have returned to the front of many people's minds," Miller-mccune.com reports. "If the past is any indication, this sense of apprehension is likely to make us less trusting of outsiders, and less tolerant of those who violate social norms. What's more, it may also make us bad parents. That's the implication of research published in the November issue of the journal Social Psychology. A team of scholars led by Peter Fischer of the University of Graz in Austria reports [that]thoughts of terrorism seem to inspire authoritarian parenting practices." Examples of such parenting include "corporal and psychological punishment, taking exaggerated control of children, asserting power or reducing warmth and nurturance" in an attempt to influence the child's behaviour.
Pour les nuls
When French publisher Editions First suggested importing the For Dummies reference books, it faced howls of outrage and accusations of dumbing down the French mind, The Times of London reports. "Now, however, Vincent Barbare, its chief executive, is being hailed as a visionary responsible for one of the most striking French literary phenomena of the past decade. Pour Les Nuls - the French version of the American For Dummies series - has overcome deep-seated snootiness to win millions of readers. Indeed, the French collection has proved more popular than any of the other 34 languages in which it is published. … 'The success of the collection reassures me about the mentality of the French,' Mr. Barbare said. 'They are prepared to consider themselves as nuls and even to laugh about that.' "
"Scientists have found a bushcricket species with testicles that account for up to 14 per cent of its body weight," BBC News reports. "It is the animal with the biggest testicles in relation to its body weight, they write in Biology Letters."
Thought du jour
"Whatever thou wouldst hide from thine enemy, do not disclose to thy friend."
Solomon ibn Gabirol (circa 1021-1058), Spanish poet and philosopher