New Microorganisms Discovered In Earth’s Stratosphere

Hell yes! I stumbled onto this yesterday on the original source, but the site was such old-school HTML that it seemed like it could be a hoax, rather than an official Indian agency. Now the story has spilled over into Science Daily, which has seemed pretty solid through the years:

In all, 12 bacterial and six fungal colonies were detected, nine of which, based on 16S RNA gene sequence, showed greater than 98% similarity with reported known species on Earth. Three bacterial colonies, namely, PVAS-1, B3 W22 and B8 W22 were, however, totally new species. All the three newly identified species had significantly higher UV resistance compared to their nearest phylogenetic neighbours. Of the above, PVAS-1, identified as a member of the genus Janibacter, has been named Janibacter hoylei. sp. nov. The second new species B3 W22 was named as Bacillus isronensis sp.nov. and the third new species B8 W22 as Bacillus aryabhata.

The precautionary measures and controls operating in this experiment inspire confidence that these species were picked up in the stratosphere. While the present study does not conclusively establish the extra-terrestrial origin of microorganisms, it does provide positive encouragement to continue the work in our quest to explore the origin of life. ((Italics are mine.))

Now if we can see about those microorganisms on Mars…

“The Essenes are only a literary invention of a Utopian society…”

There’s a new book claiming that the Sadducees wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Essenes never existed.

No opinion here. I lean towards the Essenes exsting and writing the Dead Sea Scrolls, but being proven otherwise isn’t going to rock my world, like tachyons not existing and us being in a deterministic universe. Apparently it’s a pretty heated in certain circles though:

The debate has even led to the arrest of the son of one proponent of the theory that the Essenes did not write the ancient scriptures. Raphael Golb, the son of Norman Golb, a professor at Chicago University, was arrested in New York this month for allegedly creating online aliases and conducting a campaign of harassment against academic opponents of his father’s theories.

Father and son claimed that members of mainstream academia were trying to silence the professor. The younger Mr Golb reportedly accused his father’s critics of being anti-Semites trying to deny the link between the scrolls and established Jewish institutions.

That sounds nutty to me, as the Essenses were Jews. Next…