An Appeal Upon Returning.

Hello again,

It’s been longer than I realized since I’ve written here, and I have some ideas on how I’d like to improve my blog as I return to it. I think it will help me organize my ideas if I refocus on a few major topics. Writing and books, science and other geeky news, and gaming, mostly. There will still be an occasional recipe and other randomness, because I love finding new things to share.

Today I’ve signed up for an event on short notice, and I’m sorry I couldn’t give more fair warning. I’m seeking sponsors for the Extra Life gaming marathon this Saturday, October 15th. I’ll be playing one of my favorite old MMOs – Anarchy Online.

Here’s a link to my sponsor page:

Extra Life - Play Games. Heal Kids.

All the proceeds from the marathon are going to support Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. I’m playing in support of UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital here in Cleveland, Ohio. I think it’s hard to find a family in Cleveland whose life hasn’t been touched by the skilled teams at this hospital. I had friends growing up who might not have lived without the care they received there. And I have friends now whose children are thriving thanks to their incredible doctors.

I’ll be straight-up honest with you guys: I don’t plan to play a full 24 hours on this. I just can’t with my family’s crazy schedule. They come first, gaming is just for fun. I just thought it might be nice to use my fun time to give back a little. If you have the money to spare, please click through and pledge what you can. All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

Thanks for your support,

Geargoyle

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Life As We’ve Never Known It Before

Mono Lake, California

Mono Lake, California (Photo Credit: Michael Gäbler)

NASA announced an exciting discovery today at NASA TV. I wasn’t able to watch the entire thing, but it was amazing. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, an Astrobiology research fellow at Menlo Park, shared her findings about a microbe called GFAJ-1 in the family of Gammaproteobacteria. This microbe is able to live in a phosphorous-free environment by substituting arsenic for phosphorous within its biological systems, even within the backbone of its DNA. Never before have we seen an organism capable of living without one of the six primary elements of life (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur).

Felisa Wolfe-Simon’s team discovered this bacteria living in Mono Lake, California, but its remarkable abilities really force us to re-evaluate our study and search for life both on our planet and within the greater universe. As a huge fan of both science and science fiction, I’ve always felt it was somewhat naïve for us to assume that life would only arise under the exact conditions that we ourselves find comfortable. I expect that as our ability to explore outer planets improves, we will discover many more surprises where living things evolve to thrive in wildly exotic environments. Studying the far reaches of our own planet such as deep-sea lava vents and toxic saline lakes will help us revise our definitions and understanding of what life can be, and I am looking forward to many more great discoveries to come.

You can read NASA’s official press release here:
http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/dec/HQ_10-320_Toxic_Life.html

Geargoyle