Charles, Fletcher punish Zimbabwe

first_imgSHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (CMC):Openers Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher punished Zimbabwe with exhilarating unbeaten half-centuries to life West Indies to an emphatic 10-wicket victory in their second warm-up game here yesterday.Chasing 154 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, West Indies romped to their target in the 13th over with Charles, belting 92 not out off 48 balls and Fletcher striking 56 not out off 33 deliveries.Zimbabwe had earlier tallied 152 for seven off their 20 overs, with the stylish Vusi Sibanda top-scoring with 64 and Sikandar Raza getting 23.The right-handed Sibanda, opening the batting, faced 56 balls and struck eight fours in adding 53 for the fifth wicket with Raza, who gathered a four and a six off 13 balls in his knock.Medium pacer Carlos Brathwaite was the best bowler with three for 23, while fellow seamers Dwayne Bravo (2-11) and Jerome Taylor (2-35) both finished with two wickets apiece.Charles and Fletcher then pummelled the Zimbabwe attack as West Indies cruised to their second win over the African side in three days.The right-handed Charles slammed 10 fours and six sixes while Fletcher, also a right-hander, counted five fours and three sixes.landmarkCharles reached his half-century in the eighth over off 27 balls with five fours and four sixes, while Fletcher raised his landmark off 31 deliveries in the 12th over.West Indies are preparing for the Twenty20 World Cup starting March 8 in India and will continue their preparation with another T20 warm-up against English County Warwickshire on Friday here.last_img read more

Mars Opportunity for Life Must Tolerate Salty Acid

first_imgThe first slew of scientific papers from the Mars Exploration Rover mission appeared in Science Dec. 3,1 with the focus of interest on Opportunity’s evidence for past water at Meridiani, because Spirit found only “volcanic rock rubble and inorganic soils” in the presumed lakebed at Gusev Crater.  Jeffrey Kargel (U.S. Geological Survey) sums up the 11 reports this way:2The analyzed rocks mainly consist of iron oxides and hydrated magnesium, calcium, and iron sulfates; they were deposited in or altered by salty, acidic water, perhaps a sea.  Together with orbital observations, the reports for the first time document the geology and geochemistry of a martian hydrological event.  The results indicate aqueous sedimentation or aqueous alteration and are consistent with models of a warmer, wetter martian past.Some of the features, like polygonal cracks, could have a non-aqueous explanation, such as repetitive freezing and thawing of ice, he admits, and the laminae could be explained by “ultracold concentrated acid solutions.”  The consensus view, however, involves cycles of wetting and drying, with minerals spending a good deal of time soaking in water.  But water, water everywhere was surely none to drink: “The mineral jarosite detected at Meridiani Planum requires highly acidic conditions,” he says, and the other minerals are consistent with an acid brine environment: “The mineral assemblage and chemistry is typical of acid mine drainage systems affected by sulfide oxidation …. Does martian geochemistry resemble a global acid mine pollution site of ochre and sulfate mineralization?” he asks.    Now that scientists believe there was some water for some time, how does this bode for hopes life existed in the past, and perhaps survives to this day on the red planet?  The ESA’s Mars Express found methane, he reminds us, which could be a biomarker (see 11/14/2004 headline).  Kargel can’t rule it out, but it seems a stretch:Could martian methane be formed by life?  Might Meridiani Planum’s salts be linked through life and water to regional concentrations of methane?  Life exists on Earth at acidities and salinities comparable to those inferred for Meridiani Planum.  A cold acid-sulfate geochemical model of Meridiani Planum overlaps with some models of the ocean on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons where life could exist.  Such “extreme environments” are rare on Earth, but may be common elsewhere.  Few terrestrial species tolerate conditions that are simultaneously supercold, salty, and acidic; none of those that can survive such extremes also generate methane, but maybe on Mars they do, or maybe martian methanogens live in more alkaline and reducing regions.Opportunity’s ORV racetrack resembles no other place on earth, but it resembles somewhat the Rio Tinto acid mine drainage in Spain, which has specialized microbes.  Nevertheless, “Mars may never have been very earth-like,” he sighs, and “Although Meridiani Planum provides a record of aqueous processes, it might be a poor astrobiological site.”    The paper by Squyres et al.3 on the evidence for water, hopeful as it begins, explains why.  It says that, although “High acidity and salinity do not pose insurmountable challenges to microbial life on Earth,” the organisms that survive it are specially built: “Such organisms, however, belong to specialized populations that have evolved to survive in highly acidic or saline environments.  It is less clear,” therefore, “that such conditions are suitable for the kinds of prebiotic chemical reactions commonly invoked to explain the origin of life” (see 09/17/2002 headline on problems with salt).  Not only that, but there’s another challenge any incipient life would have faced.  Rover Opportunity found wind-driven sand among the assumed water-deposited minerals.  This suggests that “ water on Meridiani Planum may have been regionally extensive but temporally discontinuous, increasing the difficulty of biological persistence over long time intervals.”    What does the debate about Martian water and life mean to us at home, who live on a privileged planet, where life is found in every environment from acid mine drainages to the lush thickness of tropical rain forests?  The remote plausibility of any life on Mars contrasts sharply with what we observe on Earth, where living things thrive in the sea, in the desert, in caves, in the mountains, in the air, and on bustling freeways filled with humans driving to work, including scientists heading to NASA centers and universities, eager to read the latest radio signals from their distant robotic emissaries.  How will we interpret the answer to the question: is there, or was there ever, life on Mars?  Kargel concludes his summary with the alternatives:The possible future discovery of life (or fossil life) beyond Earth, anticipated for millennia, would complete the Galilean revolution that removed Earth and its life from the center of the universe.  Alternatively, if we search martian aqueous deposits and find them barren, then Earth might be seen as the only land of the living for light-years around.  Methane and salts may then provide humans with raw materials for building a new civilization on Mars and with an increased respect for life on our own planet.1Linda Rowan, “Opportunity Runneth Over,” Science, Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1697, 3 December 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5702.1697].2Jeffrey S. Kargel, “Proof for Water, Hints of Life?” Science, Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1689-1691, 3 December 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1105533].Someone send Kargel a copy of The Privileged Planet video; he’s got Galileo and Copernicus and their views mixed up.  They were creationists and put God at the supreme position in creation, not man; Earth was a “cosmic sump” where the dregs and filth descended, and Satan was at the center of the Earth.  Moving Earth to the status of a planet was a promotion, not a demotion, explains Dennis Danielson (editor of The Book of the Cosmos) in the film.    So here we stand, after centuries of wishful speculation, and after years of eager anticipation and certainty by some scientists that the rovers were going to find a waterbed of life on Mars, and they find the equivalent of a salty acid mine drainage.  Yuck; sic the EPA on this place.  If we were microbes, we would look for better real estate.  Just because some microbes manage to get along under those conditions on Earth doesn’t mean they originated there.  That’s the point some astrobiologists tend to forget.  Earth’s acid- and salt-loving bacteria have elaborate molecular machinery to help them cope with the poison.  It’s the last place any knowledgeable astrochemist would choose to have life come into being.    The Mars of 2004, now in much clearer focus, is dramatically different from that of Percival Lowell, H.G. Wells and Carl Sagan.  It’s a toxic, dry, freezing wasteland that only a wishful-thinking astrobiologist could hope would provide company for the cosmically lonely humans who seek fellowship with aliens rather than a Creator.  They don’t have to wait for proof Mars is lifeless; with what we know already, it is profoundly a time for “increased respect for life on our own planet.”  The next logical step should be increased reverence for the Creator of planets and life.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Jats support to Cong. in Rajasthan could spell trouble for Haryana BJP

first_imgThe consolidation of Jats behind the Congress in the Rajasthan Assembly elections, with the party winning two-thirds of the seats in the four districts dominated by the community, does not augur well for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana with the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections due next year.The elections, the results of which were declared on Tuesday, saw the BJP winning 10 of the total 39 seats up for grabs in the Jat-dominated Jodhpur, Barmer, Nagaur and Jhunjhunu districts, whereas the Congress emerged victorious in 26. Two of the remaining three seats went to Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal’s newly constituted Rashtriya Loktantrik Party.Sikar-based political analyst Ashfaq Kayamkhani said Jats, comprising around 20 % of the Rajasthan’s population, were alienated from the BJP primarily because of being denied a “fair” share in the power. “While the Congress governments always had adequate Jat representation, with four-five ministers, the current BJP government accommodated only one Jat leader, Banshidhar Bajiya. Hit by the rising agrarian distress, the community, largely involved in farming, was further alienated from the saffron party,” said Mr. Kayamkhani. Though traditionally a Congress supporter, a sizeable section of the community had rallied behind Jat BJP leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat over the years, but these Assembly elections mark their return to the Congress fold. The Jats have always felt, said Mr. Kayamkhani, that the BJP exploited them as a vote bank, but never gave them their due.Though in Haryana, two senior Jat leaders hold important portfolios and another leader from the community is the State party chief, the Jats, as Prof. Ranbir Singh, Senior Fellow, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, puts it, have a “vicarious” feeling of loss of power in a government led by Punjabi Chief Minister. The BJP’s non-committal attitude on Jat reservation and death of around 20 youth from the community in police firing during the reservation agitation in 2016 further caused their alienation.Though Jats in Haryana don’t traditionally vote for the BJP, which rose to power in the previous Assembly elections riding on the Modi wave and support from the non-Jats, the community’s consolidation behind the Congress could upset the saffron party’s political calculations in the State.In 2014, the BJP was helped by the division of Jat votes between the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal, but with the split in the latter, the community is at the crossroads looking for a formidable political force to keep the BJP out of power. In such a scenario, their rallying behind the Congress in Rajasthan could be a cause for worry to the BJP.”Districts such as Jhunjhunu, Churu, Hanumangarh share their borders with Haryana. Those in Jhunjhunu have a large number of relatives in Haryana’s Mahendergarh. The community’s mood in Rajasthan is, therefore, likely to have a spillover impact in Haryana,” said Mr. Kayamkhani.Though its too late for the BJP to try and woo the Jats in Haryana, the mayoral elections for five corporations in Haryana, slated for December 16, could give an indication of how much the BJP manages to hold on to its non-Jat vote bank, which is crucial for its future electoral prospects in the State.last_img read more