Artist's cross-section of Lake Vostok, the largest known subglacial lake in Antarctica (Image Nicolle Rager-Fuller / US National Science Foundation)

In recent days, the announcement arrived that a group of Russian researchers had discovered in Lake Vostok, Antarctica, bacteria of unknown type. Subsequently, however, the head of the genetics laboratory of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in St. Petersburg where the bacteria were analyzed stated that the samples had been contaminated during the research.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) gifted the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign the supercomputer Ember. Originally funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), it will now be used to work in genomics and transcriptomics. It will be handled by the High-Performance Biological Computing (HPCBio) group, which runs the infrastructure for bioinformatics.

Alfred Russel Wallace in 1862

A few days ago the site Wallace Correspondence Project’s (WCP) was launched. It aims to collect in digital format the letters still existent written to and from the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. This project has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is based at the Natural History Museum in London. This initiative follows Wallace Online, another website directed by John van Wyhe, assisted by Kees Rookmaaker at the National University of Singapore in collaboration with the Wallace Page by Charles H. Smith, which collects the naturalist’s books and articles.

Dickinsonia costata, a typical fossil of the Ediacara biota

An article published in the journal “Nature” in December is causing discussions among paleontologists. The reason is that according to Gregory Retallack, a geologist at the University of Oregon in Eugene, life on land began 65 million years earlier than is generally estimated.

Rita Levi Montalcini in 2009 (Photo Presidency of Italian Republic)

Rita Levi-Montalcini, neurologist and since 2001 senator for life in the Italian Parliament, passed away today. Born on April 22, 1909 in Turin, Italy, for her discovery of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), in 1986 she received the Nobel Prize for medicine.