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Today's Features

  • By Debbie Stone

    Special to the Monitor

  • BOSTON (AP) — In a Mexican cave system so beautiful and hot that it is called both Fairyland and hell, scientists have discovered life trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old.
    The bizarre and ancient microbes were found dormant in caves in Naica, Mexico, and were able to exist by living on minerals such as iron and manganese, said Penelope Boston, head of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute. .
    “It’s super life,” said Boston, who presented the discovery Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston.
    If confirmed, the find is yet another example of how microbes can survive in extremely punishing conditions on Earth.
    Though it was presented at a science conference and was the result of nine years of work, the findings haven’t yet been published in a scientific journal and haven’t been peer reviewed. Boston planned more genetic tests for the microbes she revived both in the lab and on site.
    The life forms – 40 different strains of microbes and even some viruses – are so weird that their nearest relatives are still 10 percent different genetically. That makes their closest relative still pretty far away, about as far away as humans are from mushrooms, Boston said.

  • Los Alamos Little Theatre tackles a play about life, loss, and nothing is as it seems with its newest play, “The Other Place.”
    The drama opens Friday and centers on Juliana Smithton, a successful neurologist who is on the brink of a breakthrough in her field, but the rest of her life is unraveling. Her husband has filed for divorce, her daughter has eloped with a much older man and her own health is in jeopardy.
    Piece by piece, a mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present, and the elusive truth about Smithton boils to the surface.
    Gwen Lewis, director, was drawn to this play because “Sharr White did a beautiful, tasteful job writing about a very difficult situation. The characters of Juliana and Ian go from professionals to a place that is new and challenging for both of them. Both explore feelings of helplessness, which the audience will be able to relate to,” she said.
    Just as Smithton’s research leads to a potential breakthrough, events take a disorienting turn.
    During a lecture to colleagues at an exclusive beach resort, she glimpses an enigmatic young woman in a yellow bikini amidst the crowd of business suits. But in this brilliantly crafted work, nothing is as it seems.

  • The Los Alamos Community Winds will present its mid-Winter concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at White Rock Baptist Church.
    The concert will feature marches, original music for concert band, as well as music from film and television.
    The featured work on the program is Modeste Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”
    Written in honor of his artist friend, Victor Hartmann,“Pictures at an Exhibition” takes the listener on a stroll amongst paintings and sketches depicting the Russian people, legends, and myths. Each movement is separated by a “promenade” literally intended to be heard while walking from one gallery to the next. Sadly, only a few of the original Hartmann paintings exist.
    Originally written for piano, the work has achieved much greater fame and recognition in the concert hall due to its being transcribed for orchestra in 1922 by Maurice Ravel (at the request of famed conductor Serge Koussevitzky.) Ravel was able to exploit more fully the coloristic possibilities the work contained despite the “monochromatic” quality of the original.
    While Ravel’s orchestration was not the first created for orchestra, it has certainly become the most famous.

  • TODAY
    Feature Film: “Black Holes” at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center.  Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children.
    MONDAY
    PEEC Nature Center is open  10 a.m.-4 p.m. today. Free.
    TUESDAY
    Pebble Pups: Future Rockhounds of America from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Nature Center. This geology program is for youth ages 5-9. Cost is $95 for non-members, $80 for PEEC members.

    Community Night: Local Wildlife Photography at 6 p.m. at the Nature Center. Discover the art of nature photography. Free.

    Kiwanis meeting from noon-1 p.m. in Kelly Hall at Trinity-on-the-Hill Episcopal Church, 3900 Trinity Drive. Laura Loy, director of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Community Internship Collaboration, will speak about this partnership.

    Rotary Club of Los Alamos meeting from noon-1 p.m. at the Los Alamos Golf Course. Artist Ruth Tatter and Michelle Griffin of the Los Alamos Museum of Art will be the speaker.

    Parenting the Love and Logic Way, a class for parents of grade-school children, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Family Strengths Network, 3540 Orange St. Free. To register, visit lafsn.org, or call 662-4515.

  • Jan. 15 — A boy. Lincoln Edward Disterhaupt. Born to Jennie and Jason Disterhaupt.
    Jan. 31 — A boy. Waylon Knox. Born to Victoria and Lee Knox.
    Jan. 31 – A girl. Isabella Kaylee Neukirch. Born to Amanda and Levi Neukirch.
    Feb. 1 — A boy. Robert Joseph Lopez. Born to Tammy and Robert Lopez.
    Feb. 8 — A girl. Riley Grace Martinez. Born to Amber and Matthew Martinez.
    Feb. 8 — A boy. Quinn Sebastian Argo-Mitchell. Born to Sylvan Sierra Argo and Albert James Mitchell.

  • Trinity Site, the location where on July 16, 1945, the first man-made nuclear explosion was detonated, is open only twice a year, and the Los Alamos Historical Society will offer a guided tour to the site March 31 and April 1 for the spring opening.
    The Society’s Trinity Tour includes a two-day, one night experience via the Alamogordo southern approach through the seldom-seen interior of White Sands Missile Range.  
    Departure from Trinity Site will be out of the northern Stallion Gate, with a lunch stop at New Mexico Tech in Socorro.
    Bonuses include a visit to the young (5,000-year-old) lava flows of Valley of Fires, and the New Mexico Space Museum overlooking the Tularosa Basin, Holloman Air Force Base, and White Sands Missile Range.
    This excursion aboard a comfortable, restroom-equipped coach includes experienced tour direction is by Buffalo Tours, leading its 14th trip to Trinity.  
     The cost for Historical Society members is $350/person double occupancy; $400 for non-members, with a $50 single supplement for either. The price includes a tax-deductible donation to the Los Alamos Historical Society.

  • Philanthropic efforts are meant to help the less fortunate, but the benefits of being charitable also extend to those doing the giving. The National Institutes of Health found research participants who chose to donate a portion of the $100 they were provided enjoyed activated pleasure centers in the brain. Being charitable also can motivate others to give, including children who realize the benefits of philanthropy.
    Another benefit of being generous is that it can recharge a person’s life for the better. Donating time or money can create opportunities to meet new people who support the same causes. This may be the driving force behind countries around the world that have established themselves as the most giving per capita.

  • The Los Alamos DWI Planning Council and Atomic City Transit (ACT) provided safe ride services once again to Los Alamos residents.
    Although the ridership was not as high as past events, those that did take advantage of the free ride were taken home safely.
    “The service worked like a charm; Armando at dispatch and Jonathan the driver were just wonderful,” said Los Alamos resident Tina Sibbitt. “I changed my return pick up time about three times due to having too much fun, and they were absolutely OK with that. Please give my thanks to the county for this service and people are crazy if they don’t take advantage of it!”
    The DWI Planning Council and ACT hope that people will take Sibbitt’s advice for the next Buzz Bus event on St. Patrick’s Day. The council and ACT are also developing a schedule and route for a shuttle-type Buzz Bus service for the upcoming Summer Concert Series at Ashley Pond. For questions about the Buzz Bus service, or for those interested in joining the DWI Planning Council, contact Kirsten Bell, at kirsten.bell@lacnm.us or 662-8241.

  • The Los Alamos Mountaineers are set to meet at 6:45 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Nature Center for a presentation by local mountaineers Norbert Ensslin and Ron Morgan.
    Last May, six mountaineers completed a canyon traverse near Navajo Mountain, in the same adventurous spirit as a previous traverse of the Northern Sangres in Colorado.
    This new adventure began with a descent into Forbidding Canyon, followed by a traverse across Cummings Mesa using a previously unreported route. From there they descended into West Canyon and followed that canyon all the way to Lake Powell.
    The trip included open desert travel, a wild saddle on Cummings Mesa, and long, deep canyon slots. In West Canyon they encountered the Maw of Death, descended the Slippery Slide, swam through cold, dark pools, passed under beetling cliffs, and scrambled around small, picturesque waterfalls.  
    Ensslin and Morgan will describe their adventures and show pictures of the beautiful country that they visited during the next Mountaineers meeting Feb. 28. The public is invited. A social will start the meeting, followed by reports of recent and upcoming trips at 7 p.m. The program starts at 7:30 p.m.