29 August 2014South Africa’s women’s football team, Banyana Banyana will wind up Women’s Month with an international friendly against Tanzania at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Sunday evening.They returned from Zambia earlier this week after a 4-0 win over She-polopolo and went straight into camp ahead of the African Women’s Championship in Namibia, which takes place from 11 to 25 October.On trackCoach Vera Pauw said in a statement that her charges’ preparations are on track for the biggest women’s football tournament on the African continent, which will also serve as a qualifier for the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup, with the top three finishers qualifying to play in the finals in Canada.“We travelled back to South Africa on Monday and we gave the players a day off on Tuesday but the girls are looking great. We will be ready for Tanzania come Sunday,” Pauw said.Amanda Dlamini is recovering well from a knee injury which she suffered in match against Namibia at the Dobsonville stadium on 10 August.Places up for grabsWith Pauw yet to name her final squad to compete at the African Women’s Championship, competition among players for a place in Namibia is stiff.“Everyone is working hard in the team. It’s not going to be easy for the coach to make the final selection as everyone is putting in great effort,” Banyana Banyana captain Janine Van Wyk said.African Women’s Championship preparationRunners-up in the last African Women’s Championship in 2012, South Africa qualified for this year’s finals after thrashing the Comoros 13-0 away from home in May. The islanders subsequently withdrew from the return leg of the tie, opening the way for Banyana Banyana to play a number of friendly internationals as preparation for the continental showpiece.In eight outings in 2014, all against African opposition, South Africa has won six matches and drawn twice against Zimbabwe: 2-2 in Johannesburg in April and 0-0 in Harare in July.Banyana’s other results include the 13-0 thrashing of the Comoros, a 4-0 defeat of Botswana on 7 June, a 2-1 win over Namibia in Windhoek on 5 July, a 2-0 victory over the same opposition on 10 August on home soil and the recent 4-0 victory over Zambia in Lusaka.GroupsSouth Africa has been drawn in Group B for the African Women’s Championship finals, alongside Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana. Group A consists of Nigeria, Namibia, the Ivory Coast and Zambia.SAinfo reporter
A bizarre microbe found deep in a gold mine in South Africa could provide a model for how life might survive in seemingly uninhabitable environments through the cosmos. Known as Desulforudis audaxviator, the rod-shaped bacterium thrives 2.8 kilometers underground in a habitat devoid of the things that power the vast majority of life on Earth—light, oxygen, and carbon. Instead, this “gold mine bug” gets energy from radioactive uranium in the depths of the mine. Now, scientists predict that life elsewhere in the universe might also feed off of radiation, especially radiation raining down from space.“It really grabbed my attention because it’s completely powered by radioactive substances,” says Dimitra Atri, an astrobiologist and computational physicist who works for the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science in Seattle, Washington. “Who’s to say life on other worlds doesn’t do the same thing?”Most life on Earth’s surface takes in the energy it needs through one of two processes. Plants, some bacteria, and certain other organisms collect energy from sunlight through a process called photosynthesis. In it, they use the energy from light to convert water and carbon dioxide into more complex and energetic molecules called hydrocarbons, thus storing the energy so that it can be recovered later by breaking down the molecules through a process called oxidation. Alternatively, animals and other organisms simply feed off of plants, one another, etc., to steal the energy already stored in living things.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)D. audaxviator takes a third path: It draws its energy from the radioactivity of uranium in the rock in the mine. The radiation from decaying uranium nuclei breaks apart sulfur and water molecules in the stone, producing molecular fragments such as sulfate and hydrogen peroxide that are excited with internal energy. The microbe then takes in these molecules, siphons off their energy, and spits them back out. Most of the energy produced from this process powers the bacterium’s reproduction and internal processes, but a portion of it also goes to repairing damage from the radiation.Atri thinks an extraterrestrial life form could easily make use of a similar system. The radiation might not come from radioactive materials on the planet itself, but rather from galactic cosmic rays (GCRs)—high-energy particles that careen through the universe after being flung out of a supernova. They’re everywhere, even on Earth, but our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere shields us from most GCRs. The surfaces of other planets like Mars are much more susceptible to cosmic rays because of their thin atmospheres and, in the case of Mars, its lack of a magnetic field. Atri argues GCRs could reach the Red Planet’s surface with enough energy left to power a tiny organism. This could also be the case on any world with a negligible atmosphere: Pluto, Earth’s moon, Jupiter’s moon Europa, Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and, theoretically, countless more outside our solar system. He does note, though, that because GCRs don’t deliver nearly as much energy as the sun, GCR-powered life would be very small, and simple, just like D. audaxviator.To figure out how this might work, Atri ran simulations using existing data about GCRs to see how much energy they’d provide on some of these other worlds. The numbers were clear: The small, steady shower of cosmic rays would supply enough energy to power a simple organism on all of the planets he simulated except Earth, Atri reports this week in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. “It can’t be ruled out that life like this could exist,” he says.Atri thinks Mars is the best candidate to host GCR-powered life. The planet’s composition is rocky like Earth’s with plenty of minerals, and it might even have some water tucked away. Both would offer excellent mediums to be broken down by cosmic rays and gobbled up by a life form. The most essential part of the equation, though, is the thin atmosphere. “It’s funny,” Atri says, “because when we look for planets that contain life currently, we look for a very thick atmosphere. With these life forms, we’re looking for the opposite.”Duncan Forgan, an astrobiologist at the University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom who was not involved with the work, agrees that Mars might be harboring D. audaxviator-like life because its stable temperatures and physical makeup are similar to that of the South African gold mine. He does worry that on other planets that don’t receive light energy from a sun but still get bombarded with GCRs—such as free floating rogue planets not tied to any solar system—temperatures would dip too low and freeze life in its tracks. He also cautions that too many cosmic rays could wipe life out altogether: “Life forms like this want a steady flux of energy from cosmic rays, but not so much that it’s damaging,” he says. “They might not be able to cope with a huge bout of radiation that pops in.”In the future, Atri wants to bring the gold mine bug into the lab and see how it responds to cosmic radiation levels equivalent to those on Mars, Europa, and others. That data would give him more clues to whether this kind of organism could survive beyond Earth. “Desulforudis audaxviator is proof that life can thrive using almost any energy source available,” he says. “I always think of Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park—life finds a way.”*Correction, 3 January, 2:45 p.m.: This article has been modified to reflect the fact that not all life on Earth gets its energy from either photosynthesis or by eating other life forms. Desulforudis audaxviator thrive using radiation from uranium as an energy source deep in the gold mine they call home. NASA
It will take a few more matches for teams to strike the right balance as the Indian Premier League gathers pace.The sooner they do it, the better it would be.Often it has been seen in this format that a bad stretch could be just around the corner. A team like Rajasthan Royals, who made a promising start against Kings XI Punjab, will be eager to build momentum while a combination like Kolkata Knight Riders, who suffered a loss in their inaugural match against Delhi Daredevils, will be desperate to log their first points.Knight Riders, one of the fancied teams in the competition, did reasonably well under Gautam Gambhir in the previous season.However, it was not the kind of start they were looking for at home. As Gambhir pointed out, their batsmen faltered in not being able to build partnerships. The top order collapsed in the face of some fine seam bowling by South African speedster Morne Morkel.They could manage 97/ 9 in 12 overs which Daredevils easily overhauled.A line up that has Brendon McCullum, Jacques Kallis, Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan has enough firepower in its batting ranks.If the first match at Sawai Man Singh Stadium is any indication, the pitch looks a batting paradise where Kolkata can prosper on its batting prowess. The 4pm match means there will be no dew factor and fans can hope for a scorcher of a game.”It is very difficult to set a target in a rain-curtailed match. Our top three batsmen were out early against Delhi. We are looking forward to a good game tomorrow,” Laxmi Ratan Shukla said on the eve of the match.advertisementAs Kolkata prepare to take on the Rajasthan Royals, they would take heart from the fact that they won both their matches against them last season. The team hit the nets in the afternoon and had a long practice session. Bowling coach Wasim Akram spent a lot of time in action. Gambhir, in particular, batted against different bowlers.Rajasthan looked in great touch against Kings XI Punjab and new captain Rahul Dravid marshalled his resources well.Dravid, who is also the mentor of the team, has pointed out that he is there to guide the young talent and that’s what he looked to do while opening the batting with Ajinkya Rahane.The Mumbai opener was a treat to watch in the opening match and flourished in the company of the veteran.”Rahane was very impressive against Kings XI Punjab. He is a good player and we will do everything possible to stop him from giving Rajasthan an explosive start,” Shukla added.The Royals bowling, too, looked good. Kevon Cooper, their new recruit, took four wickets on his IPL debut.Cooper, an unsung all-rounder from Trinidad, impressed with his controlled bowling. He will have to do it consistently to become a match-winner in the big league.