Why scientists need to search for alien life on purple planets

Billions of years ago, when microbial life first emerged on Earth, our planet would have appeared purple from space. Armed with this knowledge, scientists now say we should be on the lookout for exoplanets tinged in a similar purple hue — a possible sign of extraterrestrial life. » 11/13/13 7:20am 11/13/13 7:20am

Bacteria and fungi living 30,000 feet above the Earth could be…

Microorganisms have been found in virtually every corner of the Earth, from deep sea volcanoes to the tops of frozen mountains. They've also been discovered high up in the atmosphere — but scientists haven't been entirely sure as to nature and extent of these elusive high-altitude organisms. Now, new research suggests… » 1/29/13 8:31am 1/29/13 8:31am

Why look for life on Mars when you can make life on Mars?

Biologists who study extremophiles are dramatically expanding our sense of just how amazingly resilient microorganisms can be — insights that have serious implications in our search for extraterrestrial life. At the same time, these hardy microbes are also inspiring synthetic biologists to create their own strains of… » 8/09/12 12:00pm 8/09/12 12:00pm

Methane-exhaling microbes found in undersea volcanoes reset the limits …

As unbelievable as it sounds, it's thought that up to a third of all the Earth's organisms by mass live in rocks and sediments. Suffice to say, we know excruciatingly little about the lives and ecology of these highly inaccessible creatures. But a new study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst is offering an… » 8/07/12 9:45am 8/07/12 9:45am

Mouse-eared rotifer poses for photomicrography prize

Floscularia ringens is king of its castle. Brick by brick, this microscopic rotifer - or "wheel animal" - builds the tube it inhabits. To make its home, the rotifer gathers organic debris from the water it lives in through a socket in its head. This detritus is formed into round, reddish pellets inside its body. Here you … » 11/20/11 10:35am 11/20/11 10:35am

Watch surfers ride neon blue bioluminescent waves caused by red tide

On the beaches of Southern California, a phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum is responsible for a spate of red tide. Massive algal blooms like this make the water ruddy during the day, but disrupting the microorganisms at night results in bursts of electric blue bioluminescence. Says Scripps Institution of… » 10/01/11 3:00pm 10/01/11 3:00pm