December 2010
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Day December 2, 2010

Totally new form of arsenic-based life found by NASA here on Earth

Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.

“The definition of life has just expanded,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it.”

The discovery of the arsenic-thriving strain of Gammaproteobacteria GFAJ-1 has profound implications. GFAJ-1 isn’t merely consuming arsenic — a remarkable find in itself — but arsenic has actually supplanted phosphorus as a fundamental ingredient in the biochemistry of the organism. This is unlike any other known form of life!

Not only is this reinforcement of the fact that life can exist in the most inhospitable of places and subsist on the most toxic of substances, but it is also definitive proof that alternative biochemistries are a reality and no longer mere conjecture or the stuff of science fiction.

Source: NASA via Gizmodo

What Android Is

What happened was, for our recent South American tour I wanted an Android architecture overview graphic. I ran across, among the Android SDK documentation, a page entitled What is Android?, and it’s perfectly OK. Except for, I really disliked the picture — on purely aesthetic grounds, just not my kind of lettering and gradients and layouts — so I decided to make another one.

A must-read article by Tim Bray.

Source: ongoing via Daring Fireball

PlayStation Phone caught on video in the wild

What highly anticipated unreleased smartphone would be complete without the obligatory blurry spy video catching it in action on the streets of a foreign country? This video from the folks of Techblog.gr espies Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation Phone in the wild on the streets of Greece. Little can be gleaned from the video other than a glimpse of the admittedly butter-smooth scrolling of the PSPhone’s UI.

The PlayStation Phone, codenamed Zeus, is a 4″ touchscreen phone with slide-out gaming controls à la PSP Go running the hitherto unreleased Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The PSPhone will have access to a special Sony Marketplace for download of exclusive game content. Reports of those who have seen the phone in action describe it as being slick and a legitimately satisfying mobile gaming experience. The PlayStation Phone is also rumored to have a resolution rivaling that of the iPhone 4’s eye-popping retina display. The PSPhone will most likely be released sometime in the first quarter of 2011.

For Sony-Ericsson’s sake — and for all those who have been impatiently waiting for a truly dedicated gaming phone — I hope the PlayStation Phone lives up to the hype. SE has always had a knack for designing lustworthy hardware, but a combination of repeatedly delayed shipments and an inability to update current devices to the latest Android OS in a timely fashion have consigned Sony-Ericsson to the back of the pack. The PSPhone is SE’s chance to catapult itself to the front of an increasingly competitive yet stale Android hardware race with an innovative mobile device that has the potential to push past the iPhone in revolutionizing the mobile gaming market.

Source: Techblog.gr via SlashGear