Photographs of just about anything can be sold as royalty-free editorial stock photography. How they are licensed is defined as either editorial or commercial. An image sold with an editorial license can only be used in news or general interest publications like;
An editorial stock photo cannot be used to directly promote anything for profit.
Photos sold by a stock agency with an editorial license are more limited in how they can be published. Commercially licensed photos can be more broadly used, but there are more restrictions on what they contain.
Hexbyte – Glen Cove – News What’s the difference between editorial and commercial stock photo licensing?
You can submit photos of individuals or whole crowds for editorial licensing and no model release would be requested. If you submit any photos of people for commercial use, signed model releases are required. Whenever a person can identify themselves in a photo, a release is required if the photo is to be sold with a commercial license.
Commercial licensing prohibits the inclusion of any copyrighted elements in your photos. Any branding or products must be removed from the photos. This also goes for people and private property. These things must be accompanied by an appropriate release form. If they’re not stock agencies will not accept the images into their collections.
Editorial licensing allows visible branding, products, people and property. However, no manipulation of the content is permitted.
If you have a photo of something containing a logo or company name, you can remove it and still license the photo with a commercial license. When uploading editorial photos, you will be asked to state that you have not manipulated the photo in any way. Editorial stock photos must depict things as they really were when you took the photo.
Most stock agencies have disclaimers attached to editorial licensing of photos. The buyer is in control of how the photos will be used and must be made aware of the restrictions and their responsibilities. Stock photo agencies make it clear they are not liable for how the purchaser uses editorial photos.
Hexbyte – Glen Cove – News Are there restrictions on the types of photos you can upload?
Most royalty-free stock agencies don’t have many restrictions. So long as you are uploading photos within the bounds of common decency, you won’t have any problems. Check with each stock agency where you wish to submit photos. They will be able to provide you with their company policy on what they want you to upload.
The law in most countries allows you to photograph anything you like from a public space. However, in doing so, you must not infringe on the rights of others or abuse their privacy. Photographing military facilities, power plants and other important infrastructure can sometimes get you into trouble. Check with local laws before you do.
Don’t just upload any old pictures. Make sure to only submit your best images. The market has become so saturated with photos that it’s increasingly difficult to make sales. Make sure your pictures stand out from the crowd.
Hexbyte – Glen Cove – News How do you know what photos will sell?
You really don’t.
Predicting how well editorial stock may sell is very difficult.
If you have a good photo of a spectacular event or happening of international significance, it will likely sell well. If you were the only photographer to capture this amazing occurrence, then it will certainly sell better. However, these type of situations are extremely rare.
Carrying your camera with you wherever you go will increase your chances. It will also sharpen your awareness of what a good editorial image can be as you learn to focus your attention. If you leave your camera at home, it won’t happen.
Upload a variety of images and build up a large number of your photos in a stock agency website. Doing this gives you practical experience of what will and will not sell. There are many variable factors involved.
If you can build up a solid base of your own photos, you will be able to analyze which ones sell more consistently. You can then use this information to plan what you will photograph.
Once you have this information to work with you can decide on a niche or two to concentrate on. Look at which of your editorial stock photos sell the best and which of them you enjoyed making the most. This is what you will be best to focus your efforts on.
Royalty-free stock agencies boast collections of millions of photos. They contain photos already of pretty much every subject you can think of. You need to take better images than the ones they are already selling.
Browse these collections for ideas. See what others have done and come up with a new angle. If you see that there is a number of similar images that sell well, and you can produce photos of the same subject, do so. Don’t just copy. Improve on what’s already been done.
Update images you find that might be out of date. Has your city’s skyline changed recently? There may not be many new photos of it online yet.
Has there been some big news recently that you can illustrate with a stock photo? This will have to be ongoing news, or you’ll need to produce and upload your photos quickly so as not to miss the moment.
Hexbyte – Glen Cove – News How many agencies can I upload my editorial stock photos to?
You can choose to upload exclusively to just one agency or to as many as you have time to service.
Signing an exclusive contract to supply just one agency has certain benefits. However, you are restricted to only their customers buying your photos.
Supplying to many agencies takes time. Each stock library has its own requirements and contracts, and you must understand these and follow their terms closely. If you don’t, you may find you’ll have many of your photos rejected for one reason or another.
Do your research and understand what’s required before you start uploading photos to sell as editorial stock. You will probably find you have a huge number of images on your hard drive you can upload.
If they’re only stuck on your computer, you’ll never make any money from them. Uploaded to a stock agency, you won’t get rich overnight, but you will earn something over time.
Taking a business-like approach to stock photography is best if you are serious about it. Treating it too casually, not paying attention to what’s working and what’s not, will not bring you success. You’ll need to stick with it and consistently upload to make a really good go of it.
Andrew Studer went in Bhutan for the first time in 2017. With two of his good friends, Melissa, and ‘Myspace Tom’, he spent a couple of weeks there. He fell in love with the country and with portrait photography. « I’ve always primarily been interested in nature photography so before my first trip to Bhutan I was expecting to focus on the landscapes and temples but street photography and portraiture really intrigued me », says he. It is later, in winter 2018 that he had been invited back there to shoot an assignment for MyBhutan.
« I returned to the country, excited to focus on portrait capturing photography of the Brokpas, a tribe consisting of yak herders who live in the disconnected, eastern village of Merak. From the airport, it was a 24-hour drive all the way out to the village! », he explains. Once there, Andrew could spend time to get to know the people. Brilliantly, he captured the faces and moments of life and takes us there to discover the essence of Bhutan’s peoples.
Aspen is a Golden Retriever who follows his masters, Sarah and Hunter, in rivers and mountains of Canada to coast of Oregon.
His master Hunter has been doing photography now for 8 years. After a trip to Honduras in 2010, Hunter decided to pursue photography and film full time. He hasn’t looked back since. He shared his passion to Sarah when they got married ; she decided to pick up a camera too and join him on his trips.
We love discovering the adventures of the dog Aspen on the Instagram account called « Aspen The Mountain Pup ». As his masters say : « Wherever we go, you can be sure our 4 legged friend is along for the ride. This pup sure knows a good adventure when he sees one. »
Over the years, Chiara Bonetti’s photography has achieved an aesthetic that not everyone can successfully pull off — perfect imperfection. Ignoring the usual demands of portrait, editorial and interior photography, the Berlin-based Bonetti places importance on forgotten details, casual encounters, unglamorous locations and the imperfections of daily encounters.
Her series Cosmic Boredom is about the awareness of letting go. She captures the moments during photoshoots when her models momentarily drift away from their personas, distracted or lost in their thoughts. This lowering of their “public masks” reveals a natural and spontaneous side of her subjects. We spoke more to Bonetti about her work.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I never really understood the categories and boundaries in photography, to me fashion, fine art and documentary stand on the same level. They are all part of that personal language that can easily shift from one category to the other, so it’s hard for me to label my style.
One could say it’s closer to fashion because I work in that industry, but to me everything is strongly linked to a reality and context where I finally find myself.
What/who are your influences/inspirations?
My first and foremost inspiring references are Diane Arbus, with her wonderful portraits; Vivian Sassen with her subjects’ body shapes and surfaces; the subjects of Jamie Hawkesworth and Peter Hugo. Another great inspiration is traveling, because everything that forces me to leave my comfort zone inspires new solutions.
Your works are a mix of studio set-ups and outdoor shoots. Do you have a preference?
Not really. I generally play by instinct when it comes to photography. The camera allows me to open doors that I wouldn’t even be able to see without. It’s the greatest tool a creative person can have. I started with street then moved on to fashion shoots in studios. That’s why I like mixing both.
Tell us about your dream photography shoot: people, places, subjects?
I’m a seeker and I constantly dream of something different everyday, so I don’t have one specific dream. At this moment I’d love to travel to Asia and shoot remote villages.
I love to get lost in an unknown context, teaming up with a local stylist and journalist in portraying women in different countries.
How do you kill a company? The answer, in the context of Chinese electronics giant Huawei, appears to be depravation, removing ready access to the elements that distinguish smartphones from very expensive chunks of anodized aluminum and glass. The latest blow: Chip designer ARM has reportedly severed ties with the company. Huawei could arguably survive without Google. Without ARM? Not so much.
It’s important to clarify that nothing at this point is certain, or permanent. The BBC first reported ARM’s move Wednesday morning, citing an internal memo that noted ARM’s use of “US origin technology,” which makes it subject to a sweeping ban put in place by the Trump administration. ARM finally confirmed the ban Wednesday afternoon. As it did with Google, though, the US Commerce Department could grant a waiver that allows ARM to continue servicing Huawei. And broader tensions between China and the US could otherwise resolve, potentially taking some of the pressure off Huawei.
But if those caveats don’t come through? It’s hard to see where Huawei goes from here.
Even if you’ve never heard of ARM, you interact with its technologies every day. The company makes the designs that manufacturers like Qualcomm use to produce chips. ARM-based CPUs power everything from smartphones to Internet of Things devices to, more recently, data centers.
ARM’s ubiquity also has increasingly let smartphone companies produce their own chips, in a bid to wean themselves off of Qualcomm and create purpose-built processors. Huawei was an early ARM acolyte; its subsidiary, HiSilicon, has made ARM-based systems-on-chips since at least 2012.
“All of the options are going to be painful.”
Eric Hanselman, 451 Research
Conventional wisdom to this point had been that Huawei’s CPU self-reliance would be an important factor in fending off US offenses. Even if Google cuts ties—which it did, until receiving that 90-day waiver—Huawei could still create a functional operating system by creating a so-called Android fork, and convincing developers to tailor their apps to Huawei’s modified version. Huawei customers would have to live without the Google Play Store and related apps, but those felt like solvable problems, especially in a Chinese market that already has plenty of available alternatives.
But the open-source version of Android is designed for ARM-based chips. It also works on x86 processors, made by Intel, AMD, and others, but those US-based companies had already cut ties with Huawei as part of the sanctions. Which means, absent ARM, Huawei’s most obvious backup plan effectively goes poof. The company would need not only to redesign its own chips from scratch—a process that takes years—it would find itself cut off from the world’s most popular operating system. This is like telling Coca-Cola that it can’t use carbonated water.
“All of the options are going to be painful,” says Eric Hanselman, chief analyst at 451 Research. “Changing out a core means you’ve got to do significant work not only in the silicon, but also in your software ecosystem. That’s not going to be simple.”
A Slow Fade
Losing access to ARM won’t cripple Huawei overnight, even in a worst-case scenario. The electronics giant will still be able to use its current, licensed technology, which means that it can continue to package any chips already in play. Mobile processors generally receive annual bumps; Huawei introduced its Kirin 980 SoC last fall, and it would have continued to ship it for the next several months regardless.
But going forward, if the ban holds up, Huawei handsets will become frozen in time. The BBC reports that its upcoming chip, the Kirin 985, may have snuck in under the wire, but after that the company will be stuck on the latest and greatest ARM designs as of May 22, 2019. To become unstuck, it will need to embark on the costly, time-intensive process of designing its own core. The question is whether customers will bother to wait it out.
The damage would also extend far beyond smartphones. “Every place where Huawei uses ARM IP would be impacted,” says Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, “all the way from embedded IP in tiny surveillance devices to large enterprise data center chips.”
This is like telling Coca-Cola that it can’t use carbonated water.
What remains unclear, and could make the difference between devastation and inconvenience, is exactly which ARM technologies are impacted. It’s an international company, recently acquired by Japanese giant Softbank but with headquarters still in the UK. Huawei’s fate may hang in the balance of whatever slice of ARM’s offerings originated in the US, where the company has eight offices and a long-running research partnership with the University of Michigan.
“If it is some of the system-on-chip capabilities, if it’s some of the architecture extensions, things like that, the resolution could be relatively simple. You just design that technology out,” says Hanselman. “If it happens to be core instruction set, or core logic, then that would be a whole lot more difficult.”
“ARM is complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the US government,” the company said in a statement. “ARM values its relationship with our longtime partner HiSilicon and we are hopeful for a swift resolution on this matter,” it added in a follow-up statement several hours later. “Under the current restrictions ARM cannot license any export-restrictive IP to HiSilicon.”
Huawei has reportedly been stockpiling US-made parts for as long as a year, in anticipation of the current crackdown. But the ARM move potentially obviates that preparation, by limiting the extent to which Huawei can go it alone.
“Huawei values its relationships with all partners around the world and understands the difficult situation they are in,” the company said in a statement. “Our top priority remains to continue delivering world-class products to our customers. We are hopeful this situation will be resolved and are working to find the best solution.”
It also underscores the stakes that the US has established. The Trump administration had previously brought Chinese tech company ZTE to the brink of collapse, but that imbroglio centered on specific deals ZTE made with Iran and North Korea, for which it offered specific remedies in the form of fines and a leadership overhaul. The Huawei tensions are much more amorphous; the White House has labeled it a national security threat without specifying why or how, leaving no clear path for resolution. Other companies seem likely to face a similar fate; The New York Timesreported Tuesday that the US may blacklist Chinese surveillance company Hikvision over its role in oppressing the country’s Uyghur population.
And while there’s always a chance that a 90-day waiver for ARM will come through, as it did with Google, it won’t be a given. “License requests involving Huawei or its affiliates will be reviewed under a presumption of denial,” a Commerce Department spokesperson said in a statement.
There are ways for Huawei to survive without ARM. But in the ongoing siege of one of China’s most important companies, the US has unquestionably cut off its most important supply route.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Huawei and further comment from ARM.
In the public imagination, the American astronauts who landed on the moon five decades ago were square-jawed superhumans, not the types to worry about something as banal as housekeeping. But they did, obsessively. Each time they got back to the Apollo Lunar Module after a moonwalk, they were shocked at how much dust they’d tracked in and how hard it was to banish. This was no earthly grime; it was preternaturally sticky and abrasive, scratching the visors on the astronauts’ helmets, weakening the seals on their pressure suits, irritating their eyes, and giving some of them sinus trouble. “It just sort of inhabits every nook and cranny in the spacecraft and every pore in your skin,” Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan said during his post-mission debriefing.
Over the course of six moon landings, the so-called Dusty Dozen fought valiantly with their foe. They stomped their boots outside, then cinched garbage bags around their legs to stop the dust from spreading. They attacked it with wet rags, bristle brushes, and a low-suction vacuum cleaner, which Pete Conrad of Apollo 12 called “a complete farce.” (He finally stripped naked and stuffed his blackened suit into a pouch.) Cernan, upon returning from his last moonwalk, vowed, “I ain’t going to do much more dusting after I leave here. Ever.” In the end, NASA couldn’t find a foolproof solution. Years after John Young commanded Apollo 16, he still believed that “dust is the number one concern in returning to the moon.”
Now, with national space agencies and private corporations poised to do just that, the Apollo dust diaries are relevant once more. In January, China landed its Chang’e-4 probe on the far side of the moon, the latest step toward its stated aim of building a lunar research station. Two months later, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency said it was partnering with Toyota to design a six-wheeled moon rover by 2029. Around the same time, Vice President Mike Pence announced plans to put American boots on the moon by 2024. According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, the goal is “to go sustainably. To stay. With landers and robots and rovers—and humans.” India and Russia have missions planned too. Then there are the private ventures like Moon Express, whose Harvest Moon expedition will prospect for water, minerals, and other resources to mine. All of which raises a crucial question: What to do about that troublesome dust? An Australian physicist named Brian O’Brien may have the answer.
O’Brien became Earth’s foremost authority on moondust almost by accident. In 1964, five years before Apollo 11 touched down in the Sea of Tranquility, he was a skinny, precocious young professor of space science at Rice University in Houston, specializing in the study of radiation. This was during the early phase of Apollo training, when the astronauts were taking crash courses in all manner of subjects—vector calculus, antenna theory, the physiology of the human nose. O’Brien’s task was to teach them about the Van Allen belts, two regions of intense radiation that encircle the planet like a pair of inflatable pool tubes. He remembers the Apollo class of 1964, which included Gene Cernan and Buzz Aldrin, as the most “disciplined and alert” cohort of students he ever had.
In the lead-up to the Apollo 11 launch, O’Brien persuaded NASA to include a little something extra in the payload. It was a small box, about the size of a thick bar of soap, whose main function was to measure the accumulation of dust on the moon’s surface. O’Brien describes it as “a hitchhiking, delightfully minimalist” device. He sketched it on the back of his drinks coaster on a flight from Los Angeles to Houston, and refined the design on a cocktail napkin. Named the Dust Detector Experiment, or DDE, it was perhaps the least impressive component of the Apollo 11 science package; NASA didn’t even bother to mention it in press releases. But it worked well enough that the agency included modified versions of the original DDE on all subsequent Apollo flights. Four of them are still up there, and to this day they hold the record for longest continually operating experiments on the moon.
For many years, the data that the early DDEs sent back to Earth was thought to be missing or lost. Since its surprise rediscovery in 2006, those in the inner circle of outer space activities have slowly begun to realize that O’Brien’s unassuming detectors have a lot more to tell us about moondust than anyone could have imagined—except, of course, for O’Brien himself. Now 85, still sprightly and living in Perth, he’s been waiting half a century for the chance to share with the world what he knows about one of the solar system’s most baffling substances.
O’Brien always had an affinity for extreme environments. He took up spelunking as a teenager and once got stuck in the depths of Australia’s Yarrangobilly Caves for 79 hours. The experience was traumatizing—his lamp ran out of fuel, and the only sound, according to a contemporary newspaper account of his rescue, was the “bats above his head and the feel of their tiny skeletons under his boots”—but it didn’t put him off caving. A few years later, while exploring a crystal grotto, he met his future wife, Avril Searle.
By the age of 23, O’Brien had completed a PhD in physics at the University of Sydney and been appointed deputy chief physicist for the Commonwealth Antarctic Division. He was assigned to the icebreaker Magga Dan and found himself gazing in wonderment at the aurora australis rippling in reds, purples, and greens across the polar sky. This was in 1958, a year after the Russians launched Sputnik and the same year NASA was founded. O’Brien began to dream of putting a satellite into orbit to study how energized protons and electrons gave rise to the southern lights. He got his chance the following year, when James Van Allen, discoverer of the Van Allen belts, got him a job at the University of Iowa. O’Brien and a few students built a satellite from scratch in five months. Other launches followed, and in 1963 O’Brien was offered a post in Rice University’s new space science department.
Not long after O’Brien and his family moved to Houston, he got a call from NASA. The agency hoped to hire him as an astronaut instructor, but it also invited him to submit a proposal for a science experiment to go to the moon. He suggested a device that would measure the energy spectra of charged particles as they rained down on the lunar surface. From a field of 90 submissions, his was one of seven that got the green light. NASA told him that, as a matter of policy, the experiment should include a dust cover, basically a sophisticated strip of plastic. No one knew at this stage just how pesky moondust would be, but O’Brien figured that if the agency was going to the trouble of installing dust covers, it should also include a dust detector.
At first, NASA and its private contractors balked. It would be too difficult, they believed, to construct a detector that was light enough to meet the mission specs and simple enough that it wouldn’t take up any of the astronauts’ limited time and attention. On the moon, distractions could be deadly. O’Brien thought their resistance was “bloody stupid” and, with the help of that cocktail napkin, came up with a design to allay their concerns. It consisted of three tiny solar cells mounted on a box, which was painted white to reflect sunlight. As dust settled on the cells, their power output would drop, providing a clear record of accumulation over time. O’Brien threw in a few temperature sensors for good measure, bringing the experiment’s total weight to a dainty 10 ounces. Because the DDE was so small, it could be bolted onto the seismometer that Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were setting up to measure moonquakes. Upon hearing all this, NASA relented: The DDE could go to the moon. Once there, it would feed its data to the seismometer, whose antenna would transmit the readings back to Earth. They’d be stored on reels of magnetic tape for further analysis.
O’Brien, Avril, and their three children moved back to Sydney in 1968, so he made arrangements to have the tapes shipped to him. He can’t quite remember now where he was on the morning in late July 1969 when the Apollo 11 Lunar Module alighted on the moon. He thinks he listened to the radio broadcast between interviews with various Australian news outlets. Yet he does remember, vividly, the moment Aldrin said the module was “kicking up some dust” as it came in to land, as well as Armstrong’s observation, just before he stepped off the ladder, that the surface was “almost like a powder.” With a spike of excitement, O’Brien realized his DDE might very well prove its worth.
As it turned out, the seismometer abruptly overheated shortly after Apollo 11 left the moon. (Before it ceased working, O’Brien says, it registered the footsteps of the astronauts on the ladder and “the gurgle of the fuel sloshing around.”) But the DDE soldiered on and quickly revealed the mischief that dust could make. Almost as soon as the Lunar Module took off, two of the detector’s three solar cells registered a sudden drop in output, one of them by 18 percent. This was accompanied by a spike in temperature. To O’Brien, there was only one logical explanation: The DDE had been blanketed in dust, which, like blackout blinds, kept light out and heat in. It seemed obvious to him that the seismometer had met the same fate.
If NASA hoped to keep its moon-based instruments working on future Apollo missions, O’Brien concluded, it would need to study the matter of dust-spraying thoroughly. That August, he wrote proudly to an Australian colleague that “the DDE may really have earned its trip!” But his American counterparts, particularly the technicians at the Manned Spacecraft Center, were not so enthused. Some of them, he believes, were less interested in the pursuit of scientific knowledge than in the chest-thumping goal of landing Americans on the moon. Ultimately, the seismometer stopped accepting commands from mission control, and the whole experiment—DDE included—was shut down after 21 days.
In October, NASA released its preliminary science report on Apollo 11. It largely rejected O’Brien’s explanation for the DDE readings, blaming the solar cells’ unexpectedly low output on calibration errors. (This was in a chapter coauthored by O’Brien, yet he says he “strongly disagreed” with the findings and never gave permission for his name to be included.) O’Brien tried to argue his case again in the Journal of Atmospheric Physics, using one of Australia’s first supercomputers, SILLIAC, to crunch and plot the data on endless ribbons of paper. But the article landed with a thud and was barely cited by other researchers in the decades that followed.
O’Brien was forced to admit defeat in round one of the moondust wars. He changed careers, becoming the first head of the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia. The position was based in Perth, and when Avril made the three-day train trip from Sydney, she brought the kids and the 172 reels of DDE data with her. O’Brien asked a colleague at a local university to put the tapes in storage. And so, for 40-odd years, that’s where they stayed.
After the final Apollo landing in 1972, NASA all but lost interest in the moon. There were space stations to assemble, exotic planets to explore, and only so much funding to go around. Then, in 2004, President George W. Bush announced what would become known as the Constellation Program. There would be powerful new rockets, redesigned crew capsules, and roomier lunar modules—“Apollo on steroids,” as one NASA administrator put it. Part of the plan was to establish a permanent “foothold” on the moon, which meant a renewed focus on the logistics of regular landings and long-term settlement.
This was something that Philip Metzger, a planetary scientist, had been interested in for a while. Metzger was the cofounder of Swamp Works, a kind of tech incubator at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center that creates practical solutions to the challenges of working and living in places beyond Earth. As part of his PhD thesis, he’d done research on how to prevent rocket exhaust from stirring up dust and damaging lunar infrastructure, and he had scoured decades’ worth of studies on rock and soil samples brought back by the Apollo astronauts. He even had four rare vials of genuine moondust in his laboratory. Over the years, he’d perfected a quick lesson in lunar geology for his team.
It went something like this: The regolith, a blanket of rocky material on top of the primordial lunar bedrock, contains mixed-up dust, gravel, and pebbles. It is thought to be about 15 feet thick in the plains and 30 feet thick in the highlands. For all practical purposes, the moon does not have an atmosphere or a magnetic field, so the topmost layer of the regolith is susceptible to space weathering. It’s constantly bombarded by cosmic rays and solar wind, which means the dust can become electrostatically charged, like a balloon rubbed on hair. It also receives a steady hail of micrometeoroids.
When the micrometeoroids hit, they create miniature shock waves in the soil, causing some of it to melt and some to vaporize. The molten soil actually splashes, but then it immediately freezes again, forming tiny pieces of glass. These pieces are “crazy shaped,” Metzger says, “jagged, sharp, and very frictional.” Unlike on Earth, where wind and water would smooth them out, they remain this way forever. (When Aldrin and Armstrong planted an American flag near their landing site, they struggled to work the pole into the regolith, stymied by its high glass content. “It took both of us to set it up, and it was almost a public relations disaster,” Aldrin recalled years later.) Thanks to the constant hammering by micrometeoroids, the soil is also extraordinarily fine, which makes it sticky. Metzger likens it to the “fine hairs on a gecko’s feet that allow it to walk up walls.”
Metzger would end his geology lesson with a sobering summary of health hazards. Our bodies generally cough up or sneeze out most daily irritants. But anything smaller than 10 microns, or about one-seventh the diameter of a human hair, tends to get trapped in our lungs. In the soil sample brought back by Apollo 17, some of the dust is smaller than 2 microns, as fine as flour. No wonder the astronauts suffered from what Jack Schmitt, who flew on Apollo 17, called “lunar hay fever.” (As the Australian academic Alice Gorman notes in her book Dr. Space Junk vs. the Universe, the fear of dusty contamination reached as far as West Africa, where people began referring to a severe new form of conjunctivitis as Apollo disease.)
For all of Metzger’s moondust expertise, there was one enigma that kept stumping him. Sitting in his laboratory at the Kennedy Space Center were a few pieces of an old spacecraft called Surveyor 3. Between 1966 and 1968, five Surveyor probes had set down on the moon, providing hard proof that the regolith was firm enough to land on and allaying any fears that the astronauts might sink up to their chins in lunar quicksand. (The photograph of Aldrin’s bootprint in the soil—one of the most famous images in human history—was in fact taken to permit the study of “lunar surface bearing strength.”) Surveyor 3’s final resting place was within walking distance of the Apollo 12 landing site, and the astronauts had been instructed to bring parts of it home for examination. One of them, Alan Bean, noted at the time that the probe’s bright-white surface had, after two and a half years on the moon, turned a tan color.
Previous researchers had assumed this was due to damage from solar radiation, but in 2011 Metzger and his colleagues proved that “it was actually ultrafine dust embedded all over the microtexture of the paint.” The bigger question, though, was how the dust got there. As Surveyor 3 landed in the near-vacuum of the moon, the exhaust gas from its engine should have pushed dust away from the spacecraft. Metzger’s team couldn’t explain it.
By that point, the Constellation Program had been canceled. The new rockets were over budget and behind schedule, and the Obama administration decided that this particular headache was better left to the private sector; NASA should concern itself with leaner, more science-focused missions. Metzger had already begun hearing from a number of companies aiming for moon shots. Many had entered the Google-sponsored Lunar XPrize competition, which promised $20 million to the first team that could land a robotic spacecraft on the moon, move it a short distance, and transmit images back to Earth. (Nobody ever managed to pull this off.) Increasingly worried about what all the coming traffic—and the dust it sprayed—might do to the Apollo landing sites, Metzger helped draw up a set of official NASA lunar heritage guidelines, recommending a 2-kilometer exclusion zone around them. (It’s an arbitrary placeholder figure, he says; because of how moondust behaves when disturbed, there may indeed be “no safe distance.”)
A few years later, Metzger took early retirement from NASA and joined the planetary science faculty at the University of Central Florida. His final project at Swamp Works was to come up with moondust mitigation strategies—among them magnets, reusable dust filters, artificial electrostatic charges to repel the dust and make it fall off surfaces, and “air showers” or “wands” to blast it off suits. Even with immediate plans for an American moon base off the table, Metzger says, it had become “the consensus belief” while he was at NASA that “the biggest challenge to lunar operation is the dust.”
In 2015, long after he’d given up on solving the mystery of the Surveyor 3 dust deposits, Metzger heard about a series of recently published papers by Brian O’Brien. They contained a truly remarkable theory about moondust. As he read, Metzger realized this was the first acceptable explanation he’d found for his conundrum. And it was based, amazingly, on the data from the original DDE tapes.
O’Brien got back in the moondust game much as he’d entered it—by happenstance. In 2006, when he was in his seventies, a friend mentioned reading something on a NASA website about the sorry state of certain Apollo tape archives. O’Brien decided to track down the reels he’d asked a colleague to store for him all those decades ago. They turned up in a room beneath the tiered seating of a lecture hall in the physics department at Perth’s Curtin University. They were covered in (what else?) dust, but they were there, all 172 of them, each one containing about 2,500 feet of tape. The only problem was that they were in a format so obsolete that the data was beyond O’Brien’s reach. He sent an email to NASA, offering to repatriate the tapes, but the agency politely declined.
A local radio journalist heard rumors of the discovery and broadcast a story. The news made its way to Guy Holmes, an American physicist who had lived in Perth for years and founded SpectrumData, a company that specialized in digitizing large volumes of data from old tape formats. Holmes phoned O’Brien and offered his help, for free. He said he would store the tapes in a special climate-controlled vault until they could find the right machine to decode them. O’Brien gratefully accepted.
Even if Holmes succeeded in his search, O’Brien wasn’t sure he’d ever find funding—from NASA or anyone else—to reanalyze the data. But he felt he had one last chance to set the record straight on moondust and finally get some closure on his early career frustrations. So he got to work revisiting his old SILLIAC analyses and paper printouts, determined to publish a peer-reviewed article. It appeared in 2009, almost 40 years after his original moondust paper.
O’Brien’s story—his dramatic discovery of the tapes at a late stage in his life, his forgotten role in the Apollo program—garnered much media attention. And it was impossible not to fall under the sway of moondust once he began to explain just how very bizarre it was.
O’Brien had gone back and examined data from the DDE that flew on Apollo 12. That detector differed from its predecessor: It had one horizontal solar cell on top and two vertical ones on the sides. They’d been blanketed in dust as the astronauts loped around on moonwalks, then blasted partly clean when the Lunar Module took off. Curiously, though, one of the vertical cells became completely clean overnight. O’Brien’s explanation for this was that the electrostatic charge of the dust—the major source of its stickiness—changes over the course of the long lunar day. When the sun is high and UV radiation is at its peak, the dust is extra charged, and thus extra sticky. When the sun goes down, the dust seems to lose some of its adhesive force. If Pete Conrad had still been on the moon at sunset, he might have had better luck vacuuming off his suit.
Within two months of the article’s publication, O’Brien had been made an adjunct professor at the University of Western Australia. He was invited to speak at the second annual Lunar Science Forum, held at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The room was so packed at his presentation that people spilled out into the corridor. There was communal disbelief among the younger moon enthusiasts that they’d never heard of O’Brien or his DDEs. “After that, things started to bubble,” he says.
In early 2010, Holmes had a breakthrough of his own: He’d located an old IBM 729 Mark 5 tape drive in the warehouse of the Australian Computer Museum. It was the size of a two-door refrigerator and in terrible condition, but the museum agreed to lend it to him. A group of SpectrumData employees donated their time to fix it up. The tapes were carefully heated to draw out any moisture, then unraveled at extra-low speed. Holmes says he was very emotional during this salvage process, keenly aware of its historic importance and the trust O’Brien had placed in him. Eventually, the team managed to decode and extract most of the data. O’Brien was—let it be said just once—over the moon. An undergraduate named Monique Hollick, now a space systems engineer for the Australian Department of Defence, signed up to help him analyze the resurrected data. This took them several years. By 2015 they were ready to unveil an even stranger new theory about moondust.
O’Brien had already explained how the Apollo 12 DDE got clean; what he hadn’t explained was how, in the days following the astronauts’ departure, it got dusty again. His and Hollick’s hypothesis went as follows: After the astronauts set off on their journey home, leaving the DDE behind to broadcast its readings, the sun went down for about two Earth weeks. When it rose again, it showered the “collateral dust” they’d kicked up—more than 2 tons in total—with UV radiation. This caused the dust particles to become positively charged. They began to “mobilize and shuffle around,” O’Brien says, like a “ground mist swirling.” Repelled by one another and by the moon’s surface, they levitated. This created a small dust storm high enough to reach the DDE. The next time the sun rose, the same thing happened, and the next, and the next. Each time, the storm got a little smaller, until finally there was no collateral dust left to feed it.
This is still a somewhat controversial theory. Schmitt, the astronaut-geologist who flew on Apollo 17, is not entirely convinced, because most of the rocks he saw on the moon were free of dust. “If fine dust were levitating and redepositing with any lateral motion at all,” he wrote to me, “I would not expect rock surfaces to be clean.” In his own correspondence with Schmitt, O’Brien suggested that those rocks had lost their dusty coating as the sun’s angles changed.
The debates are ongoing. Other researchers have argued the case for a dust cloud extending tens or even hundreds of kilometers above the moon’s surface, although NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, launched in 2013, found little evidence of this. And there are more fanciful speculations too, like the idea that moondust, in its undisturbed state, may be arranged in fragile, porous structures called fairy castles. “We really won’t know until we go there,” Metzger says. He feels pretty confident, though, that O’Brien is right and that his theory solves the Surveyor 3 mystery once and for all. Anyone planning a moon mission, he says, should expect levitating dust storms every sunrise around any high-activity outpost and varying dust stickiness during the lunar day.
With countries and companies jostling to set up operations in the moon’s most desirable sites—mainly the lunar poles, where water ice is supposedly abundant—life up there could quickly devolve into a dusty and chaotic mess, ripe for human conflict. The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group has already begun drafting recommendations for lunar “safety zones” and “priority rights.” Perhaps they ought to include a clause on housekeeping.
Hanging on the wall of O’Brien’s garage office in Perth is a signed photograph of the Apollo astronaut class of 1964. Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan smile from the bottom row, looking nifty, if a little faded, in suits and ties. Beside the group portrait is a photo of O’Brien with Cernan, during Cernan’s visit to Perth in 2016, the year before he died. “We both look a bit different there to when I lectured to him,” O’Brien said when I stopped by his house one warm afternoon in February. I asked what they’d talked about. “Moondust,” he replied with a grin.
O’Brien was gearing up for a trip to Texas, where he was due to present at a NASA conference called Microsymposium 60: Forward to the Moon to Stay. He’d be making the journey alone; his beloved wife died in 2017, and Holmes, who accompanied him on a recent visit to Beijing, couldn’t make it. O’Brien was concerned about how he’d get the compression stockings off on his own after the flight, but he seemed undaunted by the thought of presenting to a crowd of 200, including representatives from all nine of the US companies recently authorized by NASA to deliver payloads to the moon. He hinted that he’s in discussions with several of them and said, somewhat enigmatically, “I look forward to a lot more dust detectors.”
On the shelves of O’Brien’s office, space memorabilia worthy of a major geek-out was unceremoniously jumbled. I inspected life-size models of his various DDEs, with plaques affixed describing which Apollo mission they flew on. O’Brien was happy to let me play with shiny models of China’s Chang’e-3 lander and Yutu rover on the coffee table, so long as I first put on white gloves. They were given to him in Beijing by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, which got in touch after he suggested that the cause of Yutu’s unexplained immobilization in 2014, after its first lunar sunrise, was a dust storm—and cheekily recommended that next time they equip the rover with a dust detector. It seems that Chang’e-3 made some dust measurements, which the Chinese have confidentially shared with O’Brien; all he can say is that he’s “stimulated” by the findings and hopes they’ll soon be published.
A few days after O’Brien returned from Texas, I called him to ask how the conference had gone. Moondust is definitely working its way into the zeitgeist, he was happy to report. Back in 2009, he said, when he gave his first talk to the lunar research community, “I knew nobody and nobody knew me.” This time around, almost everyone knew him. He admitted that, as he wandered down the long, endless corridors of strange airports and conference complexes, he felt every bit his advanced age. “But when I came out of the Microsymposium, and for several weeks after,” he said, “I felt young again.”
Hello. We made a brand new handheld gaming system.
It’s yellow. It fits in your pocket. It’s got a beautiful black and white screen. It’s not super cheap, but not super expensive. It includes brand new games from some amazing creators. Plus it has a crank.
OK, yeah, let’s back up a little bit.
For over 20 years Panic has mostly made Mac and iOS software. Twenty years is a long time, and we wanted to try some new things. To make the most of what we have.
This PEP proposed a list of standard library modules to be removed from the
standard library. The modules are mostly historic data formats and APIs that
have been superseded a long time ago, e.g. Mac OS 9 and Commodore.
Back in the early days of Python, the interpreter came with a large set of
useful modules. This was often refrained to as “batteries included”
philosophy and was one of the corner stones to Python’s success story.
Users didn’t have to figure out how to download and install separate
packages in order to write a simple web server or parse email.
Times have changed. The introduction of the cheese shop (PyPI), setuptools,
and later pip, it became simple and straight forward to download and install
packages. Nowadays Python has a rich and vibrant ecosystem of third party
packages. It’s pretty much standard to either install packages from PyPI or
use one of the many Python or Linux distributions.
On the other hand, Python’s standard library is piling up cruft, unnecessary
duplication of functionality, and dispensable features. This is undesirable
for several reasons.
Any additional module increases the maintenance cost for the Python core
development team. The team has limited resources, reduced maintenance cost
frees development time for other improvements.
Modules in the standard library are generally favored and seen as the
de-facto solution for a problem. A majority of users only pick 3rd party
modules to replace a stdlib module, when they have a compelling reason, e.g.
lxml instead of xml. The removal of an unmaintained stdlib module
increases the chances of a community contributed module to become widely
A lean and mean standard library benefits platforms with limited resources
like devices with just a few hundred kilobyte of storage (e.g. BBC
Micro:bit). Python on mobile platforms like BeeWare or WebAssembly
(e.g. pyodide) also benefit from reduced download size.
The modules in the PEP have been selected for deprecation because their
removal is either least controversial or most beneficial. For example
least controversial are 30 years old multimedia formats like sunau
audio format, which was used on SPARC and NeXT workstations in the late
1980ties. The crypt module has fundamental flaws that are better solved
outside the standard library.
This PEP also designates some modules as not scheduled for removal. Some
modules have been deprecated for several releases or seem unnecessary at
first glance. However it is beneficial to keep the modules in the standard
library, mostly for environments where installing a package from PyPI is not
an option. This can be cooperate environments or class rooms where external
code is not permitted without legal approval.
The usage of FTP is declining, but some files are still provided over
the FTP protocol or hosters offer FTP to upload content. Therefore ftplib is going to stay.
The optparse and getopt module are widely used. They are mature
modules with very low maintenance overhead.
According to David Beazley  the wave module is easy to teach to
kids and can make crazy sounds. Making a computer generate crazy sounds is
powerful and highly motivating exercise for a 9yo aspiring developer. It’s
a fun battery to keep.
This PEP targets Python 3.8. Version 3.8.0 final is scheduled to be released
a few months before Python 2.7 will reach its end of lifetime. We expect that
Python 3.8 will be targeted by users that migrate to Python 3 in 2019 and
2020. To reduce churn and to allow a smooth transition from Python 2,
Python 3.8 will neither raise DeprecationWarning nor remove any
modules that have been scheduled for removal. Instead deprecated modules will
just be documented as deprecated. Optionally modules may emit a
All deprecated modules will also undergo a feature freeze. No additional
features should be added. Bug should still be fixed.
Starting with Python 3.9, deprecated modules will start issuing
DeprecationWarning. The parser module is removed and potentially
replaced with a new module.
All other deprecated modules are fully supported and will receive security
updates until Python 3.9 reaches its end of lifetime. Python 3.9.0 will
be released about 18 months after 3.8.0 (April 2021?) and most likely
be supported for 5 years after the release. The estimated EOL of Python 3.9
is in 2026.
In 3.10 all deprecated modules will be removed from the CPython repository
together with tests, documentation, and autoconf rules.
3.8.0b1 is scheduled to be release shortly after the PEP is officially
submitted. Since it’s improbable that the PEP will pass all stages of the
PEP process in time, I propose a two step acceptance process that is
analogous Python’s two release deprecation process.
The first provisionally accepted phase targets Python 3.8.0b1. In the first
phase no code is changes or removed. Modules are only documented as
deprecated. The only exception is the parser module. It has been
documented as deprecated since Python 2.5 and is scheduled for removal for
3.9 to make place for a more advanced parser.
The final decision, which modules will be removed and how the removed code
is preserved, can be delayed for another year.
The modules are grouped as data encoding, multimedia, network, OS interface,
and misc modules. The majority of modules are for old data formats or
old APIs. Some others are rarely useful and have better replacements on
PyPI, e.g. Pillow for image processing or NumPy-based projects to deal with
The binhex module encodes
and decodes Apple Macintosh binhex4 data. It was originally developed for
TSR-80. In the 1980s and early 1990s it was used on classic Mac OS 9 to
encode binary email attachments.
The cgi module is a support
module for Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts. CGI is deemed as
inefficient because every incoming request is handled in a new process. PEP
206 considers the module as designed poorly and are now near-impossible
Several people proposed to either keep the cgi module for features like
cgi.parse_qs() or move cgi.escape() to a different module. The
functions cgi.parse_qs and cgi.parse_qsl have been
deprecated for a while and are actually aliases for
urllib.parse.parse_qs and urllib.parse.parse_qsl. The
function cgi.quote has been deprecated in favor of html.quote
with secure default values.
The smtpd module provides
a simple implementation of a SMTP mail server. The module documentation
marks the module as deprecated and recommends aiosmtpd instead. The
deprecation message was added in releases 3.4.7, 3.5.4, and 3.6.1.
The nntplib module
implements the client side of the Network News Transfer Protocol (nntp). News
groups used to be a dominant platform for online discussions. Over the last
two decades, news has been slowly but steadily replaced with mailing lists
and web-based discussion platforms. Twisted is also planning to deprecate NNTP
support and pynnt hasn’t seen any
activity since 2014. This is a good indicator that the public interest in
NNTP support is declining.
The nntplib tests have been the cause of additional work in the recent
past. Python only contains client side of NNTP. The tests connect to
external news server. The servers are sometimes unavailble, too slow, or do
not work correctly over IPv6. The situation causes flaky test runs on
The crypt module implements
password hashing based on crypt(3) function from libcrypt or libxcrypt on Unix-like platform. The algorithms are mostly old, of poor
quality and insecure. Users are discouraged to use them.
The module is not available on Windows. Cross-platform application need
an alternative implementation any way.
Only DES encryption is guarenteed to be available. DES has an extremely
limited key space of 2**56.
MD5, salted SHA256, salted SHA512, and Blowfish are optional extension.
SSHA256 and SSHA512 are glibc extensions. Blowfish (bcrypt) is the only
algorithm that is still secure. However it’s in glibc and therefore not
commonly available on Linux.
Depending on the platform, the crypt module is not thread safe. Only
implementations with crypt_r(3) are thread safe.
The module was never useful to interact with system user and password
databases. On BSD, macOS, and Linux, all user authentication and
password modification operations must go through PAM (pluggable
authentication module), see spwd deprecation.
The nis module provides
NIS/YP support. Network Information Service / Yellow Pages is an old and
deprecated directory service protocol developed by Sun Microsystems. It’s
designed successor NIS+ from 1992 never took off. For a long time, libc’s
Name Service Switch, LDAP, and Kerberos/GSSAPI are considered a more powerful
and more secure replacement of NIS.
The spwd module provides
direct access to Unix shadow password database using non-standard APIs.
In general it’s a bad idea to use the spwd. The spwd circumvents system
security policies, it does not use the PAM stack, and is only compatible
with local user accounts, because it ignores NSS. The use of the spwd
module for access control must be consider a security bug, as it bypasses
PAM’s access control.
Further more the spwd module uses the shadow(3) APIs.
Functions like getspnam(3) access the /etc/shadow file directly. This
is dangerous and even forbidden for confined services on systems with a
security engine like SELinux or AppArmor.
The msilib package is a
Windows-only package. It supports the creation of Microsoft Installers (MSI).
The package also exposes additional APIs to create cabinet files (CAB). The
module is used to facilitate distutils to create MSI installers with bdist_msi command. In the past it was used to create CPython’s official
Windows installer, too.
Microsoft is slowly moving away from MSI in favor of Windows 10 Apps (AppX)
as new deployment model .
The parser module provides
an interface to Python’s internal parser and byte-code compiler. The stdlib
has superior ways to interact with the parse tree. From Python 2.5 onward,
it’s much more convenient to cut in at the Abstract Syntax Tree (AST)
generation and compilation stage.
The parser module causes additional work. It’s C code that must be
kept in sync with any change to Python’s grammar and internal parser.
Pablo wants to remove the parser module and promote lib2to3’s pgen2 instead .
Most importantly the presence of the parser module makes it harder to
switch to something more powerful than a LL(1) parser . Since the parser module is documented as deprecated since Python 2.5 and a new
parsing technology is planned for 3.9, the parser module is scheduled for
removal in 3.9.
The pipes module provides
helpers to pipe the input of one command into the output of another command.
The module is built on top of os.popen. Users are encouraged to use
the subprocess module instead.
The fpectl module was
never built by default, its usage was discouraged and considered dangerous.
It also required a configure flag that caused an ABI incompatibility. The
module was removed in 3.7 by Nathaniel J. Smith in bpo-29137.
C extension + CAPI
Has a designated expert
Some modules were originally proposed for deprecation.
The colorsys module
defines color conversion functions between RGB, YIQ, HSL, and HSV coordinate
Walter Dörwald, Petr Viktorin, and others requested to keep colorsys. The
module is useful to convert CSS colors between coordinate systems. The
implementation is simple, mature, and does not impose maintenance overhead
on core development.
The PyPI packages colormath, colour, and colorspacious provide more and
advanced features. The Pillow library is better suited to transform images
between color systems.
The fileinput module
implements a helpers to iterate over a list of files from sys.argv. The
module predates the optparser and argparser module. The same functionality
can be implemented with the argparser module.
Several core developers expressed their interest to keep the module in the
standard library, as it is handy for quick scripts.
The wave module provides
support for the WAV sound format.
The module is not deprecated, because The WAV format is still relevant these
days. The wave module is also used in education, e.g. to show kids how
to make noise with a computer.
The module uses one simple function from the audioop module to perform
byte swapping between little and big endian formats. Before 24 bit WAV
support was added, byte swap used to be implemented with the array
module. To remove wave‘s dependency on the audioop, the byte swap
function could be either be moved to another module (e.g. operator) or
the array module could gain support for 24 bit (3 byte) arrays.
pure Python (depends on byteswap from audioop C extension)
Has a designated expert
The main goal of the PEP is to reduce the burden and workload on the Python
core developer team. Therefore removed modules will not be maintained by
the core team as separate PyPI packages. However the removed code, tests and
documentation may be moved into a new git repository, so community members
have a place from which they can pick up and fork code.
A first draft of a legacylib
repository is available on my private Github account. The modules could be
made available on PyPI. The Python core team will not publish or maintain
the packages. It is my hope that members of the Python community will
adopt, maintain, and perhaps improve the deprecated modules.
It’s my hope that some of the deprecated modules will be picked up and
adopted by users that actually care about them. For example colorsys and imghdr are useful modules, but have limited feature set. A fork of imghdr can add new features and support for more image formats, without
being constrained by Python’s release cycle.
Most of the modules are in pure Python and can be easily packaged. Some
depend on a simple C module, e.g. audioop and crypt. Since audioop
does not depend on any external libraries, it can be shipped in as binary
wheels with some effort. Other C modules can be replaced with ctypes or cffi.
For example I created legacycrypt
with _crypt extension reimplemented with a few lines of ctypes code.
Elana Hashman and Nick Coghlan suggested to keep the getopt module.
Berker Peksag proposed to deprecate and removed msilib.
Brett Cannon recommended to delay active deprecation warnings and removal
of modules like imp until Python 3.10. Version 3.8 will be released
shortly before Python 2 reaches end of lifetime. A delay reduced churn for
users that migrate from Python 2 to 3.8.
Brett also came up with the idea to keep lib2to3. The package is useful
for other purposes, e.g. black uses
it to reformat Python code.
At one point, distutils was mentioned in the same sentence as this PEP.
To avoid lengthy discussion and delay of the PEP, I decided against dealing
with distutils. Deprecation of the distutils package will be handled by
Multiple people (Gregory P. Smith, David Beazley, Nick Coghlan, …)
convinced me to keep the wave module. 
A serial publisher of Microsoft zeroday vulnerabilities has dropped exploit code for three more unpatched flaws, marking the seventh time the unknown person has done so in the past year.
Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Decent deal
Like the other exploits SandboxEscaper has published over the past year—including this one Ars covered last August and this one from last October—the three recent ones don’t allow attackers to remotely execute malicious code. Still, as security defenses in recent versions of Windows and other operating systems have improved, the value of these types of exploits has grown, since they are often the only way to bypass security sandboxes and similar protections. Despite some limitations in the exploit that were transparently noted by SandBoxEscaper, the disclosures are significant if they work as purported against fully patched versions of Windows 10.
“Any new privilege escalation on native Windows 10 is a pretty decent deal as most vulnerabilities are on applications that you put on top of
When did the first complex multicellular life arise? Most people, being a bit self-centered, would point to the Ediacaran and Cambrian, when the first animal life appeared and then diversified. Yet studies of DNA suggest that fungi may have originated far earlier than animals.
When it comes to a fossil record, however, things are rather sparse. No unambiguous evidence of a fungus appears in fossils until after the Cambrian was over. A few things from earlier may have looked fungus-like, but the evidence was limited to their appearance. It could be that fungi branched off at the time suggested by the DNA but didn’t evolve complex, multicellular structures until later. Alternatively, the fossils could be right, and there’s something off about the DNA data. Or, finally, it could be that we simply haven’t found old enough fossils yet.
A new paper out in today’s Nature argues strongly for the last option. In it, a small team of researchers describe fossils of what appear to be fungi that could be up to a billion years old. And the researchers back up the appearance with a chemical analysis.
Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Really, really old
The fossils come from an area on Canada’s northern, Arctic coast. The fossils themselves were discovered by dissolving the minerals that contained them with acid. With the rocks gone, a large collection of small fossils floated free.
Visually, these microfossils look like a partially deflated balloon with a stalk at its base. Those stalks are connected to a long tube that can link up multiple balloon-like structures. This looks a lot like some modern fungi, where the balloon-like structure is a source of spores while the tubes are how the organism grows and spreads within a surface. One critical feature that’s shared with fungi is the fact that the stalk that attaches the sphere to the rest of the organism branches off at a right angle. The structure provided the new genus’ name, Ourasphaira, for tail and sphere; the full species name is Ourasphaira giraldae.
That, by itself, isn’t shocking. What’s startling is how old these fossils are. While the layer they reside in hasn’t been subjected to dating, nearby layers have. A layer below has been identified as being as much as a billion years old. On the other side of the stratiographic sandwich, there’s a layer that is about 900 million years old. These provide a 100-million-year-long window during which the fossils could have been deposited. But even at their youngest, these fossils are about a half -billion years older than the previous oldest fun