×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Single Microbe May Have Triggered the "Great Dying"

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the get-your-flu-shot dept.

Science 171

An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Medical Daily about a new theory for what triggered the "Great Dying: " "Researchers believe that they may finally know why the event occurred, but the theory is not without controversy. There are several theories, including the possibility of a meteorite hitting the planet. Previously, most researchers believed that the Permian mass extinction was a result of a series of volcanic eruptions in what is now Siberia. ... However, Daniel Rothman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is floating around a different theory. As he presented in a meeting for the American Geophysical Union, he believes that the mass extinction could have been caused by something much smaller. His theory is that the extinction was caused by a single strain of bacteria."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

171 comments

Second post. (-1, Offtopic)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#42322989)

On the assumption that why I am typing this 'first' post, someone else is doing the same and will get there before me.

Also, DIE, evil auto-playing video advertisment!

Re:Second post. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323457)

Also, DIE, evil auto-playing video advertisment!

Instead of whining to us about your failure to block ads, how about you just go ahead and fucking block them?

Re:Second post. (-1, Offtopic)

q.kontinuum (676242) | about a year ago | (#42323567)

Also, DIE, evil auto-playing video advertisment!

Instead of whining to us about your failure to block ads, how about you just go ahead and fucking block them?

Maybe he's afraid to miss some "fucking" ads?

Re:Second post. (0, Offtopic)

q.kontinuum (676242) | about a year ago | (#42324137)

Current score: (Score:2, Informative)

Come on, how is this informative?!? Either Troll or Funny, I don't care, but this smells of a moderator trolling or trying to be funny!

Re:Second post. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323693)

Not OP, but FYI, I have Adblock Plus installed on Chrome and it failed to block them. So.

Re:Second post. (1, Insightful)

donscarletti (569232) | about a year ago | (#42324221)

Video ads = evil

Unintrusive, relavent and optimised ads = a good way to generate revenue and maybe even learn about a useful product from time to time.

Re:Second post. (2, Funny)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year ago | (#42323685)

*sigh*

Quite complaining & get nerding.

As repeated many, many times here, install Adblock, Noscript...

And/or load up your Hosts file...

Or contribute enough, get good karma, and /. lets you turn the ads off

Re:Second post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323755)

*sigh*

Quite complaining & get nerding.

As repeated many, many times here, install Adblock, Noscript...

And/or load up your Hosts file...

Or contribute enough, get good karma, and /. lets you turn the ads off

I've got adblock installed; this one was on TFA site and missed by easylist.

Re:Second post. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324213)

AdBlock + NoScript

Never an auto-play advertisement be seen.

The kaboom (5, Funny)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#42323039)

But where's the Earth shattering kaboom? There's supposed to be an Earth shattering kaboom!

Re:The kaboom (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#42323157)

But where's the Earth shattering kaboom? There's supposed to be an Earth shattering kaboom!

Then, due to the sheer amount of frustration at the lack of bacterial extinctions requiring massive detonations, Dexter's entire head exploded in aneurysm causing what can only be described as a minor "Earth Shattering kaboom!"

Here Lies Dexter Herbivore
"It's the little things that count."

Re:The kaboom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324259)

do you write for dinosaure comics ?

Re:The kaboom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323249)

Volcanic eruptions that last millions of years could count as a kaboom.

Re:The kaboom (3, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#42323439)

Obviously the Illudium Pu-36 Explosive Space Modulator was stolen by a rabbit.

"It obstructs my view of Venus"

--
BMO

Re:The kaboom (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#42323943)

That will be done by the cause of the Second Great Dying, this time will be something a bit bigger than a microbe, in fact will look a lot like us.

Re:The kaboom (1)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#42324925)

But where's the Earth shattering kaboom? There's supposed to be an Earth shattering kaboom!

No boom today, boom tomorrow (well on Friday)

Germs. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323047)

The real top of the food chain.

We're just lucky they can't take notice of us.

Jay Gould (5, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about a year ago | (#42323149)

He remarked in one of his essays that people completely misunderstand evolution, using teleological thinking to believe that we are in some way the "highest form" or "goal" of evolution. But in fact, in terms of biomass and effects on the Earth's ecosystems, we are still living in the Age of Bacteria.

Re:Jay Gould (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323443)

That's overstating things. There are a lot of bacteria, but they're very small. It's more like the age of the antarctic krill. Or, going up a few levels, the age of the arthropod.

Re:Jay Gould (4, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about a year ago | (#42323521)

What part of "in terms of biomass" did you not understand?

Re:Jay Gould (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324889)

"In." I understood "terms of biomass," but "in" has me completely flummoxed.

Re:Jay Gould (0)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#42323529)

effects on the Earth's ecosystems

Yes, global nuclear war wouldn't change anything.

Also, I'd say that thinking that the amount of biomass is a good indicator of evolution is probably a very USian thought.

Re:Jay Gould (again) (4, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about a year ago | (#42324015)

Our ability to create a global extinction event just puts us on the same level as an asteroid, this proposed strain of bacteria, or a chain of volcanoes, from a biological point of view.

And thinking about the importance of a phylum in terms of its biomass is nothing to do with whether a biologist is American or not - it tells you the significance of that phylum in food chains. What does the AC above think the krill eat? They eat plankton. Now tell me, which is there more of? Krill or plankton? And what do plankton do? They use sunlight and nutrients (largely recycled by bacteria from decaying matter), or they use bacteria directly.

How does organic matter in the soil get broken down into a form that plants can use? Fungi and bacteria. Without plants, there would be only a few people living on the sea coasts.

Read Jay Gould. Then read some of the many books he recommends. You will then be able to make more intelligent posts on these subjects.

Re:Jay Gould (again) (2)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#42324689)

No. No, it doesn't. We have the ability to create a global extinction event at any time. It is absolutely ridiculous to imply that bacteria have more potential drastic effects on the ecosystems on Earth than humans. That we choose not to wield the vast array of means we have to do so, does not equate to the idea that those means do not exist.

Continuing, I was and am very well aware that total biomass can indicate the significance of a species to the ecosystem as a whole (but made an apparently failed attempt at humour). To imply that biomass is particularly important in determining what success in evolution is, is wrong, however.

You intentionally introduced the word phylum, thereby lobbing quite a number of species on the same pile. If one looks at biomass of distinct species, krill and humans are numbers one and two. More importantly, the specializations of different bacteria species means that any individual species is by far not as versatile, resilient, stable, long-living and powerful as humans are. If you disagree, I'd like to hear which specific species we are dwarfed by.

Re:Jay Gould (again) (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324715)

Jay Gould is not a supporter of traditional evolution theory. He supports the punctuated equilibrium based upon evidence in the fossil record. The basic idea is that animals do not gradually adapt to an environement. Instead, some mutant freak for some reason becomes dominant in an area. This is often because of a radical change in that environment. Richard Dawkins highly opposes these views: despite the significant evidence Gould produced, it cannot prove that traditional evolution did not occur for the same reason that no one can prove there is no God.

Re:Jay Gould (again) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42325367)

And thinking about the importance of a phylum in terms of its biomass is nothing to do with whether a biologist is American or not

Thou failest it, brother.

Re:Jay Gould (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324181)

Also, I'd say that thinking that the amount of biomass is a good indicator of evolution is probably a very USian thought.

Why would you assume that someone is from the United States of Brazil based on that statement? Or did you mean the United States of America? Please pay attention to common world-wide convention and just refer to them as either "Brazil" or "America" respectively, so as to avoid confusion. Also, saying "USian" makes you sound like you're some kind of idiot with an axe to grind. Just FYI.

Re:Jay Gould (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324039)

That is pretty ignorant in itself. Evolution has no goal, it just is.

The life influenced by it have goals. And most of that tends to be, "Eat, sex."
Hell, in some cases, Die is part of that too. Some lifeforms are just so happy to want to kill themselves after completing that. (including humans, but that is usually for another reason)

Re:Jay Gould (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42325363)

Actually breathe/eat etc are only needs.

Sex is the only real goal, in order to have offspring and continue your species.

But it so happens for us that the reward paths for sex (dopamine etc) are also triggered by many events too (fun), so as a side-effect human existance is much richer.

Re:Jay Gould (3, Funny)

Migraineman (632203) | about a year ago | (#42325407)

Once you have successfully accomplished the "sex" objective, the "sleep" objective moves abruptly to the front of the list (as your offspring will deprive you of any opportunities to do so.)

Re:Jay Gould (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about a year ago | (#42325391)

>But in fact, in terms of biomass and effects on the Earth's ecosystems, we are still living in the Age of Bacteria.

No, we live in Hollywood era.

A whole strain? (0)

LambdaWolf (1561517) | about a year ago | (#42323117)

His theory is that the extinction was caused by a single strain of bacteria. [emphasis added]

Aw, that's not as much fun. The headline made me think that this guy somehow had it narrowed down to one actual organism.

Re:A whole strain? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323145)

Your reply made me think you have a dick about the size of a single microbe.

Re:A whole strain? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year ago | (#42324125)

The headline made me think that this guy somehow had it narrowed down to one actual organism.

RTFA again: he did, her name's Andromeda...

Re:A whole strain? (4, Funny)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#42324319)

> The headline made me think that this guy somehow had it narrowed down to one actual organism.

That is difficult to envision, Chuck Norris was born so much later.

Re:A whole strain? (1)

azalin (67640) | about a year ago | (#42324383)

Just imagine a Neandertal Norris for a second and compare it to the Chuck Norris of our age minus cowboy boots. They'd practically be twins

Re:A whole strain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324659)

Yea,
But I wouldn't fuck with either one of 'em.

Re:A whole strain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42325107)

His theory is that the extinction was caused by a single strain of bacteria. [emphasis added]

Aw, that's not as much fun. The headline made me think that this guy somehow had it narrowed down to one actual organism.

It could be read as one really big bacteria giving it the old college try.

Buried Lead (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323123)

Under Communism, the Pravda headline would've read: Soviets Invent Mass Extinction First!

I Understand Tragedy of the Commons (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323139)

Honestly, this is interesting but the article title of, "Single microbe may have triggered the 'Great Dying'" above makes me think of, "Single macrobe triggered the second 'Great Dying' ending all mammalian life on planet Earth."

And it could also have been... (2, Funny)

dohzer (867770) | about a year ago | (#42323211)

By reading the Wikipedia article, I have determined that it also may have been:
- A single rock
- A single volcano
- The build-up of a single type of gas
- The rising of a single body of water
- Lack of a single element in the water

Re:And it could also have been... (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year ago | (#42323271)

Lack of a single element in the not-water

FTFY

Re:And it could also have been... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324253)

If you would have read the article he read, you would realize you're fixing it wrong:

Evidence for widespread ocean anoxia (severely deficient in oxygen) and euxinia (presence of hydrogen sulfide) is found from the Late Permian to the Early Triassic.

MAY HAVE BEEN ... WAIT FOR IT ... MARTIANS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323277)

Because as we already know, Mars Needs Women !!

Not the volcanos but the volcanos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323279)

Previously, most researchers believed that the Permian mass extinction was a result of a series of volcanic eruptions in what is now Siberia.

...

However, mathanosarcina requires nickel in order to produce methane quickly. Nickel levels spiked almost 251 million years ago, likely because of a spike in Siberian lava from the volcanoes themselves.

In other words, even if the microbes did what they did, that was likely still part of a chain of events triggered by the same volcanos erupting.

The Zombie Apocolypse did it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323321)

Yes. A ridiculous theory. But about as plausible, after all it's just another virus...

Zombie dinosaurs chomped their way through the whole planet, then finally decomposed themselves over time. Only small mammals who could hide underground or birds that could fly away escaped those brain-lovin' undead dinos!

Ask the sharks; they saw the whole thing.

Re:The Zombie Apocolypse did it! (0)

undead ichi (2671607) | about a year ago | (#42323415)

Yes. A ridiculous theory. But about as plausible, after all it's just another virus...

Zombie dinosaurs chomped their way through the whole planet, then finally decomposed themselves over time. Only small mammals who could hide underground or birds that could fly away escaped those brain-lovin' undead dinos!

Ask the sharks; they saw the whole thing.

that would be so awesome i need that film in my life lol

WARNING: theory requires homeopathic leanings (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about a year ago | (#42323333)

Volcanic eruptions in Siberia = entire planet dusted with nickel.

Eh, geologist comes up with geological theory. Funding running a bit low?

Re:WARNING: theory requires homeopathic leanings (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324601)

the quantity of nickel required is "very small". It's a catalyst, not a consumable. When in ash, teh jet stream and ocean currenst are very good at distributing it. Completely plausible as a theory goes. Now, do we have proof? Not yet, however, this is better than many of the "look for money" theories.

It's very poor science in one way... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323355)

...but very GOOD for getting a grant.

Nowadays you HAVE to incorporate gas-influenced Climate Change into EVERYTHING you produce.Otherwise you risk losing your grant to a malleable researcher.

And the contortions which the IPCC is going through to try to prove that they should keep being funded have resulted in such a huge (assumed) sensitivity to CO2 and CH4 that you can prove almost ANY change using their figures...

Re:It's very poor science in one way... (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#42323573)

Yes, evidence that backs up your idea is a good way to get a science grant, science grants have a proven track record of increasing our knowledge of the world around us.

Nowadays you HAVE to incorporate gas-influenced Climate Change into EVERYTHING you produce.Otherwise you risk losing your grant to a malleable researcher.

Yeah right because the 100+ nations that fund the IPCC all have exactly the same political agenda and every mainstream scientist, science journal and scientific institute on the planet has been bought of by an international system of grants that doesn't actually exist. Do you realize how fucking crazy paranoid you have to be to believe that, it's the same anti-science shit you hear from creationists, anti-vax'ers, and other groups of whacko's who don't like specific aspects of the natural world and choose to walk around with their head up their arse. Geology is the only tool we have to investigate past climate, get a grip on your paranoid delusions and go read a climate science text book, particularly the chapters on paleo-climatology.

Re:It's very poor science in one way... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#42323949)

Yes, evidence that backs up your idea is a good way to get a science grant, science grants have a proven track record of increasing our knowledge of the world around us.

Nowadays you HAVE to incorporate gas-influenced Climate Change into EVERYTHING you produce.Otherwise you risk losing your grant to a malleable researcher.

Yeah right because the 100+ nations that fund the IPCC all have exactly the same political agenda and every mainstream scientist, science journal and scientific institute on the planet has been bought of by an international system of grants that doesn't actually exist. Do you realize how fucking crazy paranoid you have to be to believe that, it's the same anti-science shit you hear from creationists, anti-vax'ers, and other groups of whacko's who don't like specific aspects of the natural world and choose to walk around with their head up their arse. Geology is the only tool we have to investigate past climate, get a grip on your paranoid delusions and go read a climate science text book, particularly the chapters on paleo-climatology.

Kinda like creationists claiming that you can't trust biologists because they're all in on an atheistic conspiracy to discredit religion.

The foundation of science denialism is disqualifying the actual experts from having an opinion on the topic.

Re:It's very poor science in one way... (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about a year ago | (#42324271)

> Nowadays you HAVE to incorporate gas-influenced Climate Change into EVERYTHING you produce.Otherwise you risk losing your grant to a malleable researcher.

The vast majority of scientific funding in the US and Canada goes to people who are not working on climate change, or anything related to climate change.

Re:It's very poor science in one way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324025)

I see you havent make the connection yet. When tilting at windmills, do you yell at the wind or do something to stop the wind. like close a door. The person you quoted is correct. To obtain funding you have to accept one of two theories. Either pro or against. Which is correct. According to you whatever the boss says, boss being the monied ones who give grants to prove the theory in one fashion. What if they are wrong. Which I believe the IPCC is right now, on global warming. I say it's the sun, stupid but right. The sun is a variable star. Check the output with your solar cells, and tell me it isn't, mathamatically, you need a constant figure to do the equations, but that number is not a constant, it varies, on a 8 minute cycle, thats plus or minus depending on the distance to the sun, which varies to the orbit, and so on. But your beer fart isn't the thing doing in the world.

Re:It's very poor science in one way... (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about a year ago | (#42324029)

I think you meant "Geology is not the only tool...", we also have ice cores, dendrochronology, carbon dating, isotopic ratios, and other things I personally don't know about and cannot be bothered.

And the climate change denialists have...Christopher Walter Monckton.

Re:It's very poor science in one way... (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | about a year ago | (#42324323)

ice cores, dendrochronology, carbon dating, isotopic ratios, and other things

Yep, lots of different kinds of evidence. And all of those tests are done from things that happen to be dug out of the earth...

I guess you could find evidence of previous climates from the genetics or geographical distribution of extant populations, but I can't think of any widely used evidence of previous climates that doesn't have 'geo-' somewhere in the title of its field.

Rings a bell (0)

valentyn (248783) | about a year ago | (#42323407)

Mass extinction in a few thousand years and a single species responsible - I see a parallel. It isn't mass extinction exactly, but mankind has caused quite some disturbance in both land and sea ecosystems already. A few thousand years should be plenty enough to cause real mass extinction.

Re:Rings a bell (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323465)

And it is a mass extinction already. Species are dropping at an astounding rate.

Re:Rings a bell (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#42323609)

Why would we wait that long?
Most of the critters are pretty useless to us already or will be so in the near future.

Seems a bit of a stretch; TFA's short, see below.. (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year ago | (#42323491)

Rothman analyzed a sample of sediment from the end of the Permian era that he obtained in China. From his analysis, he found that the rise in carbon levels was way too sharp to be caused by a geologic event like volcanic eruptions. He argues that instead, a microbe was behind this sudden rise.
Called methanosarcina, this sea-dwelling microbe is responsible for most of the methane produced biologically even today. Rothman and his team discovered that methanosarcina developed the ability to produce methane 231 million years ago. While that ability came around too late to be single-handedly responsible for the link.

Eh?

However, mathanosarcina requires nickel in order to produce methane quickly. Nickel levels spiked almost 251 million years ago, likely because of a spike in Siberian lava from the volcanoes themselves. This indicates that methanosarcina was directly responsible for producing the methane that killed off an overwhelming majority of the Earth's species.

Don't see where he proves the methane did it...

Re:Seems a bit of a stretch; TFA's short, see belo (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about a year ago | (#42325047)

Perhaps the nickel was present and widely distributed pre-methanosarcina explosion, and they 'ate' it all, so there's little left now.

H.G. Wells (0)

thoughtfulbloke (1091595) | about a year ago | (#42323577)

"And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martiansâ"dead!â"slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth." Admittedly, Wells had a better fleshed out mechanism for his bacteria.

Re:H.G. Wells (0)

blagooly (897225) | about a year ago | (#42324219)

Did anyone else laugh out loud when reading this story? Is this a joke, a hoax? Well's tale is of a limited number of things quickly killed off by an alien element. This theorized killer bug argument requires evolution and adaptation suspended for multiple generations. 10 million years in fact. This is perhaps the most profoundly stupid theory I have ever heard. It merits a special trophy in the creator's names. A subset of the darwin awards.

trovllkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42323847)

And Michael smith

Coincidence? (0)

tttonyyy (726776) | about a year ago | (#42324067)

The Mayan calendar ends on December 21st, and drilling is due to resume into the Ellsworth sub-Antartic lake on the 21st?

http://www.ellsworth.org.uk/ [ellsworth.org.uk]

I for one welcome our tiny little waterborn underlords.

Re:Coincidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324211)

NB: above link has nothing to do with Jeri Ellsworth. Sad face :(

He is mistaken (3, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#42324131)

He does not have a theory. He has a hypothesis.

Re:He is mistaken (2)

fearofcarpet (654438) | about a year ago | (#42324281)

And methanosarcina are archaea [wikipedia.org], not bacteria, a fact that was three clicks away from the Wikipedia entry on methanosarcina [wikipedia.org], which is apparently too many clicks for Slashdot or Medical Daily (but New Scientist got it right). I suspect that what was actually presented at the meeting was a cogent hypothesis for how methanogens contributed to the Great Dying following an increase in bio-available nickel. What we get is the result after several application of the stupid filter that is the Internet.

Re:He is mistaken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324403)

And methanosarcina are archaea [wikipedia.org], not bacteria, a fact that was three clicks away from the Wikipedia entry on methanosarcina [wikipedia.org], which is apparently too many clicks for Slashdot or Medical Daily (but New Scientist got it right). I suspect that what was actually presented at the meeting was a cogent hypothesis for how methanogens contributed to the Great Dying following an increase in bio-available nickel. What we get is the result after several application of the stupid filter that is the Internet.

I agree.

Methane deposits are/were more than plentiful under the Arctic ocean, surely it's less of a stretch to imagine destabilisation of undersea methane deposits.

If methanogens evolved to use nickel to produce methane, then wouldn't that indicate that perhaps the time-frame involved would allow for species to adapt in a way that wouldn't reflect the utter destruction in the great dying?

cfm

Re:He is mistaken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324693)

Tenure generally requires making a novel contribution to your field of study, so don't be surprised that young scientists are always making fantastical claims about the way the world might be. This isn't a bad thing - it's how the process works. Good ideas don't come to forefront all by themselves - they all have such humble beginnings. Some claims pan out, some don't. But this is interesting, possible (in terms of chemistry, not necessarily history), and deserves further scrutiny. Perhaps the hypothesis will be shot down. But we shouldn't discourage people from making the effort required to do good science.

Re:He is mistaken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324727)

Hm, just looked the guy up, and he's not the eager young whippersnapper I assumed he was. Still, this is how you do science. Good on him.

Re:He is mistaken (1)

OldTOP (1118645) | about a year ago | (#42325095)

Good point – but in fact a dictionary does show about half a dozen meanings for "theory", one of which is a synonym for hypothesis.

It's a real problem that many people seem to think that "theory" has only that one meaning, and don't understand that in science it more often means an established body of knowledge generally derived from a number of well-verified hypotheses.

Cofactor F430 (4, Interesting)

epine (68316) | about a year ago | (#42324193)

Cofactor F430 [wikipedia.org]

Forget the organism. This is about the advent of a novel reaction pathway, that scales on the availability of nickel. Surprisingly, geology might have something to say on that score. Any vigorous reaction pathway that bubbles madly away at an oceanic scale is almost certain to colour the infrared signature of our thin gas membrane. Imagine if everyone on the planet had an F430.

There's a lot to like about this hypothesis. I've seen worse. To determine exactly how this pathway becomes prolific at global scale would take decades of further study. It's as yet a humble beginning, of the kind that sometimes pans out.

Re:Cofactor F430 (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | about a year ago | (#42325211)

Imagine if everyone on the planet had an F430.

There would be no more speed bumps and Italy would have the highest GDP? Right? [wikipedia.org]

A New Low for Science "Journalism" (1)

fearofcarpet (654438) | about a year ago | (#42324209)

Setting aside the lack of detail and the characterization of an untested hypothesis as a theory, if you follow the link [livescience.com] in TFA about the dissenting opinions you'll find this gem:

Methane explosion

But just what caused that massive methane release remained a mystery. Daniel Rothman, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his colleagues wondered whether ocean-dwelling bacteria that churn out methane were the culprits.

His team found through genetic analysis that bacteria called methanosarcina evolved the ability to break down nickel and make methane as part of its metabolism about 251 million years ago. The bacteria may have exploded in population, thereby releasing the ocean's vast methane reserves. And because the bacteria add an oxygen molecule to methane during metabolism, an exponential rise in methanosarcina may have catastrophically depleted ocean oxygen levels.

So now bacteria are performing alchemy (converting Ni to CH4) and "adding an oxygen to methane" no longer produces methanol (CH3OH) or formaldehyde (CH2O), rather it is apparently just "methane with an added oxygen" which is apparently still a potent greenhouse gas.

Re:A New Low for Science "Journalism" (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about a year ago | (#42324705)

It is fairly clear that this is not alchemy. The nickel is acting as a catalyst.

Re:A New Low for Science "Journalism" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324745)

That's not what TFA said. The TFA said "evolved the ability to BREAK DOWN NICKEL."

Into what? What does a bacteria break nickel down into?

Re:A New Low for Science "Journalism" (1)

fearofcarpet (654438) | about a year ago | (#42324919)

Read what they wrote: "methanosarcina evolved the ability to break down nickel and make methane." You can't break nickel down without doing nuclear chemistry--you can only change its oxidation state. It's clear to anyone with even a basic grasp of chemistry that methanogens use nickel enzyme complexes as catalysts, but the author of this ridiculous failure of journalism clearly thought that methanosarcina produce methane from nickel.

No more medicaldaily.com articles, please (3, Interesting)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about a year ago | (#42324297)

PLEASE - let's not have any more articles from medicaldaily.com until they stop firing off 2 OR MORE auto-playing videos at the same time on every article.

Re:No more medicaldaily.com articles, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42325099)

Just blacklist medicaldaily.com. Everybody who has visited that site once does.

Dinosaur Herpes (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#42324539)

Hey baby! Nice scales! Why don't you and I go back to my place and EEW WHAT'S THAT ON YOUR FACE?!

20 years later, no more dinosaurs.

Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42324597)

The bacteria was picked up off of an unsanitary telephone.

This has happened twice ... could it happen again? (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#42324651)

If this is correct it is the second time an organism has wiped out most existing life forms The Great Oxygenation Event [wikipedia.org] is thought to have killed most existing forms of life - then single-celled organisms. It makes you wonder, could it happen again - a bacteria completely changing Earth's chemistry in a way that's incompatible with most existing life forms?

And I know where it came from! (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#42324923)

Single Microbe May Have Triggered the "Great Dying"

It's the strain from Andromeda. Michael had it all figgered out.

This might be right.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42325035)

But then again, we have no idea..

Options are:
1) METEOR!!! - hit the earth, causing huge cataclysmic weather effects.
2) ICE AGE!!! - cooled everything down to horribly low temperatures in a flash (few hundred or thousands ofyears).
3) GENETIC MUTATION IN BACTERIA!!! - rare killer viruses killed everything accidentally.
4) GENETIC MUTATION IN VEGETATION!!! - plants discovered a new way to be less nutritious and fend off the herding-hordes

Any hypothesis will have to come up with reasons why small dinosaurs, small mammals, and lizards, lots and lots of lizards survived, and not the bigger dinosaurs, that's why I think ice age or mutation in vegetation are the likeliest options.

Site is broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42325405)

So, when I come to Slashdot in Chrome it automatically puts me in the mobile version of the website. This use to not be a big deal because there was a switch at the bottom that would allow me to go to fullscreen. Now I can't find that switch. Honestly, it is pissing me off.

Captcha: despise

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...