How could a toxic gas be a sign of life of Venus?

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Scientists recently announced that they had found possible signs of life in the clouds of Venus. We probably should have suspected as much all along.

Venus is a natural place to look for life beyond Earth. It is Earth’s twin — almost the same size and structure — and closer to us than Mars, the current favorite of astronomers looking for life elsewhere in the solar system. Venus is also closer to the Sun, which provides the warmth necessary for life as we know it. In the past, a few scientists have suggested that Venus was a source of primordial life that was later seeded on Earth. That theory, lithopanspermia, never gained popularity because current conditions on Venus seemed very inhospitable to life. The high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Venus ensures that the planet has a runaway greenhouse effect that makes its surface incredibly hot, way hotter than your oven, which kills off microorganisms. And the clouds in its atmosphere are acidic. So scientists turned their attention elsewhere, to Mars and the moons of Saturn. So far, no definitive signs of life have been found on any of them.

But the latest announcement about Venus is a tantalizing one. Astronomers haven’t actually seen life on Venus. Instead, they have observed evidence of a gas called phosphine in the planet’s clouds. What could phosphine have to do with extraterrestrial life?

Phosphine is a highly toxic gas formed when one atom of phosphorus combines with three atoms of hydrogen. Giant planets such as Jupiter have a lot of hydrogen in them and in their atmospheres, and are known to produce phosphine. But on Venus and Earth, there is very little hydrogen in the atmosphere. So, the thinking goes, any phosphine detected is likely associated with life, because someone


Turkey to Revise Upward Its Major Gas Discovery in Black Sea

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(Bloomberg) —

a bridge over a body of water

© Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

Turkey expects to raise its estimate for the amount of natural gas discovered in the Black Sea and plans to announce the new guidance as early as next week, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.


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The government will outline a sizable revision to the initial discovery of 320 billion cubic meters of recoverable gas, unveiled in August, once exploratory drilling is completed this month, the people said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the find.

The energy discovery in the Black Sea is critical for Turkey’s current-account balance which is dragged down by the need to import nearly all of the 50 billion cubic meters of gas the country consumes annually.

Drilling to a depth of around 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) at the Tuna-1 discovery would penetrate two additional formations that appear promising, a senior Turkish energy official said last month. A second drill ship is likely to be moved to the region next year.

Ankara has dramatically expanded energy exploration in the Black Sea and contested waters of the eastern Mediterranean. It’s keen to find sizable energy reserves to ease its heavy reliance on imports from Iran, Iraq and Russia, and support one of the biggest economies in the Middle East.

Shares of Turkish oil refiner Turkiye Petrol Rafinerileri AS, or Tupras, gained as much as 2% following the news, while petrochemical company Petkim Petrokimya Holding AS climbed as much as 4.5%. They were trading 1.7% higher and 3.8% higher as of 4:05 p.m., respectively. Shares of energy companies Aksa Enerji Uretim AS and Aygaz each rose 2.3%.

But the searches have mired the government in territorial disputes with Greece and Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

(Updates with moves in Turkish energy companies in the


Tear gas isn’t banned; Jersey City seniors deserve better housing; Education Matters team should win | Letters

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Get the facts on tear gas

I’m surprised to see that law enforcement was awarded the cash for riot gear (“Three and a half months after first request, Hudson County law enforcement agencies will get tear gas”). But more surprised to see a member of the public being quoted as saying “tear gas is banned under the Geneva Convention.”

It is not.

And he is mistaken in his assumption that it pertains to protests of the nature we have been experiencing.  He might want to review the document in its entirety starting with “Basic Rules of International Humanitarian law in Armed Conflicts,” which this is not classified, and “Protection of Civilian Persons and Populations in Time of War,” which we are not.

Kenneth Keane, Eatontown, formerly of Jersey City

Seniors need more and better housing options

Jersey City needs better senior housing. We need more senior housing and better buildings equipped with more amenities such as indoor pools.

The city has permitted the building of condos , condos and more condos. But affordable housing and proper senior housing are scarce and or not available.

Waiting lists for senior housing are backed up for four years. This is ridiculous and seems just another effort to force out anyone who cannot pay the new exorbitant rents.

So far, the administration has not paid any attention to seniors or citizens seeking good affordable housing. They have had more than four years of a building spree that should have included new housing for everyone. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Joan Scerbo, Jersey City

Vote for Education Matters Team

On Nov. 3, vote for the Education Matters Team.

The team consists of Lorenzo Richardson 1-i, Gina Verdibello, 2-i, Lekendrick Shaw 3-i. This team is not beholden to billionaire developers and politicians. The team is