Nature & Science

One secrecy of Life.

LA VIDAOne secrecy of Life.
On one of those reflective days in 2015, it came to my mind that – maybe – during this year a baby would be born that, once as an adult, would become the first human to put his/her footprint on our neighbouring planet Mars, searching for clear evidence of life – past or present.
And then I started wondering about how life on Earth might have come about...

Definition of Life.
To find a proper definition of life is tougher than I first thought. Consulting scientific sources gave me a vast amount of definitions, but all of them were challenged by peers. So, for the objective of this small article, let's not waste too much time on this and let us accept the following simple description of life:
"Life is a dynamic process, concealed in a closed unit (cell) that transforms energy and matter via self-sustaining chemical and physical activity in order to be able to increase in biomass, to constantly interact with its environment and to reproduce itself in an autonomous way – all this together, called metabolism".

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Dinosaurs - Extinct by lack of females?

Pareja-de-dinosauriosDinosaurs are reported to be extinct by the climatic consequences of an asteroid impact on Earth, some 60 million years ago. Of course this extinction did not happen suddenly and not all reptiles were affected in the same way. Some even did survive - as we still can see today - although they already were highly sophisticated, like turtles, lizards, crocodiles, etc. At the same time the warm-blooded species began their raise in the kingdom of animals. Would there be a coincidence and, if yes, what could it be?

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Real Material World

PIA04216Till now our understanding of the material world and our body, as we see and experience it, was based on a “belief”. Namely the belief about “Materialism”, that stipulates that “Reality” is what we experience through our senses.

Of course, our sound mind tells us that this can’t be true. From where I stand I can experience that the world is flat, which isn’t. I experience that I stay on stable ground, which isn’t as I move at a speed of several thousands of miles per hour around the sun. My senses tell me that the sun rises in the East and moves across the sky, which isn’t, as we know now.

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Computer & Brain

CEREBROThe milestone for the concept of cybernetics started with a series of legendary meetings in New York, known as “the Macy Conference”. These meetings – and especially the first one, in 1946 – were extraordinary, stimulating and joined an exceptional group of highly creative people who collided against each other during intensive interdisciplinary dialogues about new ideas and ways of thinking. The participants divided themselves into two main groups. The first one was formed around the original cybernetics and included mathematicians, engineers and neuroscientists. The second group was formed around human scientists who were led by Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead.

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Light – the Invisible Component of Life?

biophotonen_handWe all know that light – the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum – is crucial and indispensable to life; it is generated by the sun and supplies our earth with plenty of energy. The rest of the electromagnetic spectrum reaches our planet in the form of radio waves, heat, UV, X- and gamma-rays. All living organisms receive, collect and transform these waves in one or the other form.

But what about emission of light by living organisms? And I do not mean the glow worms, -flies or other luminescent creatures like from the deep sea. I mean the emission of minute amounts of light by common cells like the ones that you have in your body or from the vegetables in your garden.

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We always have been here

MANOSIs there anybody who knows how life on Earth started? Most probably no, but many pieces of the puzzle already fell into place and give us a good picture how life could have started.

Earth had been created at the time when our solar system was born, some 4.600 millions of years ago. Initially our planet was a ball of fire and molten mass but slowly she cooled down and a crust was formed. According to modern science, life started about 3.500 million years ago. It is clear that the Earth was very different at that time with no sign of life and no oxygen in the atmosphere.

 

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Celestial Events

LUNAR PENUMBRAL

2014
July 12 - August 23 / Peak: July 28, 29 -
Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. Up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
July 17 - August 24 / Peak: August 12, 13 -
Perseids Meteor Shower. Up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
August 18 - Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. Look to the east just before sunrise.
August 29 - Neptune at Opposition. The blue giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun.
October 6-10 /
Peak: October 8, 9 - Draconids Meteor Shower. About 10 meteors per hour. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
October 2 - November 7
/ Peak: October 22, 23 -
Orionids Meteor Shower. Up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
September 7 - December 10 /
Peak: November 5, 6 -
Taurids Meteor Shower. About 5-10 meteors per hour. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
November 6-30 /
Peak: November 17, 18 -
Leonids Meteor Shower. Up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
December 7-17 /
Peak: December 13, 14 -
Geminids Meteor Shower. The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers with up to 120 multicoloured meteors per hour at its peak. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
December 17-25 /
Peak: December 22, 23 -
Ursids Meteor Shower. About 5-10 meteors per hour. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

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Marine turtles on Fuerteventura

PAG 3 ABAJOThe marine turtles visit the Canary Islands on their migration from the US coasts to Africa. Although they visit these islands all year, the peak is in the summer.

There are 8 species known of the marine turtles that are found in the subtropical and tropical seas. These species originated from about 60-10 million years ago and developed from a much more ancient ancestor, some 200 million years ago. Some 130 million years ago, they were abundant and managed to survive cataclysmic events, unlike the dinosaurs. But since then, they have not changed significantly. They have a characteristic shape due to their bone shell that covers the viscera and efficiently protects them.

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Stars & Planets Fuerteventura - 2014 Calendar.

COMETAAstronomy Calendar 2014 for Fuerteventura. Stars, planets, meteorites and other celestial events.
This astronomy calendar of celestial events for Fuerteventura contains dates for notable celestial events including moon phases, meteor showers, eclipses, oppositions, conjunctions, and other interesting events that can be seen from dark places in Fuerteventura and the northern hemisphere. Most of the astronomical events on this calendar can be seen with unaided eye, although some may require a good pair of binoculars for best viewing. Many of these events and dates used here were obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Times are given in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) which corresponds to the local time on Fuerteventura.

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Starwatching Fuerteventura - 2013 Calendar.

COMETAThis astronomy calendar of celestial events for Fuerteventura contains dates for notable celestial events including moon phases, meteor showers, eclipses, oppositions, conjunctions, and other interesting events that can be seen from dark places in Fuerteventura and the northern hemisphere. Most of the astronomical events on this calendar can be seen with unaided eye, although some may require a good pair of binoculars for best viewing. Many of these events and dates used here were obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Times are given in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) which corresponds to the local time on Fuerteventura.

 

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Sand – Witness of Time

01__FONDOWhen you relax on the beach and get a sand grain blown into your eyes and are trying to get it out, do you realise that you have a geological “antiquity” on your finger? Most probably not…

Most of the sand is generated by physical and chemical erosion of rock that is of magmatic or metamorphic origin (granite) from where tiny crystals are being separated. Gravity, wind and water will transport, mix and break these crystals and their edges are being rounded during their journey. The longer the way the more they get rounded. Research has proven that it can take thousands of miles (!) to round an average sized sand grain.


01_MANO_ARENAErosion of continents is the main supplier of sediments and of dissolved minerals that will be deposited later by the action of micro organisms. Another source of dissolved minerals is the hydrothermal reactions at the oceanic reef where the young hot basalt gets leached out upon contact with the sea water. Volcanic particles are mostly found in the oceans as layers of ash.

A part of the dissolved minerals are being used by micro organisms to build up their organic components and will return as sediment after their death. The major part is being used as encasing for microscopic animals and plants. They account for about 40% of the marine sediments.

There are different types of sand. The fine white sand at the coral islands originates from crushed coral skeletons and is calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Famous are the green beaches from Hawaii, coming from the volcanic material Olivine (also Lanzarote has some of these beaches). Eroded basalt will give black sand and there are some very rare beaches with pink sand. The vast majority of sand is of Quartz (Siliceous dioxide) due to its abundance, its hardness (7 on the Moh’s scale) and its chemical resistance.

The majority of the sand comes from sand stone and has gone through several erosion cycles: sand gets deposited and then covered by other sediments; it compacts due to its own weight and the grains get clustered by some adhesive component (diagenesis). When tectonic movements raise the compacted material it will be exposed to erosion forces which will free up again the grains so that they can be rounded further during their next transport. Even when one considers a cycle time of 200 million years then a nicely rounded grain of Quartz-sand (like the one you have on your finger), easily could have passed through 10 cycles and thus have witnessed half the history of Earth (2 billion years)!

Dr. A. Lüdeking

Michel

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The Origin of Oceans.

01_OCEANOFor us, oceans are perpetual and have existed for ever, but this is an illusion. At the very beginning of our planet Earth, our globe contained a lesser amount of mass. Dust and debris from the surrounding space in the form of millions of meteorites were attracted thanks to the gravity of the growing Earth and resulted in sufficient gravity to hold the original atmosphere of Hydrogen and Helium against the forces of the solar wind. Both chemical elements are abundant in space and were captured through the Earth’s gravity.

 

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Biosphere Reserve: Fuerteventura, Island and surrounding Sea.

yhkredhg-1282849031Fuerteventura, with an area of 1.658 square kilometres, and a part of its off shore waters, have been declared in May 2009 by the UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. There are about 550 in the entire world, divided over 107 countries. Fuerteventura is one of the largest Biosphere Reserve in Spain and the one with the most extended marine area. This reserve represents one of the world's major geo-paleontological observatories and is home to an outstanding diversity of ecosystems and a wide variety of marine species.

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Plankton

Plankton7Plankton is the floating world of the oceans. And so are the creatures in this world as they do not have the possibility to swim against the tidal forces or the currents and thus are being drifted. Nobody knows where the journey will bring them. And size doesn’t matter. A human in the sea has also to be regarded as „plankton“, as he wouldn’t be able to swim against the prevailing currents. So, welcome to the world of plankton! {slide=Read more...}

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Some of our co-habitants on Fuerteventura are viruses and bacteria. The viruses are abundant with about 100 million/millilitre (about a teaspoon). But they are harmless to man. Micro algae are the most important species of plankton. They are the beginning and the end of Life. They do dominate marine life and are involved in a daily ballet. In the morning they surface to collect sun rays for their photo synthesis and at dawn they return to the quieter and deeper layers. This photo synthesis based behaviour creates life stock for fish and other marine inhabitants. And they are responsible for every second molecule of oxygen on this planet! This is a truly impressive performance for such micro cellular creatures. In times of climate change one also should mention their ability to capture much carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and hold it, even after their death, when they sink to the bottom of the seas.

If you would ask whales, then little crabs and crustaceans, like krill, would be on top of the list of plankton because whales need immense amounts of these creatures to feed on and to create reserves for their trip through Antarctica, where they mate.

But there are not only “permanent residents” in the kingdom of plankton. Many juveniles or larvae of fish and other marine life forms are temporary members of the plankton community. Only when they have reached a certain size and collected enough energy, they switch to the kingdom of active swimmers and start their journey through the oceans, even against the current.

Dr. A. Lüdeking

Michel{/slide}

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Diocalandra Frumenti - a serious threat to Palm Trees.

017Diocalandra frumenti is a small caterpillar (about 5 mm) that was discovered for the first time in the Canaries in 1998. It then proliferated to Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and more recently in Tenerife. This caterpillar is a serious threat to some palm trees. In order to avoid its proliferation the la Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Alimentación has published an Order on 29/10/2007 which includes rules to control its development.

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Fuerteventura: Snow

SnowFlakeFor sure, it will never snow in Fuerteventura - certainly not when our climate is said to be heating up – but that doesn’t mean we should be ignorant about what snow really is. Oh, you think it’s just frozen water, but hey there is more to it…

The story starts with a cloud that contains tiny little droplets of water. When the temperature in the cloud drops below zero, those little droplets start to freeze and form crystals.

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The Ferret (Mustela putorius furo) | Spirit 19

Ceci_y_Hurron_con_busal_09.08.08_015Long before the cat made its entry as a domestic animal the ferret was a popular member of the family, even in the time of the Egyptians. It kept the house clear from mice, rats, snakes, frogs and other small predators. Why the cat took its place and the ferret was used to hunt is still unknown. The albino form with its white to off-white fur and red eyes is the original form.

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Super green calendar

pag82_tierraWe only have one earth. So we have to be as careful as possible with it. Everybody, adults and children, can help to keep our planet as healthy as possible: less waste, less pollution, less consumption… Also at your home you can help to keep the earth healthy. Join us with the monthly ideas on our Super Green Calendar and make a better world.

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The Canarian Sea Lavender on the island of Lobos

87_NATUR_Y_CIENCIAARRIBAThere are about 350 different species and sub-species of the Sea Lavender, defined by botanists and one only can be found here on the island of Lobos, more specific in a small lagoon. The “Oval leaf Sea Lavender” is only 12 cm high and has scoop-like leaves with tiny lilac-coloured flowers. The plant lives in mangroves with seawater-moist sandy soil.

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The Swift

images2This fascinating creature with enigmatic dark eyes and curved wings flies around all the time and even sleeps in the air. From all birds on earth the Swift is the one that is most perfectly adapted to airspace .For a bird of this size its longevity is amazing: the oldest known has just come of age – 21 years.

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The Podenco Canario

FOTO_Y_LOGOS_PAG_55I took several attempts to find out how long the typical Canarian dog race Podenco Canario has been living on the island, but unfortunately I didn’t get a lot smarter.

The International Dog Federation (FCI) describes its origin as Ancient Egyptian. Most probably the Phoenicians, Greeks, Cartago’s and the Egyptians had brought them to the Canaries. The race would be about 7000 years old. As the rabbits (their prey) have been imported about only 500 years ago, after the Spanish Conquest, what was the purpose of bringing them here before?

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The MONARCH butterfly

ARRIBA_85Who really is interested in butterflies will certainly have noticed them on the island as they are abundant here at this time of the year. The official name is “Danaus Plexippus”.Their original habitat was South-America, but they spread out all over the world, most probably through merchant ships. The remarkable coloured wings with black stripes and borders, dotted with white points reflect, on a couple of inches wingspan, an astonishing work of art. The body also has the same pattern: black with white spots.

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