Plants and flowers can grow in Moon rocks
Thu, Apr 17 01:05 PM
London, April 17 (ANI): Scientists with the European Space Agency (ESA) have shown that plants and flowers can be grown on the Moon by demonstrating that marigolds can grow in crushed rock very much like the lunar surface, with no need for plant food.
According to a report by BBC News, the new research was presented at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting in Vienna.
"We would bring a system of water circulation and recovery, which is also the type of system that in any case you want to develop when you are going to manufacture a primitive sort of life support system," said Bernard Foing, a senior scientist with the European Space Research and Technology Centre (Estec) in the Netherlands.
"So it is also a kind of 'technological breadboard' for maintaining a simple life form in an extreme environment," he added.
The new step, taken in the experiments reported at the EGU, is to remove the need for bringing nutrients and soil from Earth.
A team led by Natasha Kozyrovska and Iryna Zaetz from the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev planted marigolds in crushed anorthosite, a type of rock found on Earth, which is very similar to much of the lunar surface.
In neat anorthosite, the plants fared very badly. But adding different types of bacteria made them thrive; the bacteria appeared to draw elements from the rock that the plants needed, such as potassium.
Dr Foing, who presented the study at the EGU meeting, said there was no reason in principle why the same idea could not bear fruit on the Moon itself. Tools could crush lunar rock and add bacteria and seeds.
"But, scientists could look to go further, by selecting plants or bacteria that are especially well adapted to lunar conditions, or even by genetically engineering new strains," he added.
According to Foing, growing plants on the Moon would be a useful as a tool to learn how life adapts to lunar conditions, and as a practical aid to establishing manned bases. (ANI)
Friday, April 18, 2008
Miracle baby' is feted in India
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi
Mother Sushma holds her daughter Lali
There's even talk of a temple being built in Lali's honour.
They're calling her the miracle baby.
Barely a month old, baby Lali was born with a rare condition which has given her two faces.
It's called Craniofacial Duplication and she has two sets of eyes, noses and lips.
In the village where she was born, close to the edge of Delhi, her condition has made her an object of fascination and reverence.
"When I first saw her, I was scared. It's natural," her father, Vinod Singh, tells me.
"But now I feel I'm blessed."
Doctors have told him them that despite having two faces Lali is healthy and normal.
She is able to drink milk through either mouth and breathe normally.
Mr Singh is a poor farm worker. At his mud and brick house at the end of a narrow dusty lane, a neighbour applies a fresh coat of paint to his front door.
We just want to enjoy time with our first born child
Inside, he stands surrounded by villagers, some sitting on sturdy hessian cots, others smoking pipes.
For the past few days, people have been lining up to see his daughter.
Many of them bring offerings of money, believing that Lali has special powers.
"When you see something unnatural, it can only be the miracle of God," says Jatinder Nagar, a neighbour who's taken on the self-appointed role of tour guide.
"It's something so magical that we believe that she's a goddess. We regard her as one."
Eighty-year-old Ballabh Saini is a grandmother and respected as a village elder.
But even she bows her head in reverence.
"She has brought us fame and she is blessed," she tells me.
"So many people have been coming to see her - travelling long distances on cars, motorbikes, horse-drawn carts."
But all this is making Vinod Singh increasingly uncomfortable and upset.
"She's my daughter. I don't want any more of this. I'm fed up," he says, throwing up his hands in despair.
But he's up against centuries of superstition.
Faced with something they're unable to comprehend, the villagers believe she is the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess.
There's even talk of a temple being built in her honour.
Her new found status is lost on Lali, as she lies cradled in her grandfather's arms.
Doctors in Delhi say there is no possibility of separating her head.
But they do want to carry out more medical tests to determine if her internal organs are normal.
But her parents won't allow them.
"What is the need? As far as we are concerned she's like any other child," says Vinod Singh.
"We just want to enjoy time with our first-born child."