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

Unlocked Palm Pre 2 only $250 for webOS developers

The Palm Pre 2 is now available, and if you’ve been wanting to get your hands on one to use as a developer device, HP wants to help. We’re excited to announce that developers will be able to purchase an unlocked UMTS Palm Pre 2 smartphone online in the United States at a $200 discount. Just send an email to pdc@palm.com to request a coupon!

A really sweet deal for webOS developers on the Pre 2. Kudos, Palm!

Source: Palm Developer Center via PreCentral

Palm Pre 2 selling unlocked, rocking webOS 2.0 for $450 from HP

You can now purchase a completely unlocked Palm Pre 2 from HP here in the US for a very reasonable $449.99. The Palm Pre 2 is powered by TI’s 1GHz OMAP 3630 chipset and has 512MB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The distinctive sliding portrait keyboard remains as does the respectable albeit dated HVGA display, although the front face now uses Corning’s Gorilla Glass. The camera has also been upgraded with a 5-megapixel sensor, but is still fixed focus.

Of course, the real appeal of the Palm Pre 2 is that it is currently the only device running HP webOS 2.0 — the latest version of the killer smartphone OS Palm awed the world with at CES 2009. webOS 2.0 is slated to hit all other Palm devices ‘in the coming months’ and a plethora of new devices — including a tablet — are slated for 2011.

If you insist on having webOS 2.0 now or are a developer eager to get started with webOS development, the Palm Pre 2 is an excellent device with hardware on par with all the latest and greatest smartphones and software that eclipses nearly everything else on the market. The Pre 2 will also be available on Verizon before year’s end for those who don’t mind a contract with Big Red.

Update: webOS developers can get an unlocked Pre 2 for $250.

Source: HP via SlashGear

Google Docs now supports mobile editing for iPhone, Android

Nice, basic implementation of a feature that many — including myself — have been (im)patiently waiting for. Thanks, Google!

Source: Google Mobile Blog via Engadget

Rubinstein urges webOS faithful to ‘be patient’ at Web 2.0 Summit

We’ve got some great stuff coming. If you are a webOS aficionado out there, be patient. The pool of webOS devices is going to grow very dramatically over the next 12 to 18 months.

Watch out, Apple. Palm wants its throne back — and with webOS at the helm and HP at its sails, it’s only a matter of time.

Sources: Web 2.0 Summit, EE Times via IntoMobile

BoxWave Keyboard Buddy Case for iPhone 4

One of the top complaints about the iPhone that Apple cannot address fully with iOS updates has been its lack of a physical keyboard. When iOS 4 was rolled out in June, Bluetooth keyboard support was enabled and gave iPhone users the option of pairing a hardware keyboard with Apple’s darling. I, particularly, have been waiting for a quality landscape-oriented, slide-out keyboard case to try out — and although solutions exist — none have managed to pique my interest. Enter BoxWave’s Keyboard Buddy Case for iPhone 4.

This thing looks mighty impressive — solid, slim, and stylish. If the ergonomics and balance of the Keyboard Buddy can match its form, it might even be worth its $70 price tag. BoxWave starts shipping its Keyboard Buddy Case on December 14, but those anxious to Droidify their iPhones can pre-order now at the link below.

Source: BoxWave via Engadget

Facebook Messages in 4:11

Here is Facebook’s official YouTube video that explains the concept behind its new messaging platform. You can also read more about it here on Facebook’s official blog.

Although I find the idea of simpler sharing refreshing, it is not a novel idea and by no means a simple task to implement effectively on a grand scale. Notwithstanding, Facebook is dead on when it says that ‘all you should need to send a message is the person and the message.’ In fact, this is how all communication should work — the means of communication are extraneous — only the persons communicating and the message are relevant.

Relatively soon, we’ll probably all stop using arbitrary ten digit numbers and bizarre sequences of characters to contact each other. We will just select friends by name and be able to share with them instantly. We aren’t there yet, but the changes today are a small first step.

This is the end goal, and I am delighted that Facebook realizes this and is taking ‘a small first step’ towards that goal. However, I am still skeptical that Facebook will be instrumental in the grand scheme of making simple sharing a reality.

Official Google Voice app lands in App Store

The Beatles and Google Voice hit iTunes on the same day. Hell hath frozen over.

Download here.

Source: Google Voice Blog via TechCrunch